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Fire at visitor and education centre fails to deter the work of the River Stour Trust

PUBLISHED: 12:08 25 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:08 25 September 2018

Some of the 500 people who took part in Sudbury to the Sea in Cornard Lock. Picture: KEITH GRINSTED

Some of the 500 people who took part in Sudbury to the Sea in Cornard Lock. Picture: KEITH GRINSTED

Archant

The “considerable” fire which badly damaged a visitor and education centre in Great Cornard has failed to deter the work of its owners.

The River Stour Trust's visitor and education centre on the banks of the River Stour, in Great Cornard, whiich was hit by a fire. Picture: RUSSELL COOKThe River Stour Trust's visitor and education centre on the banks of the River Stour, in Great Cornard, whiich was hit by a fire. Picture: RUSSELL COOK

In fact it’s business as usual for the River Stour Trust thanks to the efforts of its volunteers and team who have relocated to temporary offices at the Granary, near the Quay Theatre, in Sudbury.

Emrhys Barrell, the Vice President, of the Trust said the blaze, which is situated next to Cornard Lock, left half the building unsafe and would not be back in action for at least nine months to a year.

And as investigations continue into the fire he said that the cause of the blaze was not thought to be suspicious.

“It was a major fire and considerable damage was done. Half the roof was burnt out or is unsafe and the veranda of the building is also burnt out. The floor of the upper space is also unsafe and all the filing cabinets in the building will have to be extricated by the insurers,” he said.

Some of the 500 people who took part in Sudbury to the Sea. Picture: KEITH GRINSTEDSome of the 500 people who took part in Sudbury to the Sea. Picture: KEITH GRINSTED

But he added that despite the blow the Trust is very much still in business and all of its activities going forward will be unaffected.

“This is thanks to magnificent efforts by our volunteers and administration team who have temporarily relocated our offices to our Granary building in Sudbury.

“All our computer files were backed up and most of our historic photographs digitised, so these have not been lost.”

River trips will continue from Sudbury and Flatford until the end of October while weddings at the Granary will be unaffected. The boat trips will then re-start at Easter 2019

Some of the 500 people who took part in Sudbury to the Sea at Cornard Lock. Picture: KEITH GRINSTEDSome of the 500 people who took part in Sudbury to the Sea at Cornard Lock. Picture: KEITH GRINSTED

This year’s Sudbury to the Sea canoe event was a huge success, despite taking place only a week after the fire, with over 500 people of all ages paddling the 24 miles from Sudbury to Cattawade.

Mr Barrell added: “The fire has caused a lot of hard work but everything else is going ahead thanks to the great efforts being put in by staff.

“Our main source of revenue is from weddings at the Granary which is booked up for the next 18 months but if anyone wants to book in costs start from £690.”

It is planned to rebuild the centre after it was opened in 2005 thanks to grants and fundraising totalling £350,000.

Up to 36 firefighters from Sudbury, Long Melford, Halstead, Clare and Bury St Edmunds were called out to the incident around 2am on Saturday, September 8.

Anyone who would like to take part in the Trust’s activities or take a boat trips can go to the website www.riverstourtrust.org for more information.

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