The Ardross-man



Titan Crane abseil fundraiser update

Hi all,

Just a quick update to inform you that the total amount raised in our Titan Crane fundraising abseil was £1,738.16 

Many thanks to the nine supporters who abseiled off the 150ft crane in Clydebank –

David Bell, Aimee Bell, Norma Baillie, Michael McAllister, Jamie Cuthbertson, Colin Hamilton, Karen Lavery, Helen McMillan and myself (Alan Bell).


Thank you all for your support.

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The new Training Room

In 1886 an appeal was made for funds to erect a hall, able to seat around 300 people, on ground adjacent to the Barony St. John’s Church (or as it was known then, New Ardrossan Parish Church). Funding was successful and the hall building was opened in 1887 at a cost, including furnishings, of £1,000 (around £120,000 in today’s money – which is still a bargain).

Now, exactly 130 years later in 2017, we have finally managed to renovate a major part of the hall building into a Training Room for my charity (The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety).

The before and after photos below show a dramatic change;


Rotten timbers and broken floorboards, crumbling wall and ceiling plaster, water ingress, wet rot, dry rot and decaying, broken windows meant this room was completely unusable.

But now, it looks like this –


We have a wonderful new Training / Meeting Room which can seat up to twelve people for the various training courses we provide including Personal Safety in the Workplace, Lone Worker, First Aid at Work, Refresher First Aid, Emergency First Aid, Paediatric First Aid etc. as well as accommodating meetings and social gatherings for both ourselves and other groups within our community.

Dr Danielle Farrel will be offering independent advice for carers and those living with a disability via her social enterprise, Your Options Understood (YOU), which will be operating out of this room from this week onwards and we will be offering free Personal Safety classes for people with low or no vision, every Thursday from 11am until 12.15pm.

All this is thanks to our funders; The Hugh Fraser Foundation, The Clothworkers’ Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Trusthouse Charitable Foundation who funded the building works for the room.

hughfraser  clothworkersfoundationlogo       The Trusthouse Charitable Foundation 

And “Thank you” to Howdens Joinery Co. in Ardrossan who kindly donated the kitchen units and worktop for our tea/coffee area.



Without your funding, this room could never have been completed. Thank you one and all.

If anyone is interested in renting this room out, booking one of our courses or simply finding out more about volunteering or fundraising for our charity, please contact us via our website or look us up (ScotCPS) on Facebook or Twitter.

Goodbye for now.

Many, many, many thanks 😀

“Thank You” to Howdens Ardrossan


A huge “Thank You” to Howdens’ Ardrossan store for donating the solid wood worktop, state of the art drawer units and storage cupboard for our new Training Room.

We are extremely grateful.


As you can see, the finished look is fantastic!

Blind Date

Our fundraising Fashion Show was intended to help raise funds for some much needed renovation and repair work to the Barony St. John buildings but it turned into something much, much more than that.

Over the last year my charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety (ScotCPS), has worked alongside various charities and businesses representing registered blind people as I developed a Big Lottery sponsored personal safety course specifically for the blind and visually impaired. One of these businesses was PrioritEyes, a North Ayrshire business that provides specialist rehabilitation and support for people who have low or no vision – and it was from PrioritEyes that I got some of the “modelling” team for our Fashion Show.


The gathered audience of almost fifty people cheered and clapped as the models, many using long canes to guide them down the catwalk, strutted their stuff. But when I saw Gillian and the rest of the PrioritEyes models come onto the catwalk, I got a lump in my throat.

The woman sat next to me burst into tears and clapped wildly.

It was a very emotional experience and I was so proud to be involved in it.

Gillian Morrow lost her sight about a year ago but then she also found out that she had breast cancer. The subsequent chemotherapy resulted in her losing all her hair but she is a real trooper. Gillian’s own words best describe her feelings;

“I have had a gruelling time with the cancer treatment and at one point I had to move out of my family home to a flat as I couldn’t cope with how it was affecting my family. Although my husband and children are extremely supportive, this Fashion Show was invaluable for me. I know that sounds like an exaggeration but after being bed bound, I was in a wheelchair for some time and I only got my long cane mobility training on Wednesday, so this was the first time I have been able to participate in anything since December. I can’t describe what a positive effect this day has had on me. It’s a massive “one-off” experience that has made me feel like my old self again.”


