Carrick friends raise funds for new autism hub in Whitehead

Two kindhearted friends from Carrickfergus are preparing to walk a marathon (26.2 miles) to raise funds for a new autism hub in Whitehead.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 12:43 pm

Courtney Clarke (22) and Holly Rodgers (22) will be taking on the generous effort on April 28 for the National Autistic Society (NAS) Larne and Carrickfergus branch.

Ulster University student Courtney volunteers with the worthy cause and along with her friend Holly, a nail technician who works part-time for Spar, the pair will be conducting the fundraising effort on a route between Eden and Belfast.

The hub is opening in the old Lourdes Primary School building in Whitehead, Victoria Avenue. The site is operated by Our Lady of Lourdes Church and used for community activities.

Courtney and Holly.
Courtney and Holly.

A spokesperson for the NAS Larne and Carrick branch said: “The church has been very supportive to us and we have taken on a full annex of the building for the autism hub and have an enclosed garden we are transforming into a sensory garden. There is also a large enclosed playground and two large classrooms and a kitchen and we will borrow the main hall for activities.

“The branch is run totally by volunteers and we raise all funds. We are really grateful to the girls for taking on this fundraising. April is Autism Awareness month. This inspired Courtney and Holly to conduct their fundraiser this month.

“At the moment we support 83 families from across Larne and Carrickfergus, but we had to close membership during the Covid-19 pandemic to be able to best support the families we had. We know there is a huge demand for support locally and expect to be very busy.

“We plan to have a formal launch when restrictions lift. Courtney is a new volunteer with us and will be helping us run the youth club. She is fundraising to help get consoles and other bits for it.

“We have been plugging away with fundraising during the coronavirus pandemic and our members and the community have really supported us.”

Ahead of the charity initiative, Courtney and Holly, who has aspergers, said: “We have decided to walk a marathon to fundraise for the NAS Larne and Carrickfergus branch because the work they do is so important and much needed!

“The branch was set up in summer 2019 by local parents of ASD kids and is run totally by volunteers who are responsible for raising all branch funds. All money raised will be used to provide support services for local families.

“We would really appreciate any and all donations big or small as every little helps!”

A total of £430 has been donated at the time of going to print.

If you would like to make a donation, click here

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Click here to read Carrickfergus primary school to move to integrated status from September 2021

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