Improving Lives, Enhancing Communities

A period of community development as the Trust regenerates run down centres into state of the art youth and community centres, offering a multitude of opportunities for local people. Once again, Watford are forerunners in this area, becoming one of the first clubs to run centres away from the stadium in Harrow (Cedars Youth and Community Centre) and Garston (Meriden Community Centre).

It was also a period of growth for the Trust as by 2017 it was running 15 different programmes, employing 100 full and part time people and reaching 150,000 participants. An incredible growth from when John McDermott was first appointed 25 years earlier and a testament to its Patron, Graham Taylor OBE, who very sadly passed away in January 2017.


Trivia Time

The Cedars Youth & Community Centre development was funded by a grant from MyPlace. How much did the development cost?

  • £2.5m
  • £3.8m
  • £4.2m
cedars ycc

Highlights of the Era

Cedars Youth & Community Centre is opened in Harrow in 2012 after a £4.2M refurbishment and the Trust take over the running of the Meriden Centre in Garston.

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The Trust was a pioneer in the football world in terms of creating community hubs to engage with supporters in their local communities. As with the family terrace and player visits to supporters work places, the Trust led the way in this field. It was a step that others watched with interest and then followed, but once again, Watford were the pioneers.

The Cedars Youth & Community Centre in Harrow project started in 2008 when the Trust, along with Harrow Council, jointly applied to the Department of Education MyPlace Fund for a £4.2M grant. After 4 years of development a flagship centre was opened in 2012 and a mark of its success, amongst many things, was the presentation of the London Youth Gold Mark accreditation by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh in 2016.

After the successful opening of Cedars, the Trust took over the running of the Meriden Centre in Garston, Watford, in partnership with Watford Council in 2012. A £1.8M grant was awarded and after 4 years of development work, a state of the art centre was opened in 2016 by Graham Taylor OBE and Baroness Dorothy Thornhill MBE.

The Trust is shortlisted for the 2017 Football Business Award and it celebrates 25 years of improving lives and enhancing communities.

The flagship Meriden Community Centre is officially opened in November 2016 by Baroness Dorothy Thornhill MBE and Graham Taylor OBE, very sadly proving to be Graham’s last official engagement for the Trust.

Britt Assombolonga makes his first team debut in 2012 after being discovered on a Trust “Herts Inclusive” project. Britt has had a successful career playing for Watford, Nottingham Forest and currently Middlesbrough.

The National Citizen Service programme is launched in 2013 as 94 16/17 year olds learn new life skills. By 2017 this had increased to 1,200 students annually.

HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visits the Cedars Centre in 2016 to present the London Youth Gold Accreditation Award.

graham taylor cedars gold award

It’s a fantastic community Hub – so revolutionary. I am incredibly proud about what has been achieved. Cedars is a perfect example of how we can really make a difference to those around us.

Graham TaylorOBE

Share Your Memories

Have you taken part in events at either Cedars or Meriden Community Centres?
Have you been a student on one of our National Citizen Service programmes and if so, what was the most memorable part?

If so, please share them and we will post the best ones on this site.

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