Lottery boost for Portobello Toddler Hut

Teddy Timms, Joe Reagan, Jack Dalziel, Frankton Bell and Lachlan Hay play in the Toddler Hut. Picture: Dan Phillips
Teddy Timms, Joe Reagan, Jack Dalziel, Frankton Bell and Lachlan Hay play in the Toddler Hut. Picture: Dan Phillips
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Portobello Toddler Hut staff are aiming to build a new, state-of-the-art, £250,000 establishment – with more than a little help from National Lottery funding.

In December 2011, the not-for-profit community-run playgroup for two-and-a-half to five-year-olds was awarded £9320 to pay for a public consultation into the need for a revamp of the Beach Lane facility.

Play leader Karen Wilson said: “Thanks to the money provided by the National Lottery we were able to pay for a professional consultation, asking locals whether or not a new facility was something they supported. This isn’t something we could have done ourselves as none of us have the relevant experience, but without it we would have been unable to move forward.”

The response to the consultation, which also asked residents what other uses they felt a new Toddler Hut could be put to, was overwhelmingly positive.

Ms Wilson added: “We were thrilled with the response, it really showed how important the Toddler Hut is to the local community and proved that people did want to see a new building.”

The current Hut, which can accommodate around 50 children each year, has been labelled “not fit for purpose”.

“It’s basically just a hut, which is actually rotting away,” said Ms Wilson. “It’s also extremely cold in the winter and according to the council it has the worst energy efficiency ratings they had seen.”

Award-winning Dalmeny Street-based architect Konishi Gaffney has now drawn up plans for a new “fun” and energy efficient building.

Architect Kieran Gaffney, whose son went to playgroup at the Toddler Hut, said: “When designing this, we were playing with the image of old timber huts on the beach.

“But we wanted to get the kids up to the building’s first floor where they can see the view. The children are so small that normally they wouldn’t be able to see over the beach wall.”

Play leaders now need to raise £250,000 to build their dream facility and Ms Wilson said: “We’re aiming to raise about ten per cent of that ourselves, with the rest hopefully coming from funding applications. After the help we’ve already had from the National Lottery getting that first and vital stage of the project off the ground, we will certainly be looking into continuing their involvement.”

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