Melrose Cafe operator Angela Kernohan is overwhelmed by Nelson's generosity in helping her reach a $10,000 fundraising goal in just 48 hours.
Kernohan found out on Monday she would need to come up with $10,000 in just two days after the Nelson City Council said it could not foot the bill to install a working chimney for the cafe's open fire.
Due to the Seddon earthquakes, two brick chimneys in the house had to be removed and flues installed to get the specially consented fires in working order.
The project became progressively more expensive as more complexities with the chimneys and historic house were found, said Kernohan.
The council could only replace like for like and the chimney in the cafe side of the building had been capped. It looked as though the chimney would be recapped once the bricks were removed unless the money could be found to install a flue.
Kernohan was stunned she first heard that she would need to raise the money. "I was like ‘Okay, well, that's a challenge. How long have I got?' "
She thought the council staff were kidding when she was told 48 hours.
Kernohan turned to the society which manages the home, but there was no spare cash.
"I got on the phone and rang absolutely everyone I knew and I couldn't believe it - within 24 hours we had almost $6500 of the $10,000. In the middle of winter people in Nelson were digging deep in their pockets and handing over cash to this amazing thing."
A Christchurch women's group, many of whom moved to Nelson following the earthquakes that hit their city, was keen to help.
Kernohan felt a little awkward asking for money, but shared her mammoth fundraising task with one of the women, who handed her $500.
The woman told her to come and speak with the whole group, which regularly meets at the cafe, and they gave an additional $170.
"It honestly just astounded me the generosity of Nelson and the passion for this beautiful old house. It just made me so happy," Kernohan said.
She initially was frustrated at the council, but then realised ratepayers were paying for the work and the council staff had limited funds.
"What they've done already has been amazing.
"They really have been fantastic throughout the whole process," said Kernohan.
Kernohan said the Kidson Construction team and the council had been "amazing" at adapting to each of the hurdles they came across during the project and in protecting the cafe's history.
One of those "amazing" workers is Cary Bryant, who spends his days in the fireplace carefully removing the chimney, brick by brick, putting each one into a bag, which is winched up by a colleague.
Bryant is lowered into the chimney on a seat with a full body harness and gets brought back out for breaks and a stretch in the fresh air before heading down again.
The Colonel Noel Percy Adams Trust (Melrose) Society, which manages Melrose House, is seeking three new board members, particularly those with marketing or accounting experience. The trust board meets once a month for an hour. If you are interested, please contact Angela Kernohan 03 548 9179
- The Nelson Mail
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