Association given cash boost of £1,000 to help fund new minibus

Southsea firefighters save pet Chihuahuas from house blaze

An appeal to raise thousands of pounds to replace a minibus for the blind has been given a £1,000 boost.

The Portsmouth Association for the Blind, in Stubbington Avenue, has been busy fundraising after one of their two minibuses was written off in an accident.

The buses are vital in helping members get to and from the centre to their homes and also to planned activities.

The association needs to raise 15,000 to replace the bus and adapt it to make it user-friendly. Until recently they had raised 700.

But after reading the club's appeal in The News, the Freemasons Wayfarers Lodge, in Cosham, stepped forward and donated 1,000.

Paul Oakley-Cleife, fundraising manager for the association, said: 'We are absolutely thrilled with the money given to us from the Freemasons. They donated the money after they read about our story in The News.

'At first they donated 200 through a raffle they held. Then on top of that they have given us a 1,000 grant from the Tom Langton Fund.'

Roger Shepherd, charity steward for the Freemasons, said: 'After reading about what had happened I wanted to help straight away.

'The Tom Langton Fund is named after the person who set up the original pot of money, which is given to charitable causes twice a year in November and June.

'I had to act pretty quickly, but thankfully managed to get 1,000 for the minibus and was pleased to hand it over.'

The association has been running for 88 years and provides social activities, outings and group holidays for members and carers.

An insurance payment of 3,000 has been used to buy a temporary bus to bring members to and from the centre.

Mr Oakley-Cleife added: 'We have this temporary bus for the time being, as using taxis was getting rather expensive.

'We still need a new bus though as this one does not have access to people using wheelchairs, and this is something we need.

'Kim Woodburn, from How Clean Is Your House? should help us out a lot, when she comes to do a question and answer session, and we also have other activities being planned.

'This includes the Hampshire Recorder Sinfonia, who will be holding a classical concert in Portsmouth Cathedral in March.'

Queen of clean Kim, who was born in Portsmouth, will be returning to her home city for a show called An Evening With Kim Woodburn.

Audiences will get the chance to ask the 68-year-old presenter questions about her varied career.

The show takes place on Friday, June 17, at The Kings Theatre, in Albert Road, Southsea, at 7.30pm.

Tickets cost 12, concessions 10, and will be available soon from the theatre box office on (023) 9282 8282.

To donate money call Mr Oakley-Cleife on (023) 9266 1717.