Fundraising continues for new community centre in Offaly village

Maria Bannon

Reporter:

Maria Bannon

Email:

editor@tullamoretribune.ie

TT1413GS

An artist's impression of the new centre planned for Killeigh

We hope you are all enjoying the “People of Killeigh & Beyond” series that we have been running over the past number of weeks where people from our local community have been sharing their stories about growing up and living in Killeigh or the surrounding area. While each story is very different, what links each one is the contribution each person makes to their local community and how that contribution enriches not only their own lives but also that of the community they live and work in. Here in Killeigh, we are more determined than ever to get our own Community Centre up and running so as to have a focal point for village life and to serve our community needs.

When we first came together in October 2018, we had some vague notion of maybe “doing up” the old Macra Hall, which lay derelict at the entrance to the village for some time. After a few meetings, a new committee was established with a brief to provide a Community Centre to meet the needs of the whole community, both young and old and to provide a place to hold meetings, to socialise and to cater for local events. A feasibility study identified the site of the derelict hall as the best option for development. In addition, the committee conducted a local needs survey within the community and listening to our community and local businesses, we realised we need a community centre that is flexible in its internal structure to cater for needs of both in order to enhance economic and social life in our community.

Our vision is to see the Community Centre come alive to serve Killeigh and beyond for many years to come. Post Covid-19, we predicted that there will be a move back towards community and local engagement, this is supported by the recent announcement by Government that they will be making available state funded relocation grants and tax incentives for remote working to attract people back to rural towns and villages. When our project is completed, we will have a vibrant community focal point with meeting rooms, workspaces and a large hall which can be used for multiple different purposes. This will ensure that the community centre is fully functioning at all times and will be economically viable.

Our committee has worked hard over the last 3 years to make this project a reality. We have put a formal structure in place for the committee by setting up as a Company Limited by Guarantee and we successfully obtained Charitable Status. To date, we have successfully put all the legal and statutory requirements in place; community ownership of the site and building , planning permission, fire safety and disabled accessible certificates. The design is finalised, the drawing and specifications are completed and the project is “shovel ready” once the funding is secured. On this front, in 2020, we were delighted to be approved for Leader Funding

We have decided to develop the Community Centre in 2 phases; this is to ensure we can get a fully-functioning community centre open within a 2 year period. We see this as a realistic goal, and feel if the project were to drag on for longer, we would lose people’s confidence in us being able to deliver what we promised. Once phase 1 is completed and the centre is open, we will then reflect again on what the community needs, what is economically viable and what is happening in the wider community.

Between October 2018 and December 2019, the committee made great progress with fundraising activities which were tailored not only to raise funds but also to harness and enhance a sense of community spirit. We held a tea-party and revived the Fun/Sports Day for 2 years running and we held a very successful Strictly Jigs and Reels event in November 2018. The committee’s main fundraising stream was planned to be the on-going Patrons Scheme, launched in November 2019. Like most organisations, all of our planned fundraising streams were curtailed because of covid-19 restrictions but during 2020, we came up with some new and innovative ways of raising funds. Local photographer, Paula Nolan made a beautiful video of the village and used social media to promote support for the Patrons Scheme. She also came up with the concept of taking doorstep portraits for individuals and families as they adhered to the social distancing and lockdown restrictions. A “Go-Fund me” page was set up and we promoted a virtual “2k a day for KCCDA” encouraging people to donate to the page and do 2km each day. In addition, we raffled a signed Liverpool jersey which we were lucky to have donated to the group in the year that the club won the Champions league! In December, in a bid to spread some festive cheer, we organised a Patrons draw and a Drive-by Santa experience which was a great success with our younger residents.

We have spent the first quarter of 2021 planning a large-scale fundraiser which we hope to launch in June 2021, this fundraiser will run for 6 months and, dependent on its success, will allow us to get started with the building phase of the Community Centre in the last quarter of 2021, so exciting times ahead! As a committee, we are all passionate about bringing life back to the community, now more than ever. With your help and support, we can and we will!”

Maria Bannon Chairperson of Killeigh Community Centre Development Association 5/4/2021

If you would like to learn more about the development of the proposed Killeigh Community Centre and how you may be able to assist please visit our website www.killeighcommunitycentre.com