Ulverston Community Enterprises were proud to be awarded Community/Project of the Year and GSK 70th Year Anniversary Community awards at the Heart of Ulverston Awards night. Here is the speech from that event:
Heart of Ulverston acceptance
Good evening. I’m Ceri Hutton, the current Chair of Ulverston Community Enterprises and I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of the board, staff and volunteers who make up UCE’s team.
This amazing event tonight is in a building built by public subscription and opened in 1914. 100 years later, In 2014 South Lakeland District Council, which had managed the Coro since the 1970s, had to consider selling it off as it was no longer viable for a local authority to maintain and run.
Ulverston responded with typical energy to the news. There were public meetings, and the Friends of the Coro was quickly formed which helped demonstrate a groundswell of public support for this much-loved building. But we needed a firm proposal of how the Coro could be brought back under community ownership and that’s when the idea for Ulverston Community Enterprise was formed. In 2015 UCE was set up and a board of directors recruited.
It took us two years of detailed and grinding work to prepare the ground to convince SLDC that UCE would be able to take over the running of this incredible venue as well as the markets. Sometimes quite a bumpy ride, we had nonetheless great support from SLDC colleagues who want this enterprise to succeed. We took over the running of the Coro and markets in July 2016 for a five-year trial period.
And here we are, 2.5 years in, with the Coro still running and I hope you agree some improvements made, though we know we have many, many more to make.
I want to pay tribute to those who have helped get us to this point:
- the Friends of the Coro and
- the Town Councillors who led the way: Jane Harris, Janette Jenkinson and Judith Pickthall, as well as Jayne Kendall who gave a huge amount of support and wisdom at that early stage.
- I would like to pay tribute in particular to Judith Pickthall, here tonight, who chaired UCE through its first three exhilarating and sometimes nail-biting years.
Like all of the groups celebrated here tonight, UCE is nothing without its people. I serve with a great team of volunteer board members – 9 of us in all – who include Gavin Knott, Jacqui McCloy and Gordon Jones here tonight.
But keeping this building open on a daily basis and trying to improve and develop what it does for this community is of course the job of staff and volunteers. We have a great group of staff as well as volunteers who between them do an incredible job of developing this place and keeping it going. Our growing army of volunteers help make sure that this is a genuine community endeavour
We started on this journey wanting to make sure that the Coro has a vibrant, creative and above all community-centred future. Our mission is ‘to reclaim Ulverston’s assets for the common good’. We are 2.5 years into that journey, and we have to prove within the next two that we can develop this great building even more into the community and creative hub Ulverston needs and deserves. Support us – use the building, buy tickets, come with ideas, join the volunteer army – and we stand a better chance of being here in many years to come. If we can’t make a community enterprise like this work in Ulverston – where can we make it work?
So this award is such an enormous boost to all of us on that journey who are working so hard to keep our Coro right at the heart of Ulverston, helping that heart pump strongly and creatively for all the community.
On behalf of all at UCE, I am honoured to accept. Here’s to the next 100 years!