A COMMUNITY centre is being given a new lease of life after villagers staged a successful campaign to save it from closure.

Mounting debts and urgent repairs saw the gas switched off at Dipton Community Centre, which was facing closure in April last year.

Concerned residents stepped in to take over and have raised over £11,000 to put the facility back in the black.

A new charity committee for Dipton Community Association has been formed to run the building and it has been renamed, Dipton Jubilee Centre.

Gregg Peart, association chairman, said: “It was really important that it was saved. There was a big outcry at the time that it was going to be closed.

“The whole village has rallied around and supported us. It is going from strength to strength.”

New groups include archery and fitness for the over-60s, art, boxercise and toddler groups.

Mr Peart said: “We have got ourselves in a position where we have got more users so the building is paying for itself.

“We are still ticking over but there are hours available in our timetable for new groups.

“If people want to set to something up they just have to fit in with what is already there.

“The big room is pretty full on a night time but not used as much during the day. The little room is free most nights so there is capacity there.”

The current building, which opened in 1994 stands on the site of the former centre, Jubilee Hall, which was opened in 1935 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of George V.

Debts of £10,000 in October 2016, and a range of community-led initiatives, including a St Patrick’s Night event, Christmas events, a children’s disco, raffles, collections and an online fundraiser, reduced the amount to around £5,500.

The campaign was helped when an article on the Northern Echo’s website was spotted by a former resident who now lives in the United States and made a ‘considerable donation’.

Mr Peart said: “We are over the moon and it is so heart-warming the amount of positivity we are getting from people using it.

“We are trying to shake the old image off and attract a young crowd in and it seems to be working.”

Mr Peart said there are currently plans to upgrade the roof, windows, toilets and kitchen as well get a drinks licence to widen the appeal for functions.

He said: “We are hoping to improve the building more over the coming months through further fundraising and grants.”