A COMMUNITY centre created in memory of a schoolgirl is just weeks away from opening, thanks to the hard work of young volunteers.

The Karis May Darling Pavilion, in Corringham Park, will open at the end of the month following finishing touches inside.

Fourteen volunteers from the Prince’s Trust, who make up Team Six, have spent the past three weeks painting, planting flowers and laying a footpath.

They raised £1,200 through a sponsored walk, raffle and quiz night, which has gone towards equipment for the centre, including tables and chairs.

John and Kerri Darling, of Gardener Avenue, Corringham, set up the Karis May Darling Foundation to raise money for the project following the death of their beloved daughter in April, 2011.

Karis died suddenly after contracting lethal streptococcus A infection, which can lead to meningitis.

The keen singer and dancer would have turned 16 in May.

Mum Kerri said: “I feel quite emotional going into the centre and seeing how it has all come together.

“This is a big year for us. Karis would have been getting ready for her prom, leaving school and celebrating her 16th birthday. It’s a really difficult year, but this is really keeping us going, because we are keeping busy.

“Karis would be so proud of what her dad started and what everyone else has finished.

“I know she’s standing over us.

When the sun is shining I know it is her shining down.”

The community centre will include an American-style diner, a traditional coffee shop and a multi-purpose hall.

It will be open seven days a week hosting after-school clubs, mother and baby sessions, youth clubs, OAP mornings and other events.

John wants to open a football academy and eventually plans to open a second centre in Basildon, as he was born and raised in the town.

Kerri has dreams of starting a performing arts club to keep her daughter’s legacy alive.

For more information, visit karis maydarlingfoundation.org