THE new kitchen at the Whitlees Community Centre was officially opened last week by the Gala Court for 2018.

The brand-new kitchen is the culmination of years of hard work from the committee and was made a reality with funding from the Big Lottery and Our Place.

£326,000 was allocated to the project which helped to fund the new build and staff members in the centre for the next three years.

The money has helped to employ five staff members and there is a trainee who is working between the centre and college, gaining a qualification.

Julie Gray, chairperson of the Whitlees Centre, said: “It has taken two and a half to three years and the full committee has chipped in.

"Originally there was a lot of other groups and people going for funding and they had presentations and projectors and I just had a bit of paper.

“We were only going for £50,000 to start with but after discussions we took the gamble and gave that back and went for more. It was a gamble but it worked out, our plan was good and the Big Lottery like that we were using some money to fund employment.”

The kitchen opened to the public back in April and has been going from strength to strength.

Julie added: “It has been absolutely mobbed and we are getting a lot more bookings for parties and weddings. Once they see the bright, up-to-date kitchen and that we are not working with 30 year-old equipment, they love it.”

“I would like to thank the local community, local businesses, councillors and Audrey Sutton, Jim McHarg and Shirley Morgan from North Ayrshire Council.

“The volunteers have been great and thanks to the Gala Court for officially opening the kitchen.”

“This has been a great boost and we are working towards an add on to the centre and a disabled toilet, that is the next step.

“After three years this cafe should be thriving.

“A big thank you from me goes to all the committee. It has all paid off and we have cried and sweated for months but we have made it.”

The cafe is open six days a week and serves breakfast, lunch and daily specials. The Whitlees Over 50s Lunch Club will restart on Fridays from 12-2pm with a cost of just £4.