Celebration at community centre launch

JON HOUZET

SUNSET Park retirement village recently opened a community centre, made possible by generous donations from the Grahamstown MOTHS, businesses and individuals.

OFFICIAL OPENING: Old Bill of the Makanakop Shellhole in Grahamstown, Mike Palmer (left), and Cecil Jones-Phillipson, the chairman of the MOTHS Ex-Servicemen Cottages Association (Mesca), with the plaque unveiled at the new community centre at Sunset Park Picture: JON HOUZET

The official opening of the centre took place on Saturday July 14, the sun making an appearance just in time for the occasion, following days of rainy weather.

Chief fundraiser Cecil Jones-Phillipson, the chairman of the MOTHS Ex-Servicemen Cottages Association (Mesca), said up until then, the only communal meeting place for residents of Sunset Park was an open carport.

Eight months ago the flat next to the carport became vacant which opened up the possibility of converting both into a community centre.

Jones-Phillipson said the Port Alfred MOTHS were doubtful they could ever raise enough money to build the centre, but he took on the responsibility.

He approached Makanakop Shellhole in Grahamstown and they came up with the lion’s share of funding, R50 000.

GBS gave R10 000.

“We got other donations for the balance,” said Jones-Phillipson. “It cost R80 000 altogether.”

“Rory McNelis from Builders Trader did all the costing for us, gave a discount on materials and helped oversee the project,” he said.

It took 40 days to build the centre.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Bill Hill, chairman of the Sunset Park residents’ committee.

Hill made special mention of Old Bill Mike Palmer and John van Rensburg of the Makanakop Shellhole for their advice and “bringing the big bucks”.

“Thanks also to John Stapleton and Joan van Niekerk at GBS,” he said.

The SA Legion also helped.

“Rory McNelis and Gys Waller of Builders Trader came to the party and didn’t make a profit on this job,” said Hill.

He thanked MOTH member Richard Francis for donating a DVD player. A small library has also been started.

“Cecil Jones-Phillipson is more responsible for this than anyone else. It’s entirely due to him that the big money came,” said Hill.

On a sad note, three Sunset Park residents died before the centre was completed.

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