IT was the start of a week-long celebration of the Grange Centre at Midhurst and guests flooded through the doors for the opening of an exhibition of its life.
On display all this week, it tells the story of the much-loved sports and leisure centre and the day centre over the past 30 years.
There were poignant memories for many, including Chris and Richard Loversidge who came to say goodbye to the centre they played such a huge part in bringing to life.
There were also moments of comedy with an impromptu ceremony to hand over the keys to Chichester District councillor Eillen Lintill, portfolio holder for leisure, and Leadbitter project manager Iain Macdonald.
Manager Mike Boyce tipped a bucketful of keys on the floor and rummaged around to find the ones which opened the front door – symbolic of the dozens of keys and doors which opened on so many activities at the centre.
Welcoming guests to the special occasion on Sunday, Mr Boyce paid tribute to all the staff and users of the Grange. He made a special presentation to Ian Hickamn, longest-serving member of staff, who began the week the Grange opened and worked behind the bar for more than 30 years until he retired recently.
Chairman of the Grange trustees Julian Goodale led guests in a champagne toast to the Grange and Eddie Lintott, a long-standing supporter, read a poem written specially for the occasion by Grange trustee Judy Fowler. Judy also led the audience in a light-hearted song, recounting the many years of mopping-up after heavy rain.
There were tributes from Midhurst Town Council chairman John Etherington, Cllr Lintill and chairman of West Sussex County Council Amanda Jupp.
The celebrations continue this week with events including a tea dance organised by Rother Valley Together before the Grange closes on February 10.