Life saving grant for GAPA

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GAINSBOROUGH Adventure Playground (GAPA) is celebrating after it was handed a six-month lifeline by West Lindsey Council this month.

The authority has donated a £15,000 grant to the play service which will help keep it open until at least March next year.

The news has come at a time when at least six paid GAPA staff faced losing their jobs and funding for its open access service for five to 14-year-olds, was coming to an end.

West Lindsey councillor and GAPA director Coun Mel Starkey was at the association’s directors’ meeting to discuss redundancies when they received the call from the council.

They were just about to tell two part-time staff and manager Lisa Pinkney that they were going to lose their jobs.

“It was 10 minutes from a very tense and heart-rending meeting when our chairman Charles Cooke picked up his mobile and went from a straight-laced face to a very wide broad grin,” he said.

“Lisa’s face when I told her job was safe was a picture and a half. My heart was thumping for her. I can’t thank my fellow West Lindsey councillors enough for voting in favour of the funding.”

Coun Starkey said GAPA is currently a vital lifeline for more than 230 families in the area and has provided care services to countless more over the past 38 years.

“GAPA is very close to my heart, particularly because my two daughters went there. If it shut down where would kids go?” he said.

“We want children to grow up in a safe and friendly atmosphere, and for them to mix with each other and learn what it’s like to be with friends which is exactly what GAPA does.”

Manager Lisa Pinkney said everyone at GAPA was “over the moon” with the news.

“We are so relieved – we were so close to closing. All the GAPA staff, children and parents are so pleased and want to thank all involved at West Lindsey Council for this decision,” she said.

“It’s been a difficult few years but this has given us some time and we are now hoping we can all work together to find an appropriate solution”