By News Reporters

Woman cutting ribbon on steps.
Sarah Hayward (Camden Council leader), Edward Turner (chair of Fitzrovia Community Centre Ltd), Dr Cyril Nemeth (deputy mayor of Westminster).

Sarah Hayward leader of Camden Council yesterday cut the ribbon to officially open the Fitzrovia Community Centre.

The event was watched by Dr Cyril Nemeth, deputy mayor City of Westminster, many residents, and representatives of local businesses.

Edward Turner chair of Fitzrovia Community Centre Limited then welcomed everyone into the building for drinks and refreshments. There were then speeches made to mark the occaision.

Edward Turner thanked everyone for making the community centre a reality. He said “To be here today feels like an enormous achievement.”

Edward said that he wanted the community centre to do three things:

“We want to inspire people who live and work here to build a responsible community which allows businesses and individuals to thrive.

“We want everyone to be included: that is the haves and the have-nots. We are not a community centre just for one small section of society,

“And we want to link together all the various voices in Fitzrovia. We want to be the natural magnetic hub for everyone in Fitzrovia.”

Edward then said on behalf of everyone involved “we are grateful for both Camden and Westminster for supporting us.”

Edward said that he had only been chair for a year but he had been keen “to sort out the corporate governance to have a robust board of governors and that we are properly constituted, and that we are self-sustaining as an organisation.

“We are not going to be able to rely on the sort of handouts that community centres have historically been able to get,” he said.

Edward, however, acknowledged the three years of start up funding given by Camden Council to enable the centre to recruit two staff. He introduced Pat Tulloch, centre director, and Claire O’Riordan, facilities manager. “Between them they have amazing experience with city centre community centres, and they have already made a huge difference,” said Edward.

Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Council was next to speak and she referred to her Cabinet colleague Pat Callaghan who is a former ward councillor in Bloomsbury nearly 20 years ago and was part of the drive to establish a new community centre in Fitzrovia. She told the guests that it was a 106 agreement with the UCLH NHS Hospital Trust which provided the funding to build the community centre. The Community Centre had taken a long time to get here.

Sarah said “It is brilliant to see it open today with such wonderful facilities.” Sarah stressed that it was a difficult time for community centres with the reduced funding available.” She was pleased that both Westminster, who had funded the Children’s facility, and Camden, who had given general funding to the Centre, had had a hand in its creation.

Sarah Hayward finished by saying that she was “delighted to be here today and thank you very much for inviting me. And thank you to everyone who has put so much in to getting it off the ground to where we are today. And for everything you will do in the future to make it the resounding success it will be.”

David Whittleton Group Chief Operating Officer of Arup and chair of The Fitzrovia Partnership was the third person to speak. “I’m very pleased to be here of behalf of all my Arup colleagues to be here at the new community centre,” he said.

David said that Arup have been at Fitzroy Street for 66 years “and we’ve always tried to be good members of the community.

He said he had recently taken over as chairman of The Fitzrovia Partnership. “I know my colleague Lee Lyons has had some involvement in the development of the centre. So I hope in some sort of way The Partnership has been part of the realisation of what looks to be an excellent facility.”

Staff and trustees from the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association were also at the opening launch. A spokesperson told Fitzrovia News: “We wish the community centre every success. It is also lovely to see Helena Roden here. Helena is a former co-ordinator employed by the Fitzrovia Community Centre and it’s great to see the results of the work she contributed so much to.

“Many people have contributed to the community centre being established and some of them couldn’t be present at the opening ceremony. Former Bloomsbury councillor Penny Abraham held the position of chair of the community centre for many years and Dr June Crown CBE is also a former chair. In the early days the development of the project was steered by Sandra Edwards of the Fitzrovia Trust. The centre is a tribute to their tireless commitment as well those who stand here today,” said the spokesperson.

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