Beccles Townlands Charity - News & Events

Here is a list of recent news and events relating to the Beccles Feoffees – The Beccles Townlands Charity.
As more events are written up, we will add them to this list.

Two recent projects which Beccles Townlands Charity was pleased to support were badly hit by Covid-19 soon after they were completed.  However, thanks to the great initiative and determination of their leaders they have survived the last 12 months of uncertainty to emerge ready once again to serve the needs of the Beccles community

Beccles Sea Cadets

In September 2021 Beccles Sea Cadets will celebrate its 50th anniversary, a truly significant landmark for an organisation dedicated to the youth of the town.  For most of those years it operated from buildings and riverside moorings at the Quay, which gradually outgrew capacity due to ever-increasing numbers of cadets.  A new building was essential and through extensive fund-raising initiatives and with a 99-year lease granted on land by Beccles Town Council, the new building was officially opened in June 2019.  The total cost was £750,000 and, together with other organisations Beccles Townlands Charity was pleased to contribute to the sum required.  The state of the art facilities are a reflection of the hard work of so many and the generosity of others.

However, barely eight months later all activities came to an abrupt halt with the onslaught of Covid-19 and the organisers were faced with a struggle to cover the running costs with no opportunity to generate income.  Fortunately they were able to access a Covid grant from the Council to tide them over until they could safely reopen.  In April outdoor activities commenced and in May they were once again able to meet indoors.

The facilities are indeed impressive, as the photograph illustrates, and it was fitting that one of the classrooms was named after Monty Pitkin, a Trustee of our Charity for many years and a dedicated supporter of Beccles Sea Cadets since its inception.  The Wardroom is a magnificent backdrop for official functions and celebratory occasions while the up-to-date kitchen facilities enable catering for both in-house and other events.

Sources of income include regular sessions by the Dance Academy, monthly quiz nights and bookings through U3A.

Beccles Sea Cadets - The Wardroom

The Wardroom.

Beccles Lido

Another Beccles success story is that of the Lido in Puddingmoor, a heated open-air swimming pool which has existed since 1959.  When the Town Council was no longer able to support it local volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure its future and re-opened it in 2010.

However, it was not all plain-sailing and over the years it became increasingly apparent that considerable work needed to be carried out if it were to continue as a viable operation.  Beccles Lido Limited (BLL) sprang into action and started an intensive fund-raising campaign which Beccles Townlands Charity was pleased to support.  Our grant was used in part to resurface the road leading down to the pool which enabled the Lido management to convince various other funders that the project was real and well supported in Beccles.  This led to significant funding from other organisations which enabled the project to go ahead.

What started as a £200,000 repair and relining project turned into a £600,000 complete refurbishment of every aspect of the pool.  Excellent project management meant that all works were completed to schedule in Spring 2020 with a view to opening in May as usual.  Sadly Covid-19 put paid to those plans as the country was put into lockdown.  Finally the Lido re-opened on 20 July for a successful summer season.  This included an increase in the number of swimming clubs from 2 in 2019 to 6 in 2020, due to the ability to remain open until 10 pm thanks to the new underwater lighting.

 An immediate effect of Covid was reduced income due to lockdowns and reduced numbers allowed in the pool at any one time resulting in only 25,000 swimmers in 2020 compared to nearly 50,000 in 2019.  Swimmers were only allowed one hour so admission prices had to be reduced and opening the café was no longer viable.  However, there were positives.  The decision was taken to extend the season by remaining open for the first time during the Autumn and the introduction of Winter  Chill Swims which proved very popular. After the third lockdown the pool reopened on 29 March, heated, two months earlier than ever before and the plan is to stay open and heated until the end of October.  There will then be cold water swimming throughout the winter.  So the Lido is now an all year round facility.

Lido_from river

Beccles Lido by day and by night.

The intention now is to continue with the booking and lane systems, which in many ways is more efficient and will prevent the build-up of long summer queues while enabling individuals to be more appropriately catered for –  particularly the disabled or those with special needs.

