The Ardross-man


Wow factor

Happy New Year 2020

Happy New Year folks – and wow, what a year my charity (The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety) and our volunteers have just had!

Jointly, we reached the final of eleven awards including seven national awards – and we won four of them;

In February 2019, we reached the final of the North Ayrshire Partnership Staff Awards 2018 in the same two categories as we did in 2018 – “Innovative Team” (a creative team that implements innovative ideas) and “Partnership Champions” (a great team with great results). These awards are highly sought after within the Health & Social Care sector and although we did not win our categories, our registered blind Level 2 Instructor, Yvette Robertson, won the “No.1 Volunteer Award”.

Also in February 2019, we won the “Empowerment Champions” award at The Scottish Diversity Awards 2019 in Glasgow. This award recognized the confidence boosting and  empowering outcomes of our Personal Safety courses for all groups targeted by Hate Crime.

Yvette Robertson was once again recognised – this time nationally – as she reached the final of the No.1 Amazing Women Awards in Glasgow in March 2019. She beat thousands of nominees to reach the final four in the category of “Amazing Charitable Contribution Award” and although she did not win, we are all extremely proud of her.

In June 2019, we went to The Tower of London and won theDisability” category at the Charity Awards 2019, the longest-running and most prestigious UK awards scheme for the charity sector. In fact, it was announced at these awards that we “had won more national awards in the one year (four in 2018-19) than any other UK charity” – not bad for a wee Ardrossan based third sector organisation with only ten volunteers.


From June to October 2019, we first of all beat 28,451 nominations from across the UK to reach the Liverpool final of the National Diversity Awards 2019 in the category of “Community Organisation Award”; we then reached the final of The Ayrshire Community Trust’s Volunteers’ Awards under the category of “Volunteer Team of the Year”; we reached the Scottish Parliament final of the Self Management Awards 2019 under the category of “Project of the Year Award” for our newly developed Personal Safety course for Sensory Impaired People; and then we beat off thousands to reach the Glasgow final of the Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Awards 2019 in the category of “Design for Diversity Award”, again for our course for people who are Sensory Impaired. Unfortunately, we did not win any of these awards, but it’s still amazing to reach the national finals of Scottish and UK awards.

To top it all off, just a few weeks ago, at the end of November 2019, we won the inaugural RNIB See Differently Awards 2019 in the category of “Team of the Year” at their London Bridge final (the day before the terrorist attack). This national award “recognises a team that has demonstrated excellent teamwork, leadership and impact to make a significant contribution to improving the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted” so we were really honoured to win this title.

What a fabulous year we’ve had – and long may it continue. In fact, it already is continuing because later this month we are in yet another national final – this time for the National Centre for Diversity Grand Awards 2020 in two categories – “Most Innovative EDI Initiative of the Year” and “Most Improved Organisation of the Year”. Keep your fingers crossed.

From ALL at The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety, we hope you have a very Happy New Year – goodbye for now.

RNIB See Differently Awards 2019

Such an honour to be announced as a National finalist for these prestigious awards but to win our category of “Team if the Year” Wow.


The Fall of Eve video

As mentioned in a previous post (Fall of Eve), I had a local band in the Barony St. John church building making a video for their latest single, If Even Angels Fall.

Well, here it is – absolutely cracking. It definitely has the Wow Factor. Enjoy. 😀

Internal organ

As I am fascinated by the amount of history in the Barony St. John’s church, I wanted to let you know about the beautiful organ which first gave me the “Wow factor” when I entered this building for the first time.

Just to the left of the staircase to the pulpit in front of the organ is is a hidden doorway into the internal workings of this beautiful work of art which was originally installed in 1889.

img_2364  img_2365 img_2355

As you step through the doorway, you find a very narrow set of ladders which lead up to behind the extremely dusty organ pipes – it was a tight squeeze with barely enough room to get two feet side by side on the ladder.

img_2362 img_2358 img_2356

Coming back out and to the front of the alter area, you’ll find the keyboard for the organ – lift back the lid and the keyboard is revealed.

img_2366       img_2367

img_2370       img_2369   img_2372   img_2371

As you can see, there is a small plaque which reads J.J. Binns, Fitton & Haley Ltd. Bramley, Leeds. I have tried to track this company down but it appears that they went bust back in the 1950’s.

A notice in the London Gazette states that there was “a Meeting of the Creditors on 11th August 1953 at 3pm in accordance to The Companies Act 1948 regarding the winding up of the company“.

