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TV cop unveils youth initiative

PUBLISHED: 11:58 24 June 2010 | UPDATED: 11:48 23 August 2010

launch: Actor Chris Simmons meets some of the youngsters who will benefit from the project.

launch: Actor Chris Simmons meets some of the youngsters who will benefit from the project.

A £500,000 state-of-the-art youth project has been launched in a former court house. Gravesend-born Chris Simmons, who plays DC Mickey Webb in TV drama The Bill, made sure it was a fair cop by unveiling the scheme in the town centre on Tuesday. The 34-y

A £500,000 state-of-the-art youth project has been launched in a former court house.

Gravesend-born Chris Simmons, who plays DC Mickey Webb in TV drama The Bill, made sure it was a fair cop by unveiling the scheme in the town centre on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old said he would do as much as possible to support the project with personal visits and fundraising.

He said: "Gravesend needs more things such as this to get young people into something positive. I want to be around and come down whenever I can, watch it grow and help with fundraising.

"Being involved from an early stage I can watch it grow from nothing to seeing hundreds of thousands of youngsters come through the door."

Mr Simmons, who went to St George's School and used to live in Singlewell Road, was due to be joined by his former co-star Graham Cole, who played PC Tony Stamp, but he was called away to do filming.

The project covers a host of initiatives aimed at youngsters and the whole community ranging from general activities to offering specialised advice such as health issues and family planning, as well as recording, film and photo studios and a café.

One of the reasons why the project has been unveiled is that the well-known GR@ND community advice centre in New Road has to be relocated because the lease on its site is up.

The associated Alpha Foundation charity has launched what it calls Gemma's Appeal to raise money for the scheme, named after a teenager who went to the GR@ND for help and advice - and ended up becoming a trainee youth worker.

The 200-year-old court building was originally a school but it later became the town's county court and crown court.

Chair of the appeal Mrs Patricia Jefford said it aims to open the project in three months' time when planning permission has been formally granted.

The GR@ND was set up about 10 years' ago with £500,000 of Lottery funding and around 900 young people go through its doors every year.

After the launch Mr Simmons went to an audition for a six-part drama, having finished filming the final The Bill episode on Monday.

The hit show has been going 27 years and he has been taking part off and on for nine years, with the final episode due to be screened in August or September.

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