Cyclists get in gear to help transform Black Isle sports facility
As the prestigious Vuelta a España cycling road race draws to a close, full-service law firm Ledingham Chalmers hosts its own 51-mile cycle round the Black Isle this week (Friday, 15 September) to help develop world-class sports facilities for the local community.
While the Spanish-themed Vuelta de Isla Negra — translated as ‘cycle round the Black Isle’ — does not yet feature on the list of grand tours, it does see around 20 riders from the north and north east of Scotland business communities come together to raise funds for the first phase in the £300,000 re-development of Avoch Amenities Association’s (AAA) existing facilities.
Four representatives from Ledingham Chalmers, which has offices in Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Stirling, will also take part in the social ride: partner John Smart and personal assistant Adele MacIver from the Inverness office; with partner David Scott and senior associate Veli-Matti Raikkonen from the Aberdeen team.
The fundraising efforts are especially poignant, as the re-development was the brainchild of AAA chair George Jack, who tragically died following a road accident at New Year.
The three-phase project, estimated to cost round £300,000, will see the construction of first-rate facilities on the existing site in the harbour village, with the £150,000 first phase due for completion in spring 2018.
This comprises the development of a new tennis court and multi-use sports facilities for activities such as football, basketball and hockey.
Grant applications are underway, and £17,000 has already been raised.
Jillian Jack, AAA chair, said: “The project will create a lasting legacy here in the village.
“We already have an enviable track record when it comes to sport. Alongside our award-winning rowing club, Avoch AFC recently won the Highland Amateur Cup against Staxigoe United at Dudgeon Park, Brora.
“Through this development, we want to give people of all ages the opportunity to get involved in sports — both organised and informal — by providing a modern facility we can be proud of.
“I’m pleased to say there is broad support from the community: we consulted in both 2015 and this year with local residents on the project’s design and scope.
“Additionally, the pavilion itself has more than 200 members, and continues to grow in popularity.”
Inverness-based Ledingham Chalmers senior associate Roddy Cormack came up with the idea for the event as a fitting way to help move the AAA project along in memory of Mr Jack, his brother-in-law.
In preparation, and as well as overseeing the organisation of the Vuelta de Isla Negra, Mr Cormack has reconnoitred the route himself.
He said: “The intention is that this is a social ride, but we shouldn’t underestimate the challenges of the route, which starts and finishes in Avoch and takes a loop round the Black Isle coast.
“With this weekend marking the end of the last of the three cycling grand tours, it seemed fitting to use this business networking sportive to support George’s vision: AAA’s fantastic plans to ultimately re-develop the old bowling green and tennis courts into multi-sports courts with changing facilities.”
The event starts at the pavilion at Avoch at 9am for a 9.30am start and details of the route can be found at www.strava.com/routes/9262597.
Donate through www.justgiving.com/avochamenitiesassociation.