Latest news from Berwick Probus Club
Focussing on Wooler town centre and making it vibrant was a key element of the Glendale Gateway Trust, which has earned widespread praise for its efforts.
Mr Tom Johnston, speaker at Berwick Probus Club, has played a major part throughout the 20 years of its existence, which has seen houses and offices built, shops brought back into use and the quality of life improved.
He said the people of a large, remote area had bought into the scheme from day one and there had been some wonderful donations and grants. The launch of the trust followed a community appraisal.
From the outset members had realised too many organisations were fragmented and a community centre was important. The former Glendale Council offices were gifted by Berwick Borough Council and refurbished. With the aid of interest free loans, the trust was able to build 15 houses on a major site.
In 2006, after shops in the central area had been brought back to life, the trust agreed to buy Wooler Youth Hostel, which was threatened with closure. It ran it as an enterprise hostel, catering for 5,000 overnight stays in a year, moved the library into it and trebled the opening hours, and put as many services as it could under one roof.
Mr Johnston stressed that if something was believed in it was worth fighting for.
The trust raised £800,000 to provide flats, created affordable housing and set up a community bond scheme, which raised £138,000.
It was trying to develop for the future and was now more commercial than it was, at a time when fundraising was becoming more difficult.
Probus members were full of praise for the work achieved by the trust and felt Berwick could benefit from the tremendous ‘get up and go’ attitude of the people of Glendale.