Lorna to manage Sidmouth's Kennaway House

PUBLISHED: 16:03 04 December 2008 | UPDATED: 16:43 14 April 2010

SHE was one of those instrumental in trying to save Kennaway House from closure seven years ago.

SHE was one of those instrumental in trying to save Kennaway House from closure seven years ago.

Now Lorna Lavender has been appointed manager of the house by its trustees, beginning her new role on Monday (December 1), as the £1 million restoration work continues.

Former manager of adult and community learning across East Devon, she took early retirement in 2007, going on a three-month trip to New Zealand with husband John, who had retired as deputy head of The Kings School, Ottery St Mary.

"I am really looking forward to being at the heart of a project which I'm certain will be of great benefit to Sidmouth and a wide surrounding area," said Lorna, who stresses her job, which she sees as a huge challenge, is not primarily about education.

She will be responsible for marketing Kennaway House, which is being restored to its Regency grandeur, but with modern facilities.

These include a professional catering kitchen, for community functions, weddings, receptions, conferences, business training and exhibitions.

Lorna will also recruit volunteers to help with the day-to-day running of the house and events it hosts, and carrying on fundraising to secure its future.

"We have great confidence in Lorna," said Dr Michael James, chairman of Kennaway House, who has led the fundraising campaign to save it.

"She was there at the start, when the building was going to be lost due to the dreadful condition it had fallen into.

"That would have meant the loss of many of the activities that took place there.

"It has been a team effort to save it and Lorna has been a key member of the team.

"Now she will have responsibility for ensuring the project is completed, by the building being well used and enjoyed by, we hope, some thousands of people every year.

"But it will go on being a team effort - quite apart from getting Kennaway House up and running we still need to raise another £150,000 to secure its future."

Lorna will work from her home in Ottery until the Kennaway House reopens in April or May.

* If you are interested in finding out more about being a Kennaway House volunteer call Lorna Lavender on (01404) 812519 or email her at lornalavender@hotmail.com.

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