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Saturday, 22 November 2014

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New community centre comes to Cockermouth

A new community centre to serve the whole of Cockermouth is just weeks away from opening in the heart of one of the town’s estates.

highfieldcentre1104
ALL CHANGE: Highfield Community Association is turning the old sports changing rooms into a community centre for Cockermouth. From left: Robert Chapman, chairman, Mary Mitchelhill, secretary, and Graham Sherriff

The Highfield Community Association is turning the old changing rooms building, off Highfield Road, into a hub for the community and hopes to have it open on April 30.

The association took over the lease of the building, which is owned by Allerdale council, last November.

It was previously used by the neighbouring Evolution Centre for storage.

Robert Chapman, association chairman, and committee member Graham Sherriff have been working most days since December repairing and redecorating the changing rooms to create a community space.

The centre will be run by volunteers and open all day for people in Cockermouth to use.

The group wants to hold parties, coffee mornings, mother and toddler groups, homework groups and bingo nights there.

Organisations such as Age UK, housing association Your Derwent & Solway and Cumbria police will also be invited to hold drop-in sessions.

Mr Chapman, 59, of Wasdale Close, said: “It’s been my dream for two-and-a-half years. It’s actually started to take shape and you can see it coming together.”

Mary Mitchelhill, 62, of Highfield Road, association secretary, said: “The centre is not just for the Highfield estate, it’s for the whole of Cockermouth.”

It is estimated that repair and redecoration works have cost around £4,000, £700 of which has come out of the association’s funds. The rest has come from grants.

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The members had to replace water pipes and they are installing new windows.

They have created a kitchen, seating area, a stage and two separate community spaces.

They have also redecorated a changing room area, which is used by Highfield Football Club.

Mr Chapman said they were indebted to members of the community after receiving several donations, including kitchen appliances, toys, and tables and chairs.

It is estimated that they need around £2,000 to carry out more work, such as repairs to guttering, but their aim is to open the centre on April 30 so they can start bringing money in.

The association, which formed in 1998, used to meet in Mr Chapman’s house or would use other town premises.

The association hopes to move into the vacated Evolution Centre, which is a larger building next door to the changing rooms, but members are waiting to hear from Allerdale council if they can take on the lease.

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