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Happy birthday to Wells centre

PUBLISHED: 13:48 22 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:29 07 July 2010

It will be celebrations all round today when the Wells Field Study Centre marks its 40th anniversary.

Since it opened its doors on October 23, 1968, it is estimated that 100,000 Norfolk youngsters have benefitted from widening their classroom education by spending a few days at the residential centre on Polka Road.

It will be celebrations all round today when the Wells Field Study Centre marks its 40th anniversary.

Since it opened its doors on October 23, 1968, it is estimated that 100,000 Norfolk youngsters have benefitted from widening their classroom education by spending a few days at the residential centre on Polka Road.

For many of the youngsters, it was their first experience of being away from the comforts of home and it was an experience in which they discovered for the first time what it was like to not have mum doing everything for them.

The centre was opened in the former school building and its aim from the beginning was to promote access and awareness of the importance of wildlife of the north Norfolk coast among school pupils so they could play their part in helping to conserve it.

Over the years the Centre has given opportunities for youngsters to participate in practical learning in an environment away from their more formal classrooms. There were activities in such areas as biology, geography, ecology and history.

Many children also learned the basics of cooking, how to wash up and generally look after themselves while living away from home for a few days. Much of the focus at the Centre was on outdoor learning with activities on the beach and in the surrounding North Norfolk countryside.

The landmark anniversary is tonight being marked at the Centre with a party . The celebrations will see children, former and current staff joining together to celebrate the Centre's achievements.

Norfolk county council's deputy director of children's services, Fred Corbett, will be giving an address and Shaun Murphy, the vice-chairman of Norfolk county council, will propose a toast.

Food technology students from the Alderman Peel High School at Wells will be organising the catering as they did 40 years ago.

Paul Banham, the Centre's warden from 1968 to 1989 will cut a specially-made cake in the shape of a beach hut and reflect on his memories of the Centre. Christine Marshall, head of the centre between 1989 and 2007, will be speaking about the Centre's work in more recent times.

Pupils from Astley Primary School, near Melton Constable, who will be in residence today

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