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Monday, September 20, 2021

Volunteers launch campaign to buy Halfway House on the Wrekin

A group of volunteers have launched an ambitious campaign to raise money to secure Halfway House on The Wrekin, which was recently put up for sale, and turn it into a community hub for people to enjoy.

Campaigner Dr Caroline Freeman, Kim Bennett, Councillor Jacqui Seymour, Jenny Joy (font) Pauline Kesek, David Brown, Anthony Lowe, Amy Joy, Dr Roger Joy and Daniel Freeman
Campaigner Dr Caroline Freeman, Kim Bennett, Councillor Jacqui Seymour, Jenny Joy (font) Pauline Kesek, David Brown, Anthony Lowe, Amy Joy, Dr Roger Joy and Daniel Freeman

Halfway House has provided refreshment to thousands of walkers over its 150-year history as a café and has undergone a major transformation by its current owner Sean Saward with a recently restored kiosk and café pavilion, outdoor seating area and gardens on a site that commands a stunning view.

The business is gradually reopening after being closed by the pandemic, providing a takeaway service and use of its garden for customers and has restarted supporting fundraising events such as sponsored walks up the Wrekin.

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Campaigners are determined that the building retains its important role in serving residents and visitors with refreshments and would like to see the site developed as a visitor centre for the Wrekin, providing new opportunities for events, camping, outdoor pursuits, and nature talks, as well as a range of classes from art to orienteering together with extra accommodation. Organisers would love to see a return of maypole dancing, Victorian swing boats and dancing events for which the Halfway House was famed in the early 20th century.

Jenny Joy, who has run the café and helped to restore the Pavilion over the past three years, has gathered together a team of supporters including former Mayor of Wellington, Anthony Lowe, local GP Caroline Freeman, Borough Councillor Jacqui Seymour, and Pauline Kesek and Kim Bennett who are both regular Wrekin users and members of Wrekin Road Runners. They have set up a Community Interest Company (CIC) to spearhead this not-for-profit campaign over the next few years.

“The Wrekin is one of Shropshire’s most iconic places and the Halfway House has been a favourite place for locals and visitors for many generations,” said Jenny, who has resumed the running of the café’s kiosk after lockdown.

Caroline Freeman added: “The surrounding area is one of the most important conservation sites in Shropshire with its ancient woodland, unusual birdlife, butterflies, heathland, owl life and much more.”

“Thousands of people have walked past the Halfway House on their way to the top of the Wrekin for many years. From the 1,355ft (407m) summit they have enjoyed spectacular views across the Shropshire countryside.”

Pauline Kesek, Chair of Wrekin Road Runners, said: “We don’t want to lose this wonderful asset. That is why we are today launching this crowdfunding campaign to buy this beautiful and historic site for the benefit of the community and for future generations.”

With Halfway House already on the open market it is important to act fast. Donations can be made via the page “Secure the Halfway House for the community” through the platform Go Fund Me https://gofund.me/ec1cdd60

The fundraisers are also keen to involve as many members of the community as possible in their campaign. They encourage anyone interested in organising their own fundraising events to support this cause to contact the team at info@halfwayhouseonthewrekin.com.

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