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The Old Fire Station in Gipton in Leeds opening party

PUBLISHED: 00:00 09 November 2017

Michelle Sykes,Rane Lin and James Gorton with fruit loaves made in the cookery class.

Michelle Sykes,Rane Lin and James Gorton with fruit loaves made in the cookery class.

Joan Russell Photography

A former fire station returns to service this time as a much welcomed community base

The Old Fire Station in Gipton in Leeds has opened its doors as a thriving community centre after a major, two-year refurbishment. The building, with many of its original features, is now home to five community organisations, meeting rooms for hire, a roof garden and community café. It was made possible by donations from the former Leeds entrepreneur, the late Jimi Heselden, and is managed by Leeds Community Foundation.

Guests at the opening included the local community, former Gipton fire fighters, and members of the Heselden family. They gathered in Jimi’s Community Room, overlooking the community garden, and were welcomed with speeches from trustee Jonathan Morgan of Morgans City Living, Leeds Community Foundation CEO, Sally-Anne Greenfield and Richard Burgon, MP for Leeds East.

Sally-Anne Greenfield paid tribute to Mr Heselden. She said: ‘If Jimi were here today, I think he would be very proud, and justifiably so, of the incredible facility that has been provided through his generosity that will, quite literally, change the lives of many, many people, day on day, week on week, month on month for many years to come.

‘I truly hope that we have managed to fulfil his wishes – to do something special, to build something that is going to give people in East Leeds a more positive future, a job, a life, some hope. I am confident it will be an inspiring space for the tenants, to help them deliver their work; a welcoming hub for their beneficiaries, who will come here and feel the warm welcome that it brings; and a base that local people can use and that will be full of fun, and laughter and celebration.’

Guests were then offered tours of the building, with many of the fire fighters who had previously worked at the fire station adding historical facts along the way. Back in Jimi’s Community Room, lunch was served by The Feel Good Café. On walls was the work of photographer Lizzie Coombes.

Further details about The Old Fire Station, café menu and opening times, and the rooms for hire can be found at theoldfirestationgipton.org.uk

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