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The Ardross-man

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October 2016

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Halloween 2016

Our first Halloween in the Ardrossan Barony St. John Centre – and it looks fab. 😀

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Bloody table cloth covering our reception desk with eyeball lollipops in the Trick or Treat bowl.

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Beware tape over the doors and ghosts in the corridor.

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Face changing photographs throughout the building…

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Even BOB 1&2, our Body Opponent Bags are getting dressed up for Fright Night.

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And watch out for the Chainsaw Kid coming to chase after you….

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Happy Halloween folks.

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Ardrossan views

 

There have been some fantastic photos taken of the Ardrossan coastline over the last few months which inevitably include the Barony St. John church and hall buildings.

img_0611The above photo shows the snow capped mountains of the Isle of Arran behind the church as well as the masts of the sailing yachts in Ardrossan Marina.

By contrast, as Autumn draws in, this photo of a foggy day taken by Peter Ribbeck is very atmospheric. I love the lone person dressed in the long coat walking the dog – it makes the picture feel like it was taken in Victorian times.

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This one of a sunset night by Marion Allison Ramage looks warm and lovely….
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And this sunset sees shining rays of light beaming onto the Barony St John in this photo again by Peter Ribbeck.

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Finally, this awesome photo by Michael Scott Jr. is one of my favourites….perfect for Halloween. 😀

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This coastal view – this iconic, beautiful building is absolutely stunning……and the many photographs and fond memories go far beyond the local community.

How can we not want to save this iconic building?

We’ve saved the church hall building, turning it into a Centre for my charity (The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety – http://www.ScotCPS.org.uk) and a community asset through our many evening classes (Muay Thai, Ladies Boxing Bootcamp, Kids Krav Maga, Circuit training, etc.) now let’s hope our feasibility study comes up with a viable option for the church building’s future use.

So, have another look at the photos above and tell me what your favourite one is and why. 🙂

Thank you Hugh Fraser Foundation

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I just have to say a huge “Thank You” to The Hugh Fraser Foundation for sending me a cheque for £7,000 to go towards the repair and renovation of what will become the Training / Meeting Room and hopefully an Office area in the Barony St. John in North Ayrshire, Scotland.

The total cost to open these rooms has been estimated at nearly £30,000 and this award will go a long way towards helping us.

Currently, the Training / Meeting Room looks like this –

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The floorboards need taking up, the joists replaced, the floor damp proofed sealed and concreted, the walls damp proofed and insulated, the ceiling lowered and insulated, the entire room re-wired with new electrics and heating installed, walls painted and floors carpeted. Wow – we’d almost be cheaper knocking it down and starting again LOL. 😀

But I’m hoping at the end of it all, it will look something like this when complete –

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If anyone knows of anyone wishing to sponsor, donate or part-fund the renovation of these rooms, please get in touch.

It’ll be for a good cause – the Training / Meeting Room will be used not only for our charity (The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety)’s First Aid and Personal Safety in the Workplace courses, but also for running various community activities and as a social hub for local youths to help reduce anti-social behaviour in the area.

Fingers crossed.

Instructor training

Every year, my charity (The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety) runs an Instructor training weekend. It gives us a chance to all meet up (as we are spread out over the whole of Scotland) and it is good refresh our skills.

This year, as well as taking place in the Barony St. John for the first time, I added in First Aid training as well as some training for dealing with our blind clients and, as usual, we ended in a refresher of our physical skills – including the five minute pressure est where each instructor is “attacked” by two other instructors for five minutes to test our response times and self defence techniques.

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All I’m going to say is “Ouch”.

I ended up with a massive bruise running over my ear and along my jaw. David ended up with strained knees following an over-zealous ground attack where the “victim” snapped his knees and Sharon popped her knee while practicing kicking the shins of an attacker. Colin didn’t report any specific injury but did cite a pain “covering his entire body”. 😀

You’ve got to love this line of work LOL.

Hall’s well that ends well

A few months ago, I was told by a prominent local Councillor that this was “ludicrous” and “impossible” and there was no way I would get anyone to use our hall in the evenings as “there are plenty of halls in Ardrossan sitting empty and closing through lack of use”.

I opened the hall in the Barony St. John in June for our charity. I’ve run various classes since then including one-to-one sessions for the blind and visually impaired, instructor training sessions and one-to-one sessions with female victims of violence.

At the end of August, I opened the hall up to the public for evening classes, initially running all the classes myself (HIT Circuits, Krav Maga, Fighting Fit exercise) then leasing the hall out two nights a weeks to a local instructor for Ladies Boxing Bootcamp classes.

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Now I’ve managed to convince a local Muay Thai boxing club (North Ayrshire Muay Thai) to relocate from nearby Saltcoats to Ardrossan meanign we now have classes on five nights per week.

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Next month, I’m hoping to bering in a Tai Chi instructor to have us open 6 nights a week.

Never tell me something is not impossible- I love the challenge of proving you wrong. 😀

Her Daddie

I mentioned in a couple of other posts (The Adviser and The Fire) about a wonderful Victorian booklet I found in the Barony St. John hall building.

The stories are designed to advise children on how to live a good and honest life and how to attain their best.

