Speakers from the Lymington community association presented their vision for the centre to guests which included the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire Nigel Atkinson and his wife Christine.
It is hoped the revamp of the site will increase income and decrease maintenance costs by connecting all the separate buildings together, making activities more accessible to all.
Other planned improvements include the regeneration of the main entrance to create a spacious new foyer, re-landscaping the square on the front entrance, a new ground floor reception area that will lead directly to the Fuller McLellan Hall and better disabled access.
Community association chairman Cllr Anna Rostand said: “This evening is a wonderful start, supported by appeal patrons, The Hon Mary Montagu-Scott, and Kayleigh Sargeant, to raise awareness of the much-needed funding to secure the future of the Lymington Centre for future generations,”
“Currently, the fabric of the building is in very poor repair; these new plans reflect the demand to update the building to a modern environment for future use.”
Explaining the timeline of the project and the finances behind it, centre trustee Peter Wagstaffe said: “We are planning on a three-year project and fundraising is key.”
He added: “We have received a tremendous boost from the council, which now makes the impossible dream a possible dream, but I am sure fundraising throughout the whole period will be necessary and we want to move on this as fast as possible.”
As previously reported by the A&T, the centre’s improvement plan had been budgeted to cost in the region of £2m.
The facility took a big step towards its target this year with a £900,000 grant from the town council’s £1.7m windfall fund secured in a public land access deal with housebuilder Pennyfarthing for its development in Alexandra Road at Buckland.
However, the money is dependent on match-funding, so a £1m fundraising target was set and the centre is considering selling off part of its car park in order to help generate these funds.
Other sources of income for the project will rely on fundraising efforts and substantial donations from local people and trusts.
Marking the 70th anniversary of the centre’s opening in 1948, the ‘Celebrating 70 Appeal’ was launched in 2018 with the objective of raising the £1m over five years to fund the restoration.
The drive has so far gathered over £75,000 thanks to events like the recent ‘Strictly Lymington’ dance competition which brought in over £2,000.
Lord-Lieutenant Mr Atkinson said: “I have been hugely impressed with how the community centre has contributed to the local area. The centre sounds really vibrant, very busy, and is clearly a much-loved organisation.
“It is without a doubt the hub of the community, offering both recreational and educational facilities to everyone in the area.”
Mary Montagu-Scott said: “When I was asked to become an appeal patron, it didn’t take me long to say yes because I have enjoyed this centre all my life.
“It was an easy choice to take part in this excellent appeal to make sure the centre is fit for purpose for the next generation in another 70 years.”