LETTER: Sadness over centre’s closure

It was with great sadness that I heard that Mepal Outdoor Centre has closed and the site handed over to East Cambs District Council.

The use of the gravel pit near Chatteris started in the 1960s when evening class boat builders (Harold Edgely, Charlie Fox, Cliff Goakes) at March FE Centre wanted somewhere to sail their dinghies.

A few years later the county council then took over and expanded the facility under the wardenship of Brian Calvert.

In 1981/2 the county council withdrew support due to budget cuts, but Fenland, South Cambridge and East Cambs district councils took it over and appointed a new manager called Jim McCann who managed to generate and attract enough money to build most of the present facilities.

When he left David Savage took over and expanded the land based activities including the high ropes. As a teacher at the Hereward and Neale-Wade schools I took pupils there at the end of each summer term for 35 years.

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Along with other schools, not just local ones, many thousands of young people have experienced the activities on offer. The centre also offered courses for adults and disabled people. Unlike the recent management of the site the centre was open at weekends during the season.

Sadly during the last four years the range of activities reduced including the fact that sailing was not offered and all the sailing boats sold off.

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I absolutely disagree that Mepal had a “bad reputation” (as per the article in last week’s edition) otherwise why would there have been a great number of repeat bookings from schools and other organisations over the years.

I hope that East Cambs District Council can find an organisation that will continue the outdoor activities available at Mepal.


Retired teacher


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