The group delivering the community hub which was due to open this summer is refusing to let last week’s fire destroy its dreams.
A fire broke out at around 4am on Thursday (May 18) at the £2.5 million Gorebridge Beacon a matter of weeks before work was due to be completed, horrifying the group behind the project – Gorebridge Community Development Trust.
However, within hours of the fire a crowdfunding page was set up by local woman Lezelle Mellor to raise money for the hub.
Jane Burridge, Gorebridge Beacon business manager, has been buoyed by the reaction of local people, saying: “It’s devastating as there are people in the trust who have been involved for many years and we were so close to finishing what was already a challenging project.
“However, the community spirit has been lovely. We have received lots of calls with messages of support.
“People are sad that this has happened, though the reaction from the community has been phenomenal.
“We had 27,000 hits on our Facebook page when we put up the photo of the damage.
“A member of the public initiating this appeal is just brilliant. At this stage we don’t know if the money raised will go towards repairing the damage.
“The idea is that it would go towards something at the hub, whether that’s a plaque or a garden bench say.
“It’s just a mark of this community, getting behind this important project.”
Jane said that the finishing touches were being made to the hub before the fire, including the laying of carpets.
As for what is next for the Beacon, she added: “We just have to wait to get the report through from the experts. The fire service will hand the building back to the contractor and design team then we will get a structural assessment which will advise us on what needs to be done.”
John Blair, Midlothian Council’s director of resources, said: “We’ve obviously been working very closely with the local community to get the building funded, built and open so to hear about such a damaging fire just six weeks to completion is obviously a huge blow.
“The council recognises the impact the fire will have on the development trust and the community and we’ll continue to assist in any way we can.”
Meanwhile, police are appealing for information into the deliberate fire. The suspect is described as a white man, in his mid to late teens, of skinny build, with short dark hair and a fringe, wearing a long-sleeved top with a distinctive pattern, dark-coloured skinny jeans, white trainers and carrying a black rucksack.
Detective Sergeant Dave Reilly, of Dalkeith CID, said: “This mindless act has caused thousands of pounds worth of damage and delayed the construction of a centre which is being built to benefit the local community.
“Anyone who may have seen suspicious behaviour in the area, or who recognises the description of the suspect, is asked to get in touch with us as soon as possible.”
Those with information can contact Police Scotland via 101, quoting incident number 0407 of 18 May, or report this anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Four fire appliances were mobilised at 4.38am on May 18 to the incident at Hunterfield Road, using high power hoses to tackle the fire in the roof area.
To donate search ‘Lezelle Mellor’ at justgiving.com.