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Eighty-year-old Elchris MacFarlane has the key to Ganavan in her safekeeping.
The silver key, almost three inches long, was presented to her grandfather Archibald MacAlister when he was the Provost of Oban and officially opened the now vanished tea pavilion next to the beach on April 18 1935.
Inscribed on one side with wording marking the grand occasion, the commemorative key was handed down to Elizabeth as a family heirloom and she has been proudly keeping in a display cabinet at her home in Gallanach Road.
On the reverse side of the key is Oban’s coat of arms.
With fond memories as a child going into the pavilion for ice cream, Elchris is on the side of campaigners wanting to protect what is left of Ganavan from the threat of more housing, after all, she says, ‘it was gifted to the people of Oban’.
‘The pavilion disappeared around the same time as the new houses were built. I wouldn’t want to see more being built. Oban has to be left with some space for people to come and enjoy themselves. It needs to be kept,’ added Elchris who is a regular visitor.
Elchris will not be handing over the Ganavan key either, she said: ‘It’s a family treasure now. It’ll be handed down to my son or daughter when the time comes. It’s like Ganavan – precious.’
John Watson, who has taken on a lead role in helping Friends of Ganavan oppose any housing plans, said many Ganavan users were set ‘dead against’ more homes being built there and has urged everyone to ‘make their voices heard’ to retain the location as a place for community activities and sports.
He said a plan to further develop Ganavan was ‘a step too far’ adding: ‘There are plenty alternative sites in the area for more housing, if it is indeed even needed given the additional Dunbeg stock under construction.
‘The dozens of local people I have spoken to tell me there has never been such a strong collective will against a development in living memory. I have not met a single person who thinks further housing development at Ganavan is a good idea.
‘We have much activity ready to be actioned should a planning application be made in the future, but we will need the support of everyone in the community and beyond to ensure we obtain a result that is fair to all and protects our precious green space.’
Friends of Ganavan has a Facebook page with more than 3,300 followers and featuring posts and photographs past and present from supporters.