National Lottery Winners Unveil New Playhouse at Fire-Ravaged Children’s Charity

National Lottery winners from across Scotland, with a combined wealth of almost £90M, have joined forces to build a brand new playhouse for a group of disabled children, following a devastating vandalism attack.

The winners spent two days painting and furnishing the playhouse at The Yard in Dundee and have, in the process, made dreams come true for hundreds of young children in the area who access the essential services and facilities at the charity.

The charity’s original gingerbread playhouse – built and gifted by National Lottery winners five years ago – was vandalised earlier this year, leaving the young people without this vital and much-loved resource.

Local lottery winners welcome two Dundee school children into their new playhouse. L-R – Lesley Higgins, Jim Forbes, Keeva Leahy (10), Ray Storey, Lily McCann (9), Libby Elliot, Pam Forbes and Fred Higgins. Credit – Anthony Devlin.

But as soon as the team of Scottish National Lottery winners heard what had happened, many of whom had been involved in the original build, they immediately rallied to ensure this vital lifeline could be restored.

Led by The Yard’s members, the children themselves, favourite colours were identified and a wildlife theme chosen. Now the hard-working National Lottery winners have brought the children’s colourful vision to life.

Jim and Pam Forbes, from Tayport, who won £655,838 on EuroMillions in September 2017, were among the winners who helped to create the new playhouse.

Jim said today, “We just could not believe it when we heard about what had happened and immediately rallied the support of our fellow winners. Everyone has been so upset as we all understand what a vital lifeline this is for so many young people in the area. We just wanted to build a new playhouse for the children as quickly as we possibly could. We cannot wait for all of them to see it and once again enjoy hours of playtime fun.”

Lottery winners and others making finishing touches to the playhouse today. Credit – Anthony Devlin.

Also joining Jim and Pam, were two of the country’s biggest National Lottery winners, Lesley and Fred Higgins, from Perthshire, who won £58M in 2018.

Fred added, “Like all our fellow winners here today, we were devastated when we found out what had happened. Our immediate reaction was to find a way to help, and Jim and Pam (Forbes) galvanised the group into action.

“We understand how much the playhouse has been loved over the years and how important it has been to so many young people. The new design is just what the youngsters asked for and we now hope they will have many, many more happy and fun years using it.”

Gill Thomson, Service Development Manager at The Yard, added, “We are so grateful to the big-hearted National Lottery winners for stepping in and supporting us with their time and effort.

“The children have been devastated. So many families rely on this service as a safe and welcoming place to play. It has been a much-loved and well-used facility since we were gifted it and we hoped it would be with us for many years, bringing joy to lots of young people – and now it looks like it once again will be!”

Claire Hermon and Pauline Rice bring their triplets, Olivia, Bella and Oliver, aged seven, to The Yard.

Pauline said, “When I heard about the fire at the gingerbread house, I was absolutely gobsmacked and, to be honest, devastated as The Yard is so special to us and one of our go-to places.

“Of course, I then had to break the news to the children who were equally disappointed and confused. Oliver in particular loves the gingerbread house – it’s one of his favourite play areas at The Yard and, of course, also what they associate as Santa’s Grotto. They just didn’t understand why someone would do that.

“The Yard, being its usual self, turned things around quickly and, equally, the local community, parents and local businesses responded to their plea for help. We, as a family, also had a rummage around the bedroom and picked some toys and a wee collection to donate.  Then we heard about the lottery winners who were reinventing the space and creating a new sensory playhouse for The Yard. When we heard it would be jungle-themed, the kids were so excited!  The news of this new space is just delightful for us.  The vandalism was a devastating event but, thanks to the local community and National Lottery winners, they have been able to turn it around and give the children back what they deserve.”

Yard playhouse

All in a day’s work – Libby Elliot paints a decoration for the spectacular new wildlife-themed playhouse. Credit – Anthony Devlin.

Also joining Jim, Pam, Lesley and Fred, were Ray Storey, from Dundee, who won £1.5M in 2015; Fiona and Bill McKenna, from Dunbartonshire, who won £1.2M in 2012; Libby Elliot, from Fife, who won £2.1M in 2012; Jannette and Ken Wedgeworth, from Loch Ryan, who won £1M in 2016; Brian and Ann Sharp, from Musselburgh, who won £2M in 2010; Roberta and Barry Little, from Dumfries, who won £1M in 2013; Sheila and Duncan Davidson, from Alford, who won £4.5M in 2012 and Alison and John Doherty, from Renfrewshire, who won £14M in 2016.

Equipment, including bikes, go carts and soft play equipment was also destroyed in the fire.

The Yard provides a safe place for children with disabilities to experience and enjoy exciting and adventurous indoor and outdoor play.

The Yard has previously secured more than £24,000 in National Lottery funding for its three play centres based in Edinburgh, Dundee and Fife.

A JustGiving page was set up immediately following the fire and the charity stresses that all of the money raised through this will be put to essential use replacing items which were lost in the incident.