MORE than 1,000 Armed forces personnel and their families will benefit from a new families and welfare centre opened this month at the home of 40 Commando Royal Marines.

The new facility at Norton Manor Camp replaces a dilapidated prefab facility built in the 1940s and will offer support to the community.

Users of the centre will have access to a chaplaincy support worker, a families liaison officer and community beat officer.

The Royal Marines Charity donated a £30,000 grant for the building, which was officially opened by Gen Sir Gordon Messenger, vice chief of defence staff, and there was also a sizeable grant from the Government's Libor fund from fines imposed on banks.

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity also made an extensive grant to facilitate the interior of the building.

Specialist care worker WO2 Darren Joyce said: "The new families centre at Norton Manor Camp will combine welfare support, community development and provide short term families accommodation under one roof.

"This will enhance community spirit, lifelong friendship opportunities and build resilience, all of which are vital ingredients to both new and established service personnel and their families."

As well as providing a creche, the welfare centre will also hold events such as coffee mornings, support and guidance for parents and children, settling-into-school sessions and family fun days, while there will be regular visits from health care visitors.

Above the centre is a two-bedroom flat to accommodate single parents from 40 Commando who wish to spend quality time with their children. in a relaxed, home from home environment.

Meanwhile, local Berg toys dealer Howard Millington has donated activity toys to the centre.