Colin Cooper on Finlay Cooper Fund MAIN Legacy
By Robert Nichols
Tuesday 03 Sep 2019 12:04:00
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Teesside charity The Finlay Cooper Fund is set to call time on its fundraising with three substantial donations to local charities. The charity was set up by former Boro hero Colin Cooper and his wife Julie in memory of their son Finlay who died tragically in 2002. The final legacy includes a donation of £100,000 to Middlesbrough-based children’s charity MAIN, which will help the charity buy its own premises – a new centre which is to be named ‘The Finlay Cooper Centre’.

After taking the very difficult decision to cease fundraising at the end of 2018, the trustees of the Finlay Cooper Fund have been working hard to identify projects that they hope will leave a lasting memory of Finlay. Out of 25 applications received, they have eventually decided to proceed with 3 projects:

The purchase of premises by MAIN to enable them to move from their currently rented premises. The purchase of a caravan at Filey by Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation suitable for the use of disabled children to enable underprivileged disabled children in the region to experience a holiday. The provision of a new sensory suite at Daisy Chain.

Q: Is this a final legacy for the charity?

CC: We mentioned at the back end of last year that our fundraising as a charity is over. Obviously having raised as much as we have we have been blown away over the years. But when we said we were bringing our fundraising to an end and closing the Finlay Cooper Fund down we obviously still had money in the bank that we wanted to put to some really exciting, what we call legacy projects. So, basically from the back end of last year we asked people to apply for some funding and we would probably go one, two or three with the money that we had in the bank.

MAIN kids

If you remember a couple of years ago we bought a caravan. So, with our link with the Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation we have bought another caravan to give families and young people an opportunity to go and spend a week by the coast and have a holiday when they might never have a holiday. So now we have two caravans, which is amazing.

We are supporting the Daisy Chain again in Norton. They said they are wanting to have a sensory room for their young people and also they talked about the possibility of building a kitchen to give the lightly older kids some more independence. Again not to be sniffed at the amount of money we have managed to give them both.

But we met Helen Jacques (Charity Manager) and the staff from MAIN. Today we are at their unit down at Riverside Park on an industrial estate by the banks of the River Tees really and it is adapted for young people but their dream was to own their own building. And when we said about a legacy project we wanted something that would carry Finlay's name, forever. We met Helen and came down to the Riverside Park facility but they had been offered the opportunity to buy a building in the centre of North Ormesby and they are going to transfer everything from here on Riverside Park into North Ormesby and be able to double their operation. Helen said they are supporting somewhere in the region of 400 kids, 400 families. It will give them an opportunity to be able to run two separate groups at once because in this facility they can only have one group as it is one large room. So they want to expand their operation.

We have pledged MAIN £100 000 which allows them to buy the building in North Ormesby and set about renovating it. At the moment their office staff are in Thornaby because there is no room here. So the idea they can move everyone into the same building and run everything from there.

A few things that resonated for Julie and myself and the other trustees is that when we spoke to Helen Jacques, the biggest thing is that they can improve the work that they do but they said they wanted to name the building Finlay Cooper House. So, obviously that struck a real chord with us because we were trying to find that legacy, naming the building gives us that legacy forever.

The other two things that really resonated. Being in North Ormesby all of Julie's family on her mum's side were from North Ormesby. And also we are a stone's throw from the Riverside, where I finished playing, where we launched the Finlay Cooper Fund, where he closed the Finlay Cooper Fund as a charity.

We were all in the new building in North Ormesby discussing with Helen, when she said we are going to name it the Finlay Cooper Hous, then that was it. We both broke down, we were in floods of tears. It just felt absolutely perfect for the legacy project.

Today is the official day when we have said to Helen, here is our £100k. The upshot is we can support MAIN, they will continue their own fundraising to be able to do the fantastic work and hopefully be able to kit out the building in North Ormesby to the specific needs that autistic children and young people need.

But we also have that other caravan going on site (in Filey) to give families that might never otherwise get and obviously the continued support and the link we have with Daisy Chain enables us to give them the money they needed to do their sensory room and maybe moving forward the kitchen for the young people.

So we feel very blessed, very privileged that over the 13 years of fundraising that e have been able to branch out in so many different areas. When we said about legacy project MAIN was the main charity that came forward and said this is what we would like to do for a legacy for you and your son.

So, it has been brilliant to come back here today and speak to everyone. Tell everyone. Helen has not told her staff yet. So that will be something brilliant for them to sit down and say through the Finlay Cooper Fund, they may or may not have heard of. Through the 13 years the majority of our support has been around Middlesbrough, Teesside and County Durham. We have also had support from when we spent time in different areas, the south east of London, East Midlands. But the main focus has always been around Middlesbrough and the north east so we are really chuffed to have been able to come to Helen and MAIN and say that from the application you put forward here is the £100k and go and continue the work that you do which we know to be fabulous.

You have been here for half an hour this morning and you can see that Helen and all her staff do an incredible job with the young people. Moving into a permanent place, will secure their future and secure it for the families and be able to expand. Autism is an unbelievable thing for the them and their families to go through. But the young people we come across are always really happy and it just shows that the work that this charity does is fantastic. We are delighted to be able to hand the £100k over and say get into North Ormesby, get the building done and continue the brilliant work that you are doing.

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