ALMOST 15 months after its premises were destroyed in freak flooding the future is bright once again for the Jack and Jill Community Playgroup.
The premises in which the Plumbridge group operated was virtually wiped out during the unprecedented flooding in August last year when a tsunami of flood water swept through the village.
The playgroup suffered catastrophic damage to its building and exterior areas after it was submerged in 12ft of water with resources including a substantial amount of paperwork and play equipment all washed away in the torrents.
In the intervening period, the community group – which has been operating for over 30 years providing a much needed service in the Plumbridge and Cranagh areas – had utilised Glenelly House as a temporary base until funding secured via a number of channels combined with community fundraising efforts, raised enough to cover the project costs of the provision of a new portacabin.
The new unit is located on derelict land close to the Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC) owned Multi-Games Use Area (MUGA) grounds in the village and was officially unveiled last Thursday – much to the delight of the local community bringing to an end a long and eager wait for the playgroup to get access to their new premises.
There were huge smiles all around last Thursday as Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Boyle, officially opened the new centre, bringing an end to a long and eager wait for the playgroup to get access to the new premises.
Speaking at Thursday’s unveiling, Mayor Boyle said he was delighted that families in the area can now avail of purposeful play for youngsters.
“It is an honour for me to open this much needed facility for the Plumbridge area,” he said “I am delighted that the Jack and Jill Community Playgroup can now return to providing their full service of purposeful play after last year’s devastating floods destroyed their premises.
“We were delighted to have representatives from the various funders present this morning, Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership (the LAG) and Big Lottery and wish to acknowledge the level of support provided by them to bring this wonderful project to fruition.”
Cllr Boyle said there had been a lot of collaborative work between the community and statutory agencies to secure the funding to build the facility.
“I would like to congratulate them for bringing it to fruition and acknowledge the funding from council, Village Renewal, DAERA and the Big Lottery Fund,” he added.
Bronagh Kearney, chairperson of the playgroup, said the the group are “absolutely delighted” with the new development and thanked everyone who has been involved in bringing the new premises to fruition as well as the entire Plumbridge community for their support.
Also commenting, Willie Lamrock, chair of Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership added: “This is the first capital project in the council area to be funded under the Village Renewal scheme. We are therefore delighted that the project has both revitalised a vacant site in Plumbridge and provided a much needed new space for the Jack and Jill Playgroup who have been delivering vital services to the community for over 30 years.
“It is a positive outcome following the devastation of the flooding in August 2017 and crucial to sustaining this vibrant rural community.”
Derry City and Strabane District Council had submitted an application to the Village Renewal Scheme under the NI Rural Development Programme which is delivered in the council area by the Derry & Strabane Rural Partnership. It was successful in securing the £35,000 Village Renewal grant with the rest of the match funding being provided for a range of elements from council, Big Lottery £10,000 and the Jack and Jill Community Playgroup, with an overall project cost of just under £60,000.
This project was part funded under Priority 6 (LEADER) of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the European Union.
In terms of proximity to services Plumbridge ranks first as the most deprived Super Output Area in Northern Ireland with very limited facilities and transport provision. This project secured the Village Renewal funding to address the access to services need.
The location of the playgroup close to a MUGA will provide a new opportunity for the playgroup to expand on its outdoor play offering for the children with the villages of Plumbridge and Cranagh coming together to support the playgroup with a view to sustaining the service it is providing within the Plumbridge and surrounding area.