Acacia: name that is music to the ears of listeners and visitors

PROUD BOSS AT THE HELM -- Peter Clarke, manager of the Acacia Centre in Annesley Woodhouse.
PROUD BOSS AT THE HELM -- Peter Clarke, manager of the Acacia Centre in Annesley Woodhouse.

A thriving community centre and radio station, based in Ashfield, is celebrating another milestone chapter in its remarkable success story.

For a significant name-change means that the Annesley Woodhouse charity’s original title, Ashfield Community Radio and Media Training (ACRMT), is no more.

Instead the focus will be on all things Acacia, which reflects the fact that the charity is based at the Acacia Centre on Acacia Avenue and encompasses Acacia Radio, which changed its name from Ashfield Community Radio in 2011.

In a switch that should make branding easier and remove confusion among the public, ACRMT was formally dissolved at the organisation’s annual general meeting last month.

And as if to rubber-stamp the change, Acacia Centre Ltd’s latest visitor and listening figures make impressive reading. In the four years since ACRMT took over the community centre, they have welcomed almost 100,000 visitors. And two years after the radio station took to the internet, as well as via the traditional airwaves at 1287 AM, it is attracting up to 40,000 listeners per month from all over the world, including heavy rock enthusiasts who live in the Netherlands!

“We’re so proud of what we have achieved,” says centre manager Peter Clarke (62). “It is down to everyone who works here, not just the paid staff but also the fantastic volunteers. Everybody knuckles down and nothing is too much trouble for them.”

It costs about £86,000 a year to run the Acacia operation, which is boosted by grants from Ashfield District Council, Notts County Council and the Nottinghamshire-based Jones Trust Community Fund. But so successful has it become that Mr Clarke estimates the business will be able to stand on its own two feet, without external funding, in three years’ time.

IT was back in 1997 that Ashfield Community Radio and Media Training was founded. Eight years on, the project, now known as Acacia Centre Ltd, can be hailed as one of Ashfield’s assets. Run by local people for local people.

Initially, the emphasis was on the voluntary radio station, with its popular, varied programmes every day and its training scheme that has now helped more than 1,000 would-be broadcasters.

But now, the community centre itself shares the limelight. It is a true hub-cum-hive of activity and a go-to venue for a multitude of events, shows, parties workshops and courses, not to mention coffee shop, work club and food-collection point.

Says proud manager Peter Clarke: “It’s a place for the whole family.”