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Guide hut designed for minimal maintenance

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As division commissioner for Wimbledon Guides, I would like to say how extremely misplaced are the views expressed in Ian Ellingham's letter (AJ 28.9.00) when he suggested that the Guide hut was an example of 'the folly of the Lottery grant money'.

Guides started fund-raising for a new hall in 1986 - long before the Lottery was conceived. Some £95,000 has been raised entirely by voluntary effort over weekends by selling teas, hosting fetes, sponsored events and collecting litter. This certainly gave them a feel for the value of their hard-earned money and the Guide building is certainly not a 'projec t at no cost' .

The Lottery grant was a rare recognition of their hard work, extraordinary dedication and resolve, as well as the appreciation for the opportunities and challenges that Guiding gives to girls and young women in the local community today.

With 90 years of experience, Guides are aware of the responsibility of future maintenance for a voluntary organisation. We were keen to minimise lifespan costs and maintenance time. This was achieved by very simple and economic design measures. The building was clad in fairfaced brickwork, the upper levels in untreated cedar, and the bench in untreated oak, none of which need any maintenance. The monopitch roof discharges into one gutter for easy cleaning. Window frames are powder-coated steel and do not need redecoration. The building is well insulated. Water is heated by pointof-use electric heaters, and heating is control led by t ime locks and va lves which limit resources to areas in use.

I have been part of the great project team; and with the architect, contractor and quantity surveyor frequently making 'real decisions' about cost cutting and sustainability to stay within budget.

It is a wonderful achievement to see the 200 Guides, Brownies, Rainbows and Trefoil groups and others in the community enjoy this lovely unique building which has been specially designed to meet our needs.

An example of 'unrefined government programmes'? I would disagree.

Mair Rabagliati, commissioner, South Wimbledon District Guides

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