THE ANSELL CENTRE CHARITY (ACC) was set up in 2004 as a charity with the object of providing community facilities for the people of Hadleigh and surrounding area. It is a private company limited by guarantee (Reg. no. 05334314) and also has charitable status (Charity no. 1111332). The ACC has ten trustees encompassing a wide range of interests including community, church, local authority, professional, business and retired. Membership of the ACC is open to anyone who is interested in the work of the charity. Currently there are over thirty members, all of whom are either active volunteers or people to whom we can turn for professional advice when needed.
The ACC runs the digital cinema (Hollywood in Hadleigh), two lunch clubs: the First Wednesday Luncheon Club, and the Third Wednesday Lunch Club held on the corresponding Wednesday’s of each month, for senior citizens, and the Ansell Memories Cafe which is held every Thursday for those living with dementia and their carers. The ACC also organises community events, and together with churches in Hadleigh, festivals such as the Christmas Tree, the “Love is…..” and the “Peace is……” Festivals. Most of these activities are held in the Ansell Centre (see below). The ACC is run entirely by volunteers who are working closely with the United Reformed Church to improve the facilities in the Ansell Centre.
THE ANSELL CENTRE, comprising hall, ancillary rooms, kitchen and toilets is owned by the Hadleigh United Reformed Church (URC). The building is now named after its founder, John Ansell, a wealthy 19th century local business man and ‘Independent’ church man. The Ansell Centre was built in 1863 as a day school for the poorer children of the area who would otherwise have received no education and continues in trust today with the URC to serve the needs of the community.
During 2010 the URC completed the first stage of a major project to upgrade the building and bring it up to a high standard of accommodation. In 2010, £95,000 was spent on repairs to the roof, floor and windows, including the complete replacement of five windows. In 2013 the entrance, kitchen and toilets were completely refurbished. A new suspended ceiling, LED lights, central heating boiler and new curtains with electric curtain tracks were installed during August as a joint project between the URC and ACC.
For those of you who are interested, here are excerpts from the Chair’s (Ruth Rowland’s) AGM report for 2023:
The Ansell Centre, comprising hall, ancillary rooms, kitchen and toilets is owned by Hadleigh United Reformed Church. This building is named after its founder, John Ansell, a wealthy 19th century local businessman and Independent Church man. Back in the 1830’s, members of the Church opened a school to offer weekday education to the poorer children of the town. In 1863, with the help of John Ansell, the school was moved into a new purpose-built building which is now called the Ansell Centre and it continues in trust today with the URC to serve the needs of Hadleigh and surrounding villages.
The Ansell Centre Charity was set up in 2005, initially being called the Ansell Community Centre and changing to the Ansell Centre Charity in December 2017
Over the past 15 years, the URC and the ACC have worked hard to renovate the building, the most recent work being in 2017, when a new suspended ceiling with LED lights, a new central heating boiler and new curtains with electrically operated tracks were all installed. The floor was also sanded and sealed.
The ACC currently runs a Cinema Group once a month in the summer and twice a month in the winter, 2 monthly lunch clubs, one on the first Wednesday and one on the third Wednesday of each month and a weekly Memories Cafe. The Cafe provides a safe space for anyone living with dementia and their carers and also welcomes everyone who would like company, conversation and support.
The other regular users of the Ansell Centre are the Craft Club, the Folk Club, Citizens Advice Bureau, L L Dance and Fitness, the Christmas Present Trust, Diamond Lites Majorettes, the Karate Academy and the Choral Society. The building is also rented out regularly for private parties.
The groups run by the ACC are manned by our wonderful band of volunteers, together with the trustees, who are also volunteers. I looked up the word ‘volunteer’ in the dictionary and one definition said, “a person who does something, especially helping other people, willingly and without being forced or paid to do it”. A few of you might be new to volunteering, many of you are long-standing volunteers and for those who grew up in families where volunteering was the norm, well, it’s in the blood!! Volunteering with the ACC takes on many shapes and forms. It can be physically and mentally exhausting, but, hopefully, very rewarding.
These people sitting alongside me, the trustees, are also all volunteers. I looked up the word ‘trustees’ in the dictionary and one definition said: “Trustees are a group of people who act in the charity’s best interests, set the strategy or plan, make key decisions and oversee the running of the charity” All the trustees are involved with the groups we run, although this is not actually part of our remit.
My team of trustees at the ACC have helped me through another year as chairperson, with their constant support, kindness, friendship and expertise. Each trustee brings their unique strength to the group. They are all busy people and have many commitments and I say a massive thank you to you all.
At last years AGM one of our trustees, Karen, gave us some information about the Mens’ Shed project. which, then, was in its infancy. Although. strictly speaking, this is not an ACC group, Karen has been very involved from the beginning and we strongly supported it’s setting up.