Representatives from the RNRMC, the MacRobert Trust, the Royal Navy and a few of the other organisations who supported the refurbishment with members of the Drumfork Community Centre Staff;  Sponsors and supporters are given a guided tour of the nursery facilities at the Drumfork Centre; Families come along to see the new facilities and enjoy some of the fun activities and families arrive to enjoy the Halloween fun at the Drumfork Community Centre. And finally some of the reps of the Navy and companies who rebuilt the centre.

By Gavin Carr

NAVAL Families and members of the public in Helensburgh were given a sneak preview at the newly renovated Drumfork Community Centre on Saturday when the facility held a families’ event ahead of its official opening.

To introduce people to the new flexible facility, a Halloween “Spooktacular” was held with fire-eaters, stilt-walkers, magicians, balloon artists and face-painters entertaining junior and adult visitors alike.  Also attending were representatives from nearby HM Naval Base Clyde, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) as well as those involved in the project to upgrade the Centre.

Base Executive Officer, Commander Mark Fitzsimmons, said:  For so long we’ve been missing the heart of the Churchill Estate. Well today, we put it back in place and it’s going to make such a difference. Through the kind generosity of the Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity – and all of the donors who supported them – we’ve taken a tired building and made it fit for people of all ages.”

The Drumfork Centre has been at the heart of Helensburgh’s Churchill Square for decades.  In 2018, a £2M contract to upgrade the facilities was awarded to local building contractor Stewart & Shields Ltd, overseen by the MOD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO).  Part of the cash for the work came from fundraising efforts by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) to help benefit Naval personnel and their families.

Sam Curd, from the RNRMC said: “ This is a very important day for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and Drumfork. The refurbishment of the Community Centre represents the Charity’s biggest capital improvement project to date.

“This project represents the Royal Navy family, the Charity and the local community working really well together.  Everyone appears delighted with the results and Saturday was the centre’s first opportunity to showcase the refurbishment to local people and to some of the organisations and our supporters who made the whole project possible. To see over 500 people here was a great start to spreading the word of the wide range of activities that will be available.”

The SDDF agreement was signed in February 2017 to ensure that opportunities surrounding the investment in the Naval Base can also be used as a catalyst for growth and regeneration in the wider community.  Under the agreement, the local authority and navy work together on key themes such as: education, economy, community facilities, communication, transportation and housing, to explore potential benefits for all communities in the Helensburgh and Lomond area. The Drumfork Community Centre is an excellent example of the work of this collaboration.

Commander Mark Fitzsimmons continued: “The fact that this fantastic Community Centre and brilliant nursery facility will be able to support, not just service families, but people from across the whole Helensburgh Community reinforces the commitment we have to working with Argyll and Bute Council to integrate our families into the wider community.

“You only have to look at the huge smiles and happy faces today to see what Drumfork means to the families and hopefully we can build on the success of today’s launch in the coming weeks and months.”

The UK Government is investing hundreds of millions of pounds to develop HM Naval Base Clyde into the Submarine Centre of Specialisation, upgrading and building new facilities to support the entire Royal Navy submarine fleet and the submariners and support workers who operate and maintain them.  Currently employing around 6,800 people, the numbers are expected to rise to approximately 8,200 by 2020.

The Drumfork Community Centre is expected to officially open early next year.




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