Hall to be handed back to the people of Beccles

Blyburgate Hall in Beccles.

Blyburgate Hall in Beccles. - Credit: Archant

The future of a Beccles building which was gifted to a charity decades ago has been secured as a community facility following the closure of its local branch.

Until recently the hall has been used by the Beccles St John Ambulance unit.

Until recently the hall has been used by the Beccles St John Ambulance unit. - Credit: Archant

Blyburgate Hall has been home to the Beccles unit of the St John Ambulance for many years, however after the group’s search for a new leader was unsuccessful, it has been forced to fold.

The hall, which is used on a weekly basis by a variety of community groups, must now be transferred back to the people of Beccles.

And at a meeting this week, the town council agreed to take over the ownership of the building - subject to further enquiries - to keep it going as a community facility.

Beccles mayor Hugh Taylor said: “It’s very good news because the hall is not going to be sold, it is going to continue as a public facility for the people of Beccles. St John Ambulance is going to pass it to the town council and we will run it on behalf of the town.

“How it is going to be run is still being determined, but it is an excellent facility.”

Tony Curd, St John Ambulance district manager, said the hall had to be handed back to the town under the terms of the original agreement. He said it was gifted to the charity to use as a meeting place for as long as it was required.

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Mr Curd said: “This transfer is due to the fact that at the moment there isn’t an active St John Ambulance unit in the town, with the most local ones now located in Bungay and Lowestoft.

“We encountered difficulty in finding a suitable leader after our previous leader moved on.

“It was a very active unit up until quite recently with an adult section, cadets section for 10 to 18-year-olds and badger section for seven to 10-year-olds. But despite the best efforts of everyone in Beccles and the St John Ambulance, we were unable to find a new leader.”

He said that the charity also owns the freehold to the neighbouring old ambulance station and car park in Blyburgate and would be seeking a sympathetic buyer for the two assets, hopefully to ensure the car park remains available to users of Blyburgate Hall.

And Beccles Townlands Charity has already stepped forward to register an interest.

Jennifer Langeskov, a Beccles Townlands Charity feoffee, said: “At our last meeting we declared an interest in purchasing the adjacent car park and old ambulance station - provided the hall remains available to hire for the benefit of Beccles people, and in order that parking be retained as a major asset to the hall.”

St John Ambulance will be working over the next few months to restore the Beccles unit, and would like to hear from anyone interested.

Mr Curd said: “It remains our intention to reestablish a St John Ambulance unit in Beccles in the future and, if this is successful, we will seek to rent the hall in Blyburgate from the new owners/operators on specific evenings so that the volunteers at the revitalised unit can return to meet there.

“If readers feel that they or someone they know would be interested in re-establishing a St John Ambulance unit in Beccles, please contact me by email at tony.curd@sja.org.uk. I’d be very grateful for anyone to come forward to discuss how to get involved and be part of the nation’s leading first aid charity.”