Joy as Age UK centre in Burgess Hill is saved for another year

Age UK members celebrating the good news. Picture: Steve Robards
Age UK members celebrating the good news. Picture: Steve Robards

Age UK’s Cherry Tree Centre in Burgess Hill has been saved from closing down this year.

The charity has agreed a deal with Mid Sussex District Council and West Sussex County Council so they can stay at the centre in Fairfield Road until their lease runs out in March 2019.

It just proves you can do something if you are willing to try and we are absoluted delighted.

Member Maureen Smither

The centre was due to close in March this year. Its reasons were due to the location, which Age UK said was not central enough and its struggle to attract new members.

The planned closure, announced back in October, left members in despair and sparked shock and concern across the town.

Now Maureen Smither said she and other members were ‘over the moon’ that it will remain open. “It is all down to all the hard work people have put in and all that hard work has been worth it,” she told the Middy.

“It just proves you can do something if you are willing to try and we are absoluted delighted. We don’t know what the future of the centre is yet but a lot can happen in a year. And we can at least look forward to another year in the centre without worrying.”

Diane Henderson, chief executive of Age UK West Sussex, said the charity was ‘delighted’ about the news.

“After positive negotiations with the district and county council and our members we are delighted to say we are able to stay at the centre,” she said.

“We will also be developing community clubs in and around Burgess Hill. The finances remain tight and we would welcome offers of help in fundraising for the centre and for new volunteers.”

Gary Hardley, head of community activities at Age UK West Sussex, told the Middy he was ‘so happy’ for members, staff and volunteers. “It was what we wanted in the first place,” he added.

Councillor Norman Webster, cabinet member for community, was also ‘delighted’ about the news. “The community has shown just how much the centre means to them and how important it is to the members who use it,” he said.

“With their support, I’m sure Age UK will continue to improve the facilities and services on offer and create a really special place for older people in Burgess Hill.”