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The lights will be switched on with a special community event this evening (December 2) between 5-7pm – and open every evening at the same time until December 16 for the community to enjoy.
“We do something every Christmas,” says Laurence Fenlon, events and business manager at The Florrie. “We usually serve Christmas meals to the pensioners in the area for a week before Christmas and, while we can’t do that this year because we can’t let people into the building, we still wanted to do something for the community.
“So we decided to bring Christmas to the outside world.”
The Florrie garden – and the building – will be filled with lights and decorations for families to enjoy.
“It’s like a display where families can come and get into the festive spirit, something to cheer people up and give them a lift – and let’s face it we all need that this year.
“Each day we see a lot going on in our neighbourhood and with our children, and it’s nice to be able to give out some Christmas joy,” adds Laurence.
Father Christmas will make a special appearance this evening – ‘so people will be able to take photos with him’ – and the Florrie has got 100 real Christmas trees to give away to anyone who’d like one.
“We’ll have Santa, candy canes, a snowman and snow and music. It will look wonderful and it will be nice to welcome people in.”
The Florrie team have spent part of lockdown putting the finishing touches to the garden, which was named the Tommy Bache Community Garden when it officially opened a few weeks ago.
It was named in tribute to the legendary boxer and Florrie old boy.
The Florrie has been working throughout the pandemic supporting local residents, delivering around 100 food parcels and 400 hot meals every week, as well as continuing its holiday hunger scheme which has been going for the last few years and to which people have generously donated.
“Everyone has been so kind and generous,” says Laurence. “It’s been great to see everyone pulling together to help each other out.”
But it hasn’t been easy for The Florrie throughout the last few months.
Its community classes for yoga, music, languages and more have had to be closed; and the commercial side of the charity – the building is hired out for weddings and events – has seen a loss of £500,000 in revenue.
“On one side of the charity – the need – we have seen a 100-fold increase, and yet on the commercial side we have seen things fall off a cliff,” admits Laurence. “We’d like to remind companies and organisations The Florrie is a venue to hire for meetings, conferences and events, plus is completely Covid safe with state of the art AV equipment and a fantastic atmosphere. This is a call to all businesses thinking about an event or possibly considering one to contact The Florrie, plus by hiring us you automatically donate to a month’s supply of food to a family in our community. Corporate hire with a social conscience.”
But for now, he says: “I hope the community will come and join us and get into the Christmas spirit. Our Winter Wonderland is something to look forward to and enjoy.”
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