WHEN the Meadows Sports Centre lost its funding from Aberdeenshire last year, staff at one of the biggest and most successful centres could have been forgiven for thinking the end of an era was well and truly nigh.
Instead, they knuckled down to ensure there would be life after the withdrawal of cash support from the council, to the extent of putting in extra unpaid shifts to help balance the books of the 21 year old facility.
Trust chairman Jack Nixon praised the efforts of the dedicated staff, saying that their hard work had helped secure The Meadows future.
“The application of staff has been nothing short of staggering,” he said. “Thanks to them, we look as though we are on target for a good year, which in our coming of age era is most appropriate.
“In particular the refurbishing of the gym, rebranding exercise and generally tidying up the building could not have been achieved.
“The two open days have added to the success story in the bid to ensure the “make the Meadows mine” slogan has become a reality, attracting new faces to the new look gym.
“As a consequence, around 346 members use the exercise area on a regular basis. It’s a success story, involving two determined managers who have led with authority and purpose,” said Mr Nixon, who will step down from his post as chairman in March, but not before he has handed over to the new committee and installed a replacement for himself.
“We are at a vital stage in the history of the Meadows,” added the energetic 71 year old Mr Nixon. “But I believe that in partnership with the eight Trust clubs, Aberdeenshire Council, the community, and of course the staff, we shall go from strength to strength. We still need an input from the business community who can provide the necessary expertise to keep us on track. I’d like to see such an arrangement in place before I step down. I would also like to see a more united front from all the clubs in our drive to put the Meadows on the map, but that’s happening surely, if more slowly than I’d like.”
Shona Fraser and Michelle Rothney, who have been in the managerial posts since the opening of the facility, were both enthusiastic about the future.
“It has been a great privilege to head up the staff team. They have been fantastic.
“We like to think we are in for a good year, but it’s not going to be easy, but then it never has been,” the pair said in a joint statement to the Times.
The success of the facility’s open days has inspired the duo to consider repeating the events later on this year.
“We will be advising the Trust Committee to embark on a promotion campaign,” said Michelle.
Looking to the longer term future, Mr Nixon added: “In less than five years we shall have a new Ellon Academy on our doorstep.
“What an opportunity that represents for sport in the area. If we work together this could be an exercise that not only provides leisure opportunities for all, but produces talented young sportsmen and women for man years to come.
“It is a chance to shape the sporting future for the area for a long, long time.”
For further information on activities at the Meadows or the facilities available for hire, contact Shona or Michelle on 01358 725162.