A new community centre in Birdham was officially opened at the weekend by the chairman of the district council and the leader of the county council.
Cllr Elizabeth Hamilton and Cllr Louise Goldsmith opened the St James Centre in front of many people who have donated their time, talent and money towards the construction of the building next to the village church.
Cllr Hamilton, who is also a local resident, said in her speech: “I still find some difficulty realising that just two years ago the ground we are standing on was covered with gravestones dating back over 100 years.
“It’s so exciting to see the hopes and vision for a new future become a reality to serve the needs of today’s community in which there is too much loneliness and a need for a place where people can just meet each other for a cosy chat, cup of tea, or for more specific reasons too.”
The brief ceremony to declare the community centre officially open was followed by a garden party at which everyone was invited to inspect the various rooms and to sample delicious food provided by centre manager Jeanette McDowell and her team of volunteers.
The new St James Community Centre was finished in late 2018. The vision for the centre is to provide a “gathering place for everyone living in the nearby area to meet and participate in a variety of life enhancing activities”.
The idea for the centre was first conceived purely as a replacement for a small church room. However, it was soon realised that residents needed somewhere where everyone could meet informally for social, leisure, counselling, support and for wellbeing classes as well as church-related activities.
The construction of the centre has been made possible thanks to the generous support of many local people as well as local and national trusts.
Full details of the layout of the centre, together with the programme of regular activities, are available at: sjcbirdham.uk