The District Training Centre
A background history
As its Centenary Project, the North West District decided to obtain its own training centre. We purchased a small farm in the village of Treales just outside Kirkham in the Fylde District of Lancashire. Kirkham is a small market town about 10 miles from Blackpool, which is, of course, noted for fresh air and fun. Today, the farmhouse is the centre of the magnificent Boys' Brigade training, acitivity, conference and holiday centre. It houses the District Office, a warden's flat, a board-room style meeting room and a versatile lounge-style seminar and meeting room. A conservatory and kitchen provide circulation and catering facilities.
In the fields around the farmhouse a residential block has been built, containing bedrooms and dormitories and a multipurpose hall which provides teaching accommodation, dining facilities and recreation area. There is a fully equipped commercial catering standard kitchen. A large sports barn provides indoor games facilities from table tennis through basketball to soccer, a climbing wall and much else in between. Changing accommodation and showers are available.
A large field is available for outdoor games and a part of this is available for camping. Campers have use of a converted shippon with toilets, kitchen facilities and eating/recreation areas, one indoors and the other being an open-air covered patio.
There is also a small wooded area with an adventure playground.
The Centre continues to develop and is now protected by an independent Trust formed for the benefit of the members of Boys' Brigade in the area of the District. A Memorial Walk has been dedicated in memory of one of our late Vice Presidents, Mr Robert Kenworthy of Manchester. It also commemorates all former members of the BB in the North West who have gone to glory. As our Millenium Project, an open air Worship Area housed in a Gazebo has been constructed at the end of this walk. The focal point of this worship area is the Millenium Cairn, incorporating stones donated by Companies in the District.
At the end of 2000, the Millennial year, the Trustees of the Centre received some good news. It had been clear for some time that many of our Companies were not able to use the Centenary Hall residential accommodation at the District Training Centre because of the minimum charge necessary to cover its costs. The Trustees had been considering the provision of a suitable building to meet the needs of small groups of less than 20 or so. A suitable building had been seen at the Gannaway Activity Centre of the Belfast Battalion and the Trustees commissioned the same Architect to draw up plans for a similar building at our Centre. This was done and planning permission received. It was estimated that the new building would cost in the region of £50,000 and so thoughts turned to fundraising. The good news which was quickly received was that the Freemasons of the Provincial Grand Lodge of West Lancashire would gift this amount to the Trustees. This generous benefaction was one of several made to youth organizations in West Lancashire to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Masonic movement in the area.
In the event, the total cost of this building including fitting out was about £74,000 and the Masonic Lodge generously increased their gift to £65,000. The remainder was financed from a legacy of £2,500 from the estate of Kenneth Blundell, J.P., a former District Vice President, and from District funds. The building, known as Stedfast Lodge, was dedicated and opened in June 2002.
During 2003, an Activities Room was added to the Stedfast Lodge building. This is available for general use, not just for those occupying the Lodge.
An important event which took place in 2003 was the registration of the Training Centre as an independent charity with its own Trustees and funds. This will ensure the development of the Centre and its facilities over the coming years.
Recently, the IT systems in the District Office have been upgraded to provide better security and also remote access so that volunteers can work on District administration matters from home rather than having to travel to the office. This includes hosting our own webserver inhouse. It is also planned to install a small Internet Cafe in the Activities Room in the not too distant future. This will be used for training in IT skills. It is hoped that a small group of young people will form the core of a web and IT support team for the District
We are humbled in remembering God's goodness to us in so inspiring the members and friends of The Boys' Brigade in the District and throughout the world that for love of Jesus and in thanksgiving for the work of the BB all the funds required to build, develop and operate this Centre have been provided mostly in the form of gifts and grants over the last 20 years. We are truly grateful to be able to use this Centre for His praise and glory and in the fulfilment of our Object.