Hatfield community centre celebrates diamond anniversary

A HATFIELD community centre celebrated its 60th anniversary with a fun-packed – and star-studded – party.

Past and present users of Breaks Manor Youth Centre, in Link Drive, came together last weekend to mark the facility’s diamond anniversary, with an open day for the public.

Visitors, including Welwyn Hatfield Times editor Terry Mitchinson, checked out the centre’s lounge, music studio, computer suite and arts and crafts rooms, as well as the Motor Cycle Project – an innovative programme teaching young people motorcycle craft and off-road biking skills.

That was followed by an evening reception for supporters and former centre users at the newly-refurbished Enterprise Hall, where guests included Lady Salisbury, Breaks Manor’s honorary president.

And there was a surprise star turn from Harry Potter star Rupert Grint, who played Ron Weasley in the phenomenally successful film franchise.

The Kimpton resident turned up to support a younger sibling who had been performing at the event, and was happy to pose for photos alongside Lady Salisbury.

Hilary Burningham, Breaks Manor committee chairman, said: “It was an absolutely magnificent day, it couldn’t have gone any better. The support we got from the whole community was just wonderful.

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“It’s been a huge team effort over the last three months on the part of everyone concerned.

“A big bonus was Rupert Grint appearing – that was a lovely surprise. He’s a delightful chap and we were all thrilled he came, it was completely unexpected.”

Mrs Burningham also paid tribute to long-serving centre manager Barry Clark, saying: “We’re very fortunate to have an incredibly consistent thing in Barry Clark.

“Barry has been there for over 40 years, and he’s been the driving force behind a lot of the innovations we’ve had at Breaks Manor, such as the Motor Cycle Project.

“I think it reinforces the message that despite competition from the internet and video games, young people still need to go out and learn social skills and life skills, and given the variety of activities we have at Breaks, I think it’s a very good place for that.”