Serving the Brighouse community – 125 years

Time for tea - Edith Kitson and Christine Duxbury enjoy a cuppa served by volunteer Patsy Rodgers

Time for tea - Edith Kitson and Christine Duxbury enjoy a cuppa served by volunteer Patsy Rodgers

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THE Salvation Army is looking back on 125 years of service to the Brighouse community - and looking forward to a bright future after the completion of a major facelift at its headquarters in the town.

2012 is an important year for the Salavation Army in Brighouse. A packed programme of activities to mark the 125th anniversary has been planned and the finishing touches are being put to internal refurbishment to match the external renovation.

The citadel in King Street, formerly the Magistrates Court building, has been given a new roof and the stone work has been cleaned and re-pointed.

Major David Radford, who took over with wife Ann, two years ago said: “We were beginning to have problems with the roof and we knew that the work would have to be tackled. It has taken about three months to get the work done but we have managed to stay open and keep offering a service throughout.”

The cafe and charity shop have both been refurbished and the worship hall has been repainted.

“Much of the internal refurbishment has been carried out by our hard-working volunteers who have given up their spare time to help us.

“We wanted to get the building looking as good as possible for our 125th anniversary year.”

Brighouse has a long and historic association with the Salvation Army and Major Radford is looking forward to celebrating the link.

Army founder William Booth was a Methodist preacher at the old Bethel chapel in 1857 and 1858 but it wasn’t until 1888 that the Salvation Army was finally accepted as a presence in the town.

The former Brighouse court building became the Salvation Army’s new home in 1994 after a £45,000 appeal to convert the premises and make it suitable for community use. The Multiple Sclerosis Society and a chess club are among the groups which use the building on a regualr basis.

“We are lucky to have such a fine building and we are keen to open it up to the community as much as we can. For example during Brighouse Arts Festival this summer we are hosting a number of concerts and events here and similarly during our anniversary weekend on September 29 and 30.”

Building on the organisation’s history of helping and supporting the community, Major Radford is keen to form a job club to give advice and information to people who are unemployed and need extra help getting back into the world of work.

“People who are made redundant after being in the same job for a number of years often find it very confusing to have to fill in application forms and write their CVs. We can help with that.”

The Salvation Army holds an informal cafe church once a month and is planning a series of free film nights. The first screening on Sunday, ‘Amazing Grace’, was about the fight against the slave trade starring Ioan Gruffudd as Wiiliam Wilberforce. The next, on April 22, is ‘Olympic Champion - Man of Courage’ about athlete Eric Liddell.

The Salvation Army choir is led by Christine Duxbury and is always keen to welcome new members.

“A whole range of people come here who are not connected to the church and that is something we are keen to continue and encourage,” said Major Radford.