Race to save school building

THE race is on to replace a dilapidated pre-school building before it is condemned.Angela Howgate, boss at the Westgate Whirlybirds and Pre-School in Bury St Edmunds, has to find £90,000 to keep the "essential" facility open for the 250 families who rely on it.

THE race is on to replace a dilapidated pre-school building before it is condemned.

Angela Howgate, boss at the Westgate Whirlybirds and Pre-School in Bury St Edmunds, has to find £90,000 to keep the "essential" facility open for the 250 families who rely on it.

But Mrs Howgate, who took over the job of chairman of the charity in the summer, is confident the money can be raised with the help of the children who use it, their families, local organisations and the general public.

She has set herself a target date of next August as she hopes the new building can go up during the summer holidays 2004 so no lessons are disrupted.


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She said the pre-school's present portable building, which stands in the grounds of Westgate Primary School, is run down and desperately needs replacing with a modern unit.

"The replacement will still be a temporary building but it will be a modern facility. Surveys have shown the current building needs to be condemned," she said.

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"It's not in such a bad state that we can't continue to use it for a while but it is quite dilapidated, shabby and old fashioned and needs to be replaced."

Mrs Howgate said the charity caters for pre-school children aged between two and five and offers after school activities for children aged between five and 14.

She added: "We're a very valuable facility and very affordable. Some people have said that if we closed they wouldn't be able to continue working as they wouldn't be able to afford the childcare that's available elsewhere.

"It's a really good service and all the children really like coming here."

She said the new building would provide two modern classrooms, disabled access and new kitchen and bathroom facilities.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council has already handed Mrs Howgate £2,000 and fundraising initiatives so far have included a sponsored skydive, an auction and a sunflower-growing competition for youngsters.

Now staff are preparing the pre-school's stall for Bury's annual charity Christmas market on December 4, where they hope to raise several hundred pounds. The stall will be sited opposite the town's main post office on Cornhill.

Anyone who wants to donate money to the appeal or people with fundraising ideas should contact Mrs Howgate on 01284 754014.

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