Fresh appeal to boost Strutts Centre fund

A Belper community centre is renewing appeals for donations to help it install a new lift as part of of an ongoing programme of major improvement works.

Trustees of the Strutts Centre on Derby Road say the response to a campaign they launched earlier this year has only raised £1,200 so far – despite a target of £30,000.

Cynthia Maddock, of Belper Strutts Society which runs the centre, said: “We haven’t had as many donations as we would like .

“A lot of people can’t get up to use the rooms on the first floor - so it will open it up to all age groups.

“There are a lot of people who would benefit – it would be a real asset to the building.

“We want to emphasize that we don’t want it to be forgotten - we must keep it alive!”

Nick McCleod, chairman of Guardians of Strutts, said: ”This is the next step in our two-pronged plan of major improvements to the building.

“One target is to make the building secure and weatherproof, the other is to make the building more usable for us all.

”So far we have got the building warm, provided access to the rear for car parking.

“We have been awarded a grant to help replace a rotten and leaking roof, that work will start very soon.

“Now we want to do something inside the building to make a major improvement.“

Cynthia added: “Several of the larger rooms in Strutts are on the first floor and not everybody can get up the stairs.

“The Dalesmen have recently moved rooms because of the difficulties of accessing the upstairs rooms.”

It is estimated that the lift itself will cost around £20,000 and the associated building works about £10,000.

A feasibility study about the lift has been completed and the project has been put out to tender.

The project is described as “expensive and complex” and would involve structural changes to the building.

A Strutts spokesperson added: “So far we have had some really heart lifting examples of generosity.

“Everything from keep the change, put it in the lift fund, to the gent who was paying his room fee and simply put his hand back in his pocket pulled out a twenty pound note and said “My daughter is disabled, she couldn’t climb those stairs, here have some cash.”

If you would like to make a donation to the centre, please drop in, or call 01773 599993.

Strutts in Belper opened as a community venue on September 23, 2009 - more than a year after the building closed as the Herbert Strutt School.

The group running the Strutts Centre are all volunteers from the town.

The school moved to a purpose-built venue in Thornhill Avenue.

It is now being run as a community and business centre, in accordance with the wishes of George Herbert Strutt, who stipulated that if the building ceased to be used as a school it should be used for the benefit of the town.

The school was founded by the cotton mill owner and philanthropist and was opened on May 7, 1909, by the Duke of Devonshire.