Hamlet Centre Trust celebrates the opening of its new children’s services building

It is an extra special building for some extra special children and yesterday supporters of the Hamlet Centre Trust gathered for the official opening of the charity's new centre for youngsters with disabilities.

The Hamlet Centre Trust teamed up with the St Raphael Club in Johnson Place to turn the Norwich venue into a new base for its children's activities and services, and yesterday was a day of celebration for everybody involved in the �1.3m project.

Michael Rooney, the Hamlet Centre Trust's chief executive, said a massive thank you to everyone who had helped with the project, which he said was the result of hard work and tireless determination fuelled by a desire to help improve people's lives.

He described the opening as one of the proudest days of his life and urged everybody to keep supporting the trust.

'This has to be the beginning of the next chapter in this remarkable charity's history,' he said.

David Sayer, chairman of the St Raphael Club, said yesterday was a joyful occasion to celebrate a tremendous achievement and both charities would now benefit from the building.

Judy Clift, chairman of the Hamlet Centre Trust's trustees, said: 'This is a very proud moment in our history, one that we know would find the full approval of our founders, Margaret and Jack Wymer, who used this very building during the 70s.'

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Three of Ian and Stephanie Middleton's children – Amber, who died two years ago, Kristel and Leo – have all benefited from the Hamlet Centre Trust's services, and their 17-year-old son Thomas also works for the trust.

Mr Middleton, 48, from Costessey, said: 'You know your children are 100pc safe with the Hamlet Centre Trust and they are so caring too. We loved the Ella Road centre but it was getting very cramped. This new centre is ideal – so well-thought out and a fantastic, safe environment.'

Aimee Webb, 32, from Marl Pit Lane, west Norwich, has a three-year-old son, Riley, who has hypotonia caused by mild cerebral palsy.

'We love this place. They do such fantastic work for all the children and Riley has come on in leaps and bounds since being here,' she said.

'The new facilities are brilliant – so light and airy and colourful. There is so much space and I just love how the children can walk out of the play room into a safe open space. The soft play room is great too.'

BBC Look East's Stewart White was the compere of yesterday's opening and among those to join in the celebrations was Norwich City footballer Leon Barnett and the Sheriff of Norwich Chris Higgins.

The new children's centre includes a toy library, soft play area, play room, care rooms, activity room and enclosed outdoor play area. There are also plans for a sensory area.

The revamp of the Johnson Place site, near Chapel Field Road, has freed up the Hamlet Centre Trust's Ella Road building so it can also develop its ever-growing adult services.

Is your charity celebrating a special landmark? Call Evening News reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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