WIRRAL Autistic Society has launched the biggest appeal in its 45 year history to redevelop its original home.
The first phase of the Lifetime Appeal will see Raby Hall, in Bromborough, completely redeveloped at a cost of £755,000 to provide state-of-the-art self-contained accommodation for eight people suffering from autism.
The first building phase will be followed by the redevelopment of the society's four other properties on the site.
In total the work is expected to take 10 years and cost a further £2.5m.
The appeal was launched last week at Eaton Park, the home of the society's President the Duke of Westminster and hosted by Vice-President Dame Lorna Muirhead, Lord Lieutenant on Merseyside.
The society's fundraiser Rick Myers said: “Good quality residential accommodation designed specifically for those with autism is in very short supply. There are only 3,000 places available
throughout the UK to provide for half a million sufferers.
“In 2010 we opened The Ferns, a six bedroom respite centre, at a cost of £1.3m raised entirely though charitable giving. We now have a far greater task ahead but already we have planned a range of fundraising activities.
“The people of Wirral have been magnificent in supporting us in the past and I'm sure they will continue to do so in the future.
“We want to build something that will not only improve the quality of life for those with autism – we want to build something that we can leave for future generations.”
The appeal has already received a donation of £7,500 from Mike Rice, the owner of the Queen's Royal Hotel in New Brighton. The hotel adopted the society as its charity more than a year ago.
Mr Rice, who attended the launch of the appeal, said: “I was very touched by a video which was screened illustrating the urgent need for updated, modern residential facilities which will make such a difference to the clients’ lives.
“It is a great pleasure to donate the first 1% that needs to be raised and we have a number of other fundraising activities lined up.”
Fundraisers say the society’s current facilities are dated and none of the rooms has its own bathroom.
Wirral Autistic Society was set up in 1968 by a group of six Wirral families to provide support for their children as they approached adulthood.
Their first fundraising event was a coffee morning which brought in 62p but within seven years enough money had been raised to buy Raby Hall.
It now employs more than 500 people and plans to take on more staff in the coming year.
While the majority of people the society cares for are from Merseyside, it looks after more than 300 people from all over the country.
For more information visit www.wirral.autistic.org or call 643 5540.