Joiners aid crumbling nursery by fixing it for free

Orocco Joinery is also trying to enlist a painter to help spruce up the nursery. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
Orocco Joinery is also trying to enlist a painter to help spruce up the nursery. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
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A CRUMBLING community-run nursery is getting a new lease of life after big-hearted workers pledged to help refurbish it for free.

The no-strings-attached offer will see workmen from Orocco Joinery carry out much-needed repairs to Britain’s oldest independent playgroup – the Portobello Toddler Hut.

It isn’t in the greatest state and any time spent on it would be very worthwhile

Mark Ivinson

Staff had been aiming to build a state-of-the-art £250,000 centre, but have been forced to scale back their ambitious plans because of spiralling costs.

So when joiners Jonny Blurton and Mark Ivinson offered to devote a day’s free work to a community project or charity chosen by the people, the nursery was the first choice.

More than 80 suggestions flooded in when the workers posted their offer on the webpage of community group Porty People, with around 50 mentioning the Toddler Hut.

Mark, 26, one of the firm’s directors, said his joiners were prepared to work for even longer than the free day originally promised in a bid to achieve the best possible result.

He said: “The place needs a lot of work. They were thinking of knocking it down and building another but that would have been too costly and have only recently started looking at refurbishment.

“The two girls I have spoken to were really passionate about the place and would really like to see it progress.

“You could really tell that anything we did for them – no matter how small – would really be appreciated.

“It isn’t in the greatest state and any time spent on it would be very worthwhile.”

He added: “It’s a community nursery and is not funded by the council, but by charity events, and is not run to make money.”

The work would involve replacing leaky doors damaged by the rain and salt water blasting in from the seafront.

Several internal doors also need to be re-sized while the joiners also hope to create a bench and make a chalkboard for the children.

The total cost of the work would have been more than £600, but Orocco Joinery said they wanted to do the work for free to say thank you to the people of Portobello for supporting their Mountcastle Green business since its launch in 2012.

Jonny and Mark are also trying to recruit additional help from a painter and decorator to brighten up the hut’s faded exterior and to spruce up a weathered toy train with a fresh lick of colour.

Two years ago city finance chiefs approved a new 80-year lease for the Toddler Hut, which was established in 1929.

In December 2011, the facility was awarded £9320 of National Lottery funding to pay for a public consultation into the need for a revamp.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com