Arson-hit Norwich community centre grateful for help

Langley's Toy shop manager Chris Goulding handing the voucher for £200 to Phoenix Centre trustee Sonia Kiddell, right and Joy Mitchell, left pictured with children who use the centre that was damaged by fire. Photo: Steve Adams Langley's Toy shop manager Chris Goulding handing the voucher for £200 to Phoenix Centre trustee Sonia Kiddell, right and Joy Mitchell, left pictured with children who use the centre that was damaged by fire. Photo: Steve Adams

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
11:46 AM

The Lord Mayor of Norwich is calling on people to show the spirit of Christmas by rallying to the aid of a community centre.

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How you can help

You can play your part in helping the Phoenix Centre to rise from the ashes.

Members of the community have already stepped forward to donate funds, toys, hands-on help and use of facilities – but more is needed for the centre, which is used by youth clubs, fitness groups and churches, to get back on its feet as soon as possible.

If you want to make a donation or find out how you can help, call Joy Mitchell on 07956 293240 or the Phoenix Centre on 01603 403814.

Alternatively, donations can be posted to treasurer Sonia Kiddell at 8 Bassingham Road, Mile Cross, Norwich NR3 2QT.

The Phoenix Centre in Mile Cross was damaged by fire on Saturday night, with the many community groups that use the building losing toys and equipment to the flames.

Since then, the Norwich Evening News has asked people to come forward with donations to help in any way they can.

Now Lord Mayor Ralph Gayton, a Mile Cross city councillor, has launched his own appeal – and kick-started it with a £200 donation of his own.

“Lots of people are going to suffer if it’s not reopened quickly, particularly young people’s groups,” he said.

“Any financial support people will help people who really need it.

“I’ve been really encouraged by the reaction of people so far, and how they have cooperated with each other It’s that time of year when we need that Christmas spirit.”

Phoenix Children’s Project trustee Peter Lemmon thanked people for their donations, and the emergency and insurance services for their help. “I’m overwhelmed by the amount of help we’ve had,” he said.

Chris Goulding, manager of Langleys Toymaster, based in the Royal Arcade in Norwich, is another to have answered the rallying call by presenting a voucher to the centre enabling them to buy £200 worth of toys of their choice.

“We read what happened in the paper and it’s a terrible thing to happen at any time of the year, but particularly at Christmas and anything to do with children we like to try and support,” said Mr Goulding.

“Anything we can do to help will hopefully alleviate some of the problems.”

Joy Mitchell, secretary of the Mile Cross-based centre who also runs the mother and toddler group there, said she was “very grateful” for the kind donations from Langleys which will help them to restock equipment which has been destroyed.

“We would like to say a big thank you,” she said. “We’re very, very grateful for it.”

Sonia Kiddell, a trustee at the centre, said the kindness of people like Langleys had been “unbelievable” adding the donation would make a “big difference”.

Stefania Copping, 42, from Mile Cross, whose children Ambra, nine, and Isha, seven, attend the Phoenix Centre said it was nice to know that following the fire there were people who “wanted to help”.

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