OPENING the IMC Project in Saltcoats was a dream Councillor Jim Montgomerie had harboured for almost a decade.

It took four years of planning, raising money and finding a building in Saltcoats that suited his vision for the IMC Project, a boxing gym, which stands for Inspire, Motivate, Celebrate.

In 2019 Jim’s dream became a reality as IMC opened its doors in Springvale Street and the youngsters arrived in their masses wanting to train for free.

Anyone who had the idea that the boxing gym was focused on fitness was wrong – its aim was so much more than that for Jim.

On some nights of the week there were over 80 young people training at IMC much to Jim’s delight.

“The IMC Project is all about getting the kids off the streets and get them focused on something positive through boxing training,” explained Jim.

“At IMC we teach discipline and respect and it also teaches risk and that actions do have consequences. We believe it is a great tool to stop violence.”

Just as the club was growing, lockdown arrived and for months the young boxing enthusiasts were left with nowhere to train and Jim admits he was worried and frustrated.

“As time went on I was getting worried, these kids had nowhere to go and train and nothing to do, I didn’t want them hanging about the streets,” said Jim.

“Opening in Springvale Street was a deliberate decision, I wanted it somewhere in the community that had a high level of anti-social behaviour to let these kids come and face these problems head on.

“I was so relieved that we could open our doors again on Tuesday and let these kids back in and get them back training.”

The youngsters are about to help Jim transform a piece of ground in Springvale Street and Argyle Road in to a memorial garden for people who lost loved ones during the pandemic.

The plan is to plant a time capsule with photos and memories of people who have died in the last year.

And they want the Saltcoats community to get in touch and help plan it.

Jim went on: “We want to create space where people can sit and reflect and the kids will be helping me get the garden sorted.”