Capital Appeal

Bedfordshire Opportunities for Learning Disabilities Appeal (BOLD)

Download the Case for Support here.

BOLD Capital appeal to build a new education and work training centre with social and community facilities.

Architects Vision of the New Centre

Appeal Update October 2018

The construction company spent a lot of time reviewing the buildings design and have managed to bring the total build cost down from £3.1m to £2.76m by using different construction materials, some new to the market. There is a potential to save a little more, which is good news.

To date we have £908,000 banked and pledged and the appeal is on the verge of a major step change. Our next target is £1.1m at which point we have an offer of a pledge that will take us over the half way point. This in turn will allow us to approach a number of large trusts that have indicated strong support, but suggested we come back to them (or continue the applications) when we achieve a minimum of 50%.

So our current focus is to raise the £192,000 to reach the next tipping point. I am pleased to say we have a number of trusts that are visiting, which is a positive sign, and have received a number of emails from previous supporters saying they will review applications in November. We still have many applications to write especially when it comes to focusing down onto a specific area in the centre such as the young persons services, the music and drama room or art and pottery room.

In other news we now have an animal husbandry program, adding to our work experience programs. It was a project our members have wanted for some time and they are thoroughly enjoying interacting and caring for the two pigs, four goats and chickens (lots of chickens). There are plenty of pictures on our Facebook page.

Appeal Update January 2018

I am pleased to say the appeal is going well and as you can imagine I am very busy writing applications to trusts and following up on the leads my Patrons and Vice-Patrons have given me. It will be at least another six months before most of the large applications have been completed, some taking over forty hours of work for a single application.

The appeal received some wonderful Christmas presents totalling £230,500 with an additional pledge of £80,000 that will come in over the next four years. This will be partly spent on construction but mainly on the support of a new teacher in the young person’s services. On returning to work in the New Year we received further pledges of £175,000.

The appeal has now broken the Million pounds mark. With £355,000 spent on the land and planning we now have a total banked and pledged of £812,000 (Jan 18). A wonderful achievement, I hope you agree.

I have at least ten trusts that would like to support when I have reached between 60 and 75% of the total and a large number of outstanding applications to hear from. One of the appeals Vice-Patrons kindly offered up to £500,000 to cover any delay in receiving pledged income during the building phase.

More recently we have been supported for free by a construction company who have been field testing the quantity surveyors report. I am pleased to say that the numbers are very similar. The next phase for the company is to undertake value engineering on the project and early indications are that we can hopefully reduce the total amount. This is partly by using new to the market materials, especially internally.

Appeal Update March 2017

On Friday the 3rd of March, Sir Samuel Whitbread KCVO hosted a Launch event for the £3.1m BOLD appeal. Charles Whitbread, the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire spoke followed by Tim Branson and Paul Sutherland.

Charles Whitbread gave his backing to the new centre at the launch. In his speech he spoke movingly about having a 15 year old son with Down’s Syndrome and explained why the cause was close to his heart. He told more than 110 Patrons, Vice-Patrons and distinguished guests at Bedford Modern School of the new opportunities that will be available and how the facility will improve the lives of adults, children and their carers.

With Phase 2 of the appeal now fully underway we expect it to take one and a half to two years to raise the funding and plan on putting a shovel in the ground around July 2018.

The promise of this centre has already energised a wide range of support from local individuals and organisations, Trusts and companies, councils, and members of Parliament. We hope you will be inspired to find out more about how you, too, can create the future. If you want your support to make a truly worthwhile impact, please join us.


Appeal Update January 2017

We now have planning permission for our new education and work experience centre. We initially submitted the application in April but the design and location of the building were rejected. After a visit to the drawing board, a smaller centre, link attached to the public house, ha been approved.

Although the building is now smaller it will still be able to accommodate 300 people each week, so we have not lost any of our goals to provide missing and essential services to the Bedfordshire community. We have removed some of the expansion space, moved the gardening store to an external location on site and have kept the café in its current location, on the ground floor of the public house on site.

This has meant that our emergency respite and independent living skills centre is now a flat on the first floor of the public house building. We have overcome access issues by installing a lift and it still has a total of five bedrooms.

