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Big Spring Sing 2017 aims to hit high note for Haven Centre Appeal

Issue Date:  Thursday 21 March 2017

The Haven Centre Appeal, which aims to raise £3.2 million for a new centre at Inverness for children and young people with multiple complex needs, is set for a boost at the end of this month by benefiting from the proceeds of an entertaining evening of community singalong fun.

The Big Spring Sing is being held at Smithton Free Church on Friday 31 March and is sure to be another sell out event.

It is the inspiration of Elsie Normington, whose Foundation is promoting the ambitious plan for the new Haven Centre at the site of the former Culloden Court Nursing Home on Murray Road, Smithton.

This will be the fourth year of the concert, which will again feature Elsie’s two well known and well loved  choirs, the Rainbow Singers and Singing for Pleasure.Elsie is musical director of the two groups, which meet separately on a Tuesday at the Merkinch Community Centre, where Elsie works as a community development officer.

The Rainbow Singers meet in the morning and involve 50 people with learning disabilities, aged between 19 to 70.

The Singing for Pleasure Group, which has been together for 15 years, is a group of 50 mainly senior citizens who meet in the evening.  Once a month, Elsie selects a theme for the night and on Tuesday there was a splash of green for an Irish Night to mark St Patrick’s Day.

Both choirs have long waiting lists, such is their popularity due to Elsie’s emphasis on singalong fun.

Also entertaining the audience at the Big Spring Sing will be Smithton Primary School Choir and the Drummond School Players and guest soloist is Julie Keane.

Compere will be the Rev Alasdair Macleod, Minister at Smithton Free Church.

Elsie said: “Everyone is so looking forward to the highlight of our year – the Big Spring Sing.  It is a fun night full of singalong opportunities, which my choirs and the audience love.  All the proceeds will be going to the Haven Appeal.”

Tickets are priced £10 and can be purchased at the Merkinch Community Centre or Smithton Free Church Hall.

The Elsie Normington Foundation is working in partnership with Direct Childcare and Key Community Supports to deliver the Haven Centre project which will be the first of its kind in Scotland to provide on one site an integrated care facility for children and young adults with multiple complex needs.

Featured in the main building will be a specialist play centre to be run by Direct Childcare and it will be linked to a community café, which will be run as a community enterprise. The complex will also have an outdoor play centre and community garden,  office space and meeting rooms which can be used for training and family support and by local community organisations. Also to be built on the site will be the three respite apartments to be serviced by Key Community Supports.

The facilities will be available to children from birth to 19 and young people up to the age of 30 with high support needs that cannot be met within a mainstream environment.

The Highland Council, which has given the Foundation a three year option to purchase the land on Murray Road, has its own plans to build eight council homes on the remainder of the site to meet local housing needs in a way that is compatible with the Haven Centre.

Press Release from the Elsie Normington Foundation
Issue Date:  Thursday 1 October 2015
Closer to the Haven
An Inverness charity is one step nearer to its goal of establishing a centre for children with learning disabilities.  The Elsie Normington Foundation, which has launched a £4 million appeal to build the Haven, this week  announced a partnership agreement with two service providers and the appointment of an architect to design the centre.
The Haven will be built on the Murray Road site of the former Culloden Care Home.  As part of the development, Key Community Supports will provide short break services for adults and young people in purpose-built accommodation while Direct Childcare will provide out of school care for children with learning disabilities and additional support needs in a specialist play centre.
In addition, The Highland Council is building some affordable housing on the site that will be suitable for adults with support needs.
Local architect Colin Armstrong is leading the design teams for both projects.
It is hoped that the project can get under way in 2017.
Charity Founder, Elsie Normington, said: “Many parents say that the Haven is desperately needed in the Highlands as it will give families a break.  Many are struggling to provide 24 hour care with inadequate facilities, little money and even less sleep.  But – just as important – the Haven will also give children with learning disabilities somewhere to socialise with their friends and a place to call their own.
For more information on the project, please visit
Note:  Elsie can be contacted on 077 3495 8800
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Pictured here is Elsie Normington (Chair of ENF) Alastair Dodds (ENF Trustee) Fiona Ednie (Direct Childcare) Debbie Mackinnon (Key Community Supports)