Special guest to open centre’s festive fair

Children at Camelia Botnar Centre in Goring.
Children at Camelia Botnar Centre in Goring.

THE Duchess of Norfolk will officially open the Christmas fair at a centre for children with special needs.

The Duchess is the patron of the Camelia Botnar Children’s Centre, based in Wellesley Avenue, Goring, and will also be there to hear children from Goring First School perform Christmas carols.

The centre is in the middle of a campaign to raise £150,000, which will allow it to open for 52 weeks a year, rather than just in term time, as it currently does.

The Christmas fair will be held from 10.30am-12.30pm on Friday, December 2, and will feature gift stalls and a raffle.

All the money raised will go towards the fund.

Suzanne Sullivan, spokeswoman for the centre, said: “We needed to raise £150,000 this year, but are currently way below this target so a long way off from achieving the goal of extending the provision to 52 weeks of the year from term-time only.

“This would make a huge difference to families that currently use the centre.”

Zoe Minter knows just how important the Camelia Botnar Centre is.

Her 15-month-old son, Wilson, suffers from quadriplegic cerebral palsy, and he attends the centre two mornings a week for specialist care and education.

Zoe, 28, from Hove, said: “Wilson smiles and laughs just like other children but there are obviously limitations to what he can do.

“He loves spending time with his friends at the centre and it’s important to me that he learns to be more independent as he needs my constant attention when he’s with me.

“His attendance there makes a huge difference to us, giving me some time to meet with other parents in similar circumstances or to go off for a beauty treatment for an hour, knowing that Wilson is safe and happy.

“Having the staff to talk to and seek advice from is also extremely beneficial.”

Zoe said the centre has proved to be lifeline for both her and Wilson’s dad, Phill Blonfield, 29. They started sending Wilson there in September, following a recommendation from a friend, and Zoe said the staff always put her at ease because they are so good.

She said: “The team at Camelia Botnar are amazing with the children, it’s a huge relief to know that they are there to help us develop and support Wilson.

“The first couple of times he went there, he did cry, but it’s been good for him because he was quite clingy and now he knows he can’t always be with me. They’ve just been fantastic.”

The centre receives no government funding, and relies 100 per cent on the generosity of donations and fund-raising events. To make a donation, or to have a stall at the fair costing £10, visit the {www.camelia-botnar-childrens-centre.org |Camelia Botnar Children’s Centre website}

or call 01903 504077.