Youngsters were out in force on Saturday as the doors to Aldbourne Youth Council’s new home officially opened.
Community Junction is a youth and community centre managed by young people and includes facilities such as an after-school café, a youth community room, and a chill-out area where the 13-plus age group can socialise.
Aldbourne Youth Council trustee Hazel Keen said: “There were so many people there, it was lovely. It was more than we expected and we got some really positive responses.”
The youth council bought the semi-derelict building in the centre of the village in 2011 with the backing of local businessman and estate owner Brian Kingham.
It has been working on refurbishing the building since November last year thanks to a number of grants, including £50,000 from the Hill’s Group, and their own fundraising efforts.
Ms Keen said: “It was great to have the backing of Mr Kingham because although we had a great idea, without his financial support we wouldn’t have got anywhere with it.
“We decided he would be the most appropriate person to open Community Junction because of all the support he has given us, and he cut the ribbon with his youngest son.
“We started the refurbishment in November so it’s been a quick turnaround.
“We didn’t get our first big grant until June last year and it’s just snowballed from there.”
Although the project will be overseen by adult trustees, young people will help to run a charity shop and a two-bedroom holiday let to raise funds and gain work and life skills.
Ms Keen said: “This would be a great scheme in any community because it’s going to be self-sufficient.
“Not only will the holiday let and shop teach the young people how to run a business, they will also provide funding. This means we we don’t have to rely on grants.
“We hope that people from other towns and village will see what has been done here and will be inspired to do something similar, because there isn’t an abundance of grants out there these days and its about time that we learnt to stand on our own feet.”