Investment transforms community social centre

Guests gathered at Rathfern Social Activity Centre for the official reopening of the facility and commemoration of a new RAF memorial.
Guests gathered at Rathfern Social Activity Centre for the official reopening of the facility and commemoration of a new RAF memorial.
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The newly refurbished Rathfern Social Activity Centre officially opened its doors to the public with a fantastic family fun day event on Saturday, June 1.

Outgoing Mayor of Newtownabbey, Alderman Victor Robinson was joined by the Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim, Joan Christie to officially re-open the newly refurbished Rathfern Community Centre and re-launch it as the Rathfern Social Activities Centre.

Also in attendance were members of the management committee of the Rathfern Social Activity Centre, who worked in partnership with the council to redevelop the Centre.

Alderman Robinson said: “This centre, which has been at the heart of the local community since it opened in 1973, has now benefitted from a £335,000 investment by Newtownabbey Borough Council.

“This investment has transformed the centre internally and externally and added an extra 70 square metres of community space, creating a modern, fit for purpose centre that both the Council and the Community can be proud of.”

The centre is used by over 200 people, organisations and clubs each week, with anchor tenants such as the Hillside Playgroup, Rathfern Company of Archers and Erin-norne School of Irish Dance benefiting from the excellent facilities.

Other activities include youth soccer, disco dancing, Slimming World, band practice, community capacity building initiatives, networking events and private parties.

The work of main contractor Kevin Fitzsimmons and Gerry Black of H.J. O’Boyle and architect, William McQuillan of the FCM Partnership, was acknowledged on the official unveiling of the centre.

A service was also held on the day for the unveiling and dedication of the Rathfern memorial cairn.

This commemorates the deaths of three RAF servicemen who died when their plane crashed into Carnmoney Hill during the Second World War.

RAF Wing Commander, Faye Wiseman and Ivan Hunter, chairman of the Royal British Legion’s Whiteabbey Branch, were in attendance for the ceremony and the Reverend Campbell Dixon conducted the dedication service.

Rathfern Social Activity Centre chairman George Thompson, thanked the council officers, including chief executive Jacqui Dixon and development director Majella McAlister.