After such a rollercoaster ride to get to this point, as you can imagine we were all slightly emotional when we finally received planning. We now need to keep the momentum going and raise the funds to build the new centre. No easy task in this climate but the appeal has some wonderful supporters and please feel free to contact us if you feel you can help in any way. I will keep you updated.


Appeal update April 2016

I am very pleased to say that the planning application for the new Education and Work Experience Centre has been submitted to Bedford Borough Council.

There is a statutory twelve week time frame the Council have to determine the application. If the application receives any objections then it is likely this will possibly extend the decision making process. We can only hope that it is not too much of a rollercoaster ride before permission is granted.

To support the progress of the project, in January we employed the help of a project manager. As part of his work the project manager has commissioned a quantity surveyor to look in more detail at the building and the estimated cost. The work of the QS has shown that the cost, compared to our original estimations, has increased due to the increase in the size of the building. Over the next couple of months the work of all parties involved will be to sit down and look at the size of the building and the materials used and see how we can reduce that cost to a bare minimum.

As mentioned before the increase in size of the building was due to the need for different services and activities identified in our surveys and meetings. Many of which are just not available anywhere locally. This need now needs to be offset against the final construction cost of the building.

With the planning application now submitted I shall start writing the trust applications, to be posted when permission is granted. I have identified over 400 large and small trusts that may support the appeal and will also be looking for support from European funding opportunities in this area.

Revenue income for Beds Garden Carers last year was again down, partly due to the loss of our revenue fundraiser and partly due to the setting aside of the larger trusts who could support the capital appeal. Luckily a steady demand for places within our services and increasing income from our Café, located in the old public house on the new site, has helped offset this problem, if in a small way.

The café, ‘A Different Brew’ is now open six days a week, Sunday to Friday with extended opening hours to 8 p.m. during the week. It is providing invaluable work experience, social skills and transferable independent living skills and there is still a high demand from people who want to work there.


Appeal update September 2015

As you may have been aware we have been in negotiation with Anglian Water Holdings regarding the 1.2 acres located next to our land, in return for us providing a corner of our plot and some additional land we own. This would allow them access to a further 2 acres they wish to develop. Negotiations have now completed and we have rejected their offer of the land and money. The Trustees were unable to enter into a contract that could expose the Charity to any financial risk. The AWH proposal involved such a risk in that the construction of an access road by Beds Garden Carers as part of the deal, could involve costs that could exceed the sum that they offered.

Unfortunately these unsuccessful negotiations have frustratingly delayed the appeal for one and a half years, but I am pleased to say that we recently submitted a draft planning application to Bedford Borough Councils planning department. As a charity they are happy to provide free advice to help us complete a final application.

After a positive meeting with the planning officer to discuss the scheme in more detail we have received a response letter outlining the relevant items which will need addressing in the formal application.

One of the main concerns was the size of the building, especially as it just sits in a rural designated site. To offset the concerns I need to explain why all of the rooms have been included, which goes back to the need for all the different services and space to provide them. It was also felt that disguising the building with living wall / roof sections would help blend it into the surrounding countryside more. This will be incorporated into the final design.

Currently Robert, our architect at Robinson and Hall is arranging the final surveys required and finishing off the drawings. Robert feels that the full application will be in by Christmas and a decision 8 to 13 weeks after submission.

I currently have over 320 trusts that I have identified and set aside to approach when planning is in place and will start writing applications when planning is submitted in readiness. We currently have £230,000 in the Capital Appeal account and a further £95,000 pledged.

The site continues to be used for a variety of activities including sports days, fayres and picnics, evening social events and a number of social events by the In Touch collaborative partnership of six organisations who support people with a physical and/or learning disability.

The café, ‘A Different Brew’ located in the former public house on the site is now open four days a week and will be opening five days a week in November. The café is providing invaluable work experience, social skills and transferable independent living skills. There is a high demand from our current members and many enquiries from potential members who want to work in the café. I noticed this morning we are receiving some very positive reviews on trip advisor.

Demand for places at the charity continues and we have a steady intake of new members each month. Admittedly this would be higher if our premises were more physically disabled friendly.

Update Nov 13

We now own the land for our new building. It took a little longer than anticipated due to a VAT issue which was resolved favourably.

