Charity shuts up shop after a 64-year presence in town

The Carriage Driving Association was one of many to benefit from Scope
The Carriage Driving Association was one of many to benefit from Scope

A charity which has had a presence in Hastings for more than 60 years has closed its doors for the last time.

Scope East Sussex Group (SESG) has shut down its George Street shop in the Old Town, 64 years after being set up by a group of eight people who either had cerebral palsy (CP) or were parents of children with cerebral palsy.

A spokesman for the charity said: “It is sad to see SESG close its doors but there are three positive outcomes.

“Firstly, it must be recognised that less support is needed now compared with the situation in 1953. Medical advances mean that there are fewer people now with CP and also both local and national Government offer more support, particularly in the field of education.

“Secondly, we must celebrate 64 years of excellent service in the area.

“Thirdly, the investments of over £70,000 have been cashed in and many local charities who support people with CP have been beneficiaries. This includes Riding for the Disabled Association at Fairlight Hall and its linked group the Carriage Driving Association, Glyne Gap School, Demelza Children’s Hospice, Chestnut Tree House, and many more.

“Thanks must be given to the committee members who have served faithfully for so long and to the fantastic team of volunteers who ran the shop which was the most important source of income.”

The charity was set up in 1953, as the East Sussex Spastics Society. The NHS was in its infancy and so there was little support for those with CP and treatment was primitive and sparse.

Funding began with a collection from members and later, the shop opened.

Two forms of support were offered to members. Firstly, the day centre based in the old Battle hospital, which then moved to the disused training centre in Athelstan Road in Hastings. This gave parents of children with CP valuable respite for many years until Social Services took over the responsibility.

Secondly was the welfare support. For almost the entire 64 years of the group’s existence, there have only been two welfare officers, both with 32 years of service – Miss Jones and Clare Brazier.

Over the years hundreds of people with CP have been assisted in so many different ways, such as the provision of ramps, holidays, educational courses, driving lessons, wheelchairs and computers.

The charity changed its name to Scope in 1990. Two chairpersons have been in post for the majority of the group’s existence – John Coates and Margaret Soan.