Get involved: send your pictures, video, news & views by texting TIMES NEWS to 80360, or email us
Sir Cliff Richard brings congratulations and celebrations to charity opening in New Barnet
Pop legend Sir Cliff Richard dazzled a crowd in New Barnet when he officially opened new accommodation for people with learning disabilities this morning.
The buildings, in Warwick Road, are the culmination of a 15-year long project undertaken by the Sanctuary Group housing association, and Self Unlimited, a charity which has provided support for people with learning disabilities for more than 45 years.
Veteran heartthrob and former Totteridge resident Sir Cliff has been a passionate supporter of Self Unlimited since the Sixties.
In 1968, when the charity was named Peter Pan Homes, he opened a home for children with learning disabilities. He was a regular visitor, frequently playing his guitar and singing songs to the young residents.
Many of those who lived in the first home are now living in the new accommodation buildings, and remember the Summer Holiday singer’s visits.
After officially opening the buildings, the international star said he was “delighted” to visit the centre, adding that the buildings looked “wonderful”.
The singer then performed a selection of his hits with Choir Unlimited, a community choir that comprises current residents, staff, and other members of the local community.
Leader Steve Shepherd used to live around the corner from Sir Cliff as a child, and remembers hearing him play guitar in his garden.
He said: “Everyone in the choir has really enjoyed themselves. They’ve worked really hard, and this has certainly boosted their confidence. This is a big moment for them.”
Sir Cliff was given a tour of the new buildings by Self Unlimited’s chief executive Patrick Wallace.
Mr Wallace said: “I am delighted that Sir Cliff Richard has returned to our charity today to open these fantastic buildings. We are delighted with the project.”
He added that Sir Cliff was an “amazing man” and “the epitome of what is good about successful people doing things for others.”
The two new buildings have been called Tamarisk Court, after a former name of the charity, and Marion Court, after former district nurse and charity trustee Marion Greaney.
They comprise 18 self-contained flats to accommodate up to 22 people. The buildings are built to a high specification to allow residents to live a modern, independent lifestyle.
Eco-friendly features include a shared biomass boiler, a rain water harvesting system, triple glazed windows and solar panels.
Jan Bracey, a current trustee of the charity, has been involved with the project since its conception.
She told The Times Series: “We thought this day would never come. We are thrilled with everything and all the residents have been very excited.”
Celebrations at the new residences continued throughout the day with an afternoon party and barbecue.