Haven of tranquility hidden at Eco Centre in Skegness

Just a stone’s throw away from the bustling caravan parks and busy seafront attractions of Skegness lies a green haven of tranquillity, where nature and wildlife take centre stage.

Opportunities are growing at the Eco Centre in Skegness.
Opportunities are growing at the Eco Centre in Skegness.

Hidden from the outside world, the ECO Centre is, as its name suggests, an ecological gem.

Relatively unknown to the hordes of tourists who flood the east coast resort annually, its reputation among local people and community groups is growing with its 22,000 annual visitors almost entirely from East Lindsey.

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The community arm of the Magna Vitae Trust for Leisure and Culture is one of an increasing number of organisations that see the ECO Centre as a perfect place to encourage social interaction and the learning of new skills in a safe and peaceful environment.

Managing director Paul Charles heads up a team at the Eco Centre in Skegness.

MV team member Marko Humphrey and Erica Bowering have just completed a 12-week ‘Fitness, Food and Friends’ course based at the centre, which lies on the outskirts of Skegness, near Richmond Caravan Park.

The course, supported by TED in East Lindsey, encourages people over 50 to meet new people and broaden their horizons in a relaxed and friendly way with others of their own age.

“When you look for venues to host such a course, you could not get much better than this one. The surroundings really are unique,” said Marko.

The sessions have been hosted by the centre’s managing director Paul Charles, who heads up a small team of six, along with a growing army of volunteers who are attracted to the venue’s philosophy of ‘choice’.

Haven of tranquility at the Eco Centre in Skegness.

“When people come to us to volunteer, we are clear that it is about them, not us. If they want to plant bulbs, then that is what they will do – it is about the contribution that way wantto make, not what we need doing,” explained Paul.

And, he added, it is the same with the local people and groups that book: “Again, we are user-centred. If a group, like Fitness, Food and Friends wants to come here for a series of sessions, we find out what they want to do, and we will do our upmost to make that happen.

It is not about us laying on a set number of activities and being prescriptive, but the other way around,” said Paul.

The 14-acre site has been created on top of a former municipal rubbish dump, which closed in 1994. With any sort of residential development not permitted on such sites, they are usually simply grassed over with tree planting and left. But the Eco Centre team has shown another way forward.

Skegness Eco Centre

With grant-funding and a whole load of passion, Paul and his team set about creating something very special. A series of portable wooden buildings are perfect for gatherings, workshops, craft sessions and parties.

Designed with ‘green’ in mind, you see upcycling all around – from shelving, to beams, and ornaments and carvings. In fact, almost everywhere you look, you see reminders of what surrounds you outside.

While outside you find hidden wooden structures, campfires, gardens, work areas, wildlife gardens and copses – all there to encourage the wildlife and offer a wonderful external space for those who visit.

“The conservation element is paramount here, we are always looking at the animals, the plants and the wildlife. When I reflect on what has been achieved here, I would say with a smile, ‘if you are a little bit bonkers, like we are, then you can achieve anything’,” laughed Paul.

Upcycling is key at the Eco Centre in Skegness.

The Eco Centre posts details of its events and opportunities to book for groups on its social media pages.

Marko and Erica have just started another 12-week Fitness, Food and Friends course, which is free, every Friday, at the Winthorpe Community Hub, Winthorpe, from 10.30am until 12.30pm.

Anyone is free to go along.

They will be moving back to the Eco Centre for another course next Spring. For more details, email Marko: [email protected] and Erica: [email protected]