Open doors at the Ardchattan Centre

Phoebe Lavis-Jones, with mum Rachel Saxon and sister Emily. Photo: Chris Lavis-Jones.

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Open doors at the new Ardchattan Centre welcomed in a busy turnout of visitors keen to support the ambitious project and find out how to get involved.

More than £700 was also raised from an afternoon tea served outdoors at Sunday’s open day and a sale of artwork and books donated by two families from North Connel and Bonawe.

Afternoon tea at the Ardchattan Centre was popular with visitors

The centre’s Breege Smyth said the event, showcasing work in progress and what is to come, was a huge success, with the first guests of the day arriving before the official start time.

‘People were very keen to come and have a look,’ said Breege.

One visitor, a former pupil of the school, travelled all the way from Dumbarton after reading about it in The Oban Times.

It was access all areas for people to see what changes have been made to revamp the old school so far.

Many ex-pupils also took the chance to take a look inside the former schoolhouse, crossing the doorstep of  what used to be a teacher’s dwelling, added Breege.

The idea is to turn the house into an exhibition space telling stories of the area and the former school. Development and funding manager Jane Issacson was busy on the day signing up people interested in getting hands-on with the stories project, as well as a wallpaper project for the school house where recruits will work with artists and designers to come up with prints to decorate its walls and soft furnishings  in celebration of the area. It is hoped those workshops will start mid-September.

Footpaths created in the garden also meant people could  have a stroll in the grounds.

And lots of interest was shown by groups wanting to find out more about hiring space for sessions – from an art group to bootcamp, and a toddlers group from Barcaldine.

People also had the chance to find out about the next stages of the refurbishment project and what funding will be needed to complete it after the successful community buyout from Argyll and Bute Council with help from the Scottish Land Fund.

Major refurbishment work is likely to start in 2024.