A STATE of the art safety learning centre in Lymm has been officially opened by Princess Anne.

The £4.5 million indoor village, which has four themed learning zones, is based at Lymm Fire Station and is one of only 13 dedicated learning spaces in the country.

The Princess Royal met children from Latchford St James’ Primary School during her visit on Monday morning.

An impressive set comes complete with traffic lights, cars and a railway station, creating real-life scenarios to learn in.

People of all ages can experience interactive life-skills at the education centre, which also teaches about the dangers of cyber safety and bullying.

Volunteers, known as rangers, spend a minimum of one day per fortnight at the centre to teach visitors to be safe.

Paul Hyde has volunteered as a ranger for a year.

He said: “Most days here are special as we get schools, community groups and clubs coming in but to get a royal to officially open the centre has been great.

“When I was a child there was nothing like this available. At the centre we go through so many scenarios from fire, road, rail and farm safety to dangers of building sites.

“It is about making a difference and giving something back to people. You are part of a fantastic team and the fire service gives us lots of training.”

Anyone can join the volunteer scheme and the team are always on the lookout for more rangers.

Mark Shone, centre manager at Safety Central, has been part of the planning process of the site since the beginning.

He said: “There are other centres like this in the country but we were fortunate to be able to visit all of them and find out what worked well for them and what hadn’t.

“We’ve also been really lucky to have funding from Cheshire Fire Authority.

“We took the view that if we were going to invest all this time and money into it, it should look and feel like a visitor attraction that people want to come back to.

“Safety can sometimes be viewed as a dry subject and we tried to bring it to life.”

Mark says the response to the centre has been fantastic and when groups come on first visit the team have learnt to give them plenty of time to enjoy the space and scenery.

He added: “We give visitors a test before and after their day, usually they are scoring about 45 per cent beforehand on the multiple choice quiz and when we repeat it on their way out they are averaging more than 90 per cent so they are doubling their knowledge.

“We are satisfied that people are taking away valuable knowledge and putting it into action.”