Director's Blog: Three Years of Insole

Potting Shed 2011
The Potting Shed before its last refurbishment.

On Monday 5th September 2016, the first phase of the renewed Insole Court opened to visitors. The Stable Yard had been derelict for many years but was now reborn as a modern, fully-equipped community facility. The rooms were ready for classes, activities, meetings, conferences, parties and more but at this point, the diary was empty, and we had next to no furniture. Our first volunteers reported for duty but there was no desk, no computer and no leaflets to hand out.

Our first day was also my first day. There were just three members of staff initially, and we’d all be brought on-board at the last minute. Although a huge amount of work had been done, there was a great deal more to do. It was all very exciting but rather daunting, and opening the mansion seemed a very long way away.

The response from visitors was largely positive though many were keen to get back into the house. One local resident commented ‘this is all very good but when are you going to do the gardens?’- After thirty years of community campaigning, expectations were understandably high.

Furniture would soon arrive, and it didn’t take long for the bookings to start coming in. The Potting Shed was immediately successful, and it didn’t take long to build a reputation for its wonderful cake (something that we’re keen to uphold after its current refurbishment!)

The last three years have flown by and we’ve come a long way in a short time. The staff team has now grown to more than twenty though we rely on a volunteer army of over one hundred and thirty. We are still very much a small, close-knit team and I continue to be immensely proud of their hard work and passion for this special place.

Since 2016, we’ve welcomed thousands of visitors through our doors to share in our stories and be part of the renewed Insole Court. Despite the many milestones already achieved, we really are just getting started.

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