The Ardross-man

Surprise Find

As you may know from previous posts, we have had a lot of renovation work done in our Barony St John Centre in Ardrossan over the past 3 months and we had a surprising find under the floorboards of our corridor.

Part of the renovations at our Centre included work in our corridor to renew pipework for a new heating system and replace rotten floor joists. It was when the old floorboards were taken up that I noticed what I thought was an old piece of paper.

Upon further inspection, it turned out to be folded like an envelope and there was a handwritten name and address on it plus a stamp and Post Office stamp.

The name and address is McIlvean???, Laurel Bank, 19 South Beach Road, Ardrossan and the postage stamp, with a very young Queen Elizabeth II on it, is stamped 17th August 1958 – just five years after her coronation.

Do the McIvean’s??? still live at 19 South Beach Road? Is the house still called Laurel Bank? If anyone knows the answer or can shed some light on who the McIlvean’s??? What was their connection to the former Barony St John Church hall (or the Barony Church Hall as it would have been known then), please let me know by emailing

Coincidently, the following day on 18th August 1958, regional postage stamps were issued in the United Kingdom.

Previously, as can be seen on our letter, the stamp represented the whole of the UK. We have a rose in the top left to represent England, a thistle in the top right to represent Scotland, the Welsh daffodil in the bottom right and Ireland’s clover in the bottom right.

As of the 18th August 1958, each country had its own stamp. Scotland had the Queen and two symbols on their stamp;

a saltire with a crown and a thistle with crown.

Wales opted for a dragon and leek on theirs.

Northern Ireland had four symbols on theirs; the Red Hand of Ulster, a six pointed crowned star, a field gate with Ulster pillars and the flax plant ;

the Channel Isles had the Crown of William the Conqueror and the Guernsey lily;

the Isel of Man had the tre cassyn (Three Legs) on a shield surrounded by a ring-chain pattern based on designs found on ancient Manx stone crosses.

The English stamp seems to have retained the original national emblems of the rose, thistle, daffodil and clover in a circle around the Queen’s head.

This is a fascinating glimpse back in history and if you would like to read more about our discoveries and the renovation work in the former Barony St. John’s church and hall buildings, check out my blog at or if you would like to know more about our charity, visit or search for ScotCPS on your social media pages.

Until next time, stay safe.

Our new bench

Our leather bench now completes our main hall renovation work. What do you think?


We have been lucky enough to receive funding from the Scottish Government’s Community Climate Asset Fund, The Robertson Trust, The Foyle Foundation and North Ayrshire Council’s Community Benefit Fund.

This project was enormous and saw our main hall and corridor floor joists get replaced / repaired; our main hall walls and ceiling get repaired and repainted; our entire heating system get replaced; destratification fans and heating controls get installed; the arched windows in our main hall get replaced with double glazed versions; new LED lights in the main hall and light sensors in our corridor and toilets; old electrical wiring replaced; the windows of our Training Room get repainted with new galvanised grills installed on the outside; external stonework and roof repairs completed; and new flooring in our corridor and kitchen / reception area.

The difference before and after this funding is huge as I am sure you will agree from the photos, but aside from aesthetically, we have already noticed a huge difference in the warmth of the building and these energy saving renovations will enable The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety to massively reduce our heating bills and our local carbon emissions. In fact, Resource Efficient Scotland have estimated that we will now save 52,998kWh of energy and 10.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Now that’s impressive.  

Incident at the Barony St John

Some say a strange light was seen in the sky over the Barony St John church followed by men in black holding pens with lights on them.

Some say a boat load of illegal immigrants led by Donald Trump sought refuge in the church.

Others say an international terrorist hiding in the church was taken out by the SAS who abseiled through a belfry window.

All I know is that there were 3 police cars, 2 fire engines and two Council vehicles.

There was a police presence from 11.30am and the area was sealed off with road blocks from 3pm.

The “official” line is that it was a broken window.

You decide. 😂…/18991492.police…/…

Barony St John church sold

The church building went to auction on Thursday 2nd December and was sold. This now leaves us with the hall building which we intend to focus our efforts on to ensure it is fully restored to its former glory. Watch this space.

For those of you interested, the buyer has put the church up for auction with a different auctioneer – apparently he makes his money from quick, cheap buys and quick sales.

The reserve for the original sale was £15,000. The reserve for the new sale scheduled for 11th December is £67,500.

Check it out if you are interested

Sale of the Barony St John church building

It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform you of my intention to put the former Barony St John church building in Ardrossan up for sale.


Almost six years ago, I bought the Barony St John buildings for my charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety. Initially, we hadn’t planned on getting the church building as well but after seeing how beautiful the church organ and some of the windows are, we decided to make plans to try to use the hall building as our charity’s base and save the church building.

IMG_0012-2a dsc01158

Throughout 2015, we concentrated on getting our charity Centre up and running in the hall building – purchasing training equipment, developing a strength and conditioning area for our clients.

In 2016, we received funding for a Feasibility Study for the church building and we set about asking local residents what THEY wanted to see the church building used for.

By 2017, we had completed this Study and the consensus was that the most viable option was that we should develop the church into a music venue.

Capable of seating almost 1,000 people, the venue would be able to host live music, plays, pantomimes, weddings, art exhibitions, sports events – you name it. And it would bring in visitors from all over Ayrshire and beyond. A great vision for the church building and an inspiring regeneration plan for Ardrossan, as a venue of this size would bring jobs and economic growth to the area.

From 2018 until 2020, we have tried our best to get backing for this project, not just financial backing but also project support from the Council and various “movers and shakers” in the area.

Despite our best efforts, unfortunately we could not get this project off the ground and when Storm Brendan hit and devastated the connecting corridor back in December last year, I began to think maybe it was an omen.


