More than 50 children at Mencap’s Segal House Nursery performed their last Christmas Nativity play today before the nursery relocates to the new and much anticipated new Mencap Centre. The Rory Foundation’s Brian McIlroy and Barry Funston were amongst the VIP guests who attended the milestone performance.
The nursery’s Christmas Nativity has been a regular highlight of the Mencap calendar, but this year’s production proved to be particularly sentimental as the children took part for the final time before the charity moves base to a brand new home.
Having outgrown their current Victorian premises on Annadale Avenue, Mencap Northern Ireland launched Mencap’s Big Step Forward Appeal in October 2014, their most ambitious local fundraising campaign to date, in the hope of raising the £1.7 million needed to build, equip and run a brand new children and families’ centre. Just 14 months later, the learning disability charity is close to reaching its fundraising target, and is due to open the new centre in January 2016.
Situated on the site of the former Newtownbreda Primary School, the new Mencap Centre will be a state-of-the-art, purpose-built site, offering children with a learning disability an inspiring place to learn, play and flourish and helping them to achieve their full potential. The centre will also provide families with the information and practical help they need. At the heart of the new building will be the relocated Segal House Nursery for 2 to 4 year olds with a learning disability, autism or developmental delay.
Speaking after the Nativity play, Margaret Kelly, Director of Mencap NI, said the last performance at the nursery’s current location was an important moment for the organisation:
“The Nativity play was such a special way to remember the memories we’ve had in this building, but also to celebrate our upcoming move to the new Mencap Centre.
We are very grateful to all those individuals, trusts and foundations, companies and groups who have given so generously so far. Now, with being so close to our final fundraising target, we hope that we can rely on the NI public to dig deep and help us to continue providing children, young people and families the support they so desperately need in our new centre.
We were recently announced as the official charity of the 2016 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon, so walking, running or relaying in that event is a great way to support the cause.”
The Rory Foundation is one of the donors who have helped turn Mencap’s dream of a new Centre into a reality, having donated £250,000 to the Big Step Forward Appeal and pledging a further £250,000 should the charity reach their overall fundraising goal. CEO of the Rory Foundation, Barry Funston, who attended the Nativity play performance, added:
“On behalf of the Rory Foundation, I would like to thank Mencap for inviting us to the Nativity play. Seeing the performance of the children was truly inspiring and it was a wonderful way to see just how important Segal House Nursery has been to the children and their parents. We cannot wait to see the new state of the art purpose built Mencap Centre. We are proud to have been able to assist in the fundraising efforts and would encourage the public to continue supporting this important addition to Northern Ireland, so that even more people can enjoy the essential services Mencap offer.”
Rory McIlroy couldn’t make it to Mencap’s Nativity Play but added: “I am really delighted that my Foundation has been able to get behind Mencap on this exciting and important project at Newtownbreda. Other commitments kept me from today’s Nativity Play but I can’t wait to visit the new centre when it’s up and running. I want to see for myself how more children, their families and the wider community will benefit from Mencap’s new centre.”