Stowmarket: Celebrations at Peel centre

A PROJECT to transform a disused Victorian corn exchange into a 21st Century creative arts centre has received a �50,000 boost and a huge vote of support from the public.

The team behind the John Peel centre for Creative Arts in Stowmarket picked up the cash last night from the People’s Millions after a TV vote.

The centre would be used for live music, have art studios, a cafe and display space and would be a creative hub for the area, all in honour of the late BBC DJ, who live in nearby Great Finborough.

Sheila Ravenscroft, Mr Peel’s widow, said she was “absolutely ecstatic” about the news and said it would take the project to the next level.

She said: “I was screaming down the phone and shaking with joy. I’m delighted. It was such a long day yesterday, but worth all the hard work and determination, so to get the call was amazing.”

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She said even if the centre had not been successful, the past few days had significantly raised the profile of the project.

She added: “I don’t think there’s anybody left around here who doesn’t know about it and the support has come from all areas. We can make it happen now.

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“It will unlock other funding and it’s just the beginning. It’s truly the best day.”

Andrew Stringer, a Mid Suffolk District Councillor and a member of the Peel Centre board, said the money would help make the building usable again.

He said: “Everyone can rest assured that we will wring every drop out of that money to get as far as we can on that building work.

“This will mean we can complete phase two of the project and the building will be put back into a usable state. “It will pay for the lighting, heating, toilets, access and fire exits to be upgraded and for the building to be made watertight. Little issues that are now being addressed.”

Mr Stringer said the Peel Centre was a great example of how a few people with a good idea could quickly accrue a huge amount of community backing.

He said: “It’s wonderful that we put out that call and people responded in droves because they ‘get’ the idea.

“The overwhelming word is ‘need’ – we need this here. Everyone is saying that Stowmarket and Suffolk needs this and I’m delighted that Suffolk has responded.”

To find out more about the Peel Centre, search for the profile page on Facebook or visit

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