An Eye community volunteer who helped establish one of north Suffolk’s best-known arts facilities has earned a British Empire Medal (BEM) after being named on the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for 2016.
Rebecca Lyne, 41, of Brockdish, was recognised for services to the local community, having played a major part in transforming the vacant former HSBC branch in Eye into a not-for-profit arts centre known simply as The Bank, which welcomes more than 100 participants to its events every week.
Ms Lyne, who is also a committee member of The Friends of Eye Library and a collaborator with Hartismere School, said although it may be her name on the list, the medal was more about honouring the community that had made the centre what it is today.
She told the Diss Express: “I’m just delighted that the hard work of all the volunteers and staff and the community has been recognised.
“I’m a passionate advocate for learning through every generation.
“Arts can bring wellbeing and positivity to a community. I believe thoroughly that education and experience is one of the ways we can regenerate our high streets.”
Formerly the vice-chair of the Eye Arts Guild and organiser of the town’s Family Arts Days, Ms Lyne stated she and several others felt moved to grow the area’s arts scene, after realising many people were prohibited by the costs of travelling to Norwich or Ipswich to find arts opportunities.
“There were plenty of activities (in Eye), but nothing with such cohesion,” she explained.
“If you weren’t interested in sports, there was not much for you.”
She stated once she saw the abandoned Grade II listed building in Castle Street, it “all started to make sense”, and since the centre’s opening in April 2013, she claims she has noticed a “huge difference” in the local arts engagement.
“I have a lot of evidence that shows the general wellbeing has improved dramatically,” Ms Lyne said.
“We have seen it by the age ranges which come in and the dedication of our regular visitors.
“We see an absolutely massive difference on individual case studies.”
In addition to her role as volunteer co-ordinator for The Bank, Ms Lyne was also recognised for her work with Diss social services, giving up weekends to run hand casting and craft sessions for the Children’s Centre at a minimal cost, and for her fundraising in support of local organisations.
She added that The Bank’s attainment of Community Asset status was “absolutely wonderful” and would allow local people to continue feeling its benefits long term.
“We want to keep building on what we have started,” said Ms Lyne.
“It’s taken a while for the project to find its feet. It’s really exciting to see where it goes from here.”
The venue returns for the 2016 season on Tuesday, January 19, with a full schedule of productions, workshops, exhibitions and classes lined up for the coming months.
To learn more, please visit www.thebankeye.org or call 01379 873495.