New eco-hall for Martham scouts

INSPIRED youngsters in Martham have helped create one of the most eco-friendly Scout halls in the country.

After eight years of hard work and �110,000 raised, the 60 members of 1st Martham Scout Group on Tuesday enjoyed the first of many get-togethers at their new home, based on Staithe Road.

And with a range of green-minded and energy-saving features, leaders hope that as well as a lower carbon footprint their running bills will be considerably lower too.

Now aged 45, Scout group leader Paul Abel first joined the troop as a boy in 1976.

Heavily involved with the project, from early planning wrangles through to the first brick being laid nearly a year and four months ago, he was quick to praise those who had helped along the way.

He said: “Our members are aged six to 18 and they have been heavily involved in the development of the hut.

“They’ve really gone out and researched what they wanted included and to get information they even went on trips to Swaffham Eco Centre. This has got to be one of the most eco-friendly and child-friendly Scout huts in the UK, and it should be low maintenance with low long-term energy bills too.”

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Among the youngster-inspired features of the hut, which is metal clad with a brick base, is a water harvesting system that allows rainwater from the drain pipes to be filtered and used to flush the toilets. The new centre will also include a ground-source heating system that draws on geothermal energy and be extra insulated to retain warmth.

Paul added that early tests showed the heating system had come up trumps: “When some of the members first went in they took their shoes off – the floor was so warm from it.”

As well as four years of fundraising by those involved, which resulted in up to �25,000 being raised, a wide range of grants of everything from �100-�20,000, including interior paint donated by Dulux Decorator Centres, have helped.

The new disabled-friendly building includes a 8m by 24m hall, as well as a toilet and kitchen.

The hall is also around twice as large as the village church hall, which the group have used as a venue for the last 35 years.

Paul added that the wider community had played a key role in the project.

“The amount of voluntary time given up by a group of dedicated people has been amazing. We’ve had parents of Scouts getting involved, a retired civil engineer who project managed, and a father who has his own brick-laying business. It’s been an unbelievable get-together of people donating their efforts.”