The Crawley Apple Tree Centre, now a thriving community hub for Ifield and beyond is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
This year marks ten years since the Gurjar Hindu Union launched its £4m Apple Tree Land Appeal to build the centre on the Apple Tree Farm land in Ifield Avenue.
The purpose built Hindu temple and community centre has come a long way in a decade now providing far more for its visitors than simply a place of worship.
Since the formation of the Gurjar Hindu Union by first generation Indians in 1968, members have held a common goal of owning a purpose built temple, also called a Sanatan Mandir, in Crawley.
They had a vision for it satisfy all their community, religious, cultural, and individual family needs.
The Sanatan Mandir and Community Centre (SMCC) project was conceived in 1992 during Sant Shree Morari Bapu’s very successful Ram Katha.
Chair of trustees at the Union Bharat Lukka said: “This was a major undertaking and a mammoth task for GHU. We faced so many challenges ranging from fundraising, obtaining suitable land for the project, obtaining the planning permission and completing the centre.”
In 1998 the Union bought a disused warehouse in Spencer Road, West Green, to use as a temporary community centre. Still members maintained their vision for a purpose built temple.
In 2002 the Union acquired the 2.9 acre Apple Tree Farm site and in 2006 the Apple Tree Land Appeal was launched aiming to raise £4m to build the centre.
Four years later, in May 2010 the centre opened and through generosity, kindness and hard work of its members and supporters and it has paid off about £2.5 million to date.
Mr Lukka said: “We have to thank the hard work of the past committee, blessings of our elders, hard final push by the current committee and most importantly the blessings of all our Bhawans for enabling us to complete the project in May 2010.
“We did it in time, in budget and without an accident.
“This was an incredible achievement for an organisation that runs totally with volunteers and obtains funding from the members and well-wishers.
“Pujya Rameshbhai Oza inaugurated the grand opening of our Sanatan Mandir and Community Centre. We are now very proud owners of our Mandir and Centre that was designed and built purposely for its needs.
“Our centre is widely acknowledged as an amazing and unique building, incorporating ancient Vedic architecture with modern western style facilities.
“It is becoming a major iconic landmark in the south east of England.”
Today the centre holds school visits and has a full programme of activities including Bollywood dancing classes for young people, a carers’ support group, a day care centre, Gujarati language lessons, badminton, zumba and voilley ball classes
The trustees and committee members respectfully acknowledge the hard work of all the previous Trustees and committee members who, along with the many volunteers, financial contributors and general members, made the Sanatan Mandir and Community Centre possible.”
It costs more than £15,000 to run every month. Anyone interested finding out more about its work or donating can go to crawleyhindu.com