The site, which is perfect for our needs, is the Anglers’ Rest and grounds, located at 106 Clapham Road, Bedford. MK41 7PJ. The site was formally a pub and is situated in .36 ha (0.9 acres) of grounds located on the northern boundary of Bedford.

Why this plot of land is highly suitable?

The land is large enough to allow the construction of a new building that incorporates a café and a wide range of other uses with plenty of space for parking. With a building already on site it will be easier to gain planning permission for our development and was one of the sites suggested to us by the Borough’s Planning Department.

In the next 2 to 3 years the bypass connecting to the south of Bedford will be completed. This bypass will terminate on the roundabout next to the site and will allow fast access for members and visitors from Central Bedfordshire and Luton.

Located on a main road into town, the site has excellent public transport links complementing our transport training and the promotion of independence. It is ideally situated for our gardening and furniture teams to access Bedford.

Located next to the plot is a further 1 ha of unused land. It is our hope to either purchase or lease this land. This will allow us to incorporate our horticultural work experience programme next to our premises.

Planning Permission

The surveys and final designs are being conducted and a planning application will be submitted this December with hopefully an answer by Easter 2016.


In total we raised £250,000 to purchase the land and a further £40,000 to cover the fees associated with the planning and design work. I am pleased to say that we launched Phase two of the appeal in September and have a further £60,000 towards the building.

Update 22nd July 2013

Some wonderful news. We are in the process of purchasing the land. The solicitors have been instructed to arrange all the paperwork and we should own the land by the end of August. Simon Parrott of Sharman Law who is one of our Vice-Patrons has kindly agreed to complete the purchase pro bono, which we are very grateful for.

In total we have £175,000 in banked and pledged income towards the total required of £250,000. Our target was £290,000 as this would cover the additional costs of putting in a planning application and a host of other fees required for searches and related items. To cover the shortfall in the money required, two of our Vice-Patrons have very kindly offered to provide us with an interest free loan which we are currently arranging.

Both Vice patrons have written me a letter agreeing to the loan which i am now using to ask for the pledged income to be released. Drawing on the pledged income now will also allow me to claim nearly £17,000 in Gift Aid which we can use towards the purchase.

I always knew that raising the money for the land would be possibly the hardest part of the appeal as most trusts would prefer to support the building. With the land in place and August spent regrouping and researching (and a holiday), I will start phase 2 of the appeal in September.

I have a couple of events planned in September concentrating on raising money for a particular room in the building and have plenty of space to attend further events if you would like to host one.

Robert Franklin feels that we will be in a position to put in the planning application in a few months and should hopefully have a decision by Christmas.

Update: 12th March 2013

Please note the change of the name of the appeal. The Trustees have decided to change the appeal name to The Bedfordshire Opportunities for Learning Disabilities (BOLD) Appeal. Im sure you will agree this name represents the work of the charity more clearly.

We now have 54 Vice-Patrons supporting the appeal. I have been meeting with the Vice-Patrons over the past month to seek their advice on who they know.  These meetings will help me identify further people who may be willing to become Vice-Patrons and as importantly people I can approach for funding. This may be wealthy individuals or trustees of trusts, all of whom will prove invaluable when it comes to raising the money for the land and building.

The Vice-Patrons have been very supportive indeed and I have a growing list of people to contact and people I should research and find someone who knows them. Two of the Vice-Patrons have offered to hold fundraising cocktail parties over the Summer.

In total we have £18,000 in the bank and have been offered some guaranteed matched funding. This will help me when I approach trusts as their donation will be worth double. Raising the money for the land will probably be the most difficult part of the fundraising campaign as most people like to see something solid before supporting. This could be the land in place, planning permission granted or for some of the major trusts when 70% of the money has been raised.

I have already sent off applications for funding and have a long list of grant making bodies that I will be approaching in the coming months. In many cases my research has shown that most would prefer to support the building, so they will be approached later in the Summer.

Robert Franklin at Robinson and Hall has provided the first draft plans of the new building. In fact he provided 5 prototypes that we could discuss. Sharon narrowed it down to two and then asked that the new building be a combination of both of these original designs. When we have a finished product we will make them available for viewing, although they will be subject to change to get them through planning.

