A Chailey charity’s dream is near reality as its new centre is set to open by end of the summer after three years of fundraising.
The D.R.E.A.M (dynamic, real, experiential, amazing, magical) Centre is the latest chapter in the story of the Chailey Heritage Foundation, which has been changing the lives of young people with complex disabilities since 1903.
In autumn 2016, The Chailey Heritage Foundation started fundraising for a new space for the young disabled children in their care.
The original 50’s building that was used as a functional area for all of the children who have complex physical disabilities and serious medical conditions, was said to be freezing in the winter and had no room for activities.
There was a stage with stairs which was also impractical as it was inaccessible for those in wheelchairs.
Development director Sally-Anne Murray explained how the £3.1 million project would not have been possible without the phenomenal support of the sponsors, trusts, foundations, local businesses and the general public who have helped raise the funds needed for its design and build.
She said: “Many of the activities that the children and young people will be able to take part in will be ground-breaking and will really broaden their horizons and enable them to develop new skills.”
The new indoor space will also house the powered wheelchair driving school which will benefit many of the young people.
Wheelchair football, drama and dance will also be on offer alongside the sensory four dimensional experience space, which will allow children to be ‘transported’ virtually to different countries and experience the sights and sounds from around the world.
The children will be given the opportunity to develop their balance through rebound therapy with the installation of a ground level trampoline, inbedded in the stage.
Carol Llewellyn, a teacher at Chailey Heritage School, said: “The D.R.E.A.M. Centre will make it possible for students to have a space large enough to play competitive sports and perform to friends and family.”
The new multi-purpose complex will also include a raised stage for drama and dance, giving the people who benefit from the charity the opportunity to perform once more.
Sally- Anne explained that as well as the sports hall, the centre will be fitted with accessible changing rooms with hoists, suitable for children with disabilities, as well as a fully functional kitchen.
It has been said that 96 pupils of Chailey Heritage School, 30 young adults and more than 150 young adults from the community will benefit from the opening of the new facility.
Staff at the foundation hope that after the building’s official opening the whole community will also reap the benefits, as the hall can be used for Scouts and Guide groups in the surrounding areas.
The construction of the building is said to be complete by the end of May, when the fit-out will begin and the staff, children and parents are hoping the centre will be open before the end of the summer term, and in time for Celebration day on July 19.
Many people within the community have made generous donations to help raise the enormous amount needed to complete the project.
The plan received a £25,000 grant from Sussex Freemasons. The grant to help towards the project comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is run by the friends and families of the Freemasons.
Maurice Adams from Sussex Freemasons said: “We are delighted to support Chailey’s appeal and look forward to seeing the centre.”
Sally Anne added: “We are grateful for this grant.
“We rely on organisations like Sussex Freemasons to help us provide the ground-breaking facilities that really enrich the lives of those we care for.”
The presentation of a cheque for £26,500 to the special school marked the culmination of fundraising efforts by pupils and staff at Cumnor House.
The Haywards Heath school brought the total raised for the appeal to £3,040,000.
Belinda Heinrich, wife of headmaster, Christian Heinrich at the independent preparatory school said: “Every year we select a charity that is close to the hearts of the Cumnor community and embark on a concerted fundraising campaign to raise as much money as we can.”
On receiving the donation, Sally-Anne Murray said: “We are enormously grateful to Cumnor House Sussex for their tremendous support and we thank the whole community involved in raising such a significant sum of money for our charity.
“With the support of another generous donor, the money raised by Cumnor House Sussex has been matched pound for pound.”