An historic Blackpool building ransacked by metal thieves is to be revamped after being given to a charity – which now faces a six-figure repair bill, The Gazette can today reveal.
Blenheim House, on Newton Drive, will house an expanding carers’ charity after being bought by Beaverbrooks Charitable Trust for an undisclosed fee.
The St Annes-based jewellery empire is understood to have paid a six-figure sum to secure the building for Carers Trust Fylde Coast Carers Centre – which is now launching a £750,000 appeal to fund its growth.
The building has been completely gutted by thieves – who have taken pipes, cables and phone lines – since it was vacated by the NHS, who used it to provide child support services, in August.
The charity now faces the challenge of making good the mess before it can move into its new headquarters, which will be renamed Beaverbrooks House in recognition of the company’s generosity.
The deal, announced at the start of National Carers Week, comes as the 10-year-old charity pledged to expand to reach the thousands of “hidden” carers in Blackpool.
We measure our worth not by what we own but what we give
Carers Trust Fylde Coast chief executive Michelle Smith said: “From the outside it looks fabulous – it was shocking and upsetting to see what had happened within.
“It’s not mindless vandalism but highly methodical theft by people who didn’t care what was wrecked.
“They probably thought it was going to be demolished.”
She said soaring demand for the service, which already helps more than 3,000 people, was behind the decision to look for bigger premises, after the charity outgrew its current base on Robson Way.
She added: “The damage was done before we visited the site in November and we still wanted it.
“We saw past the damage to the potential.
“It’s a fabulous building which still has everything going for it.
“It’s an epic challenge in terms of funding and the metal thieves haven’t done us any favours as it was ready to move into initially.
“We’re banking on having to raise at least £750,000. We think it’s worth it.
“This is a beautiful historic landmark which has done an awful lot of good work over the years. It will do so again under our custodianship.”
The site is now carefully guarded after NHS bosses spotted the damage – leaving behind a mangled mess of ripped off radiators, broken glass, smashed walls and torn up floorboards – last year.
The building, which was ready for a buyer to move into when it was put on the market in August, was saved from demolition when the NHS insisted on a clause to
ensure it is used for some form of social care.
Family-run Beaverbrooks, which gives 20 per cent of its post-tax profits to charity, stepped in when its property manager Steve Cassidy – who is also a trustee of the charity – asked about getting support for Carers Trust Fylde Coast.
Chairman Mark Adlestone and director Andrew Brown, who received the MBE for services to charity, returned with an offer to buy the property outright for the charity’s use.
Mr Cassidy said: “I was hoping for an interest-free loan.
“I’ve worked with Beaverbrooks for 20 years and know what Andrew and Mark are like but never expected this – I was flabbergasted.
“It will have a significant impact on supporting people.”
The charity hopes to complete the repair work in the next 12 months and start moving staff in next year.
Mr Adlestone said: “We’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do, that simple.
“It’s not about ticking boxes for corporate social responsibility.
“For us, it’s all about sharing our success. We give because we’ve a heart to.
“We measure our worth not by what we own but what we give. We know the good this charity does.”
Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Trust deputy chief executive Wendy Swift said she had been “shocked and upset” by the damage caused by the metal thieves.
She added: “This is a beautiful building which has played an important role in many lives.
“Carers Trust Fylde Coast will build on that legacy. We’re very pleased it’s going to continue to offer social care.”
The services formerly provided at Blenheim House by the NHS are now offered at Whitegate Drive.