Our fundraising video on Twitter is raising some wonderful awareness for us and we are gaining quite a lot of support on Facebook. We even have a twitter account and Sharon and the team are sending out updates on BGC and the appeal.

My current need is Volunteer administration support to help with the large amounts of letters and information we have flying backwards and forwards.  I am also looking for someone who is willing to print off more of my Case for Supports in colour as I am going through them quite rapidly, and I can only ask the same companies to print them for me so many times.

If you  would like to pass on your thoughts please feel free to call or email Paul Sutherland (Appeal Manager) to arrange a convenient meeting time or for a discussion.


Tel: 01234 352899

Update:  8th January 2013 

Wonderful news, we have found a very suitable peice of land.   The site is 0.9 of an acre in size and has a large building already located on it. This will help us gain planning permission for our new Building.

We have secured some funding already but need to raise a further £300,000  by July 2013, to top this up and enable the purchase of the site as well as  covering the associated costs . The fundraising will now begin in ernest. If you have any contacts that may be able to support our fundraising please get in touch.

The location has very good transport links and by the time it is built the bypass around Bedford will hopefully be completed, allowing quick access to people from Central Bedfordshire and Luton.

The next step (aside from enacting the fundraising strategy) is to pay a visit to the site with the architects, Robinson and Hall , to examin what we can do and how our building will fit.

I have stopped the online survey and need to compile the date to place into the Business plan. We will continue to survey different organisations, in and around Bedford to seek their views on what we should be including in the new building and the different services we could work in partnership with.  If you have any ideas please get in touch. The surveys so far have shown a greater need for transitional services for teenagers, alonside more services and independent living skills training.  Support and information for parents and carers  has arisen a number of times as has the need to provide more work experience opportunities with greater potential for movement into voluntary or paid employment.

The number of Vice Patrons has grown to 41.  Having Vice Patrons is vitally important as they are able to support us in numerous ways including in our fundraising efforts. See our seperate Vice Patron page to see who is supporting us.

More information on the project can be found by downloading our Case for Support here . This includes our initial ideas on the new building and services but not all the ideas we are currently gathering from our surveys. When the new Business Plan is complete at the end of January I will upload the short version.


Past Information from this page:

The new centre will be purpose-built allowing us to provide more desperately needed services and activities for an ever increasing number of people with a learning disability, their families and the local community.  It will allow us to continue our commitment for best practice and being as person centred as possible whilst allowing BGC to be innovative and flexible in incorporating future needs.

Currently we have over one hundred and fifty people accessing our day services with many more joining in with our clubs, evening functions and holidays.  The new premises will allow over 300 adults with a learning disability to receive specialist services each week, along with many more teenagers being supported, increased respite for parents /carers and more people being  able to access our social activities and the centre’s facilities.

The site will include up to date facilities for all of our current services and operations and proposed new facilities including:

  • New classrooms that will enable us to expand our current course options
  • A new wood work shop with a greater range of tools and machines for projects, skills training and income generation
  • An art room to improve creativity and imagination as well as for therapy
  • An industrial kitchen and café allowing greater public interaction, parent / carer support and to enhance our cooking courses
  • Pottery studio with kiln
  • Furniture store with farm shop selling produce from our own fruit and vegetable allotments and local produce
  • Gardening maintenance workrooms and storage
  • Shower facilities
  • A supported training flat to aid people moving from home into their own accommodation, the flat will also double up as an emergency respite centre.
  • Computer and internet training suite
  • Sports and drama hall
  • Multi-sensory room and soft play area
  • Therapy and relaxation rooms
  • Sensory garden
  • Recycling centre
  • Multi disabled facilities

The centre will be designed to cater for varying patterns of need, including challenging behaviour and mental health issues alongside the ability to cater for teenagers and adults with severe physical disabilities.  All of the centre will be wheelchair accessible and specialist ceiling mounted hoists will be provided in the toilet and shower facilities.

Greater emphasis will be placed on offering services to teenagers, and helping them through the transitional phase into adulthood.  Our current services will be increased to encompass personalisation support, special educational needs youth workers, signposting and provider services, holidays and sibling support.