Graham Taylor, Dorothy Thornhill and Anthony Joshua

All play their part in opening of new Meriden Community Centre

Published: Friday, 4th November 2016

What do more than 40 tonnes of rubber, 2,000 litres of paint, and 33 new doors have in common? They were all part of the refurbishment of the Meriden Community Centre, which was officially re-opened on Thursday 3 November 2016. Former Watford and England manager Graham Taylor toured the facilities with elected Mayor Dorothy Thornhill, before unveiling a plaque to mark the occasion.

Champion boxer Anthony Joshua grew up in the area, and gave an interview to Watford FC about the Meriden. He said the centre had always been the “hotspot” when he was young, and urged local youngsters to make the most of the facilities – to “be as good or even better” than he is.

Almost £2m has been spent on a new artificial pitch, changing rooms, state of the art gym and café. The Meriden Community Centre aims to cater for local people from the age of five to eighty-plus – through keep fit groups, football coaching, and line-dancing – among many more.

Youngsters from Knutsford School trained with stars from Watford FC outside on the opening day, while inside Watford Art Club quietly got on with their paintings. Jane Powell, who’s been a member of the club for eight years, said she “loves it here – the centre has been transformed through this development”, while Martin Smith, who runs the club, said the facilities were “indescribably better.”

The Meriden’s refurbishment is thanks to support from the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund, Watford FC, Sport England, Watford Community Housing Trust, the Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation, and of course Watford Borough Council. Elected Mayor Dorothy Thornhill spoke about the “Premier League partnership” which made the works possible, while Robert Smith from Watford FC’s Community Sports and Education Trust described the tradition of community involvement at Watford, which Graham Taylor started when he was manager.

After the plaque was unveiled and everyone finished applauding, centre manager Natasha Hiscock took a moment to reflect on the day. She wants everyone who lives nearby to think about what they’d like to see at their local community centre, and to get in touch – After all, as she says, “it’s your centre now”.

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