East Dene is to close for good today (Friday), just three years short of its centenary, as a direct result of Covid.
Owners of the wedding venue and school trip getaway in Bonchurch say they are ‘devastated’ at the outcome. In a statement, they said: “East Dene, the Allnatt Residential Outdoor Education Centre in Bonchurch, will cease trading on January 29, 2021. This is confirmed with huge sadness and regret and is a direct result of the Covid pandemic.
“The Centre has not had any school visits since March 2020 and, despite all the government’s financial support through the JSS (Job Support Scheme) and small grants, there is still no sign that the government’s ban on residential school visits will be lifted.
“The current surge in the infection rate and another lockdown period has made it impossible to continue for an organisation which prides itself on providing a safe experience for children.
“It is particularly upsetting that all staff have been made redundant, most of whom have served East Dene loyally for many years.
“In addition, it will impact on future weddings, special occasions and charitable events and all customers are being contacted personally to discuss their individual situations.
“This is a devastating time for a well-established and highly respected business which was just three years short of its centenary.”
East Dene was built in 1824 and is the former home of poet Algernon Swinburne.