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How Gipton Fire Station became a community centre

PUBLISHED: 00:00 25 September 2017

The former Gipton Fire Station Leeds is back in action as a community centre Photo Mike Dinsdale

The former Gipton Fire Station Leeds is back in action as a community centre Photo Mike Dinsdale

© midi photography 2017

Jimbo’s Fund helps to buy fire station for a local community

A fire station that closed after 75 years of service in Leeds has been transformed into a centre for the local community. Gipton Fire Station closed in 2015 but is now home to six different organisations with additional space available for charities, businesses and individuals to hire for meetings and events.

Two locally based community organisations which heard news of the fire station’s closure approached Leeds Community Foundation (LCF) to ask for support in buying and renovating the building. GFS Community Enterprise, a charity which is wholly owned by LCF, bought and refurbished the station, using a grant from ‘Jimbo’s Fund’. This fund was created in memory of entrepreneur and founder of Hesco Bastion, Leeds, Jimi Heselden, who donated more than £20million to LCF to support different initiatives before his death. Jimi was known for his passion for supporting his local community in East Leeds, especially projects that improved the lives of children, young people and the elderly.

The renovation project has taken about two years to complete. Five local community organisations have already moved in: GIPSIL, Healthwatch, Zest, Space 2 and People in Action. SLATE will be operating the on-site community café, working with people with learning difficulties to serve a range of meals.

Sally-Anne Greenfield, chief executive of Leeds Community Foundation, said: ‘This has been one of the most significant projects the Foundation has undertaken. We are so proud that we have been able to take the contribution of the incredibly generous Jimi Heselden and put it into such a worthwhile project that will make a significant difference to so many people.

‘We have been working tirelessly to keep the character of this fantastic building, whilst finding ways to create something new and exciting to support the local community. We are looking forward to welcoming lots of people to The Old Fire Station to thank them for their support as well as showcase what is now a wonderful facility that can benefit the whole community.’

Leeds Community Foundation is holding a private opening ceremony of the Old Fire Station to thank all those who have supported the project over the last two years as well as providing people with the opportunity to look round the new centre. Members of Jimi Heselden’s family will be at the opening to see the difference his contributions have made and view the two rooms that have been named in his memory – The Heselden Room and Jimi’s Community Room.

Paul Belbin of GIPSIL, said: ‘We are delighted to have been a part of the renovation of the fire station and watched it transform over the last two years. We are greatly looking forward to seeing how the Old Fire Station can be a real source of support for the local community in years to come.’

Project managers Aspect 4, architects Brewster Bye and construction firm Simpson of York worked with LCF to transform the station to be fit for its new purpose. w

For more information on the services available at The Old Fire Station visit theoldfirestationgipton.org.uk

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