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Making Room for More: Extending Our Centre

Updated: Sep 27, 2021


In 2002, Anne Herbert became President of the Centre at Deal. Anne dreamt that an extension would be built onto the front of the Centre, thus providing a reception room. The Centre desperately needed the extra room to serve refreshments after events but particularly to enable patients receiving healing to be separated from the noise of those awaiting treatment. It was merely a dream but one that she shared with her friends on the Committee. Soon after we heard that new laws, governing the services public buildings must provide for disabled people, were to be implemented. This meant that the centre had to provide disabled toilet facilities and better access to the building.


It was suggested that the Centre applied for a lottery grant and, as plans were drawn up, a fundraising committee was set up lead by Jean Hargrave and consisted of other committee members Robin Hook, the late Diane Fewell and Wendy Sartain. After much hard work an application for funding was made – unfortunately we were unsuccessful.

On receiving the news, everyone was disappointed. However, we picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves down and decided that we would go it alone. The Committee knuckled down and began fund raising. We submitted plans and had them approved and soon had enough money to build the shell of the extension. As the work commenced we sent out thoughts and prayers in the hope that we would have the funds to complete the work we had started. The builders knew our predicament and were very generous with their labour charges and even donated doors for the toilets, kitchen and staff room. We were able to re-use the old front door but needed new doors for the porch and into the main room. The funds had run out so the doors would have to wait until more money could be raised.


John Aglington, one of the builders, was going through a difficult time and was about to have his house repossessed… he was a Catholic but felt he needed to pray and so went into the main room and said some prayers. That lunch time he went to the shop at the top of the hill and bought a roll for his lunch; whilst there he decided to also buy a scratch card… as he sat on-site he scratched off the silver coating to reveal that he had won £62,000, which was enough to stop the repossession. As he had said the prayers in our Centre he felt he would like to donate enough money for us to purchase both sets of double doors we required.

Once the shell of the building was completed, Ian Hodgkins and his friend Paul Anson donated their skills and time to build the partition walls, fit the toilets and radiators, plaster the walls and screed the floor. Bob donated his skills and time wherever he could and Alan Herbert gave his time to decorate with the help of his builder friend Dave Bird (who only took a minimal payment). Anne Herbert, Wendy Sartain, Carol Dale and the late Sue Brindley were now going to the Centre on an almost daily basis in order to clean and make the Centre respectable enough to open for all events. This was an exhausting task. We were lucky to have a fabulous workforce offering their time and skills free of charge, particularly Ian, who could be found onsite seemingly at all hours of the day and night! However even with the help of many people and the fact that the Committee was working flat out to raise funds, the money was eaten up by the cost of materials more or less as soon as it was raised.


Sarah Fisher, had recently moved to the area and offered, free of charge, her services as a web designer. At this time we had no website and eagerly her offer was accepted. Wendy and Sarah spent many hours working together and developed a state of the art site for us. The website brought in many more people, which in turn swelled our funds. Eventually she even set us upon ‘Facebook’, which brought in even more people!

It was at this point that donations came flooding in. They came in the form of large and small cheques mainly from those who had previously benefited from the work carried out at the Centre but were not able to support the Centre physically any more – Large donations were received from the late Charles Downing and Margaret Cottrell.


Sadly, prior to the commencement of the building work, Diane Fewell passed away and it was at a time we needed more cash that we heard Diane had left the Centre a legacy of £5,000.


Eventually we had enough money to complete the whole project, with the exception of flooring. We had resigned ourselves to making do with a concrete floor until more cash could be raised. Ian’s friend then heard of our plight and donated a carpet that would fit exactly in the reception room and Lindsay Barraclough donated enough vinyl flooring for both toilets and the porch. Thelma and her husband Mark donated curtains and Mark gave his time to cover our old chairs to match the décor.

Finally we were ready for the Council inspection – everything passed with the exception of the temporary access ramp, which required an approved non-slip surface. After costing this we found this would be over £200 and we had but pennies in the account. Unbelievably, days later Ian was approached by a friend of his and asked if he had any use for a part-roll of non-slip coating he had left over from a job at a railway station. Ian gratefully accepted and immediately set about fitting the flooring. Even though he had to fit it together like a jigsaw puzzle, he found it to be just enough. In fact we actually liked the jigsaw effect as it reminded us of how all our prayers were answered and how we received exactly what we needed even if it was not always what we would have liked.


Another member, Barbara Kennett passed in 2008 and at the end of 2009 the Centre was informed that she, together with her husband (the late Treasurer of the centre – Charles), had left us £1,000, which the Committee has chosen to put to one side to be spent on replacing the temporary ramp with a permanent concrete ramp as soon as is necessary; this was completed in 2019.


Sadly, Sue Brindley passed at the end of 2009 and as a thank-you for all the help; support, friendship and healing she received from the centre, her family donated £1,000, which we used to fit a new modern kitchen.

So you see Anne had a dream, we sent out thoughts, worked hard and now the dream has become reality. We will always be grateful to every single person who gave their time, skills, money and support to the dream. Some still serve on The Committee, some no longer attend The Centre, some never attended The Centre, yet wanted to help us and some have now passed over. We thank them all. Long may we all enjoy the benefit of the hard work and commitment made by very special people.


By Wendy Sartain

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