The visually impaired models, some as young as 11yrs old did us all proud and registered blind founder of PrioritEyes, Norma Bailey, said; “It was fantastic that so many people with low or no vision were involved in this event. Dressing in terrific outfits, walking the catwalk with our long canes and hearing the cheers of the audience, made it an amazing experience for us all and a wonderful day to remember.”  

The Fashion Show raised £615.45 and raffle prizes for the event were donated by various local businesses including M&Co, The Kandy Bar Bakery, Garfields, P&M Property Services, The Saltcot Wetherspoons, Cassandara’s Café, Saltcoats Tescos, Stevenston Morrisons, B&M, The Red Squirrel, A. Lothian Butchers and Belhaven Pubs & Restaurants.

I am extremely grateful to everyone involved in making this day happen from the businesses who donated raffle prizes to M&Co for allowing us to run the event in their store, our trustees and volunteers who helped organise the day, all the people who came to watch and support the event and especially the models. Thank you all for making this such a memorable day.

For more information on the Fashion Show and what the fundraising day has managed to finance, check out my charity’s Facebook page on but in the meantime, here are a few more photos from the event. 😀






……Okay, our “little job” of clearing the small hall room of debris had turned into a mammoth task.

Paul and Peter (our builders from P&M Property Services) had to don coveralls, face masks and hard hats as dirt, sand, plaster, rubbish and debris of all sorts rained down on them.

There were even shells img_2695amongst the debris!

We’re guessing that some of the sand used to mix the cement between the sandstone blocks of the walls may have been taken directly off the beach in front of our building.

Strangely, as the dust settled, Paul was left covered in white dust and Peter was covered in black dust.

I’m wondering who’s the saint and who’s the sinner. LOL 😀

img_2693          img_2694

And the van load of rubble bags turned into several van loads….

img_2704 img_2707img_2703But at least all the precarious plaster, rubbish and debris has now gone from the small hall room and it’s now safe to enter the room.


But we need about £20,000 to transform the room into a Training Room – so if anyone reading this knows of a sponsor, funder or someone willing to donate money towards what will be a great room for our charity when dealing with female and child victims and the most vulnerable groups of our society including people with disabilities and the elderly, then please get in touch or click on the “Donate” button on our website

I’d like to say a huge “Thank You” to The Hugh Fraser Foundation for donating £7,000 towards this project.

Every £1 helps and goes directly to this project. No-one at the charity gets paid (including myself) and all the money donated is accounted for to a Board of Trustees and OSCR (I say this to put people’s minds at rest, as far too many charities pay their CEOs a fortune or siphon money into other costs / salaries before they fund the project they are highlighting. We are not one of those charities!)

Many thanks for your help and support, in advance.

Alan – The Ardross-man


Bell wringer

img_1656Work began this week to clear out the small hall room in the Barony St John’s Hall building.

The room had been used as a bit of a dumping ground for rubbish as we renovated and set up the main hall, so it was over three quarters full.

Builder Paul Marchetti had come to my aid once again and arranged for the debris to be picked up and disposed of.

He also arranged for the rest of the wooden wall cladding, the carpet and the 1970’s style kitchen cupboards to be taken out too before he pulled up some floorboards to check on just how bad the dampness and water ingress problems are.img_2655

It was while he and his assistant Peter were pulling up the floorboards that they came across this old Victorian leaflet advertising a Home Washing Machine & Wringer.


Although faded, water marked and difficult to make out, the illustration shows three women – one stout woman in maid’s clothing, one young woman in more refined red dress and bonnet and one older woman (perhaps the lady of the house) in an elegant blue dress. Behind this woman is a young girl, perhaps her younger daughter, and the whole scene seems to be set in the kitchen or washing area of the house of a well-to-do family.

