A big year ahead on the bonnie banks ...

0712055 SSFF ecology centre 'Douglas Maxwell (Ops Manager) on the site where the new Ecology Centre will be built - at Craigencault Ecology Centre, Kinhorn Loch, Kinghorn
0712055 SSFF ecology centre 'Douglas Maxwell (Ops Manager) on the site where the new Ecology Centre will be built - at Craigencault Ecology Centre, Kinhorn Loch, Kinghorn

THE year ahead will be a really big one for the Ecology Centre in Kinghorn.

For as well as seeing the start of the building of the new centre on the eastern banks of Kinghorn Loch, staff and volunteers are hoping to set up a mobile classroom, taking the teachings of the centre directly to schools, and the expansion of its volunteer Environ-mentor groups and educational groups, encouraging more people of all ages to become involved in its environmental work.

After securing more than £26,500 of Lottery funding, the centre’s hardworking staff are now looking for match funding to take forward the mobile classroom project as soon as possible.

“We are all very aware that in this economic climate it can be difficult for some schools to afford to hire buses to bring pupils to the centre, so we thought it would be great if we could put together some teaching materials on a trailer to take out to them,” explained Rhona Lyon the centre’s office manager.

“Then as many classes as were interested could visit the mobile classroom and try out some of the hands-on type learning materials we have.”

The Ecology Centre is hoping that plans will soon be available on a scaled down version of its new centre, and, all being well, they hope the foundations for the new building further round the loch on the east side, will start to be put in place by November.

“We didn’t manage to get as much funding as we had hoped for the new centre, so we are having to scale down our plans a little.

‘‘But it will still have more than we have in the current building and will be purpose-built for our needs which will be great,” said Rhona.

“It will be a low level building to fit in with the surroundings and will use locally sourced and environmentally friendly materials.

“We want to be able to house our volunteers in more comfortable accommodation.

‘‘We want to develop our education centre and the extensive ground we will have around the centre.

‘‘It will be designed to grow with us, and, as more funding becomes available, we will be able to extend it to meet our needs.”

The charitable organisation, which provides training opportunities for unemployed people as well as an extensive volunteering programme is hoping to be able to extend its popular Big Lottery funded Enviro-mentors programme for the over 50s, which includes a tool recycling project called ‘Tools for Change’; its Friday lunch group; a Garden Mosaics class; a woodwork class; cookery and Rag Rug workshops.

“Many of these started off as just a few sessions which then proved so popular they have become a permanent part of our programme,” explained Rhona.

“As well as being educational and teaching people practical skills, there is a big social element to what we do.”