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Wally helps launch centre for people with learning difficulties

Wimbledon manager praised for giving a speech at community event

6 February 2019

Wally Downes helped extend AFC Wimbledon’s links in the local community by attending the launch event for the Leyton Road Community Resource Centre in Colliers Wood.

The centre will offer new facilities for a group of Wimbledon supporters with mental disabilities that regularly attend our home matches. For many years, the club has had a great relationship with people that attended the High Path Resource Centre in South Wimbledon and the new centre at Leyton Road will be a replacement facility for them to utilise.

Our long-standing link with High Path has been thanks to the generosity of The Paul Strank Charitable Trust donating via the AFCW Foundation. This will continue in the future and there will be a fundraising initiative involving Paul Strank taking place later this season (see later on this page for more details).

Speaking about the launch event at Leyton Road, Andy O’Brien, who is part of the Community Outreach team at Merton Council for people with learning disabilities, said: “It was great to see Wally Downes at the centre, and it meant a lot to our clients. He made a really good speech talking about the importance of the community to AFC Wimbledon, and how we had a similar philosophy at the centre.

“The clients at Leyton Road think of AFC Wimbledon as ‘their club’, and the link between club and centre is very important to our clients. The new centre will provide a day service for adults with learning disabilities, who use it for social and leisure-based activities and as a base for community groups. They do computer sessions, cooking, music, singing games, and art groups.”

AFC Wimbledon was well represented at the event with Wally Downes joined by Haydon the Womble and our Commercial Director Ivor Heller. Merton Council Leader Stephen Alambritis and Cllr Mary Curtin were all present at the launch event, which was attended by around 150 people.

As well as providing a new home for people with learning disabilities, the centre at Leyton Road will also cater for WIFFA (West Indian Families and Friends), UPTOWN Youth Group, Mencap and PHAB, all of whom use the centre in the evenings or weekends. During the day there are around 40 clients, and the evening groups have up to that number as well.

Cllr Alambritis said: “I would like to welcome everyone to the Leyton Road Community Resource Centre. This service is an example of the council’s commitment to providing vital services to the most vulnerable in our community. I would also like to thank all the families, council staff and volunteers who have worked together to ensure that this state-of-the-art facility is available to serve the whole community.”

AFC Wimbledon has regularly staged fundraising events for the people that attended High Path and that will continue after they get settled into the new facility! This year Daniel Wiggins will race against Paul Strank and Ivor from the half way line, dribbling a ball, and they will have to score past Colin Dipple at the Chemflow End! Look out for more details about this event soon.

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