MEMBERS of Ringwood & District Community Association and their guests celebrated the opening of the new £115,000 reception area at Greyfriars Community Centre on Saturday.

The extension, built as a lasting legacy to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, incorporates a book shop, office and foyer. The old sliding doors have been replaced by a large porch, with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee plaque at the front.

A canopy reflecting the original Georgian house, hangs above the doors with a sculpture of the Greyfriars emblem – a stag on the water meadows by the river – standing next to the entrance as a reminder of a bequest from Dorothy Jones.

A diamond-shaped stone inscribed ERII 2012 has also been set into the gable of the new office.

Greyfriars vice-chairman and project manager Mike Osborne said: “Roger Bettle drew the initial concept, in his own inimitable style.

“With immense patience, understanding and appreciation of the old building and its marriage to the new, Kevin Jones and Carol Kerley and staff at Sheerin Bettle Architecture translated the concept into reality.

“Wally Welch and his cheery, flexible workforce at Corporate Construction braved everything the elements could throw at them.”

The project became a reality after grants from the Stephenson Trust and New Forest District Council and dedicated fundraising by the Friends of Greyfriars over the past three years.

Chairman of Greyfriars Ann Pedersen said: “The new building will benefit so many people, especially the pre-school whose members will now be able to enter the centre with their buggies.”

Greyfriars Community Centre was formed in 1958, operating from a Georgian House. It has now grown into a large complex, which still maintains the house as its focal point.

Greyfriars is used by more than 80 community groups, charities, clubs and associations. It hosts a luncheon club for older people and owns and operates the two Greyfriars community minibuses.