The Centre was the brainchild of Angela Hector following her MSc in Ageing, Retirement and Education. It was opened in 1977, by the Mayor of Bedford with 164 students and eight courses, situated on the first floor of 6 Rothsay Gardens, as the ground floor was being used as a student hostel for Bedford College.
Despite no money for equipment or furniture, a generous response from Cranfield University and Charles Wells Ltd made the premises habitable. By the end of 1977 there were 360 students and £9 in the bank.
Links with Bedford College were established and the County Council stepped in with the upkeep of the building, a few hours of paid tutor time and provided use of the building for a peppercorn rent.
The students rallied and it was decided to form a registered charity and offer a wider range of courses. In 2011 the Borough Council, now the owners of the building, announced that the rent would have to be substantially increased. While alternative premises were sought, the Board started negotiations with the Borough to acquire the lease of 6 Rothsay Gardens, which it did in November 2015, securing the premises until 2040.
In January 2016, it was decided to change the name from the Retirement to the Rothsay Education Centre to reflect the changing nature of retirement in early 21st century.
As we approach the 2020s, the Centre, an independent charity, with over 1,000 students and 216 courses, has improved the facilities to meet the needs of future students.
Staff and Trustees
Five staff are responsible for course development and standards as well as trips, students, tutors and the smooth running of the Centre.
David Wood (Chief Officer) and Jacky Hall (Office Manager). Administrative assistants Salli Scudamore, Carol Purnell and Ros Spicer.
The trustees are responsible for all decisions relating to the long-term plans for the Centre and for making sure that the Centre is run as an effective organisation.
The members of the Board are:
Mark Chamberlain (Chairman)
Caroline Bowdler (Vice Chair)
Brian Woods (Finance)
Cathy Moorhouse (Company Secretary)
Stephen Rogers (Tutor Representative)
Gordon Willey (Student Representative)
Dan Foley (Student Representative)
Jan Boud (Student Representative)