Villagers have celebrated the official opening of Thurston’s newly refurbished community centre.
Work to improve the New Green Centre began around five years ago when a leaking roof on the sun lounge was replaced and its interior redecorated using manpower supplied by the Probation Service.
Inger Petersen-Smith and Ann Verity, former trustees of the centre, embarked on a £40,000 grant-funded project to update its facilities and provide a meeting room and office for Thurston Parish Council, which held its first meeting there on Wednesday.
Mrs Petersen-Smith said: “It was tired and looked worn out because it had been used for 25 years and it’s very, very well used. I looked around and thought this is such a wonderful facility and I wanted it to look modern.”
The building now contains a state-of-the-art kitchen, with industrial dishwasher, new cookers and warming cupboard and new low-flushing toilets, complete with high-speed hand dryers and sensor-controlled lighting and ventilation.
It is also home to a vibrant café, run as a community venture by Great Barton Free Church.
Mrs Verity said: “I think it’s brilliant. It was so rewarding to at last get it finished.”
Mrs Petersen-Smith added: “It has been a long and arduous journey with many hours spent at the computer and on the phone and much form filling, but the end result is great – an updated and rejuvenated centre, ready for another 25 years of service to the community.”
Mike Thomas, chairman of the New Green Centre Trust, said: “It’s got the wow factor, it really has.”
On Friday, MP David Ruffley enjoyed a tour of the centre and unveiled a plaque as part of its official opening.
He said Thurston was a ‘vibrant, growing settlement’ and improvements to its community centre reflected that.
“I compare the New Green Centre now to when I first came here in 1996 and there’s no comparison,” he added.
Andy Bendall, director of main contractor All Aspects Plumbing Solutions Ltd, said working on the community centre was particularly enjoyable because, as a Thurston resident, he knew it well.
“I’ve been using it since I was probably 10 or 12 so to see it having a revamp has been really enjoyable and rewarding,” he said.
New Green Centre is used by residents of Thurston and its surrounding villages for a range of activities which include toddler group, health visitors, respite care for the elderly, Zumba classes, senior luncheon club, table tennis, carpet bowls, U3A lectures and interest group meetings.
It has a hall and three meeting rooms available for private hire.