A decade of helping families in Leigh Park is marked with a party at Sure Start centre

Centre user/worker Tracy Smith, founder Sarah Lamburne and Coral Smith (15) who started at the Park Families Centre when she was 2 years old.

Centre user/worker Tracy Smith, founder Sarah Lamburne and Coral Smith (15) who started at the Park Families Centre when she was 2 years old.

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THE 10th anniversary of a Sure Start centre has been celebrated with tea, cake, and old friends.

Park Families was founded in 2001 and was so successful that within two years it had its own purpose-built children’s centre, serving families across Warren Park and Leigh Park.

Yesterday marked 10 years since the centre opened and the mayor of Havant welcomed families from across the area.

Dozens of families who have been helped and supported by the charity also dropped by to say thank you.

Tracy Smith is one of the mums whose life was changed by the centre when she took along her daughter Coral, who was a toddler at the time.

The 36-year-old, from Blendworth Crescent, said: ‘There were two ladies who originally said they were going to do all these wonderful things.

‘I was a bit sceptical at first because, over the years, so many people had promised things.

‘But, true to their word, Sarah Lamburne and the team set up parents’ groups, drop-in sessions, activities – all things I could not personally have given my daughter Coral.

‘I was very shy and had a really bad stutter. But I took courses on offer and now I work for Park Families.

‘And it’s been lovely to see my daughter benefit.’

Coral, now 15, said: ‘I like a lot of things – from cooking to making things.

‘I’ve got a lot of friends from Park Families. I’ve never really felt shy, because of Sure Start. I just hope this continues and if I have kids they can experience this too.’

The centre offers childcare facilities, parenting courses, space for health visitors, classes and respite for parents.

Liz Aqualina, one of the trustees, presented Mrs Lamburne, the founder, with a huge bouquet of flowers.

She said: ‘Without Sarah’s focus Park Families would not be here today.

‘She has worked tirelessly for the past 12 years, starting with writing the original plan.

‘With a great deal of hard work and planning Sarah has got over many obstacles at Park Families.’

Chairman Jonathan Jeffery, the vicar of Leigh Park and Warren Park, was also thanked for his help.

Mrs Lamburne said: ‘It’s a wonderful achievement for the community to have developed and grown Park Families and ensured that it is sustained for the next 10 years.

‘I applaud the community for that.’

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