MacTaggart Leisure Centre Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Gary Scott explains that IJCE is still going strong after 25 years and invites you to the celebrations.

Back in 1979 people were saying it was impossible. A swimming pool and leisure centre on Islay? Not a chance. However a group of dedicated people with the community behind them had other ideas and set about raising the finance and identifying premises.

A staggering £1m was raised over a period of eleven years which coincided with Morrison Bowmore Distillers donating the redundant whisky bond in the village to the community for £1. The Mactaggart Leisure Centre was built and opened in June 1991. Mountain No 1 climbed.

Then came the problem of how the operational costs would be financed as the small service level agreement from Argyll & Bute Council together with trading income did not balance the books. Everything was turned into projects and funding applications submitted to grants providers, private trusts and foundations to cover the cost of each project. Through much work, huge amounts of energy and volunteer time over £2.5m has been raised over the past fifteen years to fund additional services and activities needed by the community. Mountain No 2 climbed.

In 2009 after eighteen years of heavy usage the building was looking run down, the roof was leaking and the plant was unreliable. The Mactaggart Leisure Centre needed a big injection of capital. Where would we get that amount of money everyone asked? Continue reading...

In true IJCE style and with dogged determination European monies designed to support community facilities was identified, an application submitted which resulted in almost £500k being pledged which as 90% of the upgrade costs. The remaining 10% was secured from Sport Scotland and private trusts which enabled the centre to be totally refurbished bringing it back up to a high public standard once again and the envy of rural communities in the country. Mountain No 3 climbed.

In amongst all this Islay & Jura Community Enterprises have won four nationally recognised awards for architecture, business, personnel and most recently Queens Award for Volunteering – the equivalent of an MBE for organisations. Statistics show less than 10% of community businesses are trading after ten years. IJCE charity and the Mactaggart Leisure Centre are still trading here today against all odds through a will to survive, tenacity, extreme hard work and thousands of volunteer hours by a board of directors, the community and staff.

To celebrate this landmark achievement we will be staging a 25th Anniversary Celebration Event on Saturday 29 October in Bowmore Hall. We will be bringing over new activities and entertainers from the mainland and will include surfboarding, 4x4 remote controlled cars, buzz, moon castle, ball pool and children’s entertainer.

There will be a free buffet, presentations, music, dance and all the usual face painting etc. As this event is funded by Big Lottery it will be FREE OF CHARGE for everyone. So bring the kids along and join us in our celebration!

Please support the Mactaggart Leisure Centre community fund from the coop where 1% of funds go to 3 local charities. MLC are one trying to raise funds for a portable trampoline trailer to take around different area's of the community, the more people that support our cause the more we could potentially raise. For more info visit

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