But inside a little cupboard to the side of the organ I found the organ tuning log books which date back to 1963.

img_2373 img_2374 img_2375

And a lovely hymn sheet copyrighted to former church organist Stuart McMahon dated 1993.  img_2376



The Fall of Eve

I was recently lucky enough to see an article in The Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald about an Irvine-based band called The Fall of Eve.

Apparently, they love filming their music videos in old buildings and so I took this opportunity to contact them directly and offer the iconic Barony St. John as a possible venue for a future video.

Lucky for me, they came around to view the church building and immediately accepted my offer. 😀

The band were formed in 2011 and describe themselves as a “Symphonic rock band”. They consist of founder Evangeline on vocals, co-founder Michael Moffat on guitar, Harry Butler on bass, Panos Rodopoulos on drums and Philip Morrison on orchestration.

Their fan base has continued to soar since 2011 and prompted a crowd funding campaign which enabled them to release their first album, Calls from the Horizon, in 2013 and their second album, Eternal Embrace, in 2015.

calls  eternal

Most recently, they received funding from Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund towards a promotional music video for their new EP, If Even Angels Fall – and that’s where I came in.


It seems an abandoned church was exactly what they were looking for this video to accompany their new EP’s title track “If Even Angels Fall“.

And they also wanted a night shoot. Whoohoo 😀

Here are some photos taken on the night;

img_3429 img_3430 img_3435img_3434      img_3437      img_3439 img_3440 img_3443img_3441 img_3442 img_3444 img_3445

I’m sure you’ll agree, the photos alone look fab – but I can assure you the single sounds brilliant too and so I can’t wait to see the finished video. 😀

They’ve definitely got the “Wow factor”!

Even more good news from the point of view of promoting the Barony St. John is that The Fall of Eve’s last video for the song “Destiny” (which was shot in the Trinity Church in Irvine) has so far had over 113,000 views – so lets hope this new video gets even more (and not only rockets The Fall of Eve to stardom but also helps puts the Barony St. John on the public’s radar once again).

The video can be viewed at on the band’s YouTube channel

And their new EP If Even Angels Fall  is available as a CD from and as a digital download from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and other online retailers.


Enjoy. 😀

Wallace art

We have been lucky enough to have another local artist, John ‘Josimo’ Paterson, contact us with an offer to paint William Wallace themed murals around the internal walls of the Barony St. John church building which will link in nicely with our planned William Wallace Visitor Centre.

John’s work has been showcased at various art exhibitions around the world including London and presently, Paris. He has also won the ‘Best Global Artist’ award in Vienna and the ‘Best Graphics’ award in Romania and he has very generously offered to paint a variety of murals around the upper floor gallery and entrance to the church building.

John’s painting of William and Marion will give you an idea of how lifelike his paintings are.


Imagine scenes including the taking of Ardrossan Castle and you’ll begin to see the wonderful images we hope to showcase on the walls of the Barony St. John…….now that’s a Wow Factor!!

John’s style can be traditional life drawings as above or more modern paintings as shown below – “Ostara – First Day of Spring” and “Don Juan”.

spring  josimo

I love both the styles – the traditional would obviously fit with the historical theme of Wallace as well as the church, whereas the modern look would give the church a contemporary, up to date feel to it.

I particularly love the Ostara – First Day of Spring painting as it has so many hidden aspects – the jigsaw fields moving from the shadowy winter to the colourful Spring, the rabbits hidden in plain sight, the owl, the flowers for Mother Nature’s hair, the different types of flowers, etc.


Check out Josimo’s Facebook page – – for more of his wonderful artwork.

I’m sure you will agree that this will also look fantastic especially when connected with our William Wallace Visitor Centre (see my previous post).

But what style would YOU choose for the wall murals?

Ceiling collage

Looking up at the ceiling of the Barony St. John church, I’m struck by how similar a design it is to the entertainment venue, Oran Mor in Glasgow.

The Oran Mor is a converted church turned bar, restaurant and music venue that has become one of Scotland’s most popular nightspots and acclaimed writer and artist, Alasdair Gray was the man responsible for painting the zodiac inspired mural on the ceiling.

Oran1  Oran2

The ceiling in the Barony St. John is almost identical in design. The same concave ceiling with wooden beams stretching across it just crying out to be re-painted.

DSC01360  DSC01354

Local artist, Julia Griffin and her assistant, Lynn McNally, have put forward a design of a night sky complete with Celtic Zodiac characters in keeping with our church history and our planned William Wallace theme.

