Aylsham Care Trust enjoys ‘dream’ opening of its new £1.2m centre

A pioneering north Norfolk charity has celebrated a milestone in its caring history after opening a new state-of-the-art community building

Lucy Clapham Saturday, March 24, 2012  6:57 PM

The official launch of the Aylsham Care Trust (Act) Centre was dubbed a “dream come true” by the man who spearheaded the £1.2m project.

Rees Coghlan founded the charity in 1985 and has been pushing ever since to improve facilities for the town’s residents, particularly the elderly and disabled.

And his work of more than 25 years culminated today when the centre, on the St Michael’s Hospital site, was formally opened.

It will now provide a range of community services, including hosting regular lunch clubs, offer a space for groups to meet and hold training sessions for students from City College Norwich.

The centre makes up part of the pioneering Aylsham Care Complex – the wider vision of Mr Coghlan – and stands alongside the town’s £1.3m health centre, a 30-bed housing with care scheme and St Michael’s Court care home, which opened in October.

The Coghlan family gifted land enabling the St Michael’s site to be redeveloped with homes, on strict condition that it had a strong emphasis on community services and that an Act centre was provided.

Mr Coghlan, 86, said: “It’s really a lovely building, I think it’s better than I had hoped for.

“This will enlarge the work of Act and we hope for it to be widely used and we hope people from all the (surrounding) buildings will come and socialise in here.”

Invited guests were welcomed into the centre this afternoon to enjoy a classical concert in its new hall, refreshments from the ‘Crumbs’ café and tours of the building. And the celebrations will continue tomorrow with a dedication service.

The charity, which has more than 130 volunteers, will continue to provide its long-established services from the centre but will now be extending its remit to include a community helpline, counselling and day care.

Jenny Manser, Act chairman, was “ecstatic” to be in the new building.

She said: “I think Aylsham has been desperate for good community space for a very long time.

“This is the first time we have a state-of-the-art conference facility and training facility, and a community hall and café that will be quite unique in so far as we can offer so much.”

Mrs Manser said Act would now be promoting the centre to establish it firmly in the community.

● If you are interested in hiring the centre call Act on 01263 733385.

http://www.northnorfolknews.co.uk

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