New Sidmouth community centre manager appointed

Jeff Merrett MBE says the hub will be a ‘huge asset’

SIDMOUTH can look forward to a ‘unique and innovative’ Stowford Community Centre, according to the man appointed to run the under-construction facility.

Jeff Merrett, MBE, begins his role as centre manager today and says the hub will be a ‘huge asset’ to the town- and region- when it officially opens in September.

The 57-year-old told the Herald: “I’ve been in there today and it’s absolutely beautiful.

“People will be really impressed when we finally open our doors.”

Jeff founded charity Dream-A-Way in 1993 and has since raised more than �1million and helped thousands of local people with disabilities enjoy holidays and day trips.

Exeter resident Jeff, who retired from the police force in 2010, is a former manager of the city’s Isca Centre for bowling and bridge. His new position in Sidmouth is part time.

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“I’m excited about moving to this new centre in such a lovely place,” said Jeff.

“I’m so impressed, I wish it was on my doorstep. The public in that area are going to be really pleased when they see it- and we’re looking at equipping it to a very high standard.

“The centre is innovative and unique and I wouldn’t think there’s another one like it in the country- with a children’s health amenity and community centre with a walk-in caf� and a huge function room.

“Full credit should go to the hard working board of volunteers, made up of four local councillors and four members of the public. They have done a sterling job.”

Jeff said he’s looking forward to securing bookings for the centre- and demand is high already.

He added his first job is to recruit a caretaker to work 16 hours a week.

“We all think that’s a very important role because we want to keep the place spic and span,” he said.

The community centre is due for completion on August 12 and will be fully opened by September 12.

Contact Jeff on 07796442144 or e-mail