The Fernhurst Hub (formerly the Fernhurst Centre) held a festive and well attended outdoor Open Day and Birthday party on the village’s Crossfield Green on Saturday 26th June. All residents were invited to celebrate the occasion, with the added attraction of free Dylan’s ice creams for children and a glass of fizz for the adults. With 3 well distanced refreshment tents and information stations, despite Covid restrictions plenty of supporters were able to attend and enjoy the bright sunshine. For many it was a rare social occasion and friendships were renewed after many weeks of pandemic imposed isolation.
Mrs Jennifer Thornton, Head Teacher at Fernhurst Primary School, as the guest of honour, cut the ribbon to declare the re-launched Fernhurst Hub open for business and stressed the strong ties the Primary School has with this excellent centre and with the local community. Mrs Thornton paid tribute to the way the Hub brings people of all ages together and acts as a focal point for village activity.
The Hub, an education provider and local meeting space with a busy café and gift shop, was celebrating 18 years of service to the community. To mark this milestone, it has recently had a post pandemic make over and with a change of name, logo and fresh décor, it offers a host of new events and courses such as free Story Time for Toddlers on Monday mornings and Fun French for pre-schoolers on Wednesdays. Courses on crafts, natural floral displays and the ever popular ‘Top tips for selling on e-Bay’ are back up and running any more events are planned for the Autumn when social distancing requirements will have been lifted.
Many of those attending were past or current volunteers at the Hub who were pleased to see how popular and enduring their village enterprise is. Saturday’s event included a presentation to Mrs Pauline Colcutt, to mark her outstanding contribution in turning the small local initiative, the Fernhurst Centre, set up in 2003 into the active heart of village life it is today. As Antonia Plant, Chair of Trustees said in paying tribute to Pauline’s role,
“ The Fernhurst Hub has grown into an amazing resource which is enjoyed and relied on by huge numbers of people and this is in large part due to the efforts of Pauline as Centre Manager for nearly 18 years and her amazing team of volunteers.” The Hub received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, regarded as the MBE of the charitable sector, in June 2020 and presentation of the award, delayed by Covid constraints, will be undertaken by the Lord-Lieutenant for West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper, at the Fernhurst Revels on 30th August.
With plenty of outdoor seating as well as space indoors, the Hub has helped support Fernhurst residents in many ways throughout the pandemic. Regular newsletters and information about where help with food deliveries and medicines could be obtained were circulated early in lockdown and a click and collect scheme was quickly arranged for Christmas Cards and gifts at the Hub, so travel outside the village could be kept to a minimum. While some courses had to be postponed, the language classes enjoyed huge popularity with their charming tutors, Cecile Greener and Claudia Vargas bravely switching to on-line tuition. As the recently appointed Centre Manager, Liz Rawlings said, “ Many people enjoyed the laughter and sociability as well as a sense of routine that the Zoom style language classes provided during long weeks of lockdown. Now that we offer French, Italian and Spanish at several levels of proficiency, with German to be added in September and with a mixture of face to face and on-line teaching, we are certainly keeping some linguistic and cultural aspects of Europe alive in West Sussex, Brexit notwithstanding!”
More information about the Hub’s courses and events as well as volunteering opportunities and community involvement can be found at www.fernhurstcentre.org.uk .