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Chair to step down after "remarkable" four years for Lancaster community centre

Joe Sumsion is stepping down as chair of the Gregson Centre in Lancaster

A champion of the arts in Lancaster has announced he's stepping down as chair of the Gregson Centre after "one of the most rewarding periods of my working life".

Joe Sumsion will leave his post as chair of the Gregson Community Association, the charity which runs the community centre on Moor Lane.

Mr Sumsion, a former artistic director of The Dukes theatre in Lancaster, has been chair for the past four years, during a time which has seen rapid growth for the 19th century community hub.

The Gregson is now looking for a new chair.

"I've found this last four years to be one of the most rewarding periods of my working life," said Mr Sumsion.

"It's been a privilege to put time into developing our community resource and I've loved seeing such exciting results.

"It's now time for a new chair to work with the board and our brilliant CEO Charles (Tyrer) on the next steps of the Gregson's journey."

The GCA is also looking to appoint new trustees and a director of the newly-formed Gregson Trading Ltd which manages the bars and catering side of the operation.

"The Gregson is thriving," said a post on the centre website.

"We have been on a remarkable journey since the pandemic when the board decided to take back the running of the centre. In 2022, we appointed our first CEO and growth since then has been rapid and inspiring. The Gregson is busier than ever.

"We are now working to fulfil a new business plan with a vision for 2027  to transform our historic building and spaces into inspirational contemporary places that enable our community to thrive and we remain committed to our mission for people to be in the driving seat of their community events and cultural experience."

The Gregson hosts all kinds of activities including Tai Chi, adult acting classes, salsa dancing, community choirs, live jazz and folk music, a parent and child support group, youth clubs and a 'secret cinema' upstairs showing films.

Last year, the community centre marked its 40th birthday by launching a campaign to raise £20,000 to ensure its future.

Read more: INTERVIEW: Lancaster community centre launches £20,000 fundraising drive - Beyond Radio

Built in 1889, the Gregson has been owned by the community via the Gregson Community Association for the last 40 years. The centre was named after Henry Gregson, a former mayor of Lancaster and a local philanthropist.

More details on the Gregson's search for a new chair, new trustees and volunteers here. 

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