Ilkley's popular Nell Bank Outdoor Education Centre is now in the hands of a charity, after a transfer away from Bradford Council following long negotiations.
The centre - between the River Wharfe and Middleton Woods - welcomes more than 20,000 children each year, with specialist buildings, activity areas, dormitories and dining facilities across its 25 acre site.
Bradford Council says it's been working on the transfer for several years and after a delay because of Covid the charity is now in a position to take full control of the centre from Tuesday 1st March.
Richard Bourdon, chairman of the newly-formed Nell Bank Charitable Trust said: “We have been working to this point for some years now with our partners at Bradford Council and have built a fantastic group of local volunteer member trustees who are giving their time and skills freely to make sure that this terrific community resource can prosper and grow in the future.”
Councillor Imran Khan, portfolio holder for education, employment and skills, said: “Nell Bank has been, and will remain, an important asset for the district; providing a unique opportunity for children to take part in activities they wouldn’t experience. I can only praise the charity and volunteers who have worked so hard to maintain the life-enhancing services they offer.
“Now the uncertainties caused by Covid-19 have been resolved, I look forward to seeing how the Trust uses it’s new independence to develop its offering and forge its own future.”
Nell Bank has been run as a partnership between Bradford Council and the Queens Silver Jubilee Centre Trust for over 40 years and provides much-needed day and residential outdoor experiences for children of all abilities and from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.
It was founded by the late Paul Hockney to ensure that the children of Bradford grew up with an understanding of the outdoors and the benefits spending time outside could bring to their education, personal development and physical and mental wellbeing - an ethos that will continue to be fundamental to the Nell Bank Charitable Trust’s work.
This last year has been particularly challenging and rewarding for the Trust. Its “Wellbeing in Wellies” initiative was launched to help youngsters recover from several lockdowns. As a result of that campaign, well over 600 children from ten different schools received funding to allow them to benefit from the centre’s excellent facilities. Those same children were then able to return with their families during the Summer break as part of the Holiday Activity and Food programme.
In addition to this, 4,500 visitors from across West Yorkshire were welcomed to the centre during eight discovery days organised by the Nell Bank charitable Trust
Richard Bourdon, added: “Since the Covid 19 pandemic, with its enforced lockdowns impacting children’s emotional and physical wellbeing, it has become even more important that children of all backgrounds and abilities get access to and learn to love the outdoors. We all look forward to developing Nell Bank and forming relationships with other Charitable funders to ensure the centres unique capabilities are developed in the future and are accessible to all.”