Historic activity centre will not reopen

Outdoor activity centre

Girl Guides have been visiting Netherud since the 1940s, but Covid-19 has meant the centre is no longer financially viable 

11th August 2020 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A charity has taken the difficult decision to close an outdoor education centre that has been in operation since the 1940s.

Girlguiding Scotland announced yesterday (Monday 10 June) that its Netherurd centre in West Linton will not reopen.

The estate and its Georgian house has welcomed Guide groups for more than 70 years.

However visits have been declining over the last decade and the charity said in light of the Covid-19 pandemic it has taken the decision to close the outdoor activity centre.

Girlguiding Scotland chief commissioner Moira McKenna said: “Five years ago we were worried about the Netherurd estate and its finances, so Sue Walker and her team carried out a review. We had a serious debate, involving trustees and all the county commissioners, and decided that we would invest a significant sum of money in Netherurd to upgrade facilities and make it more suitable and attractive for girls and adult volunteers. We also worked hard to encourage all our members to use it at every opportunity.

“This plan worked well initially and there was an increase in its use and its income. However, over the last two to three years, this increase has not been sustained and we have again seen fewer people coming and Netherurd has lost more money.

“In the past, we regularly used to fill the house with adults for county and other training weekends, but this has been declining for at least the last decade. Fewer counties book for training, more of them come for only one night and the numbers from each county are lower than in previous times.

“There is now much more training available online and this has increased dramatically this year with Covid-19. Even before the pandemic came along, Girlguiding was planning to set up a digital hub to provide training online, and whilst we know the value of being together, volunteers across Scotland are finding the online or local training options more convenient in terms of both time and money.”

The charity said that Covid-19 has exacerbated the financial difficulties the centre is facing and that only 10% of its members visited the centre in any year.

The estate will now be sold and McKenna thanked all the staff and volunteers for their efforts over the years.

She added: “Although we are acting in the best interests of Girlguiding Scotland, it has been a difficult decision to make. However, whilst the facilities will go, our memories will remain and can be cherished forever. We plan to find a way for everyone to celebrate all the good times we’ve had at Netherurd and thank all of the staff and volunteers over the years who have made Netherurd such a special place.”