Leeds Rhinos star kicks off charity celebrations

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Leeds Rhinos star Danny McGuire showed he’s a winner on and off the pitch as he helped celebrate the success of one of the city’s biggest fundraising projects.

McGuire was among the guests at the official opening of Leeds Mencap’s purpose-built £2.6m centre on Vinery Terrace in East End Park.

He was joined by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Gerry Harper, at the centre, which has been designed to offer a “friendly, fun and accessible space” for the local community as well as people with learning disabilities

Early fundraising for the project was given a massive boost with a £1.15m investment from Jimbo’s Fund, set up by the late Leeds philanthropist Jimi Heselden.

Leeds Mencap says it was also “overwhelmed” by the support it subsequently received from local businesses.

The charity’s chief executive, Cath Lee, said: “There are so many people to thank for the part they played in making our dream a reality.

“It is such a pleasure to see people learning, playing and having fun in the centre.

“And to be able to share the facilities with other groups is what really makes it special – the more use it gets, the more worthwhile it becomes!”

She added: “Our fundraising efforts will now focus on raising money for our services and if we can continue to secure support we will be able to work towards meeting the needs of more people with learning disabilities, starting with the ones on our waiting lists.”

Services supporting people with learning disabilities are already up and running at the centre.

A community nursery is also providing pre-school education for more than 40 youngsters.

Other groups taking advantage of the facility include Richmond Hill Elderly Action.

Leeds Mencap decided to make the move to a new base after outgrowing its previous premises on Londesboro Terrace.