NEW Images Youth Centre is celebrating after receiving £258,000 of National Lottery funding.

Volunteers, who fought to save the Winsford community from closure in the past, are thrilled that its future is now secured.

The grant, spread over five years, will fund a full time centre manager to develop stronger relationships with community groups, expand local services and provide more activities.

Generations of more than a million children have attended the Nixon Drive centre, known fondly as 'The Youthy', since it opened as a purpose built youth centre in 1969.

Youngsters aged eight to 18 pay just 50 pence to enjoy two hours of fun, games and activities.

Cllr Mike Kennedy, vice chairman of Winsford Community and Youth Forum which has run the centre as a charity since 1981, said: "This is fantastic for the whole community of Winsford.

"For the National Lottery to invest quarter of a million pounds into this building is phenomenal. It's the best news since we saved the building from being sold off 18 years ago. This will safeguard it for years to come."

The grant will help fund the cost of a clerical assistant post and also contribute £10,000 towards refurbishment of the building, including completion of rewiring, the installation of LED lighting and general running costs.

Devoted trustee Bob Barton has been at the centre for 42 years, initially as a youth worker and as a volunteer since 2012, alongside dedicated volunteer Kath Clarke who has served the youth for 46 years.

Bob said: "This is absolutely fantastic news. I'm over the moon and can't wait for the new centre manager to start. We've not had someone full-time for years.

"Over a million kids have come here. They remember us, it has made a positive impact on their lives. People come back with good memories. That's what makes all the effort and time worthwhile."

Winsford Guardian:

Chairman Alan Badder receiving the £258,000 cheque from the National Lottery Community Fund with fundign officer Laura Myles

The centre is open 18 hours a day, seven days a week, with support from 15 part-time staff and 14 volunteers.

It is now home to various groups and activities including pro wrestling, mixed martial arts for kids, music groups and parent and child classes.

The centre has become a hub for people of all ages.

The Chatterbox Cafe gives residents the chance to meet twice a week.

Various community groups including Cheshire Young Carers, Cheshire Autistic Group and Meadowbank Lodge now use the centre.

READ > Community festival celebrates talents and skills

Brooke McCormick, from martial arts group Tiagon MMA, said: "The community centre gives me a place to go when I train for MMA. It's like a second home to me and has a great family setting."

Duncan Nicholson, head of funding for the north west region at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players we are able to support vital hubs like the New Images Youth Centre Community Centre which is at the heart of the local community - supporting people to lead happier and healthier lives. The community centre is the perfect example of when people are in the lead, communities thrive.”