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Red Cross centre set to close after four decades in Woodbridge

08:15 26 January 2016

The British Red Cross centre in Theatre Street, Woodbridge which due to close.

The British Red Cross centre in Theatre Street, Woodbridge which due to close.

A purpose-built first aid centre is set to close after 40 years of training volunteers in a Suffolk town.

The opening of the Red Cross centre in Woodbridge, 1975.The opening of the Red Cross centre in Woodbridge, 1975.

British Red Cross bosses announced they will be closing the Woodbridge centre later this year.

The Theatre Street building, which opened in February 1975, is currently home to a medical equipment loan service and a group of volunteers providing first aid for public events.

Following the closure, the volunteer group will transfer Ipswich, where the medical equipment service will also be based, with plans to make home delivery available.

Red Cross operations director for East Anglia, Nanette Charville said: “We regret having to make this decision to stop using the Woodbridge building, as we have close ties to the local community in the area and we realise that it may be more difficult for some of our volunteers to travel to Ipswich.

A stretcher mounted between bicycles  probably used by Woodbridge Red Cross during training exercises in 1912.A stretcher mounted between bicycles  probably used by Woodbridge Red Cross during training exercises in 1912.

“However, as a charitable organisation we have a responsibility to our donors and those who use our services to ensure the best distribution of our funds.

“We are making changes at the moment to focus our resources on key locations, from which we can support as many people in crisis as possible, and build a stronger, consolidated volunteer base.

“We have to move away from maintaining a large number of under-used buildings and make best use of our funds.”

The Woodbridge and district branch of the charity was founded by Colonel Ranulphus Carthew in late 1909, to provide supplementary aid to the Territorial Forces Medical Service in the event of war.

Since opening in 1975, the Theatre Street centre has provided first aid training and the loan of medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and walking frames. There has also been a charity shop in The Thoroughfare since the 1980s.

In 2007, Dorothy Kellogg, a Woodbridge volunteer for more than 60 years, wrote a 250-page history of the Red Cross in the area.

The book recorded the work of local volunteers to set up hospitals during the First World War.

Ms Charville said: “We hope that our dedicated, compassionate volunteers will stay with us, and we are of course committed to maintaining our presence in Woodbridge.

“We will still be active in providing first aid and emergency response, and hope the area will continue to support us. We are also planning to celebrate the contribution of our Woodbridge volunteers and the great history of our activity there.

“People there have shown great generosity to our fundraising campaigns in the past, and have enabled us to buy an ambulance for our emergency response work. We will continue to do all we can to support vulnerable people in Woodbridge and across east Suffolk.”

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