Rugby Club Gets the Ball Rolling on The Yard Repairs after vandals target Edinburgh children's charity

Edinburgh disabled children’s charity The Yard has thanked the local community for its ‘staggering’ support following a deliberate fire-raising attack.

By Stephen Wilkie
Monday, 18th April 2022, 1:04 pm

In December 2021, just days after celebrating its 35th anniversary, a fire was started within the garden of The Yard at Eyre Place Lane, causing around £40,000 worth of damage.

In response, £53,000 was raised, a combination of individual donations through the JustGiving appeal and from B&Q Foundation, Morrison’s Foundation and City of Edinburgh Council Community Grants.

Last week, while closed for maintenance, a number of local businesses and individuals also gave up their time to tidy up and repair the outdoor space which has now reopened to families.

The Yard charity in Edinburgh had its wooden boardwalk destroyed by vandals

The wooden boardwalk, which offers safe play for thousands of disabled children, has been badly fire-damaged as has the surrounding grounds, outdoor electrics and the charity’s solar dome.

TV presenter Nick Knowles who led the team which created the play area for a Children in Need special in 2012, said he was “heartbroken” when details of the attack first emerged.

Twelve players from Liberton Rugby Club’s men’s team were amongst those who volunteered, ripping out the remains of the much-loved, fire-ravaged Boardwalk before it is rebuilt in the weeks ahead.

The blaze caused extensive damage to the land and structures at The Yard.

Craig Young, Director of Rugby, said: “We’re always looking for ways to give back to the city, and, when we heard about the fire at The Yard, we were delighted to help out.

"The Yard is a lifeline for so many local families, with lots of emphasis on freedom and play, and the fire’s had a huge effect on those who enjoy the space. Lots of us are dads, too and can understand the impact the damage has had. Most of these families have nowhere else to play and rely on these facilities to relax, unwind and be themselves.”

He added: “During lockdown, especially when we couldn’t train, both the men’s and women’s teams got involved in lots of local projects from litter picks and foodbank deliveries to fundraising challenges. We all benefit from these activities; they’re great team-building exercises and a way to meet up and do some good when we’re not playing rugby.”

In addition, teams from Edinburgh planning consultants Turley and investment management company BlackRock also volunteered, alongside a number of friends and family volunteers.

Celine Sinclair, CEO of The Yard, said: “The fire was a devastating blow and an ironic twist in our story, but the community’s reaction to it has been overwhelming, not to mention the support from our Yard families. We want to thank the countless individuals and businesses whose donations will help us repair and restore the outside space and fund other activities throughout the months ahead.

"It’s also been amazing to receive so many offers of practical help from local businesses and trades who wanted to do their bit and bring our much-loved play area back to life.”

Having opened in 1986, The Yard supports disabled children, young people and their families through child-centred and child-led adventure play. Welcoming children from birth to the age of 25, The Yard also supports countless families through its centres in Dundee and Kirkcaldy. Crucially, The Yard exists for the whole family, with parents, carers, and siblings also welcome to attend play sessions, generating endless benefits for the wider family.

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