High hopes for saving Alford Corn Exchange

Alford Corn Exchange Community Group has high hopes of saving their treasured building.
Alford Corn Exchange Community Group has high hopes of saving their treasured building.

The organisation dedicated to preserving an historic building at the heart of Alford’s community has high hopes for success after an encouraging start.

Alford Corn Exchange Community Group doubled its membership at a meeting last night and welcomed a number of innovative ideas to save the threatened Grade II listed building from closure.

Group chairman Harry Dewick-Eisele left feeling ‘upbeat and very positive’ about the task in hand.

“Even though it’s a long way to go before we take over the keys there were lots of creative ideas coming forward and a real buzz about the group,” he said.

“We explained that it’s a community project and so it needs community effort to succeed.”

With the Corn Exchange’s annual deficit currently running at between £2,000 and £3,000, the group believes it will be relatively easy to make up the losses with fundraising events.

Ideas suggested on the night ranged from reinstating a meals on wheels service and holding regular discos through to long term plans to host wedding ceremonies.

Cheryl Heath, one of the group’s recent recruits, believes it is a task worthy of support.

“Not only is it an historical building, it could be the main community centre for Alford where something could be done for all ages,” she said.

Cheryl, who has previously organised a number of charity fundraisers in Alford, including one scheduled for May 11 at the Corn Exchange, believes similar events held in aid of the building itself could recoup some of its losses.

The group must also develop a viable business plan to demonstrate to Alford Town Council, the building’s current owner, that it can make a success of its ambitions.

The town council recently announced it was unable to cover the running costs beyond 2016 but would support a charitable organisation in taking it over.

“They told us we need to come up with something that’s convincing and viable and that has some ‘oomph’ and a future,” said Mr Dewick-Eisele.

The group will be asking businesses and tradesmen to ‘pledge’ their services to help carry out repairs and improvements to the building, which would feature as part of the business plan.

A ‘business mentor’ with extensive knowledge in the charity sector has also volunteered their services to help create the plan, which is expected to be in place by the end of June.

If the group is successful in convincing the council it can make the project work, members will then start the ‘more complicated’ task of finding funding to renovate and refurbish the building by applying for grants as a registered charity.

The group has another meeting planned on Monday at 6pm at the Corn Exchange.

If you would like to help, contact Mr Dewick-Eisele on 01507 462517.