A CHARITY set up in memory of talented schoolgirl Karis Darling has raised an amazing £150,000 and her hardworking parents plan on building two community centres in the near future.
Karis, 12, who loved singing and dancing, was a pupil at Gable Hall School in Corringham, and she died suddenly in April 2011 after contracting a bug called streptococcus A, which can develop into meningitis, just weeks before her 13th birthday.
Her parents Kerri and John Darling set up the Karis May Darling Foundation in her memory and have dreams of getting children off the streets and getting them involved in sports and performing arts, which were the two things that Karis loved the most.
After a year and a half of fundraising the family are now in the final stages of their plans for a community centre in Corringham and the town centre park in Springfield Road, behind Morrisons, is one of the sites up for consideration.
They are also looking at sites in Basildon with hopes to build a second centre in the future. John, 43, of Gardner Avenue, Corringham said: “We have recently met with lots of community groups in Corringham and we have had the greatest support.
“Thurrock Council has identified that there is a need for a community centre in the town and we are in talks with the top planners.
“We need to ensure the plans are right and I have drawn up a three-year business plan. We will start with a temporary building and after three years ensuring that is a success we will spend £270,000 on the final building of the community centre which will be state of the art and environmentally friendly.
“None of this will ever bring our Karis back but she would have loved it all, she was such a giving person and always wanted to help people.”
Kerri and John made the heartbreaking decision at the time of Karis’ death to donate her heart, liver, pancreas and kidneys, saying it’s what their girl would have wanted.
Once the community centre is built the family hope it will become a hub for young people and community groups and that it will be a thriving facility for young people to take part in performing arts and sports.
Andy Smith, councillor with responsibility for regeneration, highways and transportation at Thurrock Council added: “We are including a proposal for this facility for consultation as part of the next stage of the Local Development Framework Sites Allocation Plan.
“A formal consultation will commence in January for a six week period and any views or representation will be welcome at that stage”