Church to be transformed into indoor climbing centre

WORK has started on a £3.3 million project to transform a church building into East Ayrshire’s first indoor climbing centre.

Emtec will carry out the work to create the new Above Adventure centre in Kilmarnock at the former Grange Church. East Ayrshire Council said the facility will be a sustainable enterprise – running apprenticeships and training programmes, as well as providing volunteering opportunities as part of its business model.

Dean Pastulovic, founder of Above Adventure, a registered charity, said, “We’re delighted that work on the church is finally starting. Although we’ve already been up and running with our outreach programme for some years,  we’ve been working hard to secure the necessary funding to create this new permanent centre and community hub. Obviously with a project as ambitious as this, it took time to get funding in place, permissions granted and contracts awarded. And then, sadly, Covid-19 caused significant delays in 2020. But it’s a new year and a bright new future for us.

“We’ll be catering for climbers of all ages, fitness levels and abilities. We’ll  also be bringing permanent jobs and opportunities for people to train as instructors, giving them qualifications and skills and a solid career path for the future. But that’s not the sole function of this centre.

“As keen climbers ourselves, we recognise that the sport is a great route to build stamina, fitness, and physical strength. At the same time, the challenges presented by climbing also help improve confidence, social skills and mental wellbeing, as we’ve already proved with our outreach programme.

“We’ll be offering our services to disadvantaged groups, working with them to help improve life skills, create opportunities and boost self-esteem for those who truly deserve to benefit from all the positives that climbing can bring. And with state of the art design making it accessible to people with disabilities, the centre will allow us to offer those benefits to a huge range of new and aspiring climbers. giving many people their first ever chance to explore the joys of climbing in a safe and nurturing environment.”

Councillor Lilian Jones added,  “As chair of the Above Adventure board, I’ve experienced first hand the difference that this team can make with their outreach sessions.  And for them to be restoring and preserving this much loved B listed historic building, which is such a big part of the Town Centre landscape, is an added bonus. It will be great to see this old building gain a new lease of life. We’re all going to be facing the effects of Covid-19 for some time to come, and this new centre will be a welcome boost to both  the  community’s mental and physical wellbeing and the local economy as we all take our first steps towards recovery.”

Above Adventure is jointly funded by Scottish Government Regeration Capital Grant Fund Historic Evironment Scotland,  East Ayrshire Council’s Renewable Energy Fund, Resilient Scotland, the Robertson Trust,  Sport Scotland, William Grant Foundation,  Architectural Heritage Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Pilgrim Trust.