Community marks opening of centre with street party

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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.

OPEN Enjoying the new space with Xavier Stow of Top Banana circus performers are sisters Cortney Peckett, left, six, and Kaitlyn, eight. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (131885-3)

OPEN Enjoying the new space with Xavier Stow of Top Banana circus performers are sisters Cortney Peckett, left, six, and Kaitlyn, eight. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131885-3)

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