Popular outdoor adventure centre saved

Tony Martin, Neil Hart, Azhar Ali and Matt Hargreaves.Tony Martin, Neil Hart, Azhar Ali and Matt Hargreaves.
Tony Martin, Neil Hart, Azhar Ali and Matt Hargreaves.
Future generations will continue to get a taste for adventure at Whitehough Outdoor Education Centre in Pendle after a decision to transfer its ownership to Burnley FC in the Community.

Lancashire County Council has agreed a 125-year lease with BFCitC, who will use the centre to offer outdoor education opportunities for young people from disadvantaged communities and young people with special educational needs.

BFCitC will also expand their offering of programmes such as the National Citizen Service and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme, and the charity will open the centre to local schools.

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The agreement means that BFCitC, Burnley FC’s award-winning official charity, will also invest £50,000 in refurbishing the aging centre over the next two years.

The county council made the decision to close the centre as part of budget savings agreed in November 2015.

The county council has considered the future of the site according to its Community and Asset Transfer policy, which provides criteria for the council to consider when transferring community assets which could improve people's economic, social, or environmental wellbeing.

County Coun. Jenny Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "I'm very glad that the fantastic outdoor experiences that children have received over decades at Whitehough will now continue.

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"The decision to close Whitehough was just one of a number of increasingly difficult decisions the county council has been faced with to achieve some of the huge savings we need to make.

"Burnley FC in the Community’s application, based on offering great opportunities to enjoy the outdoors to some of the county's most disadvantaged young people, strongly fulfilled the terms of our asset transfer policy and will ensure that Whitehough will keep serving the Lancashire community for years to come."

Neil Hart, CEO of Burnley FC in the Community, said: “I’m delighted that as a charity we have been able to agree this asset transfer with Lancashire County Council and that Whitehough will continue to operate for the benefit of young people and for schools in our community.

“The principle of using the outdoors as an educational tool is as important and effective today as it was in 1938, when the centre opened. We aim to make Whitehough accessible to all members of the community, especially those young people who do not readily engage with mainstream education - as was the vision of Ken Oldham, Whitehough’s first headmaster.”

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County Coun. Azhar Ali, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "The very memorable experiences which children receive at Whitehough not only have an immediate impact on shaping their confidence and life-skills but, by introducing them to outdoor activities, can go on to have a positive impact on their health throughout their lives.

"I couldn't be happier that our agreement with Burnley FC in the Community will ensure that more generations continue to benefit from outdoor education through Whitehough."

Whitehough is a 22-acre outdoor education centre set in the picturesque Pendle countryside. The facility sleeps 64 in a two-dormitory set-up and an additional 16 in an on-site lodge.

The site also has two classrooms, a large dining room and an extensive camping field. As well as this, Whitehough hosts an 80-seater conference suite, suitable for training and presentations.