Larne pre-school fundraising ‘curtailed’ by Covid

Harbour Bears Pre-School in Larne is continuing to seek support for the renovation of their new premises.

Monday, 28th September 2020, 3:20 pm
East Antrim MLA John Stewart with Fiona and Jane from Harbour Bears Pre-school, Larne.

The project has been ongoing for several years since the pre-school, currently based in rented accommodation at the Curran Bowling Club pavilion, purchased the old scout hall on Curran Road.

Community donations and a number of successful fundraisers allowed the group to undertake significant work on the exterior of the building.

However, like many other charities, their efforts have been hit hard by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Pre-school leader, Fiona McKinley explained: “Since our 50th anniversary in 2018, we were able to get a lot of work done outside the building: new PVC cladding, guttering and fascia, as well as fencing to secure the site.

“There were four big fundraisers organised for earlier in the year but when Covid hit, we had to close and they had to be cancelled.”

The hall is still in need of significant interior refurbishment, including plumbing and electrical work.

“People drive by [the hall] and see the work that has been done to the outside, and many of them think we have actually moved in,” said Fiona.

“But there’s still a lot of work that needs done on the inside and that’s our priority.”

With approximately £40k already spent on renovating the outside of the hall, the group estimates it would take between £60-£70k to complete the interior, alongside other ongoing costs such as insuring the premises.

“We have had great support so far and a couple of very generous donations. There have also been local companies who have kindly offered to do things like plastering free of charge,” Fiona added.

“Covid is the biggest thing that is stopping us at the moment, even when it comes to applying for grants. But we understand that it’s difficult for everyone, and there are other charities who are working with children who are maybe seriously ill, who have even more need.

“Our committee will be trying to think of creative ways we can raise some money as soon as we are able, but in the meantime we appreciate any support, however small.”

Visiting the new premises recently was East Antrim MLA, John Stewart.

“[The hall] looks great from the outside, but a lot of work is still required to fit out the inside,” he said.

“Their tremendous fundraising campaign has been somewhat curtailed by Covid, so perhaps there is an opportunity for local tradespeople and builders’ merchants to really get behind a worthwhile local charity and help get the new premises refurbished and fully fitted out.”

If you can help with the project, please contact the Harbour Bears Pre-School Fundraising page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/harbourbearsfundraising