The Columba Centre
Situated in the heart of St Columb Major, The Columba Centre is a busy community venue which is used by a diverse range of local groups.
The Columba Centre comprises two buildings owned by the church, the old school building which dates back to the 19th century, and a separate hall and stage which was originally built in 1936. The Columba Centre is a registered charity which leases these buildings from the church and upgrades and maintains them for the benefit of the local community.
Bill Draper, who is one of the trustees of The Columba Centre, says:
“We have a terrific range of activities based here, and we try to cater for all ages within our local area, with activities including yoga classes, Pilates sessions, Guides and Brownies, a memory café, Tai Chi, and even Cornish Wrestling.”
One of Bill’s particular interests is running computer classes, which are mainly attended by people over 40 who want to use new technology to help keep in touch with family and friends. Bill explains:
“These weekly classes have been running for 18 months and are very popular. We can get as many as 15 people at a session. Originally, we had a standard broadband connection. If broadband was being used elsewhere in the building, I could not rely on having sufficient bandwidth to run the classes effectively. It also placed a number of restrictions on what I could do in the classes. For example, many people are keen to learn about Skype, but our connection quality meant that I could only tutor one or two people at a time on this software, or the connection would freeze.
“Then around six months ago, we had a superfast broadband connection installed and all of those problems disappeared! It is now easy to work with large groups, everyone can be online together, and the learning experience is just so much better for everyone involved.”
The arrival of superfast broadband has helped to improve a number of other aspects of The Columba Centre’s work. Bill says:
“The centre is regularly used for parties and functions, and also business conferences. These days people expect to be able to use their mobile devices and to access things like Facebook, Messenger and Email while they are at social or business events. So our broadband connection helps us to attract more of this type of business.
“Another client is a company which uses our venue to train people in the skills that they need to carry out social services work. They conduct most of their training using online packages, and these courses run much more smoothly and reliably with our new superfast connection.
“Keeping these types of customers happy means that we can attract more income for The Columba Centre. This is vital as it generates the funds that we need to maintain and improve the centre – which in turn contributes to a more vibrant local community.
“Superfast Cornwall also provided us with three laptops and a WiFi extender, which is another huge boost for the work that we do.
“We are in the process of getting our stage fully operational so that we can put on plays and other shows. Once this is up and running, we are very excited about the prospect of using our superfast connection to broadcast live video streaming of our productions. This will help us raise awareness and get more people involved in The Columba Centre.
“We are also planning more social media activity to promote The Columba Centre in future, and this will be so much easier and quicker with our new connection. We will also be able to use video clips as part of this activity, as with the superfast broadband connection, they will be quick and easy to upload.
“It is great to feel that these historic buildings are now able to use the very latest technology to help connect our local community to the rest of the world.”