Community rallies to help save youth club
The community has rallied to help a youth club in Burgess Hill after its premises was destroyed in a fire.
The blaze, which Sussex Police has confirmed is being treated as arson, badly damaged the community hall on Maple Drive, Leylands Park and happened after 3am on October 18.
The youth club had held its weekly meetings at the hall for the past nine years.
“It is wonderful to see that people do care,” said Alan Ranger, the chairman of Respect Youth Club and member of Burgess Hill District Lions Club, who previously described the fire as ‘devastating’.
Mr Ranger approached Burgess Hill Town Football Club after the fire for help and was offered their function room so the youth club can continue to meet every Monday evening.
Mr Ranger said the football club ‘wanted to do something’ and made ‘no hesitation’ in offering the function room.
He added: “We are delighted the football club are able to help and this shows great humanity and community spirit.
“With help from the football club and the local community, I am confident Respect Youth Club can look to many more successful years.”
The general manager of Burgess Hill Town Football Club, John Rattle, said he was ‘more than willing’ to help the youth club, to ‘ensure it keeps going for them’.
He added: “It has been a difficult situation for them since the fire and what they are doing is for a good cause.”
Burgess Hill Town Council also got in contact with the chairman and donated £200 to help the youth club.
Mr Ranger said the council has always been ‘very supportive’ of youth club’s in the town.
Steve Cridland, chief executive officer of Burgess Hill Town Council said the council ‘value work of youth clubs’ and it is a ‘setback when something like this happens’.
“We would very much like to see Respect Youth Club get back on their feet. This is only a small contribution but we hope to help the youth club in many other ways,” Steve said.
Members of the youth club not only lost their premises in the fire, but also their equipment, including a football table, TV and snooker table’s. Mr Ranger said since the fire the community has ‘come to the aid’ of the club and have offered replacement equipment.
Mr Ranger said he was ‘very grateful’ to Southdowns Rovers Football Club, in Burgess Hill, who has offered storage space for the new equipment.
The youth club celebrated its ninth birthday on October 6 and will be holding its first meeting at the football club on Monday November 7, at 7pm.
A spokesman from Sussex Police confirmed the fire is being investigated as ‘deliberate ignition’.
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