BEST MANAGER: Debbie Croft is nominated for an award

A HARD-WORKING woman has been praised for her role at a popular and much-loved community centre.

Debbie Croft, manager of the Heene Community Centre, in Worthing, has been nominated for best manager in this year’s Herald and Gazette Community Stars Awards.

Debbie reacted with joy and surprise when she found out about her nomination.

She said: “It is a nice thought for somebody to nominate me.

“I read about the community stars in the paper but did not think somebody would nominate me.”

Debbie, 53, of Coniston Road, Goring, has worked at the centre, in Heene Road, for nine years.

She described it as a “hub of the community” and somewhere which was like “a family”.

She said: “We do a lot here. We are open every day apart from Christmas Day and there is something going on every day.”

Activities at the centre include art classes, card games and dancing.

The centre also serves food twice a week and has a little shop for those who want to buy essential goods as well as wool.

Debbie said the lunches were an important initiative for the centre, adding: “For half the people there, it will be their main meal of the week.”

Debbie admitted it was impossible to not become emotionally involved with the volunteers and the regular visitors at the centre.

“It has taken over all of my life,” she said.

“I have got about 30 volunteers and you do get involved with people.”

This was one of the reasons Tess Goldstone nominated Debbie for the award, having worked at Heene Community Centre in the kitchen.

Tess, 43, of Meadow Road, said: “She is kind, genuine, caring and will go that extra bit to help anyone.

“If someone needs to go to hospital, she will take them.

“She is very good at first aid and she has resuscitated lots of people while she has been there.”

The friend and former colleague said Debbie treated everyone at the centre “like a family”, and added: “She is one of those bosses you can be friends with.

“She deserves to be acknowledged for her years of work with the community.”