Meeting in the Inver Restaurant, Ayr College – 1 May 2018

This week our Tuesday meeting was held in the comfortable surroundings of the Inver Restaurant on the Ayr College campus. This had been arranged by Alistair Tyre with the main purpose of hearing from those participating in a community service programme that has substantial College involvement.

Cameron Bell, head of construction for the three Ayrshire College campuses gave a presentation, supported by a short and interesting video, on a community service partnership between South Ayrshire Council, Ayrshire College and Morrison Construction. This project, currently underway, will result in the restoration of the 250-year-old stone wall around the walled garden at Belleisle Park. The project will run for at least two years and may be followed by other projects to restore structures of historic importance within the Belleisle estate. The wall has deteriorated to the extent that the restoration is essential and urgent.  When South Ayrshire Council first approached the College it was recognised that the project provided a rare opportunity for providing training in the traditional use of lime mortar in pointing masonry stonework.  These same techniques are essential in the restoration of ancient buildings and such training and experience, on an historically important structure, together with the SVQ qualifications that could be achieved by the students is expected to lead to greatly enhanced career opportunities whether in employment or self-employment.

Jim Johnstone,  community skills manager for Morrison Construction then spoke about Morrison Construction’s part in the project. Morrison is a large, national construction company that recognises that there are shortages of key, skilled individuals within the construction industry and is keen to be involved in partnership arrangements which will increase the supply of skilled workers and, at the same time, provide valuable community support.  Morrison were therefore very supportive of this project and through a formal partnership agreement are providing funding, materials and advice for the wall restoration.

The presentations on the walled garden project were followed by a brief talk by Gavin Murray, director of aeronautical construction, engineering and science, in which he indicated that the Mission Discovery project would run again this year at the Kilmarnock campus, from 12 to 13 June.   The project provides an opportunity for local school pupils to become involved in designing experiments that, hopefully, will be carried out in space.  This year, astronaut Steve Bone will be in attendance.  Steve is unique in that he is the only astronaut that has flown two consecutive missions for NASA.  He will be holding a “meet the astronaut” session at the Ayr campus on 13 June from 6.30 to 8.30pm. In his summing up Gavin made it very clear that Ayr Rotarians would be made most welcome at both of the campuses.

Alistair Tyre thanked the speakers for their entertaining explanation of the novel collaboration between the three participating organisations. He also acknowledged the excellence of the catering and hospitality provided by the students, some of whom were serving for the first time, and congratulated the college for the award of the AA College Rosette for college hospitality, the only college in Scotland so recognised.