Before I retired to Suffolk from my home town of Liverpool to live in Woodbridge, I was a Trustee of a Youth and Community Centre and Chairman of its innovative Music and Drama Group. I had been involved in the planning and design of the project down to the letterhead and commissioning of craftsman-built furniture.
My family has a tradition of community involvement going back to the early 1920s; my parents met at the same Centre in an earlier building. I saw not just life–long friendships develop but also tongue-tied youngsters slowly finding their voice in the drama or public speaking groups. Unclubbable youngsters soon joined in one or other of the many activities and excellent sports provisions.
There was no compromise in the drama productions: The Diary of Anne Frank, The Crucible, Faust, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat – there was a big production each year. But the emphasis was not on shows but on improvisation and personal development.
My father and brother in their time chaired the Council of Management. I had the pleasure of showing Prince Philip round when he helicoptered in for the official opening. Sadly that project has shrunk today because of changing demographics but there is no doubt that the legacy remains. Some romances started at the centre are now being celebrated with golden wedding events
All of this is why I heartily endorse the ambitious Jetty Lane project. The convenient location near the river and railway station is good. The business plan takes in income from office and other lettings. I like the two runs of studio spaces – that will add life to the modern and fully accessible building. It will be such a great asset and a brilliant ‘jewel in the crown’ of Woodbridge.