Hugh Smith’s letter from Islay
THE Mactaggart Leisure Centre at Bowmore celebrated its 25th anniversary on October 29 with lots of festivities.
Among the attractions were visiting entertainers, a surf simulator and a moon walker. Other activities for young swimming pool users were face painting, lots to eat and a junior disco. The celebration also included a presentation recognising the contribution made by volunteers.
The leisure centre came about through outstanding community efforts and it was fitting that a number of the original committee members were present.
The facility is housed in one of Bowmore Distillery’s former warehouses. It also taps in to the waste energy from the distillery which heats the water in the pool.
Following the generosity of the distillery, the committee began a tireless campaign to secure funding. Local estate owner Sir John Mactaggart and his family gave financial assistance and their name to the development. Also helping to swell the coffers was the then Highlands and Islands Development Board, Argyll and Bute Council and Strathclyde Regional Council. Private donors also provided, as did the late James Howat, the former chairman of the Bowmore Distillery Company who, along with his wife Christine, made good the shortfall.
Building work on the project was carried out by the Woodrow Brothers and the £950,000 development was officially opened in a carnival atmosphere in the summer of 1991.
Since then, the facility has been extended and, as well as the swimming pool, it now houses a fitness studio, sauna and sunbed, activities room, sports shop, launderette and hairdressing salon.
Over the years it has not been all plain sailing, with the fabric needing attention and the quest for funding an ongoing problem.
The centre staff are in good heart and have won a number of awards, including the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2015.
Congratulations to the centre on its achievement over the past quarter century.
Skiff race on Loch Gorm
LOCH GORM in the Kilchoman district is not noted for its boating activities.
This changed last month when the Islay coastal rowing club held the John MacLellan Memorial Skiff Race on the largest fresh water loch on the island. The race commemorates Port Charlotte native John MacLellan, former manager of Kilchoman Distillery, whose untimely death earlier in the year greatly saddened his family, friends and colleagues in the distilling industry.
The memorial race was fittingly sponsored by Kilchoman Distillery, which also presented a silver quaich in his memory.
Receiving the trophy, along with other spirited prizes, was the winning team, the Foreshots, whose rowers were Aileas Colthart, Bryony Boyd, Donald MacPhee, Peter Craig and helmsman Gilbert MacLellan.
The prizes were handed over by Kilchoman Distillery owner Anthony Wills and all funds raised was donated to the John MacLellan Beatson Tribute Fund.
I WISH many further happy years together to Bowmore residents Maureen and John Woodrow, who celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.
Their wedding ceremony was held at the Round Church on October 19, 1966, and carried out by the late Rev John Muir Watson. Congratulations to you both.