Apr 3 2012 By James Cracknell
Girls guides with their leader Nicky Fantham(middle) gather outside the new activities centre which has been built at The Willow Tree Centre in Harefield.
AFTER four years of fundraising an outdoor activities centre has completed the building of a new training facility which it hopes will enable thousands more youngsters to visit.
The Willow Tree Centre campsite, owned by Girlguiding Middlesex North West, is used by a variety of youth groups.
The new £450,000 building will be used for activities including training and as a space for volunteers to relax.
Centre founder Dawn Palmer said: “At the moment, if a group books the main house they have access to an activity room but if you are just camping in the grounds you don’t have anywhere to go.
“This new facility will allow everyone who comes here to take part in indoor activities, which will be very useful during bad weather. We will also have somewhere for volunteers to go for a cup of tea.
“It will make an awful lot of difference and we expect a lot more people will be able to come and visit because of it.”
Fundraising for the new buildings started in 2007 but it was not until a £25,000 grant from BAA last autumn was match-funded by Hillingdon Council, that work could finally begin.
Other contributors to the building have included Ruislip Lions, Uxbridge United Welfare Trust and the Heathrow Community and Environment Awards, plus numerous individual donations.
Willow Tree still needs to find more cash if it is to be able to properly kit out the new facility.
At present the building is still without tables, chairs, noticeboards, blinds and a fridge.
Then there is the need for a secure maintenance building to house equipment, expected to cost £150,000.
There are 14,000 visitors a year to the centre in Breakspear Road North, Harefield, and it is open to all youth organisations and schools, including those with physical and special needs.
Nicky Fantham, leader of 1st South Ruislip Guides, helped organise a recent fun run in aid of the centre, and is a big fan of the venue.
She said: “We have been going there since it opened 12 years ago; we are lucky to have the facilities.
“We appreciate the fact we haven’t got to go far and you feel like you are in the countryside. It’s a fantastic centre.”
l To find out more go to www.willowtreecentre.co.uk.