Beccles Townlands Charity - News & Events

During the course of a year we are pleased to support Beccles organisations and events that are of benefit to the town.  The following are some of the most recent initiatives we have been involved in.

Beccles Forest School

In 2023 Beccles Forest School was rated as outstanding in all areas by Ofsted, an accolade welcomed by all involved in this unique educational experience. 

The School is situated on The Wild Meadow, accessed from the Common and has been running for five years.  It offers activities for all ages – from 2 with no upper age limit – with the emphasis on outdoor activities including tree climbing, shelter building, camp-fire cooking and free-roaming outdoor play.  It is child-led with an emphasis on developing confidence, independence and resilience.

 In early 2024 The Forest School requested funding for a six-week two hour youth course which was in danger of being cancelled.  With our support they were able to offer this provision after Easter this year.

Photo to follow

Beccles Town’s Inclusive Football Group

In 2023 Beccles Townlands Charity was pleased to provide Beccles Town’s Inclusive Football Group with a bespoke kit. The photograph shows the youngsters, both girls and boys, together with a number of coaches, reflecting the need to work in small groups offering closer support and supervision.

Training takes place every Saturday morning between 9 and 10am and gives members the opportunity to participate in a sport they love and which hasn’t been available to them previously. The group has also given parents, without whom this initiative may not have got off the ground, the chance to set up a great net-working platform whereby they can share experiences and offer advice to each other. Recently the group held a training session before the 1st team’s game against Long Stratton on College Meadow, before joining in with the pre-match warm-up with the Senior players.

The facility was completed in early 2019, again with a donation from the Townlands Charity and provides an all-weather training and playing surface to over 500 junior members, both boys and girls, and over 140 adult members, male and female, from Little Stingers and Wildcats aged 5 to the Walking Football Group, some of whose participants are in their 70s. The success of these groups fully justifies the time, effort and funds that have been put into Beccles Town’s Football Club.

Beccles Townlands Charity and Gillingham Marshes

Possibly the best view in Beccles is from the top of the detached tower of St Michael’s Church on a clear day. To the north, south and east the main view is of the town stretching away into the distance. However to the west the view is different. One is struck by the vast expanse of green marshes criss-crossed by dykes and bounded by the river Waveney as it passes the town and winds west towards Geldeston. Running diagonally across the marshes a wooded embankment can be seen, which is the former trackbed of the Beccles to Bungay railway line. The embankment can be reached via a gated track from Gillingham Dam or via the riverbank footpath.

Beccles Townlands Charity previously owned 32 acres of the marshes beside the track. In 2021 the opportunity arose to buy a further 63 acres on the other side of the track. In addition to marshes the land included the river bank up to Gillingham and roughly 500 metres of the former railway line. The railway opened in 1863 and ran to Bungay, Harleston and Tivetshall where it joined the main Norwich line. The line operated for 100 years and crossed the river enabling trains to start and finish journeys at Beccles Station.

After closure, sadly, the track bed was sold off. The section crossing Gillingham marshes passed through various hands and for a while the public could access the line for walking purposes. However, in more recent years access was closed by barbed wire, locked gates and undergrowth. Bearing in mind that this is a beautiful area on Beccles’s doorstep, it seemed appropriate to open up the line for public usage by means of a permissive footpath. A circular walk can be made by means of the river bank footpath and the newly created public footpath into Gillingham at the end of the line.

The marshes are let for hay and grazing by cattle in the summer months and mid-tier countryside stewardship grants have been obtained to clear and dredge neglected dykes and encourage wildlife. The Water, Mills and Marshes Project of the Broads Authority has supported the charity and it is hoped that benches and display boards concerning the railway heritage will soon be added.

Various wildlife organisations have given advice on the ecology, wildlife and fauna and the Broads Authority Peat Project has visited and taken samples. An ornithologist on a recent visit recorded 22 different species of birds in a 2 hour period. Buzzards, Marsh Harriers, Kestrels, Lapwings, a Hen Harrier and a flight of Cranes have been seen. The tree-lined embankment provides cover and food for birds and the gaps between the trees give an elevated view over the flat surrounding marshes.

In the hands of Beccles Townlands Charity it is hoped that the area will be an enhancement and a benefit to the town of Beccles for many years to come.

Beccles and Bungay Journal Article – 9th February 2024

BECCLES TOWNLANDS CHARITY, also known as The Feoffees, dates back to 1544, with a proud history of serving the town and its inhabitants over almost five centuries. The funds that we preside over are thanks to legacies from our forebears and judicious investment over the years, overseen by the Charities Commission.

We receive requests for assistance from many organisations and individuals and we are anxious that Beccles people be made aware of our existence. Further information can be found on our website at becclestownlandscharity.org.uk.

Examples of grants given during the 2023 financial year include those for upgrading theatre equipment at the Sir John Leman High School and assistance with projects at both the Albert Pye and Ravensmere Primary Schools. Other organisations that have benefitted include Beccles Library in the form of new tables and chairs, the Fox & Hounds Social Club with safety equipment and Beccles Salvation Army for the creation of parking spaces.

As far as the town itself is concerned we support the Citizens Advice Bureau on an annual basis as well as Beccles and District Museum, the latter of which is run entirely by volunteers and enables them to put on their regular exhibitions and to preserve their excellent collection of artefacts.

Church buildings form part of the fabric of our town and are reminders of our past. Their upkeep is costly and in addition to their own fund-raising we contributed last year to St Michael’s Parish Church through their food bank and repairs to the west end gable. St Luke’s Church has also been a beneficiary.

We are always keen to help young people and last year supported Beccles Bombers Basketball Club, Beccles Amateur Sailing Club, Beccles Disability Football and Beccles Caxton Football Club. Other grants have gone to Beccles Society of Artists and to individuals who needed help in a variety of ways.

If you or your organisation feels you might qualify for assistance, please visit our website mentioned earlier and complete the application form. On the website under News and Events you will find further information of the support we have given. We look forward to hearing from you.

(published in Beccles and Bungay Journal – 9th February 2024 and Community News)