Trust cash to benefit 80 local groups

The Mid and South Canterbury Community Trust has dished out more than $435,000 to community groups in the latest funding round.

Secretary Clive Callow announced the grants, which benefit 80 groups, yesterday.

Two of the larger beneficiaries were the High Country Medical Trust, which received $150,000 towards the proposed new medical centre in Twizel, and the South Canterbury Drama League, which received $50,000 towards the upgrade of the Playhouse.

High Country Medical Trust fundraising committee chairwoman Joy Paterson said the donation put the group "that much closer" to their target of $1.8 million.

"I'm over the moon. It's an incredible, generous offer ... we've kept plugging away, and it now looks like we've got the target in sight," she said.

Paterson said it had raised about $1.37m since September, but the project had been talked about for years before this.

"It will transform a poky little centre into something which can actually support patients. We have 1700 of them on our books now, and many more during the holiday period," she said.

South Canterbury Drama League spokesman Chris Thomas said the donation meant it could now cover the cost of the revamp of the building, expected to cost $750,000.

It will involve expanding the backstage area, significant seismic strengthening and a total overhaul of its costume hire premises.

There is also the possibility of adding 20 seats to its existing capacity.

"We can cover the cost of the actual building. What's left is the covering the cost of some of the interiors and finishing touches," Thomas said.

"Realistically, we're about $100,000 off our target."

Thomas said it would hold various fundraising initiatives throughout the year, the first being the one-off performance of Showstoppers at the Theatre Royal in July.

Thomas hoped the upgrade would begin next week and be completed by October.

Callow said the trust also distributed $137,866 to the region's 68 schools to alleviate hardship among students, which was used at the discretion of the school principals.

The trust uses the returns from investments to fund its philanthropy.

The Timaru Herald