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Abandoned gate lodge to be turned into a retreat for cancer sufferers

By Cate McCurry

Published 02/10/2015

The gate lodge at Colebrooke Estate in Co Fermanagh
The gate lodge at Colebrooke Estate in Co Fermanagh
Lord Brookeborough

An abandoned and dilapidated gate lodge in the grounds of an 1,000-acre estate is being turned into a free retreat for cancer sufferers and survivors - although help will be needed.

Colebrooke Cottages, which offers accommodation in the grounds of one of Northern Ireland's historic stately homes, has been tasked with renovating the disused gate lodge in Co Fermanagh to turn it into a holiday home for those affected by cancer.

Staff member Rachel Watson appealed for volunteers and donations to aid the building's facelift through the business's Facebook page and has since been flooded with pledges of help.

The online plea has gained hundreds of 'likes' and dozens of comments from painters to plasters, gardeners to joiners.

The post described how "one of our beautiful original gate lodges at Colebrooke Estate has been given to the business to renovate and use to give cancer sufferers and survivors of all ages free holidays".

It added: "We have all been affected at some stage by this terrible disease whether it's directly, a family member or a friend.

"Our idea is to bring families to Colebrooke Estate free of charge to relax and recover in this wonderful gate lodge.

"Now here's the hard bit. We are currently looking for volunteers and donations to help renovate the lodge over spring of 2016.

"We need all the help we can get, and even if you can only spare a few hours it would make a huge difference to the project.

"We already have a handful of people to help, for which we are extremely grateful.

"If you think you could help out at all, please contact me.

"If you want to do it in memory of someone you have lost we will have benches where names can be displayed."

It has set up an online Just Giving page to help with the fundraising.

The lodge still has some of its original features, but will require extensive work to transform the building into a place where cancer sufferers and survivors can holiday.

One Facebook user, David Warren, offered his help to repair the roof, which needs the timber replacing.

He said: "We could help look at restoring the roof of the property, our company is called Eco Seal NI."

Another user, a holistic therapist, offered her reflexology and Indian head massage services free.

Others included a joiner, painter and decorator, cleaner and plasterer who have all offered to chip in with the renovation work.

Colebrooke Estate, located off the A4 Belfast Road close to Enniskillen, is a stately family home owned by Lord and Lady Brookeborough.

Set across a 1,000-acre estate, the site currently offers accommodation, a wide range of sporting activities, a day spa and a conference venue.

The Colebrooke Park website boasts fishing, clay pigeon shooting and archery among its outdoor activities.

It adds: "For those who may wish to enjoy a less energetic stay there are long riverside and shrub garden walks and there are purpose built 'hides' for watching the abundant wildlife in this remarkable haven. These include deer, otters, mink, buzzards, kingfishers and many others."

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