Safari Park Backs Centre Appeal

A family building a respite home in memory of their daughter has received a donation from Blair Drummond Safari Park.

Eilidh Brown lost her battle with germ cell cancer in March 2010, just days before her 16th birthday.

Her family set up a memorial fund to fulfil Eilidh's wish of helping others in a similar situation and have so far raised more than £260,000 to build a respite centre in Stirling.

Planning permission has been granted for the home near Thornhill, Stirling, and construction work is expected to start at the end of the summer.

It will be used by families, free of charge, to take a break while their son or daughter is being treated for a serious illness.

Eilidh's father Gordon wants to provide day trips for families while they are using the home and received an unexpected donation from Blair Drummond Safari Park this week.

Families staying at the home will be able to visit the safari park and spend time with the animals whenever they want.

Mr Brown, an actor who has appeared in Take The High Road and Still Game, believes it is the ideal trip to help young people take their mind off exhausting treatment.

He said: "Eilidh loved the safari park, we tried to go along every year. She adored animals.

"For any young kid going through cancer it will be good to take their mind off of it, and also for their brothers, sisters and parents because it's a nightmare for them.

"The plan for the house is to let them chill out but we also want to give the option of local activities with free passes.

"The safari park is the first group to come back and offer it to us, it's close by the house and it's a fantastic day out, and most kids love animals and will enjoy getting so close to them.

"Blair Drummond are leading the way, hopefully other places in Stirling and Perthshire will come on board and this will be the first of many trips we can plan.''

The family believe it will cost about £30,000 a year to fund the home and are continuing to raise funds.

Mr Brown added: "We've not had any grants and so far have raised over £260,000.

``We're just waiting for final drawings to come through, we've got land and everything in place with planning permission, so are hoping to break ground at the end of this summer.

"We're at an advanced stage but always been to fund raise as we don't know the exact costs quite yet.

"We hope it will be a place for a family to go away with their children if they have suffered the way we have or if their child is going through treatment of cancer.

"It's in a location with lots of stuff round about to do and it will just be good to get away from the hospital, away from everything really and just spend some time with immediately family on us.''

Manager Gary Gilmour said the park was proud to support the cause.

He said: "I have seen the respite holiday home plans and the building looks stunning, surrounded by beautiful countryside.

"It will be an ideal base for visiting families, with so many fantastic attractions on its doorstep.

"It would be nice if the families staying at the holiday home didn't have to worry about anything during their stay in Stirling and could enjoy quality time together as a family, either at the respite home or on a day out at one of our many great local attractions.''