ACE - short for Access to Community Education - was founded in 1989 by Jenny Harriman at Brixham College in South Devon. Jenny had previously trained as a teacher in Leicester and, in 1989, she transferred to Brixham to become the first tutor in a newly formed Adult Community Learning Centre, based at the college.
At the start of this new venture, she had spoken to a number of disabled people in Brixham and invited them to join her - eight families responded and asked Jenny if they could have some activities tailored to their abilities. Initially starting out as a luncheon club, ACE soon developed and expanded with wheelchair dancing and pottery classes.
ACE registered as a Charity on 24th February 1994 with the objective to provide or assist in the provision of facilities for educational, recreation and other leisure time occupations for people with disabilities and their carers/helpers with the object of improving the conditions of life for such persons. Funds were raised to adapt toilet facilities, convert a redundant boiler room into a pottery studio and a waste ground for a garden to suit ACE members and the wider community.
In 2005, Torbay Council transferred its responsibility for the Bay’s Further Education to South Devon College (SDC) and ACE was recognised and supported by SDC. Also, in 2005, Brixham’s Adult and Community Learning Centre (ACL) moved to a brand-new, purpose built building within the grounds of Brixham College. The new space allowed us to expand our regular programme with activities such as Swimming, Gardening, Singing and Pottery classes along with our weekly 'Thursday Group' providing social activities in the morning followed by lunch and Creative Writing, Drawing & Painting or Sportsmobility classes in the afternoon.
In 2016, ACE was featured on the BBC as part of the annual Sport Relief fundraising event. The TV cameras visited Brixham Swimming Pool to film our Swimming class in action along with a special celebrity guest, British Olympic Gold Medal winning Swimmer, Duncan Goodhew MBE (pictured)
In 2018, ACE moved from Brixham College to the South Devon College ACL Department, Centre for Health and Care Professions (CHCP) in Torquay.
ACE continues to rely on fundraising, donations and charitable grants which over the years have included the National Lottery as well as local organisations, such as the Co-Op.
Tel: 01803 850823
Tel: 01803 842026