'I could not be more delighted' - Charity centre boss celebrates MBE

Diana Staines
Chief Executive
Centre 81

Diana Staines, chief executive of Centre 81, has been made an MBE - Credit: Julian Claxton Photography

The head of a Great Yarmouth charity has been made an MBE for her services to disabled people in the pandemic.

Diana Staines, chief executive of Centre 81, said she was thrilled with the royal recognition and thanked her staff, volunteers and trustees for their dedication over the last year.

Centre 81 operates a skills and activities centre and an outreach service which encourages members to develop new skills and interests, both at its centre and in the community.

Activities include sailing, ten-pin bowling, theatre visits, music, drama and dining out.

During Covid restrictions Ms Staines led her managers and staff to swiftly change how the charity supported people and their families at home, as well as quickly reopening services on site in three discrete bubbles.

She said: “This has come completely out of the blue and I couldn’t be more delighted.

"It reflects the effort and commitment of all the staff, volunteers and trustees who work so tirelessly to make Centre 81 the amazing place it is, and the determination of our members to undertake the ordinary yet extraordinary challenges they face.”

Steve Scott, chair of Centre 81’s trustees, said: “Diana is a truly inspirational leader whose enthusiasm and dedication to Centre 81 members and their family carers has been rightly recognised with this fantastic accolade. No-one deserves it more.”

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The skills and activities centre has a membership of about 70 people with a range of disabilities.

Centre 81 also operates a fleet of nine fully accessible minibuses providing a community transport service for people who can not access traditional public transport. The service has more than 400 members in the borough.

Members of Centre 81 celebrate funding for their new base

Members of Centre 81 celebrate funding for their new base - Credit: New Anglia LEP

Centre 81 operates from what it calls "outdated" premises in Tar Works Road.

Ms Staines is spearheading a project to relocate the charity to more suitable premises in Morton Peto Road, hopefully by the summer.

Funds for the purchase and conversion have been secured from New Anglia LEP, Norfolk County Council’s Social Infrastructure Fund, the sale of the current site in Tar Works Road and other sources. 

The move will more than double the amount of space available and enable the charity to support even more disabled people in an adaptable, Covid-secure environment.