Balmedie Leisure Centre New Coffee Shop

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Balmedie Leisure Centre is a charitable organisation, established in 1986 as a Management Committee of local volunteers to “provide a range of community learning, sporting and leisure based opportunities to individuals and community groups at reasonable cost”.

The Centre applies for funding on an annual basis to Aberdeenshire Council towards the costs of running the facility and generates funds from admissions and fundraising.

It all started just after I became chairmanperson of the voluntary management committee early 2010. I was invited to a Formartine area committee meeting along with the other voluntary groups by now retired Formartine Area Manager Keith Newton. At that meeting he offered a substantial amount of planning Gain money to the leisure Centre requesting I get back to him with some ideas.

During his tenure Keith was extremely supportive of the Leisure Centre and early indications are that we will continue to have that same level of support from his successor Elaine Brown.

I informed the committee at our next monthly meeting and it was unanimous we erect a new Coffee Shop.

Keith was delighted with our plans requested a business plan before giving us the go ahead. Sounded simple until Keith decided to conduct a community survey of Balmedie and Belhelvie Parish (Balmedie Views)

Things blossomedexploded from there and we expanded our plans for the LC to address most of the issues raised by our community. See attached Future Plans.

It became obvious that the Planning Gain money in its self would not be enough and further funding would have to be found.

We decided to set up a project team headed by Lee Scott, myself and Shona our manager, supported by other committee members.

Unfortunately within a very short period of time Lee was assigned to a police task force and was dragged off to some remote areas of Shetland and Ireland therefore everything fell on my and the manages shoulders.

It quickly became apparent that to secure other funding we would have to extend our lease with Aberdeenshire Council to 25 years and change our constitution to a single tier SCIO

Aberdeenshire council pointed us towards other sources of funding as did Rod Gunson Of Formartine Partnership.

Here we are nearly four years later after mountains of paperwork form filling and hundreds of meetings we have finally completed Phase 2 and I am absolutely delighted to be able to confirm that the Beachside Coffee Shop at Balmedie leisure Centre is now officially open. This is a fantastic addition to the Leisure centre and is already proving to be very popular. The name by the way is thanks to three year old Kirsty Macdonald who won the Name the Coffee Shop Competition. I hope Kirsty and her family enjoyed the Cineworld prize.

For everyone associated with the Leisure Centre, this is a moment of celebration, pride and satisfaction on a job well done. A lot of time and effort has gone into this venture Phase 2 of an ambitious expansion programme to secure the future of our community Leisure Centre.We have had some fantastic support from Aberdeenshire Council, local businesses, customers and the wider community. Thank you all.

Personally I would like to thank and recognise the fantastic work staff and my colleagues on the committee have put in. Especially our manager Shona Buchan, who really is the rock our Leisure Centre stands on.

Thanks must also go to Tracy Wilson our Coffee Shop Manager who has put together a really excellent team, and a terrific Menu. Of course I can’t forget my better half Jackie, who has had to put up with my moans, groans and little tantrums.

Aberdeenshire Council have been extremely helpful and supportive as has Councillor Alan Hendry who has been instrumental in securing the successful completion of our plans. If I could single out Mark Mitchell from the Formartine Area office in Ellon and LEADER which is the EU Rural & Fisheries Programmes Team in Inverurie, Vicky Thomson, Anne MacLennan & Alasdair Cunningham, for a special sincere thank you, as they have been absolutely superb; I can’t sing their praises highly enough.

We used local businesses wherever we could: Robert Lamb the architect, Ian Muirden and his team at Nulook created and built a fantastic structure, Grampian Catering based in Ellon did a marvellous job of the kitchen, Frasers of Ellon laid the flooring for free, The Mary Salmond Trust gave a donation towards equipment, V design provided the furniture.

Finally to those in Aberdeenshire Council Elected members and the wider community you have seen what we at Balmedie Leisure Centre have achieved and what we are capable of, therefore the next time some funding becomes available and you are looking for a worthy cause.

WHO YOU GOING TO CALL: Not our Ghostbuster friend in Hollywood but the other Bill Murray in Balmedie.

FUTURE PLANS: The leisure centre is widely regarded as the most valuable community resource within the village and surrounding area.

Along with a complete revamp of the exterior of the building plus new logo. Our project which we hope to complete in three stages is primarily to address issues raised from a recently conducted survey by Aberdeenshire Community Planning Partnership.

Firstly. A new entrance, as a high percentage of users, have expressed difficulty, entering and exiting the Leisure Centre, especially with push or wheelchairs.

Jointly with the new entrance, we are looking to create an outside area for twos group who are at present are housed in a window less area. Having spare ground at the rear of the leisure centre we thought it would be nice if the children had a fenced in outdoor play area filled with role play equipment that would stimulate their imagination and help develop early social skills.

Secondly a café, where our patrons can sit, relax and enjoy some refreshments. We also hope to double this as an Internet Café especially in the evenings, where young and old can surf and learn to enjoy the internet.

Thirdly, a new and larger fitness suite with spa. Over 20% of households & 8% of young people said they would use a bigger and better equipped gym facility.

Plans for the above have been submitted to Aberdeenshire council for approval which were granted and will give us a five year window in which to complete our proposed enhanced facility’s for the LC.