STAFF at a Griffithstown playgroup which has been at the heart of the community for almost half a century fear it may be forced to close after the old heating system failed caused hundreds of pounds of damage, and now needs to be replaced.

Golliwopsie Playgroup and Lunch Club, which offers a wrap-around service for children, was forced to close early for the Christmas holidays on Monday, December 16 when the boiler insulation fell through the ceiling, causing the children’s toilets to flood.

The group, which is a not-for-profit organisation, has now been told it would cost up to £3,000 to install a new boiler and heating system.

Staff at the playgroup have expressed concern about where they can find that money from.

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Alison Allen, a member of staff at the playgroup, discovered the problem as she opened up with another member of staff.

She said: “Our problem is we have no money to fix it. As we are non-profit making, we try to keep our prices down for the people in the community.

“The service is very important to the people who use it as they can’t afford private nurseries.

“The group started in 1976, and I don’t think the heating system has been replaced since then.

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(The damage caused at Golliwopsie Playgroup and Lunch Club. Picture: Katie Yemm)

“The insulation on the boiler got soggy because of the amount of condensation and it brought the ceiling down. There was a flood on the floor. We were worried about the electrics.

“Luckily a builder took pity on us and was able to fix the hole, and we mopped up the water.

“We had to ring around quickly to tell parents what had happened.

“The poor children were all dressed and ready for their Christmas party which we had to cancel.”

Katie Yemm, whose daughter attends the playgroup, set up a fundraiser to help with the costs of a new boiler and heating system.

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(The damage caused at Golliwopsie Playgroup and Lunch Club. Picture: Katie Yemm)

She said: “It’s such a tight-knit community that most people who live here went to that playgroup. I went there, my mum went there and now my daughter goes there.

“I just don’t want it to have to close over something like this when it’s such a huge part of the community.

“If everyone who has attended over the years could donate just £1 each, it would go a long way towards solving our problem.”

If you would like to find out more, or to donate, search ‘Golliwopsie Playgroup and Lunch Club Griffithstown’ on Facebook.