Initiative forced to close its doors

26th september 2011''The Hemsworth and District Initiative is closing down after numerous years service in the community due to a lack of funding. Annie Marrs, who set up the initative around 15 years ago, is being presented with gifts 'Pictured L/R: Annie Marrs and Volunteer Christine Collins.'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE
26th september 2011''The Hemsworth and District Initiative is closing down after numerous years service in the community due to a lack of funding. Annie Marrs, who set up the initative around 15 years ago, is being presented with gifts 'Pictured L/R: Annie Marrs and Volunteer Christine Collins.'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE

A HEMSWORTH group that provided a ‘lifeline’ for local people has closed its doors after almost 20 years.

The Hemsworth and District Initiative was opened in three empty shop buildings on Ferndale Place by chairwoman Annie Marrs in 1993. It was forced to close earlier this week due to a lack of funding.

Mrs Marrs worked hard to turn the neighbourhood around from a no-go area into something that the community could be proud of.

The initiative, which was staffed by around 12 volunteers, was home to numerous organisations, including a healthy walking club, the Royal British Legion, a luncheon club, a card-decorating class and welfare advice sessions. It has won several awards, including the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, The Duke of York Community Initiative award and the Wakefield College Spirit of the Community award.

Mrs Marrs, who was presented gifts and cards from initiative users on Monday, said: “I will miss it because it has been a big part of my life. But I have other things on the horizon and I’m hoping to get more involved in local politics. We changed this from a no-go area to something nice but I think it will start declining again once we are gone. The initiative was a lifeline for so many people.

“Some of our paid employees were made redundant in early 2010 but they stayed with us and carried on doing their jobs - where else do you get that kind of loyalty? We’ve had a lot of support over the years - from the Kinsley Greyhound Stadium, businessman Gordon Eccles and the Hemsworth Community Action Group. We would like to thank everyone for their help.”

Volunteer Christine Collins, who has worked on the administration side for 13 years, said: “I come here about three days a week so I am going to miss it a lot now that it has closed.”

Veronica Daley volunteered in the kitchen and with the luncheon club.

She said: “I started coming here nine years ago and it has been my lifeline. I am going to really miss it.”