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Plea for sponsorship to help secure future of New Milton Memorial Centre amid £100,000 roof replacement

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FRIENDS and sponsors are being urged to come forward to secure the future of a popular New Milton community building amid a bid to raise £100,000 for a new roof.

More than 450 people already regularly use New Milton Memorial Centre, which has seen a return of many events and activities since Covid-19 restrictions lifted.

But its management wants more to come forward with suggestions to help it flourish.

Acting manager and administrator Carole West
Acting manager and administrator Carole West

The 40-year-old centre is in the midst of a campaign to fully replace its roof badly damaged by torrential rain. As reported in the A&T, the damp caused ceiling panels in the main hall to disintegrate and its floor to warp.

Acting manager and administrator Carole West said a number of patch-up repairs mean the roof is no longer “imminently vulnerable”, but a permanent fix is needed. Recent rainfall caused a minor leak in the main hall.

Around £13,000 has been raised so far, but Mrs West told the A&T it was hoped securing sponsorship from businesses could speed up reaching the £100,000 target.

She said: “The centre’s here for the benefit of the people of New Milton and the surrounding area and if people don’t use it, it could fold.”

She was concerned many people still did not know about the centre, citing its secluded location off Whitefield Road and “not very prominent” signage.

This issue was highlighted by patients arriving for diabetic eye screening and cardiac rehab appointments it has recently started hosting, in addition to NHS blood donor sessions.

“People living in New Milton, Barton and Lymington are coming in and saying they didn’t even know the centre existed,” Mrs West said.

“The more people we can get in the door who’ve never seen us, the more likely it is that we’re going to get people who can help further the place,” Mrs West said.

“We’d like to get businesses in here swapping ideas and helping each other. If they want to make a donation that would be gratefully received, but there’s no compulsion.”

Monthly get-togethers, with gentle live music and a bar, are being launched for the public to find out more about what the centre does and provide feedback and ideas on what it could also do. The first is at 7pm on Saturday 4th December, with others following on the second Friday of each month from the new year.

The aim is to form a Friends group to support the centre with its daily running and at special events.

Being a Friend would entitle people to discounts at the bar and on some of the centre-organised events.

As well as donations towards the roof campaign, contributions have included £13,500 from an anonymous benefactor to replace all the chairs. Another bought new worktops, cupboards and a water heater for tea and coffee, which were installed in the centre’s kitchen by chairman Pete Davis.

The bar has also been refurbished, with another donation funding the purchase of a new drinks chiller and glass washer.

Forthcoming events and concerts include Raise the Roof on 21st November, featuring the New Forest Big Band, Encore Choir and local ukulele band Ukerjax, collecting funds for the new roof.

Donate at justgiving.com/campaign/improve

Those interested in becoming a Friend can contact Mrs West by visiting the centre on any weekday morning, emailing manager@memcentre.co.uk or calling 01425 629451 or 07859 954002. Visit www.memcentre.co.uk

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