A new community centre was opened in Glasgow yesterday by Sir Jimmy Savile.

The broadcaster said the #1.3m learning centre at the award-winning conversion of the A-listed St Francis Church in Gorbals was a boost for the regeneration area and would increase the quality of life for residents.

''It is fantastic that this building has been returned from near dereliction and will now serve a good purpose in the future,'' he said. ''It will help the people of the area up the ladder of life a little.

''In this life if you can do something for someone you don't know, it is a good reason for being alive.

''It's unusual in these times, when everybody is so bent on helping themselves, that the people have come together for the greater good. People have put themselves out and that is marvellous.''

It is hoped the centre will become a focal point for the community after a joint investment by Glasgow City Council and Historic Scotland. The former friary will provide a wide range of services, including adult learning, voluntary groups, and performing arts.

Over the next five years the centre will be further developed to provide housing.

''The centre will come to mean the difference between saving or losing a life to anyone who wants to take the time and trouble to be a part of it,'' added Sir Jimmy.

The conversion of the former church, which was built in 1871, won a Glasgow Institute of Architects design award for 1997.

Glasgow Lord Provost Pat Lally said: ''I was baptised here so it has very fond memories for me.

''The renovation of St Francis's is very important. It will help put the community centre back into the heart of Glasgow.

''It is one of the finest buildings in the city and it is great that it has been brought back to full use.''

The leader of Glasgow City Council, Mr Frank McAveety, said: ''This is a major step in fulfilling the needs of one of the communities of Glasgow.''