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Delight as Yarmouth youth centre reopens

PUBLISHED: 17:44 14 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:38 03 July 2010

"YOU'RE amazing!" was the unanimous verdict on Mercury readers from delighted volunteers after generous donors rushed to help get a Great Yarmouth youth centre up and running following a devastating arson attack.

“YOU'RE amazing!” was the unanimous verdict on Mercury readers from delighted volunteers after generous donors rushed to help get a Great Yarmouth youth centre up and running following a devastating arson attack.

Less than two weeks have passed since the interior of Newtown Youth Centre in Jellicoe Road was destroyed, leaving youngsters without a facility they see as the centre of their universe.

But on Monday, the building was buzzing again with the sound of joyful voices as it re-opened with a new look and new equipment courtesy of generous readers.

The quick re-opening has been a major boost for the centre's push

to win £50,000 in ITV's People's Millions for a new, more modern, youth centre.

People in Yarmouth and Norfolk are due to vote on November 25 for the project they would like the cash to go to, but without a building the centre's volunteers and users would have

been severely hampered in their funding bid.

The contrast in emotions was borne out no more vividly than on the smiling faces of centre secretary Carl Harding and chairman wife Julie, who had been in tears as they surveyed

the devastation in the aftermath of the fire.

Mr Harding said: “It shows what can be done with the support of the whole community; what we have achieved in a short space of time is nothing short of amazing.”

The centre had a shopping list of nearly 50 items stolen or destroyed

by the arsonists, including games consoles and DVD players, but already more than half of these have been replaced (a full list of the missing equipment and donors who have supplied replacements is printed here).

And youngsters who regularly use the centre gave the thumbs-up for the new-look interior, complete with blue painted walls and a new sign.

Holly Goodson, 10, of Milton Road, said she went nearly every day to play football and meet her friends and was delighted with the added extras since the refurbishment, including a carpet.

She added: “I am really happy we have the centre back because it is really nice.”

Kira Rooney, 11, also of Milton Road, said she enjoyed playing on the games consoles, as well as being able to do arts and crafts and chat to her friends. She also loved going on trips organised by the centre, including a recent visit to Legoland at Windsor.

Staff at the Haven Seashore Holiday Centre in North Denes were among many businesses and residents touched by the children's plight and played a major part in helping the centre get back in working order.

Caroline Boseley, Haven's holiday sales manager, said the its staff had contacted suppliers who had donated footballs and a laser printer and helped replace floorboards and other equipment, including whiteboards, stationery and a TV.

To help get the centre open again, the holiday company also donated a maintenance worker to help with repairs.

Camera crews are due to visit the centre on Monday to film its work as it goes head-to-head with an Essex youth centre for the chance to win £50,000 when the public vote takes place nine days later.

The volunteers will be rallying the public to their cause with a stall in the Market Place on the day of the vote.

The phone number will be announced on Anglia on November 24, and from November 25 from 9am to midnight. The voting number will be available on the People's Millions website.

A short video about both competing projects will also be shown on the ITV regional news between 6pm-6.30pm.

Police have renewed appeals for information about the October 27 arson attack which was discovered around 10am. Intruders got into the compound, broke two padlocks to gain entry to the building and stole electrical equipment, including video games.

Information to PC Baxter on 0845 456 4567, e-mail sntnorthyarmouth

@norfolk.pnn.police.uk or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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