Number 8 volunteers attended a ceremony on Friday 4 November to receive The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The award was presented by the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, The Hon Lady Morrison and was accepted by long-time volunteer Eileen Perry on behalf of all Number 8 volunteers.
Imagine an almost perfect small, market town in the heart of the garden of England – surrounded by fields of fertile soil in the valley of the Avon, which runs through the town; a beautiful Abbey built in the 10th Century; a town centre comprising handsome Georgian houses; nearly one hundred retail shops, many of them independent traders selling local produce; cricket and football pitches right in the centre of the town; a leisure centre and swimming pool and its own modern community hospital.
That was Pershore.
But one thing was lacking – a cultural centre where people could share the talents that abound in the community and experience live theatrical and film performances. A dedicated group of local people met together in 1995 to put this right As a result of their efforts and those of many other volunteers the hugely successful Number 8 Community Arts Centre was born.
A true example of what a community can do for itself, over £2 million has been raised and invested in the Centre, there are some two hundred volunteers, 1,400 Friends and three full-time and three part-time paid employees. It is self- sustaining from the income it generates. It is genuinely an enterprise created by the community, for the community. Many ventures of this kind have struggled because the local people never felt they “owned” the project – with Number 8 there is a fierce pride in the achievement and a determination to continue its success and development. There is a buzz about Number 8, not just in the evenings when there is a show on, but all day – the place to meet friends and take coffee or afternoon tea.
Number 8 has been a very significant element in the regeneration of Pershore and as such has been a major beneficiary of funds provided by Advantage West Midlands and Wychavon District Council. The Pershore Market Towns Partnership, which was founded in 2001, has been the conduit for these funds. The members of the Partnership have been pleased and proud to support the project and are delighted with the results achieved and the impact that Number 8 has had – economically, socially and culturally on the lives of those who live in and around this lovely town.
In particular, we all owe a great debt to the Famous Five (the late Ray Steadman, Jane Daniels, Keith Goddard, Jan and David Browning) who have been working from the beginning to realise this dream, to the army of volunteers and supporters that they have recruited, marshalled and led and to Wychavon District Council and Pershore Town Council who made the initial grants.
Thank you Number 8
Pershore Market Towns Partnership
(a Local Strategic Partnership and part of Wychavon District Council’s regeneration programme)
For details of key dates in the development of Number 8 click here