The young woman is putting clothes through a hand wringer on top of a barrel of soapy water with the words “Home Washer” on it.

This could very well be one of the very first washing machines, although it bears little resemblance to any “washing machine” I have every seen – but what a wonderful discovery. 😀

Obviously, I had to check the internet to see if anything could be found out about this leaflet.

My investigations showed that this advert had been used in various colours and forms (although I couldn’t find one exactly like the one we found) since around 1869 –

wringer-3 wringer-4 wringer-5

The hall building was built in 1889, a bit later than the church building (1844), and so I’m surmising that, as it was first produced twenty years prior, this “Home Washing Machine & Wringer” must have been quite popular with those who could afford it as it was still being sold decades on.

Those who couldn’t afford this fancy washing machine no doubt relied on a large bucket or barrel to wash clothes in, stirring them with a large wooden stirrer and with a washing board to scrub the clothes on and a separate wringer to dry them out – so I’m unsure as to what makes this machine different.

Maybe it is plumbed in to allow hot water to go straight into the tub?

Or maybe, as it was described as a “machine”, it had a hand crank for stirring the washing once it was in the tub?

This photo shows a very similar product complete with a large wheel crank for stirring or tumbling the washing in the tub. I’m wondering if this wheel was hidden from view on the reverse side of the Home Washer in the illustration?

Something else that sparked my curiosity is that I would have called the wringer a mangle.

It seems that the word “wringer” may originally have been an American word for this hand cranked, clothes drying device whereas in the UK it would have more commonly been known as a “mangle”.

The American connection would also link with the address on some of the internet images –

Depot 24, Cortland Street, New York


Depot, 13 Barclay Street, New York

This raised another question, “Is this an American product?”

I’m afraid I cannot conclusively say that it is or it isn’t.

It may have been produced in the USA and shipped worldwide or if it may have been produced in the UK and shipped to the USA and other parts of the World.

wringerOne thing I can be sure of, in 1862 a patented “compound rotary washing machine, with rollers for wringing or mangling” was shown at the London Exhibition by Richard Lansdale of Pendleton, Manchester.

By 1904, electric washing machines were being manufactured particularly in the USA but, since electricity was not commonly available until at least 1930, the hand cranked Washing Machine & Wringer was still being used by many households albeit the tub may have changed from wooden to metal as shown in this photo.

With the outbreak of war and a reduction in electricity supplies, the Washing Machine & Wringer was still being used in the UK well after the Second World War – in fact, I was brought up in a tenement flat in Clydebank (near Glasgow) and all the flats had access to a wash house where there were large sinks and wringers to wash your clothes before hanging them out to dry on the washing lines… a variation of the Washing Machine & Wringer was around even when I was a lad.

Fingers crossed we continue to find more memorabilia from days gone by as we renovate more and more of these iconic Victorian buildings. 😀

I’m hoping that this small hall room can be repaired and renovated into a Training Room for my charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety.

Eventually, it will house a conference table and chairs, a SMART Board and a small break-out area.

I’m planning to provide classroom based personal safety, conflict resolution, lone worker and first aid courses from here as well offering the room to our partners for child protection, violence against women awareness and anti-hate crime training.

Turning this room from the dumping ground it currently is, into a modern training facility, will cost £25,000 including the equipment and we have submitted various funding applications to hopefully help us achieve this goal – but if you would like to help, please check out our website and click on the “Donate” button.

Every little helps.

Many Thanks and I hope Santa is good to you when he comes. 😀

Feasibility funding

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I am delighted to announce that my charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety (ScotCPS), has been awarded funding from the Big Lottery Fund Our Place and The Architectural Heritage Fund to undertake a feasibility study for the redevelopment of the former Barony St John’s church building in Ardrossan.

We secured £8,556.00 from the Big Lottery Fund Our Place and £3,000.00 from The Architectural Heritage Fund through their Project Viability Grant Scheme.

The funding will enable us to engage consultants and building professionals to undertake a condition survey, development study and options appraisal which will provide my charity with:

  • A business plan;
  • Indicative capital & revenue costs;
  • Analysis of strategic business opportunities;
  • Assessment of and report on the asset/fabric of the church building;
  • And an outline development cost appraisal and a final report with recommendations.

