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Last Updated: Monday, 13 December, 2004, 18:34 GMT
Weston opens charity centre
Simon Weston OBE
Simon Weston's charity helps young people across the UK
Falklands war veteran Simon Weston has opened a new youth centre for underprivileged youngsters in Rhyl.

The former Welsh Guardsman, who suffered horrific burns during a bombing attack on the Sir Galahad in the Falklands War, co-founded the Weston Spirit charity.

The centre in Denbighshire is the group's first office in north Wales.

However, the organisation has been working in the seaside area for many years.

The charity was set up in 1988 to provide personal and social development opportunities for disengaged young people.

Denbighshire has some of the highest levels of school exclusion in Wales
Simon Weston

Since then, it has been delivering its youth work programmes across Wales, supporting more than 6,500 young people.

Simon Weston, who grew up in Nelson, south Wales before joining the Welsh Guards in 1978, said: "Having co-founded Weston Spirit and being Welsh myself, it's great to see the charity doing so well in Wales and to be getting support right across the country."

"We've always hoped to have bases across Wales eventually so locating a centre in Rhyl is a real achievement for us and a step towards becoming truly national here."


The West ward of Rhyl was classified as the most deprived area of Wales in 2000 and Simon said he is aware of some of the issues facing young people in the area.

"Denbighshire has some of the highest levels of school exclusion in Wales, an above average youth unemployment rate and a lack of accessible services so there are hundreds of local young people who will benefit from our support," he said.

Funding for the new centre has come from the Big Lottery Fund.

Weston Spirit has 11 centres throughout England and Wales, including two in Cardiff and Merthyr Tydfil.

The charity has worked with over 60,000 young people around the country and aims to reach out to 250,000 by 2007.

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