This was a gloomy story in 2011, with owner, Fife Council, calling time on Ardroy, the great outdoor eduction centre on the fringe of Lochgoilhead.
The east coast council was no longer interested in covering the annual subsidy for the centre, not far short of £300k.
Given the way the nation has been galvanised by the spectrum of sports and sporting achievements at the hugely successful London 2012 Olympics, Fife must be wondering if it’s judgment call wasn’t the best.
Staff fought hard to keep the place open. It may be that it was that commitment and that effort that attracted Dunoon’s George Bruce, a retired businessman now 71, to step in alongside former head of the centre, Phil Thompson, to try to save the facility. Mr Bruce committed to three years of voluntary work in the project.
The combination of Mr Bruce’s business savvy and Mr Thompson’s knowledge of the detail of running the centre and of its potential has proved redemptive.
They put together a charitable trust, got the centre reopened in November 2011, stood out against some times when ‘hand to mouth’ was literally what kept things going – and, after under nine months, are already in a stable financial situation.
They won a £90k contract under the UK Government’s summer Challenge Network scheme. providing outdoor learning for 16 year olds.
They will shortly be starting to raise money towards the £500,000 they will need to buy the centre outright from Fife council.
BBC Scotland have been following the story of the fight for survival led by Bruce and Thompson. It is the subject of a documentary, Saving Ardroy, which will air on BBC Radio Scotland on 15th August.
Lochgoil and the territory available to Ardroy in outdoor education are both no less than breathtaking. That the new management has been able to turn around the centre’s fortunes to this extent in so short a time augurs well for its future.
An annual multitude of teenagers whose lives might have not have been opened to the attraction of outdoor adventure already owes a lot to George Bruce and Phil Thompson.