Alford’s historic almshouses have been saved for local people in need after campaigners secured a staggering £450,000 to carry out much needed refurbishment.
The Trustees of Sir Robert Christopher’s Almshouses were ‘delighted’ to hand over the keys to local contractors Taylor Pearson on Thursday after more than a year of hard fought fundraising.
Chairman David Wood said he was ‘tremendously relieved’ to have reached such an important milestone and extremely thankful to the community for raising £67,000 towards the total.
“It’s proved that our confidence in going ahead with the scheme was justified,” he said
“For the community to raise £67,000 is absolutely fantastic.”
The almshouse scheme, which was first set up in West Street by Sir Robert Christopher in 1670 had come under threat in recent years when the Grade II listed buildings fell into disrepair.
The Trustees, tasked with ensuring Sir Robert’s scheme could continue, set about investigating the costs of refurbishing the latest buildings.
Faced with estimated costs of nearly half a million pounds, the charity contacted a number of grant organisations, securing a £200,000 offer from the Homes and Communities Agency, amongst other schemes.
A public appeal launched last August to secure the remaining funds and gained ‘fantastic’ local support.
Mobile hairdressers Sandra Hall and Jo Rook managed to raise nearly £3,000 by rallying together local businesses to ‘bare all’ for their Alford Exposed charity calendar.
Churches, community groups and individuals also donated to the scheme to reach the phenomenal target.
Mr Wood has admitted the £450,000 target may have seemed excessive to some, though he explained the scaled down alternatives would have failed to secure such significant funding.
Each of the four cottages will accommodate up to three ‘local and needy’ people under the terms of Sir Robert’s will.
“Other major benefits will be felt by the wider community of Alford in that this important Grade II listed building of acknowledged architectural interest and importance will be saved and safeguarded for future generations,” Mr Wood added.
The charity will continue fundraising to pay off its loans.