Biggar Kirk will take over running of Gillespie Centre

Volunteers at work in the Gillespie Centre, Biggar.
Volunteers at work in the Gillespie Centre, Biggar.

The association in charge of Biggar’s Gillespie Centre is to be dissolved after decades of running it.

Biggar Kirk will keep the centre going, however, and it is now drawing up plans for its future.

Complaints have been voiced about the way the centre was being run, with some groups unhappy about recent rent increases.

The High Street venue, originally the old Gillespie Relief Kirk, was transformed into a community hub under the direction of former minister Cameron Mackenzie after it was left redundant in the early 1980s.

“The centre has been serving the community ever since,” said a spokesman for the Gillespie Centre Association’s trustees.

“Over the years, groups, from parents and toddlers to brownies to the gardening club and more, have met in the halls throughout the day and in the evenings.

“Friends meet for coffee, cakes or soup and a sandwich in the cafe.”

For years, it has been run by the association, a registered charity governed by its own trustees, but it has always worked hand in hand with the kirk, depending on the church for the use of the Gillespie building and on its members to raise funds and to volunteer in the centre..

The spokesman added: “For various reasons, the association has now decided that it will need to wind up its oversight of the operations of the centre.

“The trustees, however, have sought and received assurance from Biggar Kirk that it is willing to carry on the vital services offered in the Gillespie Centre through its 22 trustees who already sit on the kirk session.

“The kirk session has established a steering group for this purpose.”

A meeting has been held to ask association members to ratify the move for its dissolution.

Given the assurances of the kirk on its willingness to keep the centre going, the membership voted overwhelmingly for that course of action.

“An application has now been submitted to the Scottish Charities Regulator, and we await their decision,” said the spokesman.

“Meanwhile, the centre remains open, and it is hoped that, under Biggar Kirk, it will continue to be the well-loved place on which many in our community depend.

“If you are in Biggar, please pay us a visit. The scones are fantastic!”

Those taking on responsibility for the centre will look at improving communication with the community, extending opening hours, recruiting more volunteers, developing its business plan and updating its facilities.