The church building now has several leaks from various missing roof tiles and this combined with the lack of heating for well over a decade in the building has caused plasterwork to collapse and window frames to become loose.

Every year the building is left derelict sees the chances of it being saved reduce further.

The time has come to let someone else have a go at saving this building before it is too late.

My charity will still operate out of the hall building but within the next month, the church building will be put on the market and hopefully this will give it a new lease of life.

Any and all reasonable offers will be considered…and when you think that properties on Arran Place, one tenth of the size of the church building, sell for between £500,000 and £750,000, you begin to realise that this could be a great investment for a budding property developer or someone keen on creating their dream home.

Any interested parties should contact the charity on


The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

My charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety, which runs out of church hall building of the former Barony St John’s Church in Ardrossan has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

As you may know, we provide empowering Personal Safety and self defence training to vulnerable groups and individuals including female survivors of violence, people who are sensory impaired, children and youths, people with dwarfism and people from LGBTI and ethnic minority communities…and we do it all with only 9 volunteer Instructors, no paid staff.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups that benefits their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

We will receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Arran, Sheriff Iona Sara McDonald, later this summer….and two of our volunteers will attend a garden party at Holyroodhouse in July 2021.

We are absolutely thrilled and delighted that our charity’s work in empowering vulnerable people has been recognised with such a prestigious award from Her Majesty, The Queen.

I would like to pay tribute to the hard work and commitment of our volunteers, both present and past, as they give up their time and skills free of charge to enable us to function.

To all our volunteers, I’d like to say a heartfelt “Thank You”.

You are simply The Best.

Board of Trustees – vacancy

I hope you are all well and keeping yourselves safe from this virus outbreak.

These last couple of months since the lockdown and the temporary closure of our Barony St John Centre in Ardrossan have been very difficult for my charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety.

We depend upon the evening rental of our hall to local groups (North Ayrshire Muay Thai, McMillan Boxfit, Tai Chi, etc.) to pay for our running costs of heating, lighting, building and instructor insurance, etc. and being closed means our funds are gradually running low.

Obviously, there are a few funders which have been set up to help charities affected by the Coronavirus lockdown and we have applied to a couple but have not heard anything back yet. Our fingers are crossed though.

But last week, we also received the devastating news that the Chair of our charity, Pamela Anderson (no, not of Baywatch fame but of Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce fame) informed us of her decision to resign from her post due to ill health.

Pamela has amassed a great deal of knowledge encompassing human resources and employment law from a career spanning small private companies, large corporate organisations and local authorities – and she will be sadly missed.

So, would YOU like to join our Board? Well, let me tell you a bit about our charity;

The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety provides empowering Personal Safety, Conflict Resolution and practical self defence training to businesses, groups and individuals but particularly vulnerable people targeted by Hate Crime.

We help female survivors of violence (rape, sexual abuse and domestic abuse); LGBTI groups; ethnic minority groups; and people who are sensory impaired; to name but a few.

Our Charity’s mission is to potentially save lives by;

  • The provision of practical training and solutions to help people avoid violence and aggression.
  • The raising of awareness of the importance of personal safety in Scottish communities.
  • The provision of a point of contact for those who are at risk of violence or those seeking advice in Scotland.
  • The reduction of the fear of crime throughout Scotland.


Our objective is simply to empower individuals to manage safer lives.

And we sum up our aims and objectives in one, very powerful statement;

We champion equality, diversity and human rights as defining values of our charity.

We promote equality of opportunity for all, empowering every individual to achieve their potential, free from prejudice and discrimination.

Unfortunately, Board resignations due to ill health have left us now looking for THREE Trustee posts to fill.

The Board only meet in our Centre once per quarter (July, October, January and April of each year) with each meeting only lasting approximately 2 hours. So basically, we are only looking for a minimum of 8 hours commitment per year.

If your background connects with our charity and the people we help, and you are interested in joining the Board of our multi award-winning charity, please get in touch with me at and I will answer any questions you may have and send you a copy of our Constitution to read over.

Thanking you in advance, for your interest

Alan Bell

The Ardrossman

Door replacement

I mentioned in a previous article that we had Resource Efficient Scotland (RES) in at our Barony St John Centre for an energy saving survey. Well, they made a number of suggestions which I hope to achieve and tell you about over the next few months but one of those suggestions was to replace the main entrance door to our Centre.

You see, I knew we had problems with wind and water ingress around windows and I knew we could do with an upgraded heating system and extra insulation but one of the biggest culprits of heat loss in our building was staring me in the face and I just never clicked until RES told me.

Sometimes you just can’t see the wood for the trees……and this wooden door was a major problem.


The entrance door to the Barony St John takes the full brunt of the winds from the sea and over the years it has gradually rotted in places.

Additionally, a wooden door is not the best for energy efficiency. It swells and contracts with heat. So, in the Summer time it is fine but in the Winter months, it contracts allowing the wind and rain to penetrate into the building and drives the warmth of the building out.

Obvious really but like most things that stare you in the face, it never registered with me until they mentioned it.

RES suggested we replace the door and frame with a more solid and energy efficient PVC door with sealed edges. This would not only make the building more energy efficient but also make it more secure.

I had a chat with the Council’s Planning Department and they agreed that the door could be replaced – as long as the door and the frame stayed the same colour…red.

Keeping it red, especially with a red frame added a lot to the overall cost but needs must and by mid-March, the door had been made (you can’t just buy an off the shelf door as the door dimensions of church buildings aren’t the same as a house or office).

The old door was taken out.

And the new door put in.


And what a difference it has made. The temperature has increased in our doorway by 6 degrees on bad weather days.

If you would like to help me fundraise for the repairs and renewals to make the Barony St John Centre wind and watertight, please get in touch.

I will keep you posted on all the renovation works.

Goodbye for now.

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