A CHARITY which aims to raise £2 million to create Britain’s first respite care “hotel” for multiple sclerosis sufferers in York says it has come through its first year with flying colours.

The Alan Bott Centre charity was launched last April following the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s controversial decision to close its respite care centres across the UK, including Woodlands, in Hull Road, York, which was fiercely opposed by some members.

The charity – named after Alan Bott, the driving force behind the original opening of Woodlands – opened a shop in the former Woodlands charity shop in Melrosegate.

Spokeswoman Jackie Chapman said yesterday its first year had been an unqualified success, despite “traumas” caused by the weather, water leaks, power failures and parking problems.

She said money which had been borrowed to carry out a complete refurbishment prior to the shop’s opening had been repaid, and £20,000 had been raised to go into the fundraising pool.

The £2 million target had proved a step too far to date, but the charity had been approached during the year by Christchurch Group, which bought Woodlands from the MS Society.

Mrs Chapman said Christchurch had been given to understand by the society there was little respite demand in the York area but then come to the conclusion this was not the case, as requests were coming in on a regular basis.

Christchurch decided to meet the demand and asked the charity to provide voluntary support, and this had been agreed. “We currently have more than 70 volunteers between the shop and Woodlands, including sixth form students from Fulford School.

“So, it’s not a bad start, although there is still a long way to go. We still retain our goal of a dedicated centre for respite. However, the agreement we have with Christchurch has enabled us to begin the process of providing support to those undergoing respite care.”

She said that in the coming year, the charity would start looking to apply for funding from other organisations to help it get closer to its fundraising target.

• The first anniversary will be celebrated with a funday on Saturday, when goods will be given a ten per cent discount.