Girl guide lodge set to close

Somermead campsite and lodge, Wedmore.

Somermead campsite and lodge, Wedmore. - Credit: Mendip Activity Centre

A campsite and lodge used for girl guiding is set to close.

Girlguiding UK, which owns the site in Wedmore, is to sell the lodge at auction after a considerable fall in visitor numbers and wet rot caused the site to lose financial sustainability.

The guiding group said a total of £150,000 would be needed to repair the site.

The lodge opened in 2011 for girls aged 10-14 years to act as a meeting space with amenities to enjoy outdoor activity and orienteering.

The site is also used by other organisations like the Mendip Activity Centre, which uses it for school trips.

Inside Somermead Lodge.

Inside Somermead Lodge. - Credit: Mendip Activity Centre

Mendip Outdoor Pursuits managing director, David Eddins, addressed an open letter to the county commissioners for Girlguiding Somerset and Girlguiding Somerset North condemning the move to sell the site.

It read: "I was disappointed to learn that fundraising had not been considered before the decision was taken to sell Somermead, a rare asset that once gone can never be replaced.

"Mendip Outdoor Pursuits has used Somermead over the years to accommodate school groups from underprivileged backgrounds.

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"We should fight to save Somermead so it can continue to benefit thousands of young people with a guiding legacy for years to come."

Mendip Outdoor Pursuits has pledged £10,000 towards the repair of the lodge, if sale at auction is halted and 'proper consideration' is given to saving the resource. 

The group has also set-up a campaign called 'Save Somermead' along with a funding page which can be found at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/savesomermead.

A spokesperson for Girlguiding Somerset said in a statement: "The decision to sell Somermead Lodge was not an easy one.

"We have a duty to ensure that member funds are spent wisely and unfortunately a significant decline in member usage and high repair costs to address wet rot has meant it is not financially sustainable to keep the site.

"This has been a difficult decision and we understand may cause upset to many local people who have invested time and money into the site – including guiding members who have had long associations with the lodge and campsite.

"We have support in place for members with existing bookings and will be providing details for nearby campsites as an alternative for members to visit, including those with accessibility access."