THE shock closure of a much-loved community centre has left residents young and old feeling betrayed.

The Freshbrook Community Centre was abruptly closed yesterday after serving the local area for a quarter of a century.

Groups from pensioners to young ballet dancers have been left without a home, although a nearby primary school has offered to help out.

Mo Walch, who organised bingo for OAPs every Tuesday, said: “It will leave a big hole in the community. It will affect everyone around here.”

The Freshbrook Community Group, which ran the centre, had its charitable status withdrawn by the Charity Commission on September 11 after failing to submit its accounts. The centre was then closed by Swindon Council, which owns the building.

Staff who had worked at the centre since it opened 25 years ago had the news broken to them just 24 hours before the doors closed.

Bar manager Jill Stapleton said: “I found out from a customer and less than a day later the doors are locked. I can’t believe it. Everyone is really upset and angry.

“This is going to have a big impact on lots of different groups of people.

“I had three staff working with me on the bar who have families. What are they going to do now?”

Mo Walch, from Uxbridge Road, who has been using the centre for 14 years said: “We feel betrayed. It is a really sad day for Freshbrook because the centre has been there for so long and is very important to a lot of people.

“I had around 40 people every week coming in for bingo. Then there were the young ballerinas, a new Weight Watchers class has just started and the community cafe has just spent money decorating.”

Raj Patel, 40, from Sharp Close, who has been helping out at the centre since 1988, said: “This has come completely out of the blue. It’s going to have a devastating effect especially for the OAPs who really rely on this place.

“They come here for their bingo, their Christmas lunches. This is their whole social world.”

Neighbouring Millbrook School has agreed to take on some of the centre’s events in its three community rooms.

Helen Bartley, community cohesion leader at the school, said: “It is important for us to be part of the community and help out where we can.

“We have taken the names of all the groups who have been affected and we will do what we can to accommodate them.”

A spokesman for Swindon Council said officers were now looking at how community facilities will be provided for the area in the future.

Terry Iles, the chair of the Freshbrook Village Group, was unavailable for comment.