Charity's birthplace up for sale

A WORLD famous charity launched in Suffolk more than 50 years ago looks set to sever its ties with the county after putting its former headquarters up for sale.

A WORLD famous charity launched in Suffolk more than 50 years ago looks set to sever its ties with the county after putting its former headquarters up for sale.

Fears have now voiced that the Sue Ryder estate in Cavendish, regarded as the spiritual home of the charity, could be turned into an upmarket housing development and spell the end of the estate's existing museum and chapel.

Although charity chiefs claim everything is being done to safeguard the museum, celebrating the life of the figurehead Sue Ryder, speculation is mounting about its future after the firm handling the £1.75 million sale admitted they expected the land to be sold for residential development.

Jerry Hewitt , proprietor of village store The Duck and Grouse said he was not surprised by yesterday's announcement and felt it was inevitable the museum would now close down.

He said: “Everyone expected and suspected that the estate would be lost to an executive housing development all along.

“It is only a matter of time before the museum is closed and Sue Ryder's presence disappears completely in the village.

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“I think there is currently an element of sentimentality in the village but I don't think it will last too long.”

Lady Ryder, who died four years ago, took over the Suffolk estate, near Sudbury, following the Second World War and soon developed a blossoming charity with a care home and headquarters in the picturesque village.

But the implications of the Care Standards Act spelt the end for the residential home and, despite a staunch campaign from staff and villagers, it closed in December 2001.

Cavendish borough councillor Peter Stevens said every effort must be made to continue the charity's tradition in the village and hoped any subsequent project could answer the area's affordable housing crisis.

He said: “It would be very sad if our village links to the late Lady Ryder were cut. I think the villagers felt a great loss when the care home closed and obviously we are very keen to see the links continued.

“I think residents have a great affinity with Lady Ryder's house and the chapel within the site although I believe the state of the buildings are not particular sound.

“There is a good will in the village to see the estate properly developed and I am looking forward to some exciting plans which will fit in with both our conservation area and beautiful village.”

The charity said last night every step has been taken to safeguard the museum and sell the estate to a like-minded organisation looking to operate a care home or sheltered housing scheme.

Director of communications Steve Taylor said: “This is the end of a two-year process since the care centre closed. We have gone through a long consultation process with the planning authority, the parish council and local residents.

“We have been very open with the people of Cavendish and we are looking to maintain contact with the area as this village is essentially where it all started.”

Colchester-based Fenn Wright Chartered Surveyors, who are handling the sale of the estate, have revealed offers in excess of £1.75 million are being sought.

In advertising the sale, the firm admitted they expected interest from someone looking to “extensively redevelop the estate most likely to a residential scheme”.

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