CIC chairman Digby Stephenson welcomed a wide range of guests who shared a bond of pride and ownership in what the Haven has achieved and means to our community.

These ranged from many of the 50+ volunteers without whom the Haven couldn’t work; members of the Thursday Club; a representative from The National Lottery Community Fund and other fundraisers; the designer & builder of the extension; councillors and other supporters and friends from the village; staff and trustees from Impact Initiatives; and members of the Community Interest Company.

Digby concluded his remarks by saying that the Haven is a shining example of a community taking on responsibility for its future, and working in partnership with WSCC, who own the building, and Impact Initiatives, who manage the day-to-day operation of the centre.


Jack, in turn, chatted with Alex Nevatt (left) who talked about the role of Impact, deputising for Lorette Mackie who sadly couldn’t attend as she had been called away on jury service. Liz Hodgson then talked about her volunteer garden gang, which has completely transformed the Haven’s grounds and gardens, after which the extension has been named. Liz also explained the various roles of other volunteers, ranging from caring, food preparation and service to driving the mini-bus.

The guests then heard a very moving account of what the Haven has meant to her from Anne Dewdney (left), whose husband was diagnosed with dementia while still in his mid-fifties. The Haven has allowed her to become the family bread-winner, knowing that Rohan is being cared for in a friendly and professional environment.

The success of the Haven reached the point last year when it could no longer accommodate all the services and activities that were needed, and so the need to raise funds for an extension. This was mainly achieved by a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund, and their local manager Claire Webley (left), who helped us through the process explained why the Haven’s application was successful and has justified the award of £65,000.

Other fundraising events organised by the Friends of the Haven, included a series of concerts; quizzes, raffles, a Silent Auction and notably a bike ride from Paris to Henfield. Tracey Prestcott explained how she and Adrian Hillman of Rushfields persuaded 11 intrepid cyclists to “Pedal for Henfield” and raised just under £20,000 shared equally between the Haven and Henfield Leisure Centre. All these great efforts combined to allow the extension to be funded, furnished and maintained.

Jack led the guests through to the café to collect a suitable glass and he performed the official ribbon cutting, aided by Claire from the Lottery and Friends’ chairman Tony Jackson.

The doors then opened to reveal the new Haven Garden Room, suitably decorated and flowing out into the lovely, child-friendly grounds.

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You are warmly invited to come and see for yourself. The Haven Café is open on weekdays from 10-4pm.

Pictures courtesy of Mike Ainscough and The Henfield Hub