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Big changes for Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre, Lochgoilhead, Argyll

Added: (Thu Oct 25 2007)

Pressbox (Press Release) - Big changes for Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre, Lochgoilhead, Argyll

The staff at Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre, Lochgoilhead, are faced with moving from the employment of Fife Council to a Company Limited by Guarantee with Charitable Status. The planned changes to the status of the 38-year-old Centre are due to commence on 1st April 2008. Fife Council is currently looking for people to become directors to run this new company.

Since Ardroy opened in 1969, it has become internationally renowned, introducing new initiatives to the outdoor education world. The most recent in June 2007 Ardroy received The Enterprise Education Award from Warwick University. This was the first time the award had been accredited to an outdoor education centre.

Ardroy OEC operates out of a combination of buildings including a Victorian house and 38-year-old Medway huts. The requirement for major capital investment to refurbish the Centre has led Fife Council to arrange transferring the management of Ardroy to a Trust, but with a financial agreement in place so the Centre will still provide courses for Fife schools, along side developing new business.

When asked about how the staff felt about this major change in their employment status, the Head of Centre replied, “Obviously staff are concerned about any changes to their conditions of service, but on balance everyone realises that Ardroy must upgrade its tired facilities. Each week teachers praise the course content and high quality and professionalism of all the staff, but comment on the standard of residential facilities.

Fife Council is acting in the best interests of Ardroy and aims to establish a Trust that will flourish. They have appointed Turner Townsend to manage the redevelopment of Ardroy’s buildings and architects, Park & Page, who are experts in designing buildings based on sustainable principles, to design the new Centre.
We are all excited at the prospect of working out of a building that can be used to educate our clients about reducing their carbon footprint.”

Ardroy became Scotland’s first Eco Centre in 2004 and in February 2007 became the first establishment to gain a second Eco Centre green flag. Much of Ardroy’s work with their primary school clients is to educate them in the small changes the children can make in their life-styles that are friendlier to the environment. This work with schools was recognised in December 2006 when the Centre received a National Energy Efficiency Award in London.

Over the past 12 years Ardroy has developed a range of courses that it delivers to groups from Argyll and Dumbarton as well as Fife. The Centre’s core business is providing residential outdoor education courses for primary school pupils. 72 primary school pupils from Islay & Jura visited Ardroy for such a course in June 2007. Ardroy also works with Stramash, Argyll & Bute’s outdoor education provision. Together with Careers Scotland Argyll, Ardroy and Stramash developed and delivered a new programme that supports schools in delivering the Enterprise Curriculum. This was delivered to primary schools all over Argyll including Islay, Jura and Mull as well as the mainland.

In addition to its work with primary schools, Ardroy runs a yearlong course for young people who wish to become outdoor education instructors. The Centre has been a Highlands & Islands Enterprise Training Provider since 1995 and over the last 12 years, 110 young people have benefited from the course, with many still working as outdoor instructors throughout the country. The emphasis Ardroy puts into training of staff as well as clients was recognised in April 2007 when Ardroy retained its Investor in People Award for the fourth time.

Being located in a tourist area, Ardroy offers half-day activity sessions over the summer months to those visitors who wish to safely try an adventurous activity. They also offer a week of activities for the local children or grandchildren. Many retired residents arrange for their grandchildren’s visits to coincide with Ardroy’s activity week.

Whilst Fife Council established Ardroy in 1969, its 20 staff are Argyll residents, 15 living in the Lochgoil and Carrick Castle area. The Centre is involved with local community projects, including the Award winning Red Squirrel Project, working with Lochgoilhead Community Trust and the local primary school. The Centre is also the lead partner in the Cormonachan Woodland project, which is working to manage and re-establish an Atlantic Oak Woodland. This will be featured in the Nature of Britain TV programme on 14th November 07.

Liz Evans, the Head of Centre, is confident that Ardroy will succeed as a Trust. She explained that Fife Council want to appoint 4 voluntary company directors to establish and run the Trust along with 3 directors already appointed from Fife Council. We are looking for people who wish to “put something back” and are concerned about the education of young people and their relationship with the environment. We would particularly welcome dynamic people with skills and experience in managing company finance, legal and importantly experience in fundraising. If anyone is interested, he or she would be very welcome to visit the Centre and see who we are and what we do first hand or visit our web site www.outdooeeducation.co.uk

Liz Evans, Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre, Lochgoilhead, Argyll, PA24 8AF
Tel: 01301 703391/703353 Fax: 01301 703479
E-mail: Liz.Evans@outdooreducation.co.uk

Submitted by:Liz Evans
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