Torrington project coins it in

A MYSTERY benefactor going under the name of The Viper is continuing to help a Torrington community project. For nearly two years The Viper has regularly sent �1 coins to Dr Harry Cramp, chairman of the Great Torrington Buildings Preservation Trust, which

A MYSTERY benefactor going under the name of The Viper is continuing to help a Torrington community project.

For nearly two years The Viper has regularly sent �1 coins to Dr Harry Cramp, chairman of the Great Torrington Buildings Preservation Trust, which was set up to lead a �900,000 venture to refurbish the ailing town hall and turn it into a viable community facility for use by everyone in the town.

The first coin arrived in November 2007 in a letter with a London postmark. With it came a short note "a small donation of �1 towards The Great Torrington Buildings Preservation Trust."

Since then, The Viper has sent a total of 54 coins at regular intervals, from as far afield as India, USA, Germany, Egypt, Poland, Ireland, France, Japan, Canada, Thailand and Australia to name a few of his or her destinations.


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Each has come with a short verse, such as the latest, from Dubrovnik in Croatia: "I've come down to Dubrovnik on the Adriatic Sea and here's the �1 I send you, it's worth 100p"

Harry is getting more mystified as each coin arrives.

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"Before I retired as a GP, I was presented with some rather puzzling cases, which I usually managed to get to the bottom of, but the case of the Viper continues to baffle me. We received coins from Hong Kong, France, China and Poland during a two-week period last month. The Viper is obviously keeping up to date with the progress of the refurbishment project."

He is pleased for The Viper's help in raising the profile of the project, but says that The Viper will, however, need to send a lot more coins before work on the town hall project can commence.

He told the Gazette that he has been working on the project since 2003 and that although fund raising had put success within reach, with almost enough to cover the building work, there was still more needed for other aspects, including furnishing and equipping the buildings.

"The town hall is badly in need of refurbishment," he said. "There are no modern facilities, heating or disabled access and the only use now is for meetings in the council chamber. The museum has closed and is looking for new premises.

"The hope is to modernise, restore and install proper facilities and make it a self-supporting community asset with use for social, community and cultural events and by schools. We have got all the planning consents, plans have been drawn up and tenders are in. If we had all the money together we could start tomorrow.

"We have been working extremely hard raising funds for our town hall campaign, but we still need additional funds before we can start work and if we are to rely on the continued generosity and support of the Viper we could be waiting a long time" he said.

"We are in the process of setting up a fund raising initiative called Town Hall Titans to encourage residents to come on board and support our campaign by signing up as a Titan and organising their own fund raising events, because this town hall project is one which will benefit everyone in the town. We will have function rooms for weddings and special events and meeting rooms for community groups. Great Torrington is renowned for making things happen and I am confident we will raise the money to start work in the very near future. It would be fantastic if The Viper would grace us with their presence and come along for opening when the work is complete."

This week the trust has received news of valuable help from a more familiar source. Local councillor Margaret Brown

has been able to provide a �1,000 boost through Torridge District Council's Councillor Community Grants Scheme.

Anyone wishing to know more can contact Dr Cramp on (01805) 622343.

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