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Haven Centre for the Highlands will 'make a massive difference' to families


By Val Sweeney

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Amanda, Tobias and Kyle Leask with family dog, Miracle, at the Haven Centre site.
Amanda, Tobias and Kyle Leask with family dog, Miracle, at the Haven Centre site.

A pioneering centre for young people with learning disabilities and complex needs is set to make a massive difference for Highland families.

Construction of the Haven Centre will begin next month at the site in Murray Road, Smithton, Inverness.

It will be the first of its type in Scotland and will comprise respite flats, an indoor specialist play centre, a community café, meeting spaces and outdoor garden.

Families looking forward to completion of the £4.1 million project, led by the Elsie Normington Foundation, include Tobias and Amanda Leask and son, Kyle (13), who has complex needs.

Born 11 weeks early and the sole survivor of twins, Kyle – a pupil at Drummond School in Inverness – is non-verbal due to autism, has cerebral palsy and has faced other health problems.

Mr Leask runs Adventure Highland while Mrs Leask appeared on Britain’s Got Talent with rescue dog, Miracle.

Mrs Leask constantly worries what will happen to Kyle when he leaves school and gets older.

She said to have the centre, which will offer respite and the chance to socialise and meet other people, will be “amazing”.

“It’s going to beneficial to so many lives,” Mrs Leask said. “I cannot describe how good this is going to be for parents who are in the same position as us.

“It is really exciting to see what it is going to offer once it is built and open.”

She paid tribute to Elsie Normington for getting the project to this stage, saying: “I think when you are the type of person you are so passionate and know how it can make a difference to so many lives, it gives you that extra determination and grit to see it through.”

Compass Building and Construction Services has been awarded the contract for construction which is expected to take a year.

The project will support around 50 jobs during the construction phase.

The Elsie Normington Foundation was set up as a charity in May 2013 to raise funds to build the Haven Centre and earlier this year reached its fundraising target of £4 million.

The project has received support from the Scottish Government, the Big Lottery Fund and Highland Council plus many other organisations and individuals.

Celebrations as construction deal announced for pioneering centre


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