Row over closed Sunderland charity’s £250,000 assets

Geraldine Plunkett (left) and Audrey Turnbull at the Donna Claire Home in Seaburn Terrace, Sunderland
Geraldine Plunkett (left) and Audrey Turnbull at the Donna Claire Home in Seaburn Terrace, Sunderland
Have your say

THE founders of a closed respite centre say the future of its £250,000 assets has been taken out of their hands.

Geraldine Plunkett and Audrey Turnbull set up the Donna Claire Venture 20 years ago, after almost ten years of fund-raising, to provide much-needed respite holidays for people with severe disabilities and illnesses,

However, it was sadly forced to shut in December last year, due to lack of funds.

Now the two women claim the board of trustees has ignored their views on where the remaining assets should go.

Geraldine said in the two years before the closure of the Seaburn home they joined forces with Hendon charity, NDRC, Northeast Disabilities Resource Centre, hoping it would help secure Donna Claire’s future.

One board of trustees was put in place to oversee both charities.

“Sadly things didn’t work out and it became apparent we would have to close,” she said.

“Audrey and I had put 30 years of our lives into Donna Claire and were devastated, but we had some wonderful memories.”

After selling the house and paying debts, there was £250,000 left, which Geraldine and Audrey wanted to give to other charities so they could move on.

However, they claim that their suggestions put forward to the board, including giving the money to St Benedict’s Hospice in Sunderland, were over-ruled by the four NDRC trustees, who finally agreed to the money being put aside with the view to using it to buy a respite holiday lodge for people in the area with illnesses and disabilities.

Geraldine said: “We just want people to know where the money is going, and that Audrey and I have not been listened to and our wishes have not been fulfilled.”

Durham County Councillor Edward Bell, chairman of the NDRC/Donna Claire trustees, said: “It was felt that as the money was generally raised in Sunderland then those people in the area should benefit.

“The counter proposal from Geraldine was to donate the money to Across, a charity based in Scotland and which has a prime objective of promoting religion.

“Geraldine then requested that the money be donated to various other charities, however, this was not carried.”

He added: “The Donna Claire charity will be closed, but as one door closes another one opens, and the trustees hope that a subsidised holiday home would assist both carers and clients to achieve an improved lifestyle.

“This process has been ongoing for nearly a year, and Geraldine has changed her mind on a number of times about the allocation of monies.”

Twitter: @sunechoschools