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Village stalwart Lily reopens revamped community centre

PUBLISHED: 11:08 17 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:08 17 September 2019

Blofield Heath stalwart Lily Barnes reopens the refurbished Heathlands Community Centre and Social Club after a makeover costing nearly £300,000. Pictures: submitted/Andy Russell

Blofield Heath stalwart Lily Barnes reopens the refurbished Heathlands Community Centre and Social Club after a makeover costing nearly £300,000. Pictures: submitted/Andy Russell

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A village's vibrant community centre had been brought into the 21st century with a near-£300,000 refurbishment.

Blofield Heath stalwart Lily Barnes reopens the refurbished Heathlands Community Centre and Social Club after a makeover costing nearly £300,000. Pictures: submitted/Andy RussellBlofield Heath stalwart Lily Barnes reopens the refurbished Heathlands Community Centre and Social Club after a makeover costing nearly £300,000. Pictures: submitted/Andy Russell

Heathlands Community Centre and Social Club at Blofield Heath, near Norwich, has reopened after a comprehensive makeover thanks to a £200,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund raised by the National Lottery, a £50,000 bequest from local businessman Roy Snelling and £30,000 raised in the village.

The revamped centre was reopened by centenarian Lily Barnes, believed to be the village's oldest resident, who is also a Heathlands committee member.

The 100-year-old was a young girl when the Harker family, who lived at Blofield Hall, gave the land to the village in 1924 and can recall the original wooden village hall, known as The Hut, being built in 1929. The first phase of the current hall started in 1967 with the community centre completed and opened in 1975.

Retired architect Terry Norton, who was heavily involved in the refurbishment, said: "It was a tired, old building. It definitely needed a makeover to bring it into the 21st century."

The refurbished Heathlands Community Centre and Social Club after a makeover costing nearly �300,000. Pictures: submitted/Andy RussellThe refurbished Heathlands Community Centre and Social Club after a makeover costing nearly �300,000. Pictures: submitted/Andy Russell

The transformation included reroofing the main building, new windows and porch, rendering the exterior, revamping the social club with a new cool room and bar, a new bar as part of the hall's refurbishment, new furniture and fittings and a patio.

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The project started more than four years ago, preparing for the building work from March to July this year.

Mrs Barnes was the natural choice to reopen Heathlands.

Blofield Heath stalwart Lily Barnes reopens the refurbished Heathlands Community Centre and Social Club after a makeover costing nearly �300,000. Pictures: submitted/Andy RussellBlofield Heath stalwart Lily Barnes reopens the refurbished Heathlands Community Centre and Social Club after a makeover costing nearly �300,000. Pictures: submitted/Andy Russell

"She has put her heart and soul into the place. We took her round for a special viewing and she was absolutely in tears. She loved the place and what we have done to it," said Mr Norton.

The community centre is used every day of the week and the social club is open Tuesday to Saturday.

Beccles-based construction company Ovamill, which carried out the refurbishment, laid on a barbecue for Blofield Heath residents at the official reopening ceremony.

"Heathlands is a benefit to the village and I just hope it is even more so now. We want to appeal to a wider audience, especially younger people," he added.

Find out more about Heathlands at www.heathlandscommunitycentre.org.uk

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