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Will you take up the Haven 200 Challenge?

By Val Sweeney

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Elsie Normington is behind plans for the Haven Centre.
Elsie Normington is behind plans for the Haven Centre.

AN ambitious appeal to develop a pioneering centre for children and young adults with multiple and complex needs is throwing down a fundraising gauntlet to people across the Highlands.

The Haven Appeal is inviting the public to take up the Haven 200 Challenge to raise at least £200 whether as an individual or group effort.

The appeal, launched by the Elsie Normington Foundation and supported by the Inverness Courier to mark the newspaper’s 200th anniversary, aims to raise £4 million to build the Haven Centre in Inverness.

So far, more than £1 million has been raised and it is hoped to enlist even broader public support by issuing the Haven 200 Challenge.

It could involve schools, businesses, groups of friends or even individuals, while money-raising ventures could range from sponsored bike rides to workplace bake sales.

Those who reach the £200 target will receive both a certificate and a listing on the appeal website, while the best stories will be featured in the Courier.

Appeal chairman Andy Grzesinski is delighted with the fundraising initiative.

"The Haven Appeal has already raised more than £1 million towards our target of £4 million and the Haven 200 Challenge gives our efforts a huge boost as we strive to generate fresh interest in our worthy cause," he said.

"We believe the target of raising a minimum of £200 is achievable and hope this will capture the imagination of individuals, community groups, charities and pupils in our Highland schools."

He added those wishing to take up the challenge did not need to pre-register their interest – they just had to let the appeal know once the minimum £200 had been raised.

He is also keen to attract new volunteers to help with the many and varied fundraising activities initiated by the foundation.

"We would love to hear from anyone with the time to join a team of volunteers who can help out as and when their time allows," he said.

Elsie Normington, founder and chairman of the foundation, has been overwhelmed by the public’s support for the creation of the Haven Centre.

"We are so pleased that the Courier has adopted our appeal as its chosen charity during its 200th anniversary year and the Haven 200 Challenge is a really inspired initiative which I hope will persuade folk in our community to support children and young people who most deserve our help," she said.

The foundation has earmarked a brownfield site at Murray Road, Smithton for the facility – Scotland’s first integrated centre for children and young adults with multiple and complex needs.

It was formerly the site of the Culloden Court Care Home which was destroyed by fire in 2010. It has lain derelict since then.

It is proposed to build three two-bedroom respite houses, a community café to be run as a community enterprise, specialist play centres – both indoor and outdoor – as well as office space, a number of meeting spaces and a community garden.

Anyone wanting to inquire about the Haven 200 Challenge should email info@havenappeal.org.uk

Fundraising achievements will be recorded on the appeal website at www.havenappeal.org.uk

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