If it were a single malt it would be a well matured, limited edition 22 year old and worth a significant amount of money. To the people of Islay and Jura it is an anchor community facility, delivering vital services and activities.
Three years ago the Mactaggart Leisure Centre located in the heart of Bowmore was showing signs of its age and heavy usage. The original whisky bond of Morrison Bowmore Distillery, converted in to a swimming pool & leisure centre in 1991 by Islay and Jura Community Enterprises, was suffering from a leaky roof, tired & worn fabric, ageing and unreliable plant. Unless significant finances could be raised the facility would be â€œunfit for purposeâ€ within a short space of time.
The islanders are used to challenges; Â£1m had been raised by themselves between 1977-1989 for initially building the centre! Since opening in 1991 Â£1.5m of revenue monies from grants, trusts & foundations has been raised to fund core and additional leisure, social and educational activities. The raising of Â£600k for the capital upgrading of the facility was undoubtedly another huge mountain to climb. The reality was summed up the IJCE Chair Donald Jackson saying â€œit had to be achievedâ€ in order to retain vital services at the Centre. Three years later this 22 year old renovated building has been fully rebranded. Thereâ€™s new external signage, paint work, roof tiles and pagoda-style ventilation turrets to blend in with those of the neighbouring distillery. The â€œfire fightingâ€ of plant breakdowns is no more, as a result of new ventilation system, motors, valves and automatic chemical dosing system. Continue reading....
Installation of double glazed UPVC window units and heat retention pool cover compliment the existing waste heat recovery system with Bowmore distillery, to increasing energy efficiencies and reducing fuel oil consumption. The fabric of the building was given a make-over with new flooring and decoration throughout, (including the crafted wooden pool hall ceiling resembling the inside of a whisky cask), tiling of the pool hall, changing rooms and shower areas. The installation of an internal lift enables access to the first floor for elderly and disabled people.
The islanders and this award winning organisation had done it again! Not only that, but it had been completed on time and within budget. The total cost? Amazingly the required Â£600k was raised, mostly through the SRDP scheme with matched funding and additional monies from grants, trusts and foundations including Sport Scotland, Crerar Hotels, EB Score and Bank of Scotland, Trusthouse, Schroder, Hugh Fraser, Rank and Open Work Foundations.
Islay and Jura Community Enterprises is a social enterprise company and charity, and General Manager Gary Scott distills it all by saying â€œIt has been a remarkable achievement firstly in raising the necessary funding and then organising/managing the programme of works with the associated cash flow, enabling us to achieve our dream of upgrading this vital community facility to a very high standard for future generations to benefit fromâ€
Article published with kind permission of the Ileach Newspaper