SALTASH’S Ashtorre Rock Centre is back and active, reported chairman Lynn Marsh at the annual meeting of Saltash Waterside Community Association held at the centre on June 16.
The Ashtorre Rock Centre (pictured below) at Waterside, which is a popular building situated alongside the former Saltash ferry slipway and under the Royal Albert Bridge, was built at a cost of £70,000 and was opened on St Piran’s Day 1991 by the late Cornish folk singer Brenda Wooton, when Marjorie Schikowsky was Mayor.
It was the dream of Gerald Truscott and other Waterside people to have a centre and they worked hard to raise money and organise the building of Ashtorre Rock. Mr Truscott was Lynn Marsh’s father.
Mrs Marsh explained that the last annual general meeting was held before the COVID pandemic, on July 11, 2019, and the centre was functioning well until the end of August 2019, but then an ongoing problem with youths tomb-stoning from the building reached a crisis and there was no alternative but to issue a press release stating that Ashtorre was about to close.
“It was an horrendous time but we were well supported by the whole Saltash community, with over 100 people attending a special meeting,” said Mrs Marsh.
“This resulted in ASE kindly volunteering to install the CCTV system we have today.”
She added that they continued to tick along, but with the threat of COVID all around, on March 17, 2020, they had to close Ashtorre Rock.
This was reinforced when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a full lockdown from March 23, 2020. Ashtorre Rock then remained closed until July 19, 2021.
During that period, although the centre was closed, Mrs Marsh and her husband Tony (one of the Trustees of the centre), were very much present, checking the building and making sure maintenance and care of the building was in order.
There was no income from the ground floor during that period but bills still had to be paid, such as insurance, utilities, etcetera.
The kitchen income that year was £5 – and in actual fact that was a £4.99 refund that had come through from a previous year!
They applied for grants and received generous Government support grants administered very efficiently from Cornwall Council totalling £27.333.
During the times of relaxation of certain aspects of COVID lockdown, some of the loyal centre users were able to hire the first floor.
This helped with the room rental income. Mrs Marsh said that without this income, it would have been hard for the ground floor to sustain itself and meet its financial commitments when it eventually opened again.
Two Ashtorre members, in the beginning of lockdown, had sent a cheque for £100 “to help with the bills”, they said, and Mrs Marsh added: “We are lucky to have such true friends.”
Unfortunately, John Foster is not able to continue organising Ashtorre’s ‘art wall’ and Mrs Marsh thanked him for the hours and help he had given to the centre. In future, Bruce Hunt and Saltash Heritage have agreed to fill the wall with photographs from their archives.
Giving details of the various facilities, Mrs Marsh said that smoke alarms had been updated, additional lighting had been added to the first floor and other renovations, such as flooring, furniture, etc had been carried out.
Some long-standing volunteers had not been able to continue and Mrs Marsh thanked them for their great commitment over the years.
A new policy has been introduced at the centre for health and safety reasons: there must always be two members on duty at all times.
This has been welcomed by all the volunteers, and Mrs Marsh said their friendly, efficient and warm approach to visitors keeps them coming back.
Many other renovations have been completed in time for the reopening of Ashtorre Rock and with the lifting of restrictions, a ploughman’s lunch, library, teas and coffees are available, and selling of swan food has been reintroduced.
Lockdown led to Ashtorre’s 30th anniversary celebrations being missed, but many other events have been held, including talks, celebrations, singalongs and the centre’s 31st birthday in March 2022.
A minute’s silence was held in memory of Christopher Nicholls, former President, who had helped the centre for many years and who died in April 2021.
Mrs Marsh also mentioned several good friends and members of Ashtorre who had died, along with their services to the Ashtorre Rock Centre. Mrs Marsh ended her report by saying that her position as chairman until 2024 will need more planning and she looks forward to working with the new committee. She has been chairman for over 10 years.
Later, deputising as treasurer, Mrs Marsh thanked Pamela Kelly, who after many years was retiring as treasurer.
She paid tribute to her long service and said praise had also come from the accountant, along with bank staff, for Mrs Kelly’s efficient work as treasurer.
Mrs Marsh said there had been many items of capital expenditure since 2019 - new tables and chairs, and a new carpet, kitchen flooring, fridge, etc.
There are 114 members of the Saltash Waterside Community Association which manages Ashtorre Rock.
A satisfactory balance in hand was reported by Mrs Marsh.
Arthur Hearl, trustee, chaired the meeting and Tony Marsh, another trustee, gave the trustees’ report.
The committee was re-elected en bloc plus a few new members. A secretary and treasurer will be appointed by the committee.
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