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The History of Open Door

1997 - October
Formation of Newmarket Open Door with the first meeting of the Management Committee.
A supporter donated the first five pounds to start the company.
1998 - July
Registration as a Charity
1998 - October
Registration as a Company
1998 - 2000
Open Door undertook a number of fundraising events including:

  • A float was entered in the Newmarket Carnival
  • Sponsored walks and cycles
  • Sixties Night Dance
  • Quiz Night
  • Concert featuring local folk singer and songwriter Jancis Harvey
  • Festival of flowers and music
1999 - June
Winner of the Nationwide Regional Award for Voluntary Endeavour
1999 - October
Opening of Portland House The wife of local pastor and founder, Kevan Crane came across Portland House in the High Street and promoted it for conversion to a supported hostel. Forest Heath District Council financed the purchase and building works for Suffolk Housing Society with Open Door as the managing agent.
2001 - October
Opening of the Old Station Road Charity ShopFollowing on from the successful regular fundraising stalls with donated goods in the Catholic Church car park Open Door leased 18 Old Station Road to retail donated quality furniture, bric-a-brac, clothing and books. The opening was supported by the Town Mayor, Cllr. George Lambton and Elvis!
Open Door was fortunate to have close links with Cambridge Emmaus, from whom the first van was purchased at a considerable discount, and for their invaluable advice and support.
Portland House

Through an internal re-organisation the house was adapted to provide eight rooms.
Supporting People Suffolk

Achieved accreditation and awarded contract with Supporting People to provide housing support.

Open Door took a lease on a small industrial unit at Craven Way to start WoodWorks! to provide informal training opportunities in furniture repair to disadvantaged people. The Lloyds TSB Foundation funded the cost of a part-time worker in the first year and many other local organisations made donations of finance and equipment The Round Table organised a pantomime horse race at the Racecourse. Open Door’s entry came second from last but the winner was a panto cow. Our calls for a steward’s inquiry went unheeded!
Finalist Cambridge Evening News Community Challenge Awards
Newmarket Past and Present. Calendars of photographs depicting the changes to Newmarket landscape were put together to raise funds for Newmarket Open Door, with the help of local historian Peter Norman and photographer Tony Jedrej.
Winner of the Newmarket Business Association Award for Community Engagement
2003 - April
Rockfield House

Open Door was appointed the managing agent of Rockfield House by Forest Heath District Council on the retirement of the resident wardens. This is a temporary contract as the Council is planning to replace the house with two smaller hostels in Newmarket and Mildenhall.
2003 - October
Chairman of Newmarket Open Door, Father Paul Hypher, retires and moves to Yorkshire. He hands over to John Morris
Church Hall Sales

Open Door continued to build the furniture business, using three garages on loan and a redundant church at Fordham. Regular sales were held in the Catholic Church and the old parish room was filled to overflowing!
2004 - October
Cranworth House

Hereward Housing kindly permitted Open Door to occupy their redundant neighbourhood office pending negotiations of development agreement to link the two houses and create a further five rooms of accommodation. With the achievement of planning permission Open Door increased the number of units on site to ten.Terry Waite CBE first visited Open Door and formally opened the Cranworth House office. He signed a replica of the postcard, the only mail he received whilst in captivity for nearly five years in the Lebanon. John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress which now hangs in pride of place in the office.
Runner Up Children’s Support Cambridge Evening News Community Awards
2005 - July
Second Van

After a successful Business in the Community visit focussing on rural social exclusion Open Door was fortunate to receive another van donated by the Post Office.
2005 - August
Following the success of WoodWorks! the Charity Superstore and Training Centre was opened at Unit 2 Craven Way. In the past year over 38 volunteers have assisted the core staff in building its success. Conversion works have been undertaken with the support of the West Suffolk Crime Reduction Panel and the Cambridgeshire Recycling Network.
2005 - November
Windsor HouseOpen Door completed the purchase in November after raising the funds through a commercial mortgage and a further mortgage at a discounted rate through another charity. The use is currently limited to two lettable rooms pending a planning application for conversion to a house in multiple occupation to provide a further two rooms.
Terry Waite CBE

Terry agreed to support Open Door as our President and Patron and attended the first anniversary celebrations of the Charity Superstore.

Since opening in 1999, Portland House resident numbers have exceeded seventy.

In 2009, having obtained planning permission and signed a twenty-five year lease with Sanctuary Hereward Open Door completed the building works to link Portland and Cranworth Houses and provide six bed sitting rooms, replace the bathrooms with shower rooms and toilets, upgrade the kitchen, open up the Victorian staircase and insert a new door from the office in Cranworth.  This was funded by a large grant from Forest Heath District Council with further support from East Cambridgeshire and funds raised by Open Door.  The three houses of Portland, Windsor and Cranworth now have a capacity of nineteen rooms.
In addition to the restoration of the staircase, a Victorian fireplace was revealed and a section of old wallpaper preserved in situ in a Perspex frame.
Took over the running and management of Newmarket Recycling Centre after its funding was withdrawn by Suffolk County Council.
What is Newmarket Open Door?

Newmarket Open Door is  a registered charity and limited company and was formed from a Churches Together initiative when a group of people wanted to do something more about homelessness in the district. One person made the first donation of a five-pound note and Open Door was born.
The trustees/directors are drawn from the congregations of Newmarket and district and offer themselves for endorsement at the annual general meeting of the members.
For 2017-18 the trustees are:
Revd John Hardy (Chair)
Maureen Penney
David Staff
Cathy Staff
Ken Snare
Father Simon Blakesley
Lyn Chapman
Charles Dore (Vice-Chair)
Charity Correspondent & Company Secretary – John Durrant

Independent Examiner: Geoff Mann

Minutes Secretary: Ruth Kent
Annual accounts and returns are available on the Charity Commission website:

The objects of the charity and limited company are ‘ the advancement of the Christian faith and education including the relief of persons experiencing poverty homelessness physical and mental disability and the provision of accommodation and support.’