About Us

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.

The trustees are:

Rev. Cheryl Belding
Valerie Russell
Ruth Kent
Margherita Walsh – Chair
Lyn Chaplin
David Staff
Catherine Staff
John Gilbert

Charity Correspondent – Charles Dore

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.’

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. October – Registration as a Company.

1998-2000 – Open Door undertook a number of fundraising events including:
– A float was entered in the New market 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 Shop. Following 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.

2001 – 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.

2002 – WoodWorks! 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.

2002/03/04 – 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.

2003 – Winner of the Newmarket Business Association Award for Community Engagement.
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.
October – Chairman of Newmarket Open Door, Father Paul Hypher, retires and moves to Yorkshire. He hands over to John Morris.

2003/04 – 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 – Runner Up Children’s Support Cambridge Evening News Community Awards
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.

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.
October – 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.
November – Open 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.

2006 – 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.

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.

2011

Newmarket Open Door took over the running of Newmarket Recycling Centre after its funding was withdrawn by Suffolk County Council.

2011

Rockfield House, the former homeless families hostel managed by Newmarket Open Door, is converted to a luxury spa as part of Bedford Lodge Hotel.

2011

Newmarket Open Door takes over the management of a 5 bedroomed house in Park Lane Newmarket. The house is renamed ‘Hypher House’ in honour of former parish priest and Chair of trustees Father Paul Hypher.

2012

Inaugural ‘Run the Walks’

A charity run with a difference; a 12k run coupled with a fun run staged on the town’s horse walks.

2012

Community Recycling Centre wins top award

The Best Community Recycling Initiative was presented by Jon Snow, recognising the innovation and commitment shown by Newmarket Open Door in taking on the Recycling Centre and making it a success.

2013

SOS Bus

SOS Bus is saved from closure by Newmarket Open Door after Newmarket Community Partnership ceased trading.

2013

Awards roll in for the SOS Bus.

The SOS Bus project was given an award from the Forest Heath Crime Prevention Panel and was runner up in the annual High Sheriff’s Award ceremony.

2014

Newmarket Open Door celebrated its fifteenth anniversary by hosting an Advent Concert in the Catholic Church

2014

Fire Horses

A commemoration through music, art, history and voice of Newmarket’s most devastating fire in March 1683, with the retiring collection for Newmarket Open Door.

2015

Fundraising

Newmarket Lions raised £1000 for Newmarket Open Door.

Students from Newmarket, Brandon and Mildenhall sleep out to raise awareness of homelessness and raise more than £400 for Newmarket Open Door

2015

Community Recycling Centre

Community Recycling Centre closes. General Manager John Durrant said ‘we remain hopeful that this may only be temporary as there are tentative discussion with another potential partner

2015

Community Recycling Centre

Community Recycling Centre set to open again after Suffolk County Council offers financial aid spread over the next two years.

2016

Jane Savin, Support and Accommodation Manager and former trustee says goodbye to the Charity after nineteen years.

2016

Supporting People

Supporting People Suffolk is replaced by Housing Related Support (HRS). Newmarket Open Door entered into a partnership with Riverside and YMCA to provide supported accommodation in West Suffolk.

2017

Newmarket Open Door purchased Portland House from Suffolk Housing Society.

2017

Newmarket Open Door appointed a new Chair of Trustees. John Morris stood down and Revd John Hardy took over.

2018

Community Recycling Centre

The Community Recycling Centre permanently closed for public use due to rising costs, declining income and technical issues.

2019-January

General Manager John Durrant died following a short illness. He will be forever remembered by all the people he helped over so many years.

2019-April

Memorial Service for John Durrant

2019-April

Former trustee Charles Dore appointed as Chief Operating Office.

2020

A Community Pop-Up Shop opens at the Racing Centre in Fred Archer Way Newmarket. This along with grants won to provide help with utility costs, food and essential support during the COVID pandemic, sees the charity stretching out again to support the wider local community.