Recent experience has shown that Beccles Lido is so much more than just a swimming pool.  It provides both physical fitness and mental well-being to swimmers and the opportunity to meet and socialise.  As Shaun Crowley, BLL Managing Director, puts it:  ‘We are a community hub and we enrich people’s lives.  When we finally get back to normal, post-Covid, it will be a new normal, but we believe it can be a better normal, for our swimmers and their fitness and their mental well-being, for Beccles Lido Limited and for the sustainability of Beccles Lido.  BUT also for the whole UK open air and open water swimming community, of whom we are proud to be a part’.

Tribute to Monty Pitkin

It was with sadness that the Charity learned of the death of Monty Pitkin on 15 December 2020, after a lifetime of dedicated service to the town of Beccles.

From 1977 to 2018 Monty had been an invaluable member of our Charity, known commonly as the Feoffees, with his wide knowledge of Beccles town and its inhabitants being his greatest asset.  During his period of service Monty saw the Charity develop from one providing basic and limited support to its current position of being able to help fund major projects that are of benefit to the town and its people.  Looking back, he saw the sale of a large plot of land, bequeathed to the Feoffees many years before, as a turning point.  The land was sold to a local builder who went on to develop the housing estate known as Townlands.  The money raised from this sale has enabled the Feoffees to help fund major projects in the town such as the Public Hall, Beccles Lido, the new Sea Cadet building,  to name but a few, as well as helping a large number of individuals in need.

Beccles Townlands Charity - Monty Pitkin

Tribute to Monty Pitkin

It was with sadness that the Charity learned of the death of Monty Pitkin on 15 December 2020, after a lifetime of dedicated service to the town of Beccles.

From 1977 to 2018 Monty had been an invaluable member of our Charity, known commonly as the Feoffees, with his wide knowledge of Beccles town and its inhabitants being his greatest asset.  

During his period of service Monty saw the Charity develop from one providing basic and limited support 

Beccles Townlands Charity - Monty Pitkin

to its current position of being able to help fund major projects that are of benefit to the town and its people. Looking back, he saw the sale of a large plot of land, bequeathed to the Feoffees many years before, as a turning point.  The land was sold to a local builder who went on to develop the housing estate known as Townlands.  The money raised from this sale has enabled the Feoffees to help fund major projects in the town such as the Public Hall, Beccles Lido, the new Sea Cadet building,  to name but a few, as well as helping a large number of individuals in need.

Monty was known throughout the town for the many ways in which he served its people.   He served two periods as Mayor and retired from the Council in 2004 after 25 years’ service.  He will be missed by many and the town and its people are the better for his years of dedicated service.

Tribute to Robert Peck

It was with sadness that we learned on 1st February 2021 that Robert had died after a long period of illness.

In April 2020 Bob, as he was known to us, retired as our secretary due to failing health.  He had served from December 1999 until April 2020 and was by any measure an outstanding secretary.  His attention to detail and exceptional memory, backed up by meticulous record keeping, ensured that he had an answer to any query at any given meeting.  He gave tremendous support to each Collector in turn and, as his retirement approached, he ensured that his successor was well briefed.

Born in Barsham, Bob attended the Leman School, Beccles.  He followed a career in banking, rising to manager level and then spent a period of time as Bursar to the Leman School.   

Bob Peck

Tribute to Robert Peck

It was with sadness that we learned on 1st February 2021 that Robert had died after a long period of illness.

In April 2020 Bob, as he was known to us, retired as our secretary due to failing health.  He had served from December 1999 until April 2020 and was by any measure an outstanding secretary. 

His attention to detail and exceptional memory, backed up by meticulous record keeping, ensured that he had an answer to any query at any given meeting. 

He gave tremendous support to each Collector in turn and, as his retirement approached, he ensured that his successor was well briefed.

Bob Peck

Born in Barsham, Bob attended the Leman School, Beccles.  He followed a career in banking, rising to manager level and then spent a period of time as Bursar to the Leman School.