IT WAS an exciting yet poignant day for children, parents and staff at the opening of a revamped youth club in Astley Bridge.
The Barlow Park Young People’s Centre has been given a £150,000 makeover and officially opened its doors to eager youngsters on Saturday.
Parents and children took the opportunity to pay tribute to former young member Scott Gilpin — who lost his battle with a serious heart condition at the age of 18 in 2005.
Youngsters unveiled a tree planted in memory of Scott in the centre’s grounds and released balloons with members of his family.
Scott’s mum, Diane Barnes, aged 49, who now lives in Little Hulton, said: “I haven’t been back here since Scott passed away but I thought the idea for the tree was lovely.
“It has been quite overwhelming. Scott loved coming here when he was younger and children in our family love coming here too.”
Scott’s cousin and “best friend”, Jennifer Magee, also wrote a speech in tribute to the popular teenager before the balloons were released.
The new facilities have been funded by Bolton Council with the support of the Bridges Disability Team and have been designed to make the club accessible to youngsters of all abilities.
The centre and activities already attract between 40 and 50 youngsters every night from the nearby Oldhams estate.
Joel Gallagher, aged 14, said: “It’s so much brighter and modern than before. I like it here because we have somewhere to go when it’s raining and it keeps us from hanging about on the street.
“I like playing pool and using the computers the best.”
Mum Rebecca Warren, aged 34, said: “This centre is a vital part of the community and my two children love coming here to socialise and play. They even get given a snack.”
Cllr Linda Thomas, who declared the centre open, said: “It is a tremendous facility and I think it’s great for the children and young people living on the nearby Oldhams estate.
“It’s important for children to have somewhere to go that they can call their own and this is exactly that.”