THE sun shone as volunteers, dignitaries and friends gathered in the street to witness the official opening of a community centre.
The community centre in Broadlaw Walk, Fareham, was declared open and held a street party to celebrate.
Hazel Warwick, the deputy chief executive of First Wessex, the company behind the centre, cut the ribbon with the Mayor of Fareham Cllr Susan Bayford.
Hazel said: ‘For those of you who have been part of the process of regenerating this area, you know this has been a long time coming.’
First Wessex, along with Fareham Borough Council, started to look at regenerating the site in the late-90s.
Many developments have taken place over the years, including the demolition of the Lord Admiral Cunningham Pub and the regeneration of the parade of shops.
Hazel said: ‘The centre provides an important space for the whole community and I am proud to see how far this area has come along.’
The community centre has been operating out of a much smaller shop on the same precinct. It has many groups including karate, an older person’s club and a family group. It also operates a successful veg box scheme.
Carole Steadman runs the karate club, called Ryukin Ryu, on Monday evenings. Carole said that the new centre meant her group could expand.
She said: ‘We need more students now, it’s a really lovely, friendly place.’
Volunteer Chris Peachey, who organises the veggie box scheme, said: ‘It’s much brighter and more cheerful, especially for the children. There is a lot more space to do things, we are no longer stunted by the lack of room.’
Phil Lever, from Bishopsfield Road, has started volunteering at the centre. He said: ‘You only have to look at the old one to see there’s absolutely no comparison.’
Children were entertained by street artists, balloon modellers and a bouncy castle, while the adults were treated to cakes and tea.
The Mayor praised the centre, and said: ‘The site really has come a long way since the 1960s... roll on 50 years and look at what a difference there is to the site. What a real sense of achievement and of community spirit.’
*Please note that Hazel Warwick’s job title is incorrect in our video caption. She is deputy chief executive of First Wessex