A KNUTSFORD community service is celebrating 20 years of helping Longridge residents.

The Welcome, based in Longridge, opened on September, 30 1996 as a second-hand store thanks to Knutsford Methodist Church member Sue Jackson.

Over the past two decades, the centre has evolved, becoming both a church and charity service funded by generous donations from Knutsford Methodist Church, residents, businesses and grants from Cheshire East Council.

Julie King, who started working at The Welcome 12 years ago, has watched the facility change and adapt to suit residents’ needs.

“It has evolved since the opening 20 years ago,” said Julie. “On a Friday they used to run a trip with the community transport bus, and they would make a roast dinner on a Friday for those people.

“The café evolved from there. It has changed for the better. The café is now the hub of the community. People come in for all sorts. We have a church service on a Sunday, people come in for lunch and for the social side of it, elderly people come in for meals. It is central to the community.”

On top of the church service, The Welcome hosts a range of activities such as Bible study group, craft sessions, literacy sessions and art classes, as well as answering queries from residents on a range of topics and pointing them to other valuable services.

Elenor McAndrew, cook at The Welcome Café, is also a Longridge resident.

“I want to be here until I retire,” she said. “I absolutely love it. I got the job through Julie. I volunteered for one day and I was hooked.

“There are 10 to 12 regulars, and some people who come in every single day. I think people like meeting so many differen people, doing lots of different groups and mainly being around people.

“The atmosphere and good food and the people are so friendly- it’s a great place to be.”