Celebrating 50th anniversary of community centre that has broken down barriers between old and new Kesgrave
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
Kesgrave Community Centre sits at heart of the town and plays host to everything from lace making to firework displays.
“It’s so social, and so much more appealing for getting out more – we have great banter and friendship.”
Those are the words of 81-year-old Jean Ardley during a regular Active Adults session at Kesgrave Community Centre, but it’s an experience echoed by many who walk through the centre’s doors each day.
Situated at the heart of the town in Twelve Acre Approach, Kesgrave Community Centre over the last 50 years has become a hub for activities and social gatherings in the town.
But just what is it about the space that has made it the centrepiece it has become?
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For one thing, staff and trustees have worked hard to make sure the events and activities on offer have catered to everyone in the neighbourhood, from Boccia and Active Adults sessions for the retired members of the community, to cycle speedway and wheel gymnastics attracting younger people.
Chairman Richard Baird says: “The main aim is to provide services for everyone. We do a vast amount of sports and classes which cover virtually every aspect of the community.
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“It’s a social hub for a lot of people and that’s why people come along.”
With much of the old part of Kesgrave having a predominantly older population, the centre has made sure there are activities for retired residents, including the twice-weekly Active Adults exercise classes, Boccia, computer classes and meetings of the University of the Third Age.
“Quite a lot of us live on our own,” says Pat Allington, 74, who regularly goes to the Active Adults classes. “You get fed up of talking to the wall so for us it is central to the community, and it’s about keeping up with what is going on in the town.”
For younger users, the opening of the sports hall in 2008 has been instrumental, providing indoor sports such as badminton alongside the regular cricket and football activities on the playing field.
Jo-Ann Barker, business and events co-ordinator added: “It’s about offering a diverse range of activities designed to meet the needs of even the most discerning individuals from wedding fayres to stamp fayres, lacemaking to friendship clubs.”
The centre has also hosted big public events which have drawn thousands of people from across Suffolk, including Kesgrave Music Festival and the November fireworks display in previous years.
Mr Baird said: “It brings the community together and that’s a tremendous thing, and helps break down that barrier between what people call old Kesgrave and new Kesgrave (Grange Farm estate).”
To celebrate the 50th anniversary as a charitable trust with a special event in July where staff and trustees will celebrate the occasion alongside those who regularly hire the venue for events and activities, but far from just resting on their laurels staff are keen to continue making the venue at the forefront of Kesgrave life.
“There are always activities and events being planned to encourage more of the local community to use the facilities than ever before,” Mrs Barker said.
Mr Baird concluded: “It’s about all those people who gave their time and energy over those 50 years, and all those who have come through the doors in that time. Hopefully they would be very proud to see it today.”