An army of community fundraisers have been thanked for their confidence in a campaign to buy Budleigh Salterton fire station for the town.
Celebrations were held yesterday (Thursday, September 3) when it was announced Budleigh Community Workshop Trust (BCWT) won the sealed-bid sale of the town’s former fire station.
“I would like to thank everyone for their confidence in the campaign and for being so positive that we would succeed…
Bill McDermott, BCWT chairman, praised all who had rallied round and raised £50,000 in 27 days, which he called ‘a significant fighting fund to be able to compete’.
He said: “We can celebrate a fantastic outcome in that all the efforts of the team and our supporters has made our project and our dreams more real.
“I would like to thank everyone for their confidence in the campaign and for being so positive that we would succeed.
“I would also like to say it again, £50,000 in twenty-seven days – a brilliant effort by the community.”
The charity group successfully raised £50,000 during August to add to more than £150,000 in donations and pledges to be in ‘a strong position’ to bid for the former Station Road fire station when it was due to be auctioned on September 10.
But when Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service suddenly pulled the building from auction at the end of last week, and invited sealed bids to ‘achieve best value’, BCWT was left with days to find sufficient funds.
Mr McDermott said the team had to ‘scrape the barrel’ to make additional funds available to submit a sealed bid to meet the 5pm September 2 deadline, calling the fire service U-turn a ‘cruel blow’ – because much of the money raised by BCWT and the community was crowdfunded, and would not be released by online operators in time for the new cut-off date.
He thanked ‘the most generous donations’ from local charities, causes and organisations, including, The Norman Family Charitable Trust, the Fryer Recreational Trust, the League of Friends of the Budleigh Salterton Hospital, East Devon District Council, Devonshire Masons, Budleigh Runners, Budleigh Salterton Town Council and ‘numerous personal contributions’.
Mr McDermott said: “Thanks to the phenomenal response to the crowdfunder that raised £50,000 in twenty-seven days, Budleigh Community Workshop Trust raised a significant fighting fund to be able to compete.”
He added: “It was an emotional moment – learning that our bid was successful and that the fire station will stay in the community, for the community, is brilliant.
“It will be placed in the trust so that it is protected and available to benefit those in need or looking to get involved in practical and creative activities and where individuals can socialise and be included.”
Budleigh Community Workshop Trust plans to turn the building into a town asset where people can share and learn new skills, and make friends.
Mr McDermott said: “There is an enormous amount of work now to get through the contract completion, then the refurbishment before we will be open for business and, to that end, we will need plenty of volunteers to make it all happen.”
The fire service, who in July said auctioning the property ‘enables a transparent, certain and fair route to sale’, pulled the plug on the online sale in favour of sealed bids, saying it had been advised the move would ‘achieve best value’.
The two-storey fire base, in Station Road, was permanently closed at the start of April 2020, as part of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service’s cost cutting consultation, Safer Together.
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