DSC01784  DSC01782

Her idea is to combine the Celtic zodiac of animals (see my post: Omen 8 – The Wolf Omen) and the Celtic zodiac of trees making this work of art truly unique and a great talking point for people to discuss and figure out what character signifies their birthday.

Some of the draft character ideas look absolutely stunning and I cannot wait to see the finished look.

bird framed          stag framed

One thing is for sure, if we pull this off, our Events Centre is going to have a wonderful Wow Factor!

Wallace’s Sword

DSC01396The sculptor of the famous “The Spirit of Wallace” statue, Tom Church (pictured), was showing me around his work shop when I saw this magnificent red sandstone monolith with a massive 12 foot long stainless steel broadsword attached and the words “Wha wi hae Wallace bled, wha Bruce has aften led” carved around it.

The words mean “Scots, who have with Wallace bled, Scots, whom Bruce has often led” and are taken from a patriotic song written in 1793 by Rabbie Burns, “Scots Wha Hae”.

The song was the unofficial national anthem for Scotland for centuries and is written as though King Robert the Bruce is giving a speech to his troops before the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The tune to which the lyrics are written is actually a far older traditional Scottish tune “Hey Tuttie Tatie” which according to legend was played on the bagpipes by Bruce’s army at the Battle of Bannockburn.

Now, the bottom half of this fantastic monolith is a small ‘cave’ with a replica ‘Stone of Destiny’ in it and the head of Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, looking at a spider;

The story of Bruce and the spider is taken from a poem written in the early 19th Century by Bernard Barton. It tells the legendary story of how Bruce, after six successive defeats by the English armies, took refuge in a cave and saw a spider trying to spin his web from side of the cave to the other. No matter how many times the spider failed, he tried again until he eventually succeeded giving rise to the popular saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.”

Bruce went on to win his seventh battle against the English at Bannockburn and gained Scotland’s independence.

And The Stone of Destiny?

Well, the stone is just a plain, oblong block of red sandstone with chisel marks on its flat top. It measures 65cm x 40cm and 27cm deep and was originally used as part of the crowning ceremonies of the Scots kings of Dalriada in the west of Scotland (now called Argyll).

When Kenneth I, the 36th King of Dalriada united the Scots and Pictish kingdoms and moved his capital to Scone from western Scotland around 840AD, the Stone of Destiny was moved there too. All future Scottish kings have since been crowned on  the Stone of Destiny atop Moot Hill at Scone Palace in Perthshire.

So where did this magical or mythical stone originate from and why was it held in such high regard by royalty?

One legend dates back to biblical times and states that it is the Stone of Jacob taken by Jacob while in Haran (Genesis 28:10–22).

The stone was brought from Syria to Egypt by King Gathelus, who then fled to Spain following the defeat of the Egyptian army. A descendant of Gathelus brought the stone to Ireland, and was crowned on it as King of Ireland. And from Ireland, the stone moved with the invading Scots (actually Irish people called ‘Scots’) to Argyll.

The Stone of Destiny remained at Scone until it was forcibly removed by the English King, Edward I (“Longshanks” or the “Hammer of the Scots”) after his Scottish victories in 1296 and it was taken to Westminster Abbey in London.

The current Coronation Chair was made to house the stone in 1301 and it was first used at the coronation of Edward II, and thereafter to crown every subsequent king and queen of England.

The Stone of Destiny now resides in Edinburgh Castle and is on display there with the Scottish crown jewels.

But with regard to the top part of this sculpture – the giant red sandstone monolith adorned with the wonderful 12 foot long broadsword – wouldn’t this be wonderful situated on the wall either side of the main staircases at the front entrance to the church building?

DSC01352   DSC01397    DSC01353

I can picture the walls behind it draped with tartan and a beautiful red carpet leading from the front door towards the monolith and on up the stairs either side of it.

This would be a fantastic focal point for the entrance to our Centre, particularly for brides getting married here.

It would certainly add another “Wow” factor to the place.

What do YOU think?

The Wow Factor – this stunning iconic building


You have to admit, the former Barony St. John Church is a fantastic building – I would go so far as to say it is iconic. Instantly recognisable with its rocket-esque features and a visible landmark for miles around.

To many locals the only photo that represents Ardrossan is one with this coastal-type view….and the church is always there.

This wonderful photograph by Stuart McMahon has been taken from the beach between Ardrossan and Saltcoats and is at such an angle as to have the beautiful snow-capped mountains of the Isle of Arran in the background.

Wow factors don’t come much bigger than this 🙂

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