WHEN the New Blendworth Centre at Horndean was first conceived, there were doubters who said it couldn’t possibly work.
But 25 years later and the day centre – which caters for scores of people with learning disabilities – has gone from strength to strength.
The centre, in Blendworth Lane, is celebrating its 25th birthday by inviting all the service users, their carers and family for a party.
Each week 38 adults with varying degrees of learning disabilities attend the centre and take part in a variety of educational activities, including horticulture, numeracy and literacy classes.
People come as far as Emsworth and Fareham to attend.
Those who attend take part in outreach work, maintaining the grounds at places such as BAE Systems in Waterlooville and Langstone Technology Park.
The centre was the brainchild of Mike Martin, whose son attended a Mencap day centre at Cadlington House in Horndean.
He wanted to start up a facility after it closed in the 80s.
Now, decades later the thriving centre has proved to be a vital service.
Acting manager Liz Smout said: ‘It’s a big milestone because when we started we did not have anything really.
‘Through the years we have expanded. We were give a huge hut from the navy.
‘We use it as our main hall but we have added on a kitchen, a toilet area, a classroom and a recreation space.’
Mrs Smout said the centre provides an invaluable service to adults with learning disabilities.
She said: ‘It’s just incredible how it boosts their self-esteem.
‘They build friendships. They are a fantastic group. It makes them feel good.
‘We all want to be needed and it gives them a feeling of worth.’