IT WAS a day of mixed emotions at a Durrington day centre as it celebrated the beginning of a new venture and said goodbye to a valued volunteer.
The Pines, in Faraday Close, has officially opened its new polytunnel.
It will give adult day centre users the chance to get their hands dirty and grow their own produce.
Opening the polytunnel was volunteer Fred Earthey, who retired after more than 20 years helping at the centre.
Sue Markwick, assistant manager at The Pines, described Fred as a “loyal, hard-working member”.
She added: “You are part of The Pines’ success and will always be in our hearts.”
To thank Fred for his work, a plaque dedicated to him was unveiled at the centre.
Fred, 85, of Guildford Road, Rustington, said he would miss the day centre but had great memories from his time working there.
He said: “Having worked in the rat race for quite a long time it was a breath of fresh air to meet people who care.
“I thought it was a well-worth job coming here, joining in and it kept me fit and kept my mind active.”
He added: “I had to retire, not that I wanted to, but I have got worse on my legs.
“I felt I was becoming more of a hindrance than a help and if I vow to do something I do it because I want to and not sit back.”
Fred said it was a honour to open the new polytunnel – a project the day centre has been working on for a while.
The Pines managed to secure money from the learning disability fund as well as donations from local people and companies to help fund the project.
Sue said she hoped the centre would be able to sell the produce grown, adding: “We have made links with people throughout various associations.
“This year is seeing how far this project will go.”