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Folkestone Town Sprucer project's future secured after new team takes on Sunflower House charity


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The future of two vital community projects in Folkstone has been secured.

It comes as it was revealed the chair of trustees for the Sunflower House charity, Alex MacLaren, is stepping down in May next year.

The Folkestone Town Sprucer team clearing the subway under the M20. Picture: Peter Phillips
The Folkestone Town Sprucer team clearing the subway under the M20. Picture: Peter Phillips

The charity runs the Town Sprucer project – which sees a dedicated team clear litter, mess and graffiti from the streets of Folkestone – and Sunflower House, a community centre in Foord Road.

But Mr MacLaren's upcoming departure threw the future of the charity into uncertainty and an appeal was launched for a new leader to come forward, including on KentOnline.

Now, four new trustees have stepped up and been added to the board.

Mr MacLaren said: "After our appeal at the end of last month, a group of community-minded Folkestonians put themselves forward to be part of the trustee team at the Sunflower House.

"Di Stratton, Jon O’Connor, David Biden and Jo Cowdrey were voted onto the board of the Sunflower House trustees at the AGM last Friday, and the new team of trustees this week resolved to carry forward both the Sprucer project and the running of the community centre into the future.

The Sunflower House community centre in Foord Road, Folkestone, is used by groups and for local events
The Sunflower House community centre in Foord Road, Folkestone, is used by groups and for local events

"I am very happy to see the generosity and commitment to our community shown by the candidates that have come forward to join us. Their energy, integrity and imagination is already creating real momentum for the future of our projects."

The charity was initially founded by David Taylor in 2013, but has been led by Mr MacLaren since Mr Taylor died in 2017.

Both the community centre and Sprucer project have funding available until 2023.

But it is hoped the new team will take the projects beyond this point.

A new chair of the trustees is expected to be voted in January.

Alex MacLaren, current chair of the Sunflower House charity. Picture: Igor Emmerich
Alex MacLaren, current chair of the Sunflower House charity. Picture: Igor Emmerich

Peter Phillips, lead Sprucer, said of the news: "It is fantastic. I’m over the moon.

"I’m looking forward to carrying on with the project and making Folkestone a better place."

Mr Maclaren added: "I would like to express gratitude also to the long-standing trustees who are staying with us – Jennie Lichfield, Adrian Lockwood and Mike Braudy – and everyone else who has given time, money and love to the charity.

"It is thanks to their commitment over the years that we can look forward to a bright future.

"I am sure that the whole of Folkestone will join me in thanking them and welcoming our new colleagues.

"Finally we would like to say a huge thanks to Max Vizzini, who is standing down as treasurer of the charity.

"He has carried out this task since its foundation, and at the Bradstone Association before it.

"His commitment to this corner of East Folkestone has enabled all kinds of benefit to the people of the town, and we wish him well."

Anyone else who would like to get involved in the charity is asked to get in touch on its Facebook page – Sunflower House – or email alex@the-spontaneity-shop.com

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