Great Yarmouth opens a new Seafarers Centre after years of hard work

Around 80 people celebrated the official opening of the Great Yarmouth Seafarers' Centre with a trad

Around 80 people celebrated the official opening of the Great Yarmouth Seafarers' Centre with a traditional ribbon cutton, plaque unveiling, dedication and buffet. Picture: MAURICE GRAY - Credit: Archant

Glorious sunshine met the dozens of supporters gathered on Great Yarmouth’s busy quayside for the dedication of a new seafarers’ centre.

Around 80 people celebrated the official opening of the Great Yarmouth Seafarers' Centre with a trad

Around 80 people celebrated the official opening of the Great Yarmouth Seafarers' Centre with a traditional ribbon cutton, plaque unveiling, dedication and buffet. Picture: MAURICE GRAY - Credit: Archant

The official opening was carried out in traditional ribbon-cutting style with speeches and a buffet, and mends a break in service of nine years.

It means the thousands of sailors who pass through the port every year have a safe haven where they can connect with their families at home and share any troubles they may have on ship.

Port chaplain, the Rev Peter Paine, whose office will be based at the centre, said he could not be more delighted with the turnout or the results of the building’s transformation achieved on a shoestring budget of around £4,000.

He said: “Seafarers now have somewhere to come off their vessel away from their working environment. It is really like anyone else going home for the evening.

Around 80 people celebrated the official opening of the Great Yarmouth Seafarers' Centre with a trad

Around 80 people celebrated the official opening of the Great Yarmouth Seafarers' Centre with a traditional ribbon cutton, plaque unveiling, dedication and buffet. Picture: MAURICE GRAY - Credit: Archant

“They can come in and rest and relax, read the papers from home and talk about things in general as well as anything that may be affecting them on board.”

The Bishop of Thetford the Rt Rev Alan Winton gave his blessing to the lifeline service at a dedication with all speakers having to raise their voices above the rumble and clatter of general port work.

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Town mayor Marlene Fairhead was the guest of honour, unveiling a plaque thanking supporters and funders and cutting the ribbon across the entrance.

Addressing the gathering of friends, volunteers and civic dignitaries Mr Paine hailed the hard work and generosity of all the individuals, companies and churches that had come together to make his dream a reality.

Chairman of the Seafarers’ Centre Steve Roberts announced a timely donation from Great Yarmouth Port Users of £250.

He said that historically there had been a mission in the town since 1858 in various locations run by various different people –but not for the last nine years after the centre near the power station shut.

Since then there had been a battle to try to open another one, prove the need and find the funding.

“We have been very lucky with people helping us out,” he said. “People will now be able to email, Skype and talk to their families and that might be the first time they have been able to do that for a while. I am glad that Great Yarmouth can now offer that to all the ships that come here. Since 1858 we have had a mission and today we keep that going.”

Committee member Tony Wright said the centre had been “a long time coming” and there was still plenty that needed doing including remodelling the toilet block. He added: “I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has donated or helped to make this one of the best projects in and around Great Yarmouth.

“The turnout shows there is a will here to have a centre like this and we will do everything we can as a committee to make it a success.”

Have you got a Great Yarmouth story? Email liz.coates@archant.co.uk