The Queen’s Jubilee provoked a great feeling of community spirit in Highcliffe during 1977. During the following year a small committee was drawn up with the objective of encouraging and providing recreation and leisure time pursuits for local residents.
With no permanent meeting place, the newly formed community association had to meet in members’ homes or hired local halls. A regular location was eventually secured in the former village school in Lymington Road and negotiations were made with Dorset County Council for a tenancy. These premises continued to be a base for the association until the council became obliged under a statutory obligation to establish a youth club. Unfortunately the association had to look for an alternative, suitable location for their activities.
Attention was eventually directed to Greystones House in Waterford Road which was sadly in an advanced state of decay, dirty and derelict. It was also considered to be of special architectural interest, it was also now a grade II listed building. The association started negotiations with the Christchurch Housing Society who owned the site and a 99 year lease was entered into. However, to restore the listed building to a fit state it was estimated £278,000 was required. This was eventually raised through loans, an English Heritage Grant, donations and fundraising by Members. In October 1983 the ground floor was opened and in September 1985 the first floor was completed. Working together to keep costs down, most of the repairs and restoration work was carried out by members themselves. Membership of the Association is now over 2,000 and the activities are many and varied.
The Association is run by members for members. The ethos of the Association is for members to offer their services to undertake such duties as the administration of sections and duty as wardens, catering assistants on so on. It has been the custom ever since the Association was formed for Friday mornings to be an open session when members and visitors gather together over a cup of tea or coffee. The over-all aim is to provide those living in the area with social contact and the facility to pursue interests they had neglected until they retired and had time on their hands.
The Association is self-financing. In the year 2009/10 it had a total annual expenditure of just under £59,000. The current annual subscription to the Association is £5 (plus and enrolment fee of £1). Each section is also required to be self-funding. The governance of the Association is undertake through an elected council of members and the day to day management is delegated to a small executive committee chaired by the chairman of the council.