A NEW health and fitness facility for the Three Towns is set to open this month.

The half-a-million pound Training Station project has seen the conversion and refurbishment of the derelict building at Saltcoats train station turned into a state of the art facility to benefit the whole community.

Initially, the project set out to provide a dojo for the Shibumi Karate Club but it quickly evolved into a much bigger community initiative which various organisations will be able to use for their activities.

John Deans, chairman of the Training Station charity and chief instructor of the karate club told the Herald: “It’s a dream come true. We have somewhere we can call home for the karate club now but it is so much more than that.

“We have a dozen community clubs who have already booked out spaces such as dance and fitness classes, yoga, pilates, and table tennis and it will benefit the whole community.”

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald:

The completion of the work marks the culmination of a five-year journey for John of highs and lows.

The aim is to have a soft opening on April 26 with John and fellow trustees of the charity Andy Barclay (treasurer) and James Campbell (secretary) desperate to open to the community.

He said: “In 2016 I was working at the police office in Saltcoats as detective sergeant and I saw the premises were looking in a poor state. As I was trying to find the karate club its own venue I approached Abellio and asked for an asset transfer.

“At that point I met some people from Network Rail and the Railway Heritage Trust and they got the ball rolling.

“For about two years it didn’t really go anywhere and I started to lose faith in myself but James Ledgerwood from ScotRail and Audrey Sutton from the council bought into my dreams and they helped take it forward.

“I got funding through North Ayrshire Council, the Scottish Government, ScotRail, the Railway Heritage Trust and sportscotland and we raised about £500,000 to get the job off the ground.

“It took a while for planning, architecture and design but we started the job on site in November 2020 and I got the keys handed to me with a brand new facility on March 12.

“There are still a couple of wee jobs to get done but now we are just waiting on restrictions lifting.

“We are hoping to bring kids in when restrictions ease and have a socially distanced class and a soft opening on April 26.

“We will have a formal opening when full restrictions are lifted.”

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald:

Asked who came up with the apt name he said: “When we go to karate we say we are going to training and the name just fell out of the lips.With the connection to the station it fitted and that was it sorted. It was a fluke.”

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: How it looked at the start.How it looked at the start.