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January 14, 2009

Three villages finally get their hall

After 10 years of campaigning, overcoming setbacks and constant fund-raising, the communities of Arrochar, Tarbet, Succoth can finally beginning to see some reward for their efforts. Work on the £1.1 million Three Villages campus started last week

Steve McElroy Helensburgh Advertiser

A community’s 10-year wait for work to start on a new village hall has come to an end — with the push of a spade.

After years of campaigning, suffering set-backs and fund-raising, the people of Arrochar, Tarbet, Succoth and surrounding areas saw their tangible efforts finally come to fruition when development of their £1.1 million building began.

The honour of cutting the first turf of the 3 Villages campus went to Mary Haggerty, secretary of Arrochar and Tarbet Community Centre, a community activist and supporter of the Arrochar and Tarbet Community Development Trust which has been responsible for the development.

Around 60 members of the community, and those involved in the campaign, representatives of funding contributors, architects, builders and pupils from Arrochar Primary School attended the ceremony.

Provost Billy Petrie, a supporter of the long-awaited development, said he was “absolutely delighted” to see the work actually starting and praised the community for their magnanimous efforts.

He said: “I was at the first meeting when a sub-committee was set up to look at having a new hall when their old one was taken away.

“The people of the area were robbed of a community centre but decided that they could build one of their own and they have fought tenaciously and tirelessly for 10 years with a wonderful community spirit. It is wonderful that it has now come to fruition.”

Provost Petrie singled out four individuals, Trust chairman Duncan McLauchlan, Mary Haggerty, Ronnie Ross and Retta Deerin, who were the main instigators of the development and met with officials of Argyll and Bute Council who put forward their proposals.

The Provost added: “Had it not been for the tremendous dedication of these members in the early days it would not have happened. They were the pioneers and contributed a major part of the jigsaw and their contribution has not been in vain.

“At that time the council was not so helpful because of impediments but, over the years, things changed and they were allowed to look at it sympathetically.

“The development will greatly benefit local people and generations to come.”

Pupils from Arrochar Primary School provided a time capsule which they filled with their own work, and about what they expect from the new hall, before it is buried in the foundations.

The site has been fenced off by the builders, M&K MacLeod of Lochgilphead, who start construction on January 6. The project will take around a year to complete.

The building will consist of a main hall with stage, multipurpose hall, small classroom-sized hall and kitchen and there will also be provision for national park tourist facilities and public toilets.

Apart from their own efforts, funding was also provided by Community Links Scotland, through Dunbritton Housing Association and Wider Role, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, the Big Lottery, Argyll and the Islands LEADER, and the council.

Other developments planned for the village include a new jetty, public toilets, refurbishment of the community owned Pitstop Diner, the development of housing by Oxford Inns, who own the Arrochar Hotel, and an all-weather sports pitch in the area behind the new village hall.

The sale of the derelict Arrochar Outdoor Centre to the Territorial Army was one of the initiatives which led to the 3 Villages Campus becoming a reality