Great Yarmouth’s Centre 81 set to celebrate special birthday with wheelchair procession and festival fun

A carnival atmosphere will kick off the birthday celebrations of a popular Great Yarmouth support group when a parade of decorated wheelchairs snakes its way down the seafront.

Centre 81, which works with people with physical and other disabilities, is organising the colourful cavalcade to mark its 30th anniversary and is inviting wheelchair users from across Norfolk to join in the fun.

Many Centre 81 members will be decorating their chairs and donning fancy dress with a carnival theme for the parade, and organisers are hoping up to 100 people will join in the procession - which will be supported by strutting majorettes and the New Orleans jazz stylings of Norfolk-based marching band Smokehouse Blue.

Diana Staines, chief executive of Centre 81, said: 'We're sure it will be a lot of fun and quite a spectacle.'

Centre 81 was launched in 1981 and from its headquarters in Tar Works Road provides a base for members to develop their abilities, socialise and become more independent. Members can take part in a range of activities at the centre, from bowling to bingo and thai chi to cookery, and also enjoy outings, games and sports.

The parade will kick start a day of festivities to mark the charity's special birthday, which will be officially opened by Yarmouth kick boxing champion Bin Tyler. Live music, a tug of war contest, a free children's playground, balloon race and sideshows will follow the wheelchair parade.

Other attractions on the day will include a line up of vintage cars, competitions and ongoing jam sessions for musicians who bring along their own instruments.

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The charity's drama group, the Centre 81 Players, will also be taking to the stage to present a revue on the theme of how people with disabilities are treated by others in society.

Ms Staines said: 'This is a special anniversary for us and important for our appeal to raise funds for improved facilities so we hope for a great day and strong support.

'There's much work to do and we need volunteers to be marshals or stewards or to offer other help on the day.'

The parade will set off from Joyland at 10am on Saturday, August 18 and make its way via Marine Parade and Trafalgar Road to St George's Park where the festivities will continue from 11am until 6pm.

Any wheelchair users who would like to take part in the parade must let Centre 81 know in advance to allow for safety arrangements, and bring their own 'pushers'. Staff are also keen to recruit more volunteers who can help on the day. Call the charity on 01493 85257.

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