STAFF and service users at the Everton Day Centre in Ardoyne have bid a fond farewell to manager Jim Gray who retired from his role after almost 30 years.

The Day Centre offers support to a range of people who suffer from mental health problems and Jim says he would miss his the job, which he started in 1990.

“It’s a very, very rewarding job and I will miss all the people here,” he said. “The thing I loved most about working here is that it is completely cross-community, which is a big thing.

“We have always had great support from the community and I want to thank everyone for that.”

Jim started work there when the shift away from residential centres for people with mental health problems began.

“We deal with all aspects of mental health here and help with recovery by teaching practical skills like cooking. We have always operated a small picture framing business here for the users to learn new skills so people from the surrounding areas would have regularly called in and that helped us become part of the community.

“There were a lot of skills we were able to teach and everyone has different needs but we tried to help everyone who came through our doors.”

Jim, who is originally from the Shankill but now lives in Glengormley, said he was calling it quits ahead of his 64th birthday.

“When I think of all the people that we’ve had through here from all areas I am very pleased with what we were able to achieve and I will miss it all big time,” he added.