A group of volunteers from RNAS Culdrose have helped clear Helston’s Passmore Edwards Institute ready for its first public event in many years.

The team of 19 Naval Airman Phase Two trainees from the Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operations spent Saturday moving rubbish from outside the former community centre in Penrose Road.

They filled two skips, from Keith Ozard Skip Hire, with everything from rotten fabric and carpets to abandoned pieces of scenery from when the building was used to store theatre equipment.

They were supervised by Leading Airman Emma Heneghan and Warrant Officer Robert Holborn, while the day was co-ordinated by Warrant Officer Andrew Lewis.

WO Lewis said: “The phase two trainees are keen to support local community projects as it helps them build the core values and Navy ethos that is expected of them as they embark on their careers in the Royal Navy.

“The Cornubian Arts and Science Trust have taken on a huge venture and I hope that the trainees can provide further support to this worthwhile project that will offer cultural, educational and social opportunities to the local area.”

Teresa Gleadowe, speaking on behalf of the trustees of the Cornubian Arts and Science Trust (CAST) that has taken over the running of the building, said the support made “a huge difference.”

She said: “There’s something so incredible about seeing a large number of fit and extremely willing people just get to work. They just did so much. It was really fantastic.”

The Culdrose group joined local volunteers who had already started work preparing an informal social space and café for users of the building.

The institute will be opened to the public next week for a two-day free art exhibition called The Dark Rooms, filling every room in the building.

Artist Jesse Leroy Smith, who is organising and curating the event, has invited 40 photographers, painters, sculptors, filmmakers and performance artists to take part.

Examples of work will include James Hankey capturing, exposing and developing photographic prints over Saturday, revealing the results on Sunday. Ben Sanderson has taken some of the weathered plywood boards that until recently covered the upper windows of the building and has used them as supports for painted images of Helston’s history. As part of the project, students from Falmouth University will present a “show within the show” called Parameters of the Dark.

The exhibition will be open between 1pm and 10pm on Saturday, February 2, and between noon and 6pm on Sunday, February 3. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Jesse Leroy Smith will give a guided tour of the exhibition at 4pm on the Sunday.