Television star Andrew Lincoln joined families at the Barnardo’s Sure Start Children’s Centre in Calne to celebrate its fifth anniversary and cut a cake for excited children to share.
The actor, whose most recent television role is police officer Rick Grimes in zombie apocalypse The Walking Dead, and who also starred in This Life and Teachers, has been an ambassador for Barnardo’s since 2007.
Since he began supporting Barnardo’s he has visited several different projects across the UK, but this is his first visit to a children’s home.
Mr Lincoln, who lives in North Wiltshire, has two young children of his own named Matilda and Arthur.
He said he was inspired to become an ambassador after his daughter’s birth and felt an affinity with the parents at the children’s centre.
He said: “A few months before Matilda was born a friend of mine organised an exhibition and I realised Barnardo’s wasn’t just a fostering and adoption charity, it did so much more, and I was really interested.
“When you’re a parent you improve your life for the life of your child.
“I believe, whatever their background, children deserve the best chance to fulfil their potential.”
The centre at Calne provides free information and advice to families with children under five and since opening in 2008 it has supported more than 1,800 parents and children.
It offers many different activities including breastfeeding support, cookery courses, first aid training and baby signing, as well as groups for dads, young parents and childminders.
During his visit to the centre, Mr Lincoln visited the sensory room, where children take part in activities involving light and sound, and built a jigsaw with children in the playroom.
Centre regulars were delighted to see the actor, who is fast making a name for himself in America. Jodie Turner, 22, of Woodroffe Square, Calne, comes to play sessions with her daughter Dell, aged one, and her son C-Jay, two.
She said: “It’s good to see him come just to show people that the centre has a lot more going for it than people think. It must be an education for him as well.”
David Cousins, 42, of Sandpit Road, Calne, visits the centre with his 18-month-old daughter Lily-Rose.
He said: “It’s smashing to see him. It must be nice publicity for the centre so it does a lot of good. He’s a really lovely gentleman. Obviously he’s got children himself so he understands what kids are like.”
Mr Lincoln left the centre very impressed at its work. He said: “Speaking to people here the one important thing is the friendships you make. You meet people going through the same thing.
“You feel tethered to the house when you have a child. It’s good to get out and about. Social isolation is easy to fall into, that pattern of feeling that you can’t get out of the house.”