Soliders help spruce up Thetford cafe

RESTORATION of a new caf� in the heart of a Thetford estate was given a boost by an eclectic mix of volunteers.

RESTORATION of a new caf� in the heart of a Thetford estate was given a boost by an eclectic mix of volunteers.

Soldiers from the Light Dragoons, based at Swanton Morley, took a break from the rigors of training to join young teenagers and well-known Thetford faces, including the Pride in Breckland Team, to spruce up the former community centre ready to open in the coming months.

The building, on the Redcastle Furze estate which was recently christened the Meet up Caf�, has been regenerated with funding from Norfolk charity The Benjamin Foundation which received government money for a number of projects that would inspire youngsters on the three Thetford estates.

On Friday, the Light Dragoons, which have all returned from Afghanistan and are training in Britain, took the time to forget their fatigues and joined in with the hard work.

Lieutenant Charlie Dunn, of BRF Squadron Light Dragoons, said: “The project is not just an opportunity for us to put something back into Breckland, it's also a vital training tool in preparation for our next tour of Afghanistan.

“Building relationships in communities and engaging with individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds is a crucial skill that we will require whilst on tour.”

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Enthusiastic pupils from Charles Burrell and Rosemary Musker High Schools have also been busy with DIY projects at the centre.

Abby Wright, 15, from Charles Burrell High School, on Staniforth Road, said she heard about the project through her head teacher.

“I live in Thetford so wanted to get involved,” she said. “I'll use the centre when it's finished so I thought it would be a good thing to do.”

People living on the Abbey, Redcastle, and Barnham Cross estates were last year invited to tell the Benjamin Foundation what they would like to see developed. One of the most important things on the wish list was the youth caf�.

Sam Chapman-Allen, Breckland Councillor for Saxon Ward in Thetford, said: “This project will help improve the lives of so many young people in Redcastle Furze.

“It will not only give them somewhere to meet but a place they can call their own and be proud of.

“That is what Pride in Breckland in all about, helping people to improve where they live and enabling them to feel proud of their community and it is wonderful to see it in action.”

Inspiring communities project manager Terry Jermy, who is also a town councillor, said there was a real opportunity to improve the lives of young people.