The end for foundation
ONE of the world s leading yoga organisations has gone broke. The Yoga for Health Foundation has had its headquarters at Ickwell Bury for the past 28 years. But a long-running feud with owner, Lincolnshire businessman Mark Guest, will end on Saturday when
ONE of the world's leading yoga organisations has gone broke.
The Yoga for Health Foundation has had its headquarters at Ickwell Bury for the past 28 years.
But a long-running feud with owner, Lincolnshire businessman Mark Guest, will end on Saturday when the foundation hands back the keys of the Bury.
The foundation says it is broke and cannot continue while Mr Guest says £800,000 worth of damage has been done to his property because the foundation did not maintain buildings as stipulated in its lease.
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Trouble started seven years ago, according to the foundation, when Mr Guest bought the property for £560,000 from Bedford School. The foundation says it had entered into a verbal agreement with the school to buy it for £500,000.
Mr Guest went through the courts and eventually gave the foundation an eight-year lease which gave him a two-year option for him to have the foundation removed as they tried to raise £2m to buy the property and stay in business.
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At the time the foundation, which offered residential courses, was housed in the main building but then moved, by Mr Guest, to outbuildings.
"The writing was on the wall then," said foundation administrator Tony Starforth who lives in Northill.
"We went from having 40 beds to 15 and even though we tried and tried it was always on the cards we were struggling. Once Mr Guest embarked on his legal path we were doomed.
"Our relationship with him was always strained and uncomfortable. There is no doubt he always wanted to get us out.
"We had a verbal deal with Bedford School to buy the Bury for £500,000 then got a call to say it had been sold for £60,000 more to Mr Guest. It left everyone with a bad taste.
"The foundation will live under another name but with no premises and the teachers will work locally. The foundation is known worldwide and wants to continue in some form."
Foundation director Bill Feeney said: "It is very sad for an organisation with a worldwide reputation when it closes. But the financial position over the last five years was too much of a burden for us to carry on.
"It is very sad it has all come to an end after all these years like this.
"We put up a fight but in the end we were broke. There was no money left."
Mr Guest, talking exclusively to The Comet, said: "I originally offered the foundation alternative premises at Cockayne Hatley which they turned down.
"The foundation had an obligation to keep the Bury in good condition which unfortunately they didn't and I will have to spend at least £800,000 on repairs.
"I have never applied to turn the Bury into flats and at the moment I have no fixed vision for Ickwell Bury.
"It is terribly sad it has all ended like this."
The last planning application Mr Guest put in for Ickwell Bury to Mid Beds District Council was in 2004 for conversion of the manor house into offices which was refused with planners saying: "The council considers the current use of the site by the Yoga for Health Foundation is of exceptional community benefit and the desirability of preserving the existing use is a valid material consideration.