IT HAS taken almost five months and hundreds of man hours but Mepal Outdoor Centre are finally on the road to re-opening.

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The centre was on the verge of closure back in October after it was revealed that East Cambridgeshire District Council refused to provide £85,000 of emergency funding to see it through the winter.

The centre was thrown into disarray and was all set to close to the public until Cambridgeshire ACRE stepped in and, together with the Mepal Charitable Trust, took over the day-to-day running.

Now, after months of hard graft and detailed planning, the centre is on course to be open again in time for Easter.

City of Ely councillor John Yates is president of the charitable trust and chairman of Cambridgeshire Acre and has been instrumental in re-structuring the centre.

“It has taken a lot of hard work and we faced a difficult task when we took the centre on,” said Cllr Yates.

“However we were determined to retain this as a community facility and an asset for local people.”

Work to clear vast amounts of rubbish was first on the list for the centre when it closed while an army of volunteers and contractors have also helped assess and revamp some of the facilities.

Youngsters on the Government’s ‘Return to Work’ programme have thrived and made a “real difference” to the state of the site.

When the centre re-opens a range of activities will be on offer including archery, climbing, canoeing and shooting while the centre will also be available for parties, corporate events, meetings and activity weekends.

There is accommodation for 32 children and four adults on site and there will be a functioning canteen up and running too. There is also space for people to bring their own caravans on site.

Kirsten Bennett, chief executive of Cambridgeshire ACRE, said: “We already have bookings from schools, scouts groups and the Government’s National Citizenship Scheme but there are lots on offer here and we would like to make people aware of all the things available.

“We can host pirate or commando-themed children’s parties, corporate team-building events, activity days, a tremendous amount.

“In many ways we are so risk averse in society now but this centre will be about thinking together and team-building, learning new skills and overcoming challenges.”

INFORMATION: To find out more, visit www.mepal.co.uk or call 01354 692251.

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