Larne pupils to share £90k Fort James trust fund

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School pupils across the borough could be set to reap the benefits of a £90,000 trust fund which was set up over a decade ago.

The pot of money was left behind by Fort James Ltd when the company closed Larne Paper Mill in 2002.

Larne Council was entrusted with administering the fund, which was intended to help young people in the borough.

Over the past 12 years, the local authority has failed time and again to come to an agreement over how the money should be spent.

But it seems that elected representatives are finally prepared to move forward with a plan to utilise the cash gift.

As previously reported in the Times, Larne Council had called on members of the public to submit their suggestions for how the money should be spent.

A total of eight responses were received, which included establishing community allotments, delivering a youth group for children with additional needs, training young people in first aid skills, and providing P7 pupils with the chance to take part in a cross community school trip.

These suggestions were discussed at the latest meeting of the Fort James Steering Group, where the council’s chief executive Geraldine McGahey highlighted that the funding should be made accessible to as many children from the borough as possible.

She added that the money could be spent any time up until June 30, 2015.

Councillor Gregg McKeen, who sits on the committee, felt the most viable option would be to provide primary schools with a pot of money with set criteria on how it could be spent, such as training programme for pupils.

Mrs McGahey told members that funding could be divided between each of the borough’s 19 primary schools on a pro rata basis.

She added that schools should consider using the money for educational purposes such as first aid training or cycling proficiency, and then submit ideas on how they proposed to ensure every child in the school would be able to access this before the June 2015 deadline.

It was agreed that the letter to the schools should stipulate that the funding was to contribute to “the educational, social and personal development of children”, and was not to be used to purchase equipment.

The chief executive underlined that a written submission would be required from each school on how they proposed to spend the money, with responses to be received by Friday, November 7.

Mrs McGahey also asked members if they wished to distribute an equal amount of funding to each child.

It was agreed that a set amount would be given to each school for them to apportion, as long as every child was catered for.