Construction heroes set the wheels in motion for skate park dream

A'Chruach wind farm fund representative Betty Rhodick with construction workers from A and C Building Contractors Ltd, Kenneth James Construction Ltd and M Kerr Roofing.

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A Mid Argyll youth group’s long-held dream to build a skate park is a step closer to becoming a reality thanks to the generosity of construction companies.

For years, Lochgilphead-based Mid Argyll Youth Development Services (MAYDS) has had hopes of building a skate park in land adjacent to the building it operates from on Manse Brae.

In 2017, the charity received £155,118 from the Scottish Land Fund which was used to buy the MAYDS building, the two adjacent pieces of land for the new development and to employ Grant Murray architects to prepare draft designs for a covered skate park.

It was not until the end of 2018, however, that the property sales were concluded. Work has continued since then to raise money to complete the project.

With the cost of the original scheme estimated at £2 million, the charity decided to scale back its ambitions and make it a phased project that could be added to as funding allowed.

The first priority was to remove buildings containing asbestos on the newly-purchased site, at an estimated cost of £25,000.

More than half of this sum was granted by the A’Chruach wind farm fund, provided by Ventient Energy, but the balance was still to be found and with the building warrant to remove the buildings running out in October time was getting short.

That was when A and C Building Contractors Ltd, Kenneth James Construction Ltd and M Kerr Roofing stepped in to save the day.

Andy Morrison and Craig Owen, of A and C Building Contractors Ltd, approached MAYDS centre manager Fiona Kalache to find out what was happening with the buildings and how the project was progressing. They decided to contact the other firms and they all agreed to help the charity by completeing the first phase of the project for the amount of money currently available.

Work to remove the buildings under way

Andy and Craig explained: ‘MAYDS really helped us out when we were putting together our business plan and setting up so we wanted to say ‘thank you’ and repay the favour. We are happy to be helping a local charity, especially when it is going to create something good for the community and youngsters in the area.’

Kenny MacLeod added: ‘It is great to see something happening for young people and for Lochgilphead. Often it seems like lots of things are happening around Lochgilphead but never in the town itself, so this is an important development that will be really beneficial.’

Fiona Kalache offered her thanks to the construction companies: ‘This is a huge relief as we have been struggling for some time to get funding for the full costs. The main thing was to get the buildings down before our building warrant ran out, giving us a clear site to start construction of the skate park.

‘These builders have gone out of their way to support us by doing work in kind and reducing costs so that we can now move forward with our planned development. We are so grateful to them for stepping in to support the young people of Mid Argyll and finally allowing their vision to progress. Thanks also have to go to A’Chruach wind farm. It has funded a significant part of the costs quoted and have continued to support us throughout.

‘This will make a big difference to the lives of young people in the area. Many of them currently travel through to Dumbarton to access the type of facilities we hope to offer. We plan to use the back end of the site for basketball hoops and other play equipment and hope to attract children from all over Argyll, creating a fun, safe space for young people.’

Once the site is cleared, security fencing and lighting will be installed. Then work will start on putting the steel skate park jumps and ramps in place. MAYDS would welcome any help to raise money to meet the cost of this work.

MAYDS works with young people up to the age of 25 across Mid Argyll and Islay, offering training, support, youth clubs, drop-ins, cyber cafe, trips and much more. People receiving help include young carers, young parents, young people with disabilities and young people looking to engage in fun activities or access training courses.

The skate park project has received support from Lochgilphead Community Council and from Mid Argyll members of Argyll and Bute Council.

Betty Rhodick, Lochgilphead Community Council member on the A’Chruach wind farm fund panel, commented: ‘I am delighted to see things progressing. Everything comes to those who wait and this will be a great thing for the area.’