Hiring the HQ
The 1st Twyford Scout HQ, known as The Phoenix Centre, is a modern building located next to the King George V playing field. You can use our How To Find Us page to see a map of where we are within Twyford.
If you're looking for a venue for an event or conference then perhaps The Phoenix Centre is the place for you. On the ground floor the centre features a large main hall, with underfloor heating, lightweight folding tables and chairs and a large fitted screen as well as a fully fitted kitchen with serving hatches into the main hall. The stairs and a lift give access to the two conference rooms on the upper floor. The larger conference room has a DVD player with screen, a white board as well as several meeting tables and chairs. The smaller meeting room is set up with comfortable seating suitable for smaller, more informal meetings.
If The Phoenix centre ticks all of your boxes then the first step is to contact John to see if your required date is free and confirm the cost of the hire. You can either call him on 0118 9340584 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The original HQ on this site was built in 1974. In November 2003 the Stores were broken into and set alight which effectively destroyed the HQ, for although the building was constructed of pre-cast concrete, the heat deformed the supporting girders and it had to be demolished. The discovery of asbestos in the roofing material which required special handling during demolition was an unexpected early expense. The arsonists were never found and Wokingham police said at the time that they didn’t have the resources to do much about it.
The now ‘homeless’ Scout Group quickly settled upon ‘Project Phoenix’ as the brand name for the rebuilding of the HQ but the first priorities were (i) to find somewhere to continue meeting and (ii) to renew all the kit which had been destroyed (including marquees, canoes and a trailer) so that it would be camping business as usual by the following Spring. The Group were very fortunate that Interserve at Ruscombe Business Park stepped in to help with temporary premises, followed two years later by Hurstlane plc, owners of Bridge House ursing Home. Following an insurance claim of about £150,000 the Group was able to purchase much new equipment but this, together with demolition cost, left only £110,000 to put towards a new building. A new marquee was generously donated by a Silk Mill resident.
From these early days it was determined that the new HQ should be much more than just replacing like with like. The Group had expanded considerably over the years and therefore needed more space but Conference facilities for use by outside organisations was also included in the specification. The new building was designed by a Scout dad - architect Guy Pocock - who gave his services for free, which provided the first boost. Fund raising on a necessarily big scale was put in hand with Waitrose almost immediately providing a £500 donation, which was another boost.
The Group naturally applied for grants but were turned down by the Lottery and the Landfill Tax authority who both said that a Scout HQ didn’t serve enough of the community. In retrospect these were ill judged decisions since the HQ is now used by a very diverse cross section of organisations and groups. However the Group was delighted to receive four significant grants – the largest of which was £25,000 – from two London based charitable foundations, from Huntswood (a Reading company) and from The Twyford Advertiser. Many other smaller grants and donations were gratefully received, bringing the total raised from grants and donations to well over £100,000. Wokingham Borough Council were unable to provide any assistance.
Group fund raising early in Project Phoenix included a successful ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign which prompted a very gratifying response from Twyford residents. Other fund raising events included an Auction of Promises, Antique Book Fairs, sponsored cycle rides by Lady Leaders, a sponsored winter climbing event in the Cairngorms together with other ongoing fund raising. These include a 200 Club, the annual village Summer Fair, selling used Toner Cartridges and marquee hire which, with other initiatives, raised a further £100,000.
The building contract was let to an East Anglian company and work started on the new HQ in spring of 2006, project managed by Bill Evans, a Scout Leader and Civil Engineer. The fine, new HQ was opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire in April 2007.
However, Project Phoenix consisted of two more Phases – the next being the construction of a Stores Block, big enough to house the Group’s minibus, marquees and a considerable amount of other kit. Phase 2 was completed in the summer of 2009, with the Stores now in use. The last Phase, consisting of substantial steel fencing around the site together with tarmacing the surrounds and roadway, was completed in early autumn of 2009. 1st Twyford Scouts, together with Twyford Guides, now has facilities comparable to any in the country as far as self- funded HQs are concerned.
The new HQ (to be called the Phoenix Centre) and Stores has been a success story brought about by the support from the local community, from charitable organisations, from parents and especially from the hard work put in by the Group’s Executive and Leaders.