After a busy year of fundraising and planning, a local Scout group is celebrating the start of an ambitious new building project at its West Sussex HQ.
The 1st Shipley group, based at Dragons Green, near Horsham, has long dreamed of building a shower block at its rural site, but the estimated costs of around £40,000 meant the project seemed out of reach. Now, thanks to the fundraising work of the troop and the amazing generosity of local people and businesses, the building is finally underway.
Once completed, the new shower and toilet facilities will not only benefit the sixty-plus children and young people who belong
to 1st Shipley Scouts, it will also enable the group to open their impressive grounds to the wider community for camping and outdoor adventures.
Julian Peters, the troop’s Group Scout Leader, said: “We know we are lucky to have such a wonderful location, and started to think how we might not only improve our facilities for our young people, but perhaps do something that meant we could share our site with others.
“The new timber-clad shower block will have disabled facilities, allowing us to welcome all young people, including wheelchair users. It’s been an incredible challenge to get to this point, and we are so grateful to all our supporters for helping to make this dream a reality.”
Among the donors were Billingshurst Lions, who gave a generous grant of £5,000. Billingshurst Lions President Andrew Viall, who visited the site as the first foundations were laid on Thursday (January 4), said: “We loved the idea of a local Scout troop not only securing facilities for themselves but also having the ambition to share what they have with others. We were particularly impressed with 1st Shipley’s ambition to host their facilities for people with differing abilities. We thought this an excellent example for others to follow, and certainly in the true tradition of Scouting and all it stands for, so were delighted to help out.”
Other generous donors of funds, materials or expert advice include John Verrall of Penfold Verrall Ltd, Dudman Concrete, Saxon Weald, 1st Shipley Scouts President Lord John Lytton, Vernon Jennings and Alan Wilson. Funding was also secured through West Sussex County Council’s Community Initiative Fund following a referral from Amanda Jupp, and the Tesco Broadbridge Heath community grant scheme.
Scouts, their leaders and families also worked hard to put on a number of fundraising events during 2018. Julian explained: “Numerous marquees were put up, there were fetes, sponsored walks, catering, carol singing and raffles all organised to help the cause. Along with this, we made our ambitions known to our local community and were so honoured to receive significant support from other organisations who shared our passion. We’re hugely grateful to each and every supporter.”
Despite best efforts to complete the project in 2018, it proved to be much more of a logistical challenge than initially envisaged. Planning permission had to be agreed, and the location of the eventual build changed several times to adhere to planning regulations.
Now the project is underway and it is hoped it will be completed by the spring. The new facilities will complement the 1st Shipley Scout hut, which itself underwent major renovations recently after decades of weather had taken its toll on the thatched roof.
Julian added: “2019 is our 85th year, and what better way to mark the anniversary than by opening this new facility. Rest assured we will plan further events and celebrations when the work is completed.”
If you are interested in getting involved in the project, or would like to find out more about 1st Shipley Scouts, please email Peter Sutton at email@example.com.