Angels abound at this time of year. They are in carols, on cards and atop Christmas trees but a desperate search is now on for a more unusual kind. Low Mill Outdoor Centre in Askrigg is looking for a “business investor angel” to help save this vital, life-changing facility for future generations of children.
It has been making a difference since 1976 when it opened but has been badly hit by the pandemic. The centre, which introduces town and city schoolchildren and those with additional needs to the countryside and outdoor pursuits, was forced to close in March due to Covid restrictions and will not be able to open until March 2021.
A full year with no income has left the non-profit making charitable trust that runs the centre faced with selling off its staff cottage, which would also have an ongoing negative effect on income.
Now, Dales estate agent Brian Carlisle of JR Hopper and Co. has helped the centre to come up with a property proposition that will allow the cottage to remain in use by Low Mill staff and protect the asset for the future while generating a return for an ethical investor.
“We are looking for an investor to buy the four-bedroom cottage for £275,000 and rent it back to the centre on a long-term business tenancy,” says Brian. “The investor will own the property but the centre will maintain it and the investor will receive a return above bank rates with a suggested rent of £700 per month, which is a three per cent yield.”
There will be an option for the centre to buy the cottage back and a clause requiring the investor to offer the property back to the centre first, if they wished to sell.
Terry Hailwood, Head of Low Mill Outdoor Centre, says: “We don’t want to sell assets but Covid has brought us to the brink and the sell and rent back option would help as otherwise we will have to relocate school staff and our instructors to the main building and that means losing bunk room space and income.”
The difference the centre has made cannot be underestimated. Some children have never seen countryside before and activities, including canoeing, gorge walking and abseiling, teach resilience, social skills, self-esteem and teamwork, along with a love and respect for nature.
Terry says: “There are so many success stories but one of the most memorable is a child who was selectively mute. He came here and started to express emotion and that was just fantastic.”
Low Mill cottage is on the market with JR Hopper. If you can help by buying it and renting it back to the centre, contact: JR Hopper, tel: 01969 622936, www.jrhopper.com
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