On Saturday morning I drove over to Ferring to attend the official opening of Glebelands Community Centre, formerly known as the Ferring Rifers Youth and Community Centre. This was the fourth Community Asset Transfer from West Sussex County Council to a community group.
For the last two years much work has been underway to transfer the centre to the community on a 25 year lease at a peppercorn rent. The management committee have been running the centre for a little while now, but Saturday was the formal handover.
You may wonder why a transfer can take so long, but it is really important that the community has a sound business plan. As everyone is a volunteer, this can take time to prepare. Transfers are fairly new to the County Council as well, but our officers are always available to help work through issues.
The centre was really busy and I met up with the Talking Hands Group and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, who are regular users, along with others such as the Judo Club and fitness club. I was also very interested to learn about the retirement club and what they currently offer and their plans for the future.
It was an inspirational morning seeing a much loved centre run by the community for their community. This only happens because of the dedicated team of people who give up their time to make this happen, they are true community heroes - and there are a lot in West Sussex and a big thank you from me for all their commitment.
After leaving the Glebelands Community Centre, the local County Councillor Peter Evans and I walked along the Ferring Rife. Another group of volunteers had been out on a clear up and litter pick, and they had done a really good job with not a speck of litter anywhere to be seen.
We met them as they were leaving the Ferring Centre, which had kindly provided hot drinks and rock cakes for the volunteers. All of which was most appreciated as these volunteers had been working in icy temperatures and freezing winds.
So in just one morning two very fine examples of volunteers working for their community, and obviously enjoying what they do and the comradeship that is built up in doing so.
There are many other examples all across the county, which is one of the many reasons why West Sussex is such a great place to live.