Bonnyton Thistle FC can now press ahead with their ambitious plans for a state of the art football facility at Townholm thanks to funding from sportscotland, East Ayrshire Council, East Ayrshire Council’s Renewable Energy Fund and the Scottish Football Partnership.
The club dared to dream big with their ambitious plans and this has certainly paid off as their dreams are soon to become a reality.
The plans, which include the reclamation of derelict land to build a 3G synthetic pitch, clubhouse and community space, will be a welcome boost to Kilmarnock’s sporting portfolio, providing all weather facilities for use by the club and other community groups.
For Club Chair, Ian Higgins, the news is a welcome boost after a mammoth fundraising effort spearheaded by the club’s Trustees. He says: “We’re delighted. We can’t praise the Council’s Vibrant Communities team enough for all the assistance. They’ve bent over backwards to drive the project forward with us. Cammy Watt S.F.A Facilities Manager, Sarah Robertson sportscotland, John Brown S.F.A. Regional Manager for the South West Region, Stewart McCaffrey, Scottish Football Partnership and Gillian Arnot, Scottish Renewable Energy Fund, have all played a huge part in driving the project forward. We’ve forged a strong partnership with the Council which will stand us in good stead as we go forward. We have the funding in place now for Phase one which is the construction of the full size 3G pitch. Work starts on site next week.
“This means everything to the club. We already have 350 young footballers from age 4 to under 21 spread across 16 age groups and including many with disabilities. This year our girls section will expand to four teams but with these new facilities we’ll be able to expand the full club, focusing on over 35s teams and walking football along with an adult team.”
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council said: “This is brilliant news for Kilmarnock and East Ayrshire. Bonnyton Thistle is an exceptional football club and their performances continue to be a real source of pride for local people.
“Bonnyton Thistle is a 350 member club, offering the highest standard of football coaching and activities for tiny tots all the way through to U21s. The Club has achieved the highest standard of accreditation from the Scottish FA as Legacy Quality Mark holders and this investment, matched by funding approved by the Council last year, will help them build a facility that matches their aspirations and abilities as one of the country’s top football clubs.’
Councillor Eòghann MacColl, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities said: “I’m delighted to hear that the Bonnyton Thistle Facility Development can now get underway thanks to the confirmation of funding from Sportscotland.
“As well as being a strong competitor in Scottish Football, Bonnyton are also a truly accessible club with a great disability structure including the Bonnyton Flyers. I know that through this new facility that they will continue to develop inclusive football opportunities that allow all members of our community to participate and achieve on the pitch.”
Stewart Harris, Chief Executive, sportscotland said: “By working together with our partners locally and nationally, we are building a world-class sporting system for everyone in Scotland and supporting the development of clubs like Bonnyton Thistle is an important part of the plan.
“Bonnyton Thistle are already delivering a fantastic resource for the local community, but it was their ambitious plans to increase the scope of their activities, and to provide more and better opportunities to take part in sport which stood out. That’s why we were delighted to invest in their exciting new development.”
Keith Anderson, Chief Executive of ScottishPower Renewables, said: “As a responsible developer of renewable energy, ScottishPower Renewables strives to be a good neighbour in all aspects of its work and we’ve awarded more than £19m to local community projects to date.
“We know the funds generated by our windfarms are an invaluable resource for local communities and I’m delighted to see £250,000 funding from Whitelee Windfarm being awarded to Bonnyton Thistle Community Football Club today.
“Whitelee has provided more than £3.4m of funding for community projects across East Ayrshire alone and we’re proud to be able to offer our support to local initiatives such as this.”