MORE than 400 people celebrated the grand opening of the new St Nicolas Centre in Earley, Reading on Saturday.

This has involved complete refurbishment and extension of the church hall and building a new link to the church building with a café-style welcome area.

The site was officially opened by the Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Andrew Proud. As the ribbon was cut, the community got the chance to explore the space, meet the people behind the plans chat with the charities and community groups that will be using the centre and discover what the St Nicolas community is all about. There was Indian street food, ice cream, live music from the Ukuladies and the 4Bones quartet and games and activities.

A lifelong member of St Nicolas, Pat Drummer, generously left the church a legacy after her death. Church representatives then spent months talking to the Earley community about what was needed locally.

The new building features a large hall, the church itself and an airy lounge space connecting the two. The Revd Neil Warwick, the vicar, said: “I’m so excited this day has come. The people of Earley need good community space and we’re delighted to be able to make that happen with the St Nicolas Centre. St Nicolas Church is about being open to God and our community and the centre is a brilliant sign of that.

“On Saturday the St Nicolas Church and Centre was full of people from all over Earley and beyond – having fun, having a good look around, mingling and chatting.

That’s exactly what we wanted this transformed building to be about – a go-to place for our community.”

Photos by Phil Creighton/The Wokingham Paper