GAZETTE readers have helped raise an amazing £34,000 for our Give Us A Chance appeal for Devizes Opportunity Centre.

Emotional centre manager Betty Newman said: “It is incredible. I have had years of financial worries but this money has made all the difference. I can’t thank everyone enough.”

The Gazette launched an appeal to raise £10,000 for the nursery that cares for children with special needs back in February. The centre had just heard it was to lose £10,000 from its Wiltshire Council grant due to Government cutbacks.

The £10,000 target was reached in just three months so the Gazette decided to keep on fundraising – and you kept on giving.

Mrs Newman said: “The community far and wide has responded with such kindness and generosity. Thanks to the Gazette, people now have a much better understanding and appreciation of how important the work of the centre is and how we really do make a tremendous difference to the quality of lives of our member children and their families.

“Losing £10,000 of Government funding was a tremendous blow and we hoped the appeal might raise a few thousand to help towards bridging the gap.

“Never did we imagine how successful this appeal would be – £34,000 is truly amazing and overwhelming.”

The final appeal total is £34,020.75 and Mrs Newman believes that raising the centre’s profile means its legacy will continue.

She said: “We send our sincere and heatfelt gratitude to every organisation and individual who came to our aid and supported us throughout the year.”

Centre chairman Graham Gaiger said: “I have been utterly overwhelmed by the amount of support we have received from local people. The funds we have raised are way beyond our wildest dreams and will help keep the centre on an even keel for a good while.

“I would like to offer my sincere thanks to anyone who has helped contribute to the fund and also to raise the profile of the centre. Special thanks go to the Gazette themselves for all their tireless efforts this year in helping us to achieve our goal and beyond-thanks all.”

Parents described how the centre makes a difference not just to their children’s lives but to the whole family.

Natasha Williams of Quakers Road, Devizes, whose son Ryan attends the nursery said: “The centre is marvellous and supports us all.”

Zoe Giddings from Pewsey, who has a two-year-old daughter Rylee at the centre, said: “It is just an amazing place and we are grateful for the fundraising and to the staff for all their support.”

Christina Rees, mum of Benjamin has been going to the centre for just four months, said: “We have noticed a big difference already.”