Bray special needs club opens new facility after extensive fire

Lakers raise enough funding to renovate building and buy minibuses

Lakers member Mandy Finlay with Minister for Health Simon Harris  celebrating the opening of the new club in Bray. Photograph: Maxwells

Lakers member Mandy Finlay with Minister for Health Simon Harris celebrating the opening of the new club in Bray. Photograph: Maxwells

 

A club for people with special needs in Bray, Co Wicklow, that was damaged by a fire has reopened in a new facility.

Lakers Social and Recreational Club on Seapoint Road was officially reopened on Wednesday by Minister for Health Simon Harris.

The club, which provides a support network for more than 400 members and their families, was damaged by a fire last October.

The fire spread throughout the building and destroyed the club’s four minibuses, which were key part of the club’s day-to-day operations.

The Presbyterian Church in Bray offered Lakers an old schoolhouse to use as their new premises on Eglinton Road in Bray.

Through funding they received, Lakers were able to renovate the schoolhouse and to replace two of the minibuses that were destroyed in the fire.

‘Overwhelming’

Mr Harris said, when he visited the site of the fire last October “the sense of loss was overwhelming”.

“Through sheer resilience and determination to do everything in their power for their members, the Lakers team turned that terrible incident into a positive. The club is back open seven days a week and they now offer more than 60 weekly classes, in 32 different activities. Lakers members can also boast more than 230 Special Olympic medals and, no doubt, that figure will now keep growing,” said Mr Harris.

Lakers chairman Fergus Finlay said the fire caused “utter devastation” to the club members and the wider community.He said following the fire, the members resolved to build a better facility.

Lakers member Ciara Fagan said the club “is a happy place” and is delighted it has re-opened.

“We do lots of classes, make friends and meet new people. We learn to respect each other there, we are respected, and we never feel alone. I love the choice of activities and I feel safe at the club,” said Ms Fagan.