Time for a party to celebrate rebuilt community centre

Anna Pearson, front, and members of the Dean Court Community Association with a celebratory cake

Oxfordshire's Lord Lieutenant Tim Stevenson cuts the ribbon

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

THEY’VE waited for three years to realise their dream of a new hub for the community.

So it was no surprise that hundreds turned out for the official opening of Dean Court Community Centre.

It was originally a social club which closed in 2010 and Dean Court Community Association was formed with the aim of using it as a centre.

But disaster struck in February 2011 when the Pinnocks Way hall, near Botley, was left derelict after an arson attack.

Not to be deterred, members raised £35,000 to reopen the hall, with a further £350,000 insurance cash. Work began last February.

A weekend of activities to celebrate the completion of the project saw bright blue balloons sent up into the air, to cheers from a large crowd.

Up to 250 people enjoyed a barbecue, disco, teas and cakes.

They hope the centre – which has a 25-year lease – will become a hub of the community, three miles to the west of Oxford between Botley and Farmoor.

Opening the centre, Oxfordshire’s Lord Lieutenant Tim Stevenson said: “This is quite clearly the result of a huge amount of wonderful community effort to get this building into the splendid state it is in today.”

Dean Court Community Association management team chairwoman Anna Pearson said it had taken a lot of hope and commitment to get this far.

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She said: “As a team we have been really hopeful that this day was going to come. There is a sense of hope reverberating and reflecting in the community. We want this to be a meeting place for people, both young and old. It is a place for everyone.”

She said yoga classes, tae kwondo and Guides meetings had already been held since it opened for use in February.

Members hope Thames Valley Police will use a room as a base for local police and community support officers.

Miss Pearson, 30, a part-time teacher at Cumnor Primary School, said: “We are still in the process of negotiating the sub-lease with the police but we think it would be a vital service here.

“It would give them a base right here in the community so that people can talk to them more easily.”

Girl Guide Rebekah Rayson, 10, from Fogwell Road said: “It has been really fun being one of the first people to use the centre.”

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