The Commercial Director of an Ilkeston company, who has been heavily involved with transforming the former Woolworths building into a community project, was asked to cut the ribbon at its official opening yesterday (Monday, February 6).

Dennis Bell, 63, who has worked at Ward Recycling for 20 years, was invited to cut the ribbon at The Project in Bath Street, as a thank-you for all of the support the company has given to The Arena Church over the years.

The waste management company was involved in the two-year refurbishment of the former Woolworths building, including carrying out an asbestos survey, renovation work and donating skips. It also helped to get funding from Erewash Borough Council to help with the work.

Ward has been involved with the Arena Church and its food bank on Rutland Street since being approached by Erewash Borough Council in 2011. The company was happy to help and started by refurbishing a car park for the food bank, and donating food. Ward also purchased a mini bus to pick children from struggling families up from school and take them for a hot meal at the food bank.

Dennis, who also helped with the building of a sensory garden on Heanor Road, said: “The Project is set to be an important part of the Ilkeston community and will go towards helping many people. That’s why Ward were happy to help in any way we could and we will continue to give our support as it grows over the coming years. I was delighted to be asked to cut the ribbon at the official opening.”

Kristian Thorpe, lead pastor at Arena Church, said: “The Project is a place of trade where all profits go back into the community but also a place of training, partnering with local businesses and getting people back to work.

“This has been a 12 month journey for us as we have refurbished and brought a very tired looking iconic building back into its full use. There have been so many people that have helped and supported us along the journey and we feel it’s important to thank them.”

The Project aims to bring opportunity and enterprise to Ilkeston town centre and revive one of its most iconic buildings. Profit will be ploughed back into the food bank, and its youth work.

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