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Campaign to turn Beatles' 'Strawberry Fields' into youth support centre

The gates to Strawberry Fields could be open to the public for the first time. Credit: PA

The children's home made famous by the Beatles song "Strawberry Fields Forever" is to be given a new lease of life.

The Strawberry Field home in Woolton, Liverpool, closed in 2005, but now a fundraising campaign could see it transformed into a support centre for young people with learning disabilities.

The house was home to children for 70 years. Credit: The Salvation Army

The large Victorian house and gardens were donated to The Salvation Army, a Christian church and charity, and was used as a home for vulnerable children from 1936 until 2005.

Since the children's home closed its doors, it has remained empty and unused, but the charity held on to it.

A young John Lennon wearing a Strawberry Fields hat. Credit: The Salvation Army

Legendary Beatle John Lennon used to play in the grounds as a child and visit the annual summer garden party, with the home becoming the inspiration for the 1967 Beatles’ song, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.

Some 50 years on from the release of that song, The Salvation Army wants to turn the site into a training and work placement hub for young people with learning disabilities.

The choir recorded at the world famous Abbey Road studios. Credit: The Salvation Army

The Church and Charity says they need £2 million to make their plans a reality and have launched a fundraising campaign.

A choir of people who could benefit from the new centre has recorded their own version of "Strawberry Fields Forever" at the famous Abbey Road studios.

Major Drew McCombe, divisional leader for The Salvation Army, North West, said: "Lennon grew up close to Strawberry Field, and gave generously to the home as soon as he got his first pay cheque.

"He also had a vision for it, expressed in the song, as a place where anybody, whatever their personal background and difficulties, could realise their dreams.

"Strawberry Field has the potential to bring that vision to life; changing the lives of young people with learning disabilities, who find it difficult to find gainful employment, as well as encourage more projects similar across the UK."

As well as providing a support centre for young people with learning difficulties and their families, The Salvation Army hopes to open the gates of Strawberry Fields to the public for the very first time.

They plan to create a new exhibition dedicated to the story of the place, the song and John Lennon’s early life.