If the redevelopment of this Category “B” listed church is successful, the number of people who will use the completed buildings will be dependent on the final option chosen for the redevelopment i.e. which option for the future use of the church building will be the most viable and sustainable in the long term.

Options which could be considered include an Events Centre similar to St. Luke’s (a converted church in Glasgow which now hosts live bands, weddings and functions);



Or the church building could link in with Ardrossan’s clipper ship and sea port history and become a Maritime Heritage Centre;

Or it could be developed into a residential dormitory offering bunk-house style accommodation and/or become a Respite Care Centre supporting the charity’s service delivery outcomes (we provide personal safety training to businesses and groups but particularly female and child victims of violence).

bunk1 bunk2

Whichever is chosen, the main area of benefit will be the North Ayrshire Our Place area of Ardrossan Central and North East however this area may well increase depending on which final option is chosen for the building’s future use.

Some of the questions that we (ScotCPS) are looking to be answered from the feasibility study are –

  • Can this beautiful iconic building, the Barony St John’s Church, be saved?
  • If so, what could it be used for?
  • How will this benefit the community?
  • How much would it cost to save and convert the building?
  • Who will fund this?
  • And also whatever the options maybe, what is the viability for the long term?

ee2a15db-fa10-4022-a9b0-1d4478bb67e3-8944-000006d3f01ecdc5_tmpThe Barony St John’s Church also holds a significant position in the history of Scottish religious buildings. Built in 1844, New Ardrossan Parish Church, as it was known then, became the first parish church in Scotland to become “Quoad Sacra” in 1851 following the New Parishes (Scotland) Act of 1844.

This effectively meant that New Ardrossan Parish Church was not a civil parish, unlike all preceding parish churches, and therefore had ecclesiastical functions but no local government functions (such as educating parish children). This had been a requirement of all parishes under “Quoad Omnia” up until the introduction of the new act in 1844.

The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety and myself would like to thank everyone involved in the application process and special thanks to the wider Ardrossan community who attended the Our Place Large Forum events and gave their support to this application.

Now we plan to engage with the community via events, focus groups, surveys and public consultation and we are keen to speak with as many members of the community from all ages and will be having our first event very soon with details to follow.

In the meantime, if you have an idea as to what you would like to see the church building used for, please get in touch either by leaving a comment or by contacting me via the charity website

Many thanks once again to all the Ardrossan residents who came along to the Our Place Large Forum, supported us and voted to fund this feasibility study.


Thank you Hugh Fraser Foundation


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 –

img_1658 img_1657 classroom2

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 –


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.

Our Place funding discussion 27th Feb

Hi all,
As you may know, Community Renewal’s are managing the rolling out of The Big Lottery’s Our Place £1.6 million Ardrossan funding over the next 5 years and they are publicising a few proposals on Saturday 27th February at the Civic Centre in Ardrossan, 1pm until 3pm.
One of those proposals is ourselves. 🙂
We will be submitting a proposal that £50,000 be spent on constructing a Training Room in our Barony St. John hall building to show that the community will use the room and the hall room and thereby demonstrate that the building is worth investing in to develop into a community asset.
We want to change it from this….
DSC01380 classroom1  classroom2
Into something like this…..

Picture 137

So, if you think you or your group could use our Training Room which will be equipped with WIFI, a Smart Board, conference table and chairs, flipcharts, computer terminals, etc., I’m hoping you will be able to come along on the 27th and show support for our proposal.
As this is a public meeting to discuss the proposals, we have been told that the proposals which gain a consensus from those present will be granted funding – it’s that simple. So it is imperative that as many of your group members / supporters of our project attend to ensure that the Training Room and the Barony St. John hall building is funded for you / your groups future use.
I really hope you can come along and look forward to seeing you there on the 27th.
Many thanks for your support, in advance,
Kind regards,
Alan Bell aka The Ardoss-man
The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety

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