There is lovely story titled “Her Daddie” by Mary E. Kendrew (note the old fashioned spelling, not Daddy with a “y” but Daddie). It tells the heart wrenching story of a man returning to his family home after a long time away fighting the demon drink – he was so long in fact that his young daughter does not recognise him and his wife has just passed away.

The sketch is of the little girl hugging her daddy, who has fallen to his knees beside his wife’s coffin;

image“Too late! too late!” he moaned and his frame shook with sobs. “Poor girl! to work herself into her grave for twopence-halfpenny a blouse, and I, who ought to have supported her, wasting all my substance in drink, and now it is too late!”

“Not too late for God’s mercy,” sister said.

The nursing sister goes on to explain to the man that he has a duty of care towards his child and his daughter hugs him as he says;

“My little child! my little angel! God is good to have left you to me.”

“No, I isn’t no angel yet, daddie. I only a little girl, but mummie said if I kept on asking Jesus to make me twite dood, I should be an angel some day, and with the angels stand.”

They don’t write stories like that anymore!

I guess the phrase “twite dood” is meant to be child-talk for quite good?? 😀

Official Opening – the return of William Wallace

As I mentioned in my last post (Omen 9 – The Wallace omen), martial arts legend Bill “Superfoot” Wallace agreed to officially open our Centre in the former Barony St. John church in Ardrossan – in this year that also marked the 720th anniversary of the original William Wallace freeing Ardrossan from English rule by storming Ardrossan Castle and slaughtering the English garrison.

Bill absolutely loved his time here – as these photos will testify. 😀

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Bill is one of the most memorable, colourful characters I’ve ever met from the martial arts world. A true ambassador for sport. All of my team were enthralled by him.

 

Omen 9 – The Wallace Omen

Last year, I was at a martial ardsc01280ts show in England and I got talking to two martial arts legends, Pat le Hoang and Bill “Superfoot” Wallace.

For those of you who don’t know, Bill got his nickname due to the speed of his kicks which were once measured at over 60mph.

American-born Bill retired undefeated from competition in 1980 after being the Professional Karate Association (PKA) Middleweight Champion for six years. He was Elvis Preslebill-wallacey’s bodyguard and personal trainer from 1974 until his death in 1977 and founded Elvis’s Memphis karate club for him.

He was elected into Black Belt Magazine’s Hall of Fame in 1973 as “Tournament Karate Fighter of the Year” and again in 1978 as “Man of the Year”.

Despite retiring from competition over three decades ago, Bill continues to be one of the martial arts most popular figures, writing several books and appearing in over twenty movies including “A Force of One” with Chuck Norris; “The Protector” with Jackie Chan; “A Prayer for the Dying” with Mickey Rourke; and most recently “The Operative” with Michael DePasquale Jr.

We had a great time together last year and even went out for a few drinks later (although Bill doesn’t touch alcohol and sticks to Coke).

Skip forward to this year, and last  month I was talking to an English friend of mine about Scottish legend, William Wallace and he called him “Bill”. It then dawned on me that Bill “Superfoot” Wallace was actually called William Wallace!!

Now, I’ve already mentioned in previous posts about my intention to open a William Wallace Visitor Centre in the former Barony St. John church in Ardrossan and this now struck me as a bit of a coincidence as I now knew another William Wallace. “Wouldn’t it be good” I pondered, “If Bill Wallace could officially open our Centre giving it a William Wallace connection.”

Pie in the sky though, as Bill lives in Miami and doesn’t get to the UK much, never mind Scotland LOL.

Then, three weeks ago I get a phone call from a martial arts friend in London – Bill Wallace is coming over for a UK tour and is going to be in Glasgow at the end of September.

Now, as you know, I’m a great believer in fate and so I took a chance and contacted Bill to see if he could squeeze in a visit – and lo and behold he could. 😀

Not only that, when I picked Bill up to take him across to Ardrossan on the west coast of Scotland, he told me that back in the 1970’s the USA karate team came to Scotland for a tour. They had visited Edinburgh and were on their way to Dundee when Bill saw a castle ruin and asked the tour bus to stop. He ran out and across the fields towards the castle, zig zagging along various paths as if he had run along them a thousand times before. His team mates had trouble keeping up and finding the right path.

When they found Bill, he was in the ruin of the castle at a plinth which said that William Wallace had stormed the castle back in the 13th Century. Nobody present knew this existed – including Bill. Spooky, eh?

On his return to America, Bill decided to find out more about his family roots and discovered that his grandmother had indeed been Scottish and had emigrated from Scotland to America. Bill then contacted The Society of William Wallace and told them where his grandmother had been born and they confirmed that it was “highly likely” that he was descended from the original William Wallace.

Now that has got to be an omen!

What are the chances of me meeting a Wallace from America who agrees to open my Centre and then reveals that he is descended from the original William Wallace?

imageNot only that, but I thought it might be a good idea to link Bill and William together as this year not only marks the opening of our Centre in Ardrossan but is also the 720th anniversary of William “Braveheart” Wallace’s takeover of Ardrossan Castle.

To mark this, I had arranged for Bill to be photographed at Ardrossan Castle behind my church with a Wallace sword.

Now that IS an omen!

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