New community group aims to reopen Hengistbury Head Outdoor Centre

By Sam Pither [email protected]

Published: February 21, 2024 | Updated: 21st February 2024

A new charitable organisation called Hengistbury Head Outdoors (HHO) has been formed to take over the management of the Hengistbury Head Outdoor Education Centre in Dorset.

The centre closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic and has remained dormant since, with only a limited number of groups allowed access.

HHO was set up in late 2023 by local watersports and outdoor activity groups who frequently use the facilities and surrounding harbour area. They have registered as a Community Benefit Society with the goal of reopening the centre for community use.

The centre has a long history in the area. First opened in 1964 as the Marine Training Centre, it was renamed Hengistbury Head Outdoor Education Centre in the 1980s. For many years it provided outdoor education sessions for thousands of school children and adults each year.

HHO’s mission is to sympathetically renovate and update the facilities to create an inclusive space for diverse outdoor activities on land and water. Their initial priorities are to add essential features like showers, changing rooms and slipway access, as well as making the main building safe again.

Longer term, the group aims to construct a new purpose-built centre that meets the needs of schools, clubs, and the wider community. They are currently working through the Community Asset Transfer process with the council to take over management of the site.

HHO is funded through member shares – local residents can become lifetime members for a small fee and will have voting rights at AGMs. The group is also actively fundraising to cover the costs of surveys, consultancy, renovations and new builds.

You can follow HHO’s progress on their website and social media channels. The group warmly welcomes new members, donors, and any organisations interested in using the future facilities.

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