A charity for people with learning disabilities is saying goodbye to its chairman who guided it through “dark times”.

Steven Fifer, who has chaired Harrow Gateway for the past two years, has decided to retire to focus on his career as a communications manager.

The now 31-year-old took a keen interest in the charity seven years ago, after his elder sister, Analise, began using its services.

It has survived tough times in the past few years, when lack of money and volunteers meant it almost had to shut its doors for good in 2010.

But it has overcome those challenges and two years on, it is now a thriving activities centre where disabled adults feel “safe and inspired”.

Mr Fifer, who grew up in Stanmore, said: “It was a dark time back then, we were really struggling - but since then we’ve turned it around.

“Now there’s a lot more energy and buzz to the place and financially, we’re doing okay. I’m incredibly proud of everything we’ve achieved here.

“I will be sad to leave my role, but I’ll still be involved in the charity when I can. I just don’t think I can donate the right energy you need to be a chairman at this stage in my life.”

Back in 1999 when the charity was formed, it held just two activities - but now it boasts monthly discos, exercise classes, and many more.

Its headquarters in the Cambridge Road car park, in North Harrow, now form a community hub for its members.

Mr Fifer said he has enjoyed seeing the charity’s users go from being shy and timid to lively and outgoing as they become more relaxed in their surroundings.

He added: “It makes a huge different to their lives - we get them out of the house and help them interact with people of their own abilities. It gives them confidence too.

“I’ve loved my time here, we’ve had a been a really positive turnaround, but now it’s time for someone else to take over.”