VOLUNTEERS have gained a sneak preview of a newly refurbished creative arts centre just weeks before a £1.3million renovation project on the historic building is due to be completed.

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Work at the John Peel Centre in Church Walk, Stowmarket is on track to finish before the end of the month. The refurbishment was unveiled to people who heeded a call for voluntary staff to take on roles ranging from event promotion and box office co-ordination to bar work.

Chairman of the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts, Andrew Stringer, said: “The building work is virtually finished and although we still have a way to go with the finishing touches and installing things like utility services, we can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.

“We will have a manager co-ordinating everything, but the place will be very much volunteer-driven, so we need to get people in and trained up as soon as possible so we are ready to rock as soon as the time comes.”

An open day was held at the centre on Saturday for prospective volunteers and a further session is due to take place tomorrow evening at 7pm.

Mr Stringer said he was “delighted” with the number of people who had expressed an interest in getting involved, adding: “It is great to see the venue capturing people’s imaginations and it was also good for us to see the reaction to the building work.

“We have had to put a lot of modern kit into the building, which you just can’t hide, but we have tried to let the historical elements shine through. For instance, we have made a feature of the cast iron girders by painting them bright red.

“We also have tried to balance the old with the new and we have things like under floor heating, which will make it much more comfortable. Overall, the whole look of the place is really inspirational, so we are very pleased.”

Although there are a number of acts booked to appear at the centre, Mr Stringer said they were keeping the names “under wraps” for the time being.

The building project received a boost recently after more than £100,000 was raised in just two months. But Mr Stringer added: “When you’re renovating any historic building, there are always a few nasty surprises that crop up, so we are continuing to fundraise on an ongoing basis. Anyone who would like to donate, volunteer or just find out more about the centre can do so via our website.” Visit www.johnpeelcentreforcreativearts.co.uk for details.

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