Norwich science centre holds emergency meeting

Bosses of a Norwich science centre which was on the brink of closure two years ago have held an emergency meeting to try and win the support of other businesses to help secure its future.

The Inspire Discovery Centre is again facing a fight for its future as the charity, which has been going for 15 years, struggles to meet its overheads.

The centre, which is based in St Michael's Church, Oak Street, was spared the axe in 2008 and despite increasing visitor numbers since then still finds itself struggling to survive.

Bosses at the centre, which has been hit by two recent break-ins, organised an Save Our Science (SOS) meeting at the Forum in Norwich yesterday to give businesses and other interested parties the chance to suggest some new ideas to keep the centre running.

Shell Fearn, centre manager, said: 'We've called for this meeting as although we've been working very hard for two years to maintain the presence of Inspire and we're proud of what we've achieved we're still heavily reliant on the financial support of one individual. We only have one funder who very generously puts his hand in his pocket once a year to give us a top up of funding, but we can't rely on that. This is not fair either to that individual, our chairman trustee, or to the centre.

'We're looking to the businesses and community of Norwich and the wider area to offer us support and ideas to help us build a stable network to aid Inspire.'

Miss Fearn said despite being in the city for 15 years Inspire was 'still its biggest secret' and wanted help from others in promoting the centre.

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Stephen Ashworth, a lecturer at the University of East Anglia's School of Chemistry, attended the event and came up with several ideas including advertising Inspire on the pavement in the city and setting up a Friends of Inspire group.

He also suggested they try 'hibernating' in the quieter winter months to save on staff and running costs and maximise the time wisely to try and target funding.

The meeting also saw the launch of the All I Want for Christmas campaign – a wish list to other businesses featuring some of the basic equipment and resources to keep the centre running.

Speaking afterwards Miss Fearn said the meeting had been 'positive' and she was pleased to have started to widen the centre's support base and to have had some fresh input and ideas.

If you can help Inspire or have any ideas about how to keep it running call 01603 612612 or email

Are you battling to save a community project? Call News reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email