The Creative Space Centre’s first centre manager Alison Birch has retired from her duties after 25 years.
Alison joined the Ashton-based sensory centre - then called The Space Centre - during its early days in 1993 through The Friends of Willows. As the multi-sensory room was created in a barn attached to The Willows, Alison worked with the trustees to raise funds to convert the site and add two more sensory rooms.
She has been integral in helping the centre to grow, working with the Save our Space group of local businesses and Creative Support who became the owners of Space in 2013.
She became a sensory specialist two years ago and a silver birch tree has been planted on the Woodland Walk in her honour.
Read more: Creative Space Centre: the UK's largest multi-sensory safe-haven on Preston's doorstep
She said: “Space has moved on in great strides and it is an absolute joy to me to see three sensory rooms being used all week, groups using the fabulous gardens and the new woodland walk. We pride ourselves on being able to meet many different needs.
“I don’t think any of the original trustees could have envisaged how successful Space would be and this is a great source of pride to me that we have accomplished so much and that the centre will continue to provide for so many people.
“The Friends of Space is continuing the work to support Space and we are so grateful to them for their selfless work and to everyone who helps at Space on a voluntary basis.The staff at Space are also amazing and it is how the sensory rooms are used that is important to get the most for all our service users.
"I am sad to be leaving, but after nearly 40 years of working in the field of special needs, it is time for me to retire. I leave with a huge sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that Space is a fabulous resource and an important part of many people’s lives.
Owner of The Creative Space Centre Jane Robinson said: "We say farewell to Alison, the original centre manager who, through her hard work, dedication and pure passion took The Space Centre from strength to strength over the 25 years she managed.The centre truly would not be what it is today without her and her knowledge."