Members of Girlguiding Nottinghamshire braved the cold on Saturday (17 March) to mark the official opening of a new shelter at Elton campsite near Orston.
Four girls from local units were given the task of cutting the ribbons to declare the Downing Shelter formally ‘open’. Representing Notts Fosse Division was Amelie Regan (6), who is a member of 3rd Bingham Rainbows, whilst from Newark Division came Summer Lally (7) of 1st Claypole Brownies, Lucy McKee (11) from 1st Claypole Guides and Alix Collins (15) from Newark Division Rangers.
Comprising a bright, double-aspect room for meetings and activities plus a veranda from which to take in views of the surrounding countryside, the new Downing Shelter will provide facilities for the thousands of Girlguiding members from all over the country who visit the Elton campsite each year. It replaces an ageing hut and is constructed from seasoned timber to merge into the wooded landscape.
‘Many of us have fond memories of the original Downing Hut, which was built in 1980 and named after Dorothy Downing, who had been involved in local Guiding for over 65 years, including many years as County Camp and Pack Holiday Adviser,’ explains Gillian Kendall, Chair of the Elton Management Committee. ‘But having been in constant use for nearly 40 years, the old hut was in a sorry state, and, despite our best efforts, was clearly no longer fit for purpose.’
County Commissioner Jackie Brocklehurst, who was one of the first to look round the new shelter on Saturday, gave an insight into the funding involved. ‘We knew that quite heavy investment would be needed to bring the old building up to today’s standards, so were delighted when Network Rail asked if they could rent a small area of the campsite while repairing railway lines nearby as it generated an unexpected income stream,’ she said. ‘Then the newts were discovered! The presence – and persistence – of great crested newts on the site meant Network Rail’s work took longer than originally planned, with the result that we eventually had enough funds to completely replace the existing hut rather than continuing with short-term repairs!’
Pictured at the opening of the new Downing Shelter are, left to right, Girlguiding Nottinghamshire’s County Commissioner Jackie Brocklehurst, Elton Management Committee Chair Gillian Kendall, Rainbow Amelie Regan, Ranger Alix Collins, Brownie Summer Lally and Guide Lucy McKee.