Centre trustees look forward to new start

The newly-branded Kamelia Kids SUS-150225-083339001
The newly-branded Kamelia Kids SUS-150225-083339001

A CHILDREN’S centre on the brink of closure last year is looking forward to a brighter future after rebranding its services.

The Camelia Botnar charity, in Wellesley Avenue, Goring, is now known as Kamelia Kids, acting as a nursery for all children.

The centre previously provided pre-school development support for children aged up to five with special needs, but will now cater for all children.

Vice chairman of the trust Kay Heffenden, who has been involved with the charity for around two years, said the ‘exciting changes’ would make it more stable going forward.

She said: “We will be keeping the special needs element as that is something trustees want to continue and is important to us, but it is now going to be open to be a day nursery, opening early in the morning to six in the evening.

“We are moving forward with the changes and we want to attract all children from any background.”

Founded by Octav and Marcela Botnar in memory of their daughter Camelia, who died in an accident at the age of 20, the centre has helped thousands of families and children in need since 1979.

The care, previously provided free of charge, was funded by the Camelia Botnar Foundation and small local authority grants.

The foundation gave its final donation in 2009, and despite fundraising efforts and pleas for assistance to local authorities and the Government, the centre’s future looked bleak last year.

The Herald backed a campaign to save the facility from closure and West Sussex County Council announced in June it would fund it until the end of the year.

The centre remains a charitable trust but will now introduce charges to help support it for the long term, but state financial support is available to parents.

Mrs Heffenden said: “We will have to charge, which is something we thought long and hard about.

“Previously the funding was there but that is history, now.

“We are now moving forward and we are quite excited.”

The trust has appointed new members of staff to help deliver its vision, including a new centre manager.

Executive officer Dorothy Calderwood said: “We had to relaunch and rebrand and extend things to more mainstream services.

“We have got a new nursery manager and there are a lot of changes still to be made.

“We have to be sustainable now and that is why we have to think differently and market ourselves.”

Mrs Heffenden believes there is a need for a facility like Kamelia Kids in the area and encouraged parents to find out more about them.

She said many of the families who attended the centre before the changes had stayed with them.

She said: “There is a need for our nursery in the community between Worthing and Ferring for children up to five.

“We have a fabulous footprint and a lot of outside space, so we would invite parents to come along and see us.

“We will be holding a number of open days and will announce the dates when they are decided.”

For more information about Kamelia Kids and its recent changes, visit www.kameliakids.org.uk