Dignitaries cut ribbon on Saltergate’s new social space

A £35,000 refurbishment and repurposing of local friendship society, Derbyshire Peak Oddfellows’ former administrative offices has resulted in the creation of a new social space for Chesterfield town centre, found at 126 Saltergate.

Main Group outside L-R: Branch Secretary Meryl Caunt, Committee member Ken Lupton, CEO and Secretary of the Order Jane Nelson, Mayor Stuart Brittain and Anne Brittain, Social Organiser Toni Siddall, Committee members Barbara Lupton & Alan Davies

On Thursday 14 March, Society staff, members and guests were joined by The Mayor of Chesterfield Councillor Stuart Brittain, Mayoress Anne Brittain, and the Oddfellows’ CEO, Jane Nelson (all pictured), to officially open the new meeting place and welcome its first visitors through the doors.

At the launch event, Meryl Caunt, Secretary for the Oddfellows Derbyshire Peak District Branch, shared how the re-fit will mean so much more to the community than just four walls to meet within. She explained: “To keep communities connected, you need to give them safe, accessible and welcome spaces that are fit for friendships to form, as well as interesting activities that spark conversation. It’s what we’ve been doing as a society for more than 200 years."

A number of events are already scheduled to take place in the new space, which includes a free, monthly drop-in coffee morning, with the next being held on Wednesday 10 April at 11am, and a talk on Basic DNA by guest speaker and forensic lecturer, Paul Newsham.

Added Meryl: “Previously, our group could only meet out and about, so it’s wonderful to now have a permanent home for us to get together in and enjoy. It also allows us to literally do what we do best – open our doors and extend a warm welcome to anyone looking to meet other friendly, everyday folk in the Chesterfield area. There’s no need to become a member first, you can just come and give an activity a try.”

Toni Siddall and Meryl Caunt outside the newly-refurbished social space and office

The Derbyshire Peak District Branch of the Oddfellows is part of non-profit national friendly society, the Oddfellows and has been based in Saltergate since 1974, however the Society has been part of local community since the 19th century. Its members meet regularly to socialise and fundraise, and receive care, welfare and financial support through their membership, if needed, during difficult times.

Jane Nelson, CEO of the Oddfellows, added: “We hope the new social hub will contribute to the fostering of Chesterfield’s already strong community spirit, and will provide those in the area, who may feel isolated or lonely, a friendly, supportive place to spend time with others."

Open throughout the week (Tues and Thurs 10-4.30, Weds and Fri 9.30-1.30), the Oddfellows’ new meeting place will also act as a drop-in information point for its members and for membership enquiries, as well as to continue to be an office for the Society’s staff and volunteers.

To find out where your closest Oddfellows Branch is located, use our handy Branch finder, or give the Membership team a call on 0800 028 1810