GABBY LOGAN opened a ú1.5 million centre for autistic people in Tokers Green on Monday.
The Final Score presenter, who is vice-patron of the Disabilities Trust, unveiled a ceremonial stone to mark the occasion.
She said The Maples would help its 16 residents remain part of the community.
The centre, which has replaced a three-storey Victorian house, provides supported living accommodation and independent studio apartments for adults with autism and Asperger’s syndrome.
Logan said being able to blend the building in with its surroundings made it a more pleasant experience for the residents.
She said: “It’s a gorgeous area and to have a building which is specially designed and configured for the user is so important because if you’ve got an old building and you try to make it work it’s much, much harder.”
Logan, the daughter of former Leeds United and Wales international Terry Yorath, joined the charity in 1992 after her 15-year-old brother Danny died from an undetected heart condition.
The charity named one of its rehabilitation centres for brain injury victims in Leeds Danny Yorath House. Logan said: “What the charity does is help to rehabilitate people who have experienced terribly traumatic brain damage and brain injury for all kinds of different reasons, whether it’s a stroke or an accident.
“They’re having to retrain their bodies and brains to do very simple things that they previously took for granted.
“If this has happened to you or somebody you know in this area, to have a facility like this means that you could have the person looked after and rehabilitated close to home whereas if you had to send them to get the best facilities 60 to 70 miles away it just puts more strain on the family and everybody involved with that person.
“The more of these kinds of centres we have means people will be closer to the ones who love and care for them. While they get fantastic care and services here, the families want to be close and to know that they can be there quite regularly because often there are other people in the family who need looking after too.
“Hopefully, we’ll manage to reach out to families in Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, who can all use the services.”
There are three bungalows on the six-acre site in Dysons Wood, named The Foxes, The Badgers and The Red Kites.
They include eight studio apartments that feature en-suite accommodation and cooking facilities as well as eight bedrooms with en suites for people who require more support. There are also shared facilities including a dining room, laundrette and activities room.
The centre was started in 1998 by parents of a number of young men with autism but the building had become outdated.
Barrie Oldham, chief executive of the charity, said: “The old building was a traditional residential service. It didn’t have en-suite or appropriate accommodation that was fit for purpose in the 21st century.
“There are now facilities that are appropriate and you or I would wish to live in.”
Mr Oldham said the centre provided a holistic support service for people with complex needs, ensuring that they could live in the community and carry out tasks such as shopping.
Michael Elia, 45, who has Asperger’s syndrome and has lived in the centre for 16 years, said he had become more independent.
He goes to college once a week to study maths and English and volunteers for Oxfam.
He has also had a novel called A Trio of Cartels published.
Mr Elia was impressed with the new building, saying: “It’s very nice and there’s a lot of space in each room. It’s very clean and overlooks the countryside.
“To have a new building is very comforting. It’s a big improvement.”
Logan, who is married to former Scotland rugby international Kenny Logan, also helped to judge a bake-off competition with residents’ entries.