'It's inspiring' - Town's businesses praised for supporting disabled charity

Centre 81 chief executive Diana Staines with the charity's patron Lady Dannatt at the new base being built

Centre 81 chief executive Diana Staines with the charity's patron Lady Dannatt at the new base being built - Credit: Centre 81

Businesses supporting the development of a Great Yarmouth charity's new base have been praised by the Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk, Lady Dannatt.

Lady Dannatt said the good will being shown by local companies towards Centre 81 as work progressed on its £1.5 million facility for disabled people was “inspiring”.

A patron of the charity, Lady Dannatt was shown around Yare House in Morton Peto Road by chief executive Diana Staines.

Yare House, a three-storey office building with a large warehouse and workshops attached, is being converted into a skills and activities centre for Centre 81’s members and a base for its fleet of nine minibuses.

Centre 81 at the former Fugro site in Great Yarmouth

Diane Staines, chief executive of Centre 81, and her dog Ben explore the former Fugro site the charity has just completed on. The main industrial area will be converted to a skills and activities hub for disabled people. - Credit: Liz Coates

It currently operates from a site in Tar Works Road comprising a collection of 50-year-old prefabricated buildings that are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain.

Lady Dannatt said: “In learning about this transformative project I was struck by the huge amount of good will that is being shown by local and regional companies.

"It’s inspiring. Offers of free and discounted services and products, from paint to floor coverings, are making such a difference, and I would urge any company that feels it can help to make contact with Diana.”

Cheque handover Centre 81 Great Yarmouth

Margaret Carver (left), chair of the Great Yarmouth and District Society of Artists, presents Diana Staines, chief executive of Centre 81, with a cheque for £5,200 at Yare House, which is being transformed into a new centre for the charity’s members. - Credit: Centre 81

Ms Staines said: “People have been contacting me out of the blue with offers of help. Not only businesses but organisations like Gorleston Rotary, who have weeded the grounds, and the Great Yarmouth and District Society of Artists who gave us a cash donation towards the work.

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"People recognise the importance of what we do and have been so generous.”

Phases one and two of the conversion of Yare House are well under way and will see the warehouse and workshops transformed into four large skills and activities centre ‘bubbles’ with sliding doors.

There will also be a main kitchen, a members’ dining room and kitchens, three assisted toilets, an assisted bathroom, a laundry, games room and woodwork shop.

In phases three and four the office accommodation will be upgraded for potential tenants, the reception area redesigned and the members’ outdoor barbecue, raised flower beds and seating area created.

The move will enable Centre 81 to increase its skills and activities centre membership, which currently stands at about 70 people with a range of disabilities.