Rt. Revd. Bishop Graham, Mr. Geoff Doggett and Revd. Nigel Tufnell arrive to the sound of the old school bell
On Saturday 23rd June, guests and well-wishers flocked to the former Brockdish Primary School for its Grand Opening as the Waveney Heritage Centre.
The Church of England school closed in 2016 due to falling pupil numbers but has now re-opened for community and education use in a new role as a centre to: explore, research and celebrate the remarkable heritage of the Waveney Valley.
A group of local volunteers, under the leadership of Mr. Geoff Doggett, have been working tirelessly since early this year to establish the 200 year-old building, with its modern extension and grounds, as the base for a Community Interest Company. It has already won a 9,500 pound Heritage Lottery grant for an initial Heritage Project focusing on Needham and Brockdish, ably led by highly experienced local historian and Needham resident, Stephen Poulter.
Tim Brook, board member and local resident said ‘All our guests remarked how pleased they were to see the building being put to such a good use. Villagers who had previously visited for our open morning in March were impressed by the transformation from the rather forlorn, empty school into an attractive environment, buzzing with life.
Guests were treated to a warmly humorous and thoughtful speech from Rt Revd. Bishop Graham of Norwich and were shown displays illustrating ways in which the building will be used. The large upstairs room is home to the impressive Prior’s Croft Collection of working broadcasting equipment, on loan from former BBC man, Stewart Orr. In addition to the hall, which is fully equipped for talks and films, the downstairs areas have become: a studio for art and craft working, an activity area for courses and workshops, an archive/library and a counselling room