Jean retires as manager of centre

Jean Bell was the manager of the Briardale Community Centre in Blyth for 18 years.
Jean Bell was the manager of the Briardale Community Centre in Blyth for 18 years.

A familiar face to many people in Blyth has retired from her role as manager of the Briardale Community Centre.

Jean Bell had been there since the opening in 2000. Creating the facility was a community-led initiative, with local residents involved in its design and build process.

The majority of the cost to construct the centre on land just touching the border of the Cowpen and Kitty Brewster wards was met by European funding and the then Blyth Valley Borough Council made a contribution.

It was officially opened later in 2000 by Princess Anne.

Over the last 18 years, the centre has had more than 90,000 people through its doors – including visitors from abroad to see how the centre was run.

It runs its own clubs and other groups and organisations use the facility, which also features an orchard, allotment, patio, children’s play area, ornamental garden and a large grassed area.

Jean, a Blyth resident for most of her life, thanked all those who have supported her and the centre and gave a special mention to John Whiteman. He has also moved on after being treasurer since the centre opened.

She added: “Briardale Community Centre has been the most rewarding and interesting job I’ve ever had – no two days were the same.

“I’m going to miss the people there, including the people at the various clubs.

“I’m very grateful for all the messages and thanks that I received in my final couple of months in the role from current and former centre users.”