Thumbs up for the Education Centre

We are pleased to report that we have received a very positive thumbs up from our donors for our proposal to purchase the former Army Education Centre building rather than the Sergeants’ Mess. (See the post below for details.) This is great news since it means we can now push ahead with our plan to set up an interpretation centre focussed on the gates and the west end of the Roman circus.

As promised, we contacted as many of the donors as we could to explain the proposed change in plan and to offer a refund to anybody who was not in favour. Here is summary of the outcome.

We had 1001 donations and raised a total of about £242,000 including pledges. We sent 635 letters and 166 emails. We received 72 positive responses of support covering about £90,000 worth of donations. We were very surprised and delighted that 17 people not only sent letters of encouragement but included unsolicited donations to the total value of £555 plus gift aid. (Many thanks indeed if you are one those 17 people.) Only six people wanted a refund. This meant we returned a total of £519 including the gift aid element. Two of the six said they were not against the scheme but needed the money. The others gave no reason. Our letter to the donors did say that no response was necessary if they supported the change of plan so we are taking the overall response as a thumbs up.

We were unable to contact about a quarter of the donors because either their contact details are insufficient or they were anonymous (mainly online donations). We will apply to the Charity Commission to authorise switching these donations to the new plan. Our deadline for applying for a refund was January 14th 2011. However, there still is time to ask for one – at least for a little while – but we hope you won’t because we have a lot to do and funds will be short.

What next? We need to apply for planning consent for change of use of the Education Centre building. Hopefully this will be submitted within the next month. Just as critical is the mortgage which CAT will need to help pay for its share of the building and its repairs. Our application is being processed and we expect to hear the outcome within the next few weeks. The planning application will take eight weeks to be processed by the local authority. If all goes well and we get the mortgage, we should be able to move in to the building during the summer. At the same time, we hope to be able to start work on the garden of the Sergeants’ Mess as the first stage in the work needed to get the circus interpretation centre up and going.