A FUND-RAISING campaign has been launched to create North Ayrshire’s first ever mosque.

And the Muslim place of worship would be launched right here in Ardrossan, in a former parish church.

It comes after the former Barony St John’s Church was purchased by the Al-Farooq Education and Community Centre (AFECC).

The old Barony building had been up for sale on numerous occasions over the course of nearly two years before the organisation took it on.

AFECC is a Glasgow-based charity which has become a pillar of the community which looks to spread/preserve the original teachings of Islam as was known by the Salaf-as-Salih.

They aim to be a leading, welcoming and inspirational hub for the whole community while simultaneously educating and encouraging people to "strive in their pursuit of acquiring the sweetness of faith" via their various activities and programmes in accordance to the Quran and the Sunnah.

These aims are evident in their plans for the 19th century Barony St John’s Church on Princes Street.

AFECC say they want to “build a mosque and community centre in Ardrossan (North Ayrshire) where Muslims currently have no facilities” and launched fund-raising efforts to aid this project back in November of last year.

The nearest mosque at the moment is in Kilmarnock - Ayrshire’s only mosque.

While the AFECC wants to get plans in motion soon, it is clear that the building, which has been disused for a number of years, is in dire need of repairs.

Launching their fund-raiser, a representative from the organisation said: “Join us in being part of something special putting together a place of prayer and community centre for the Muslims in Ardrossan and the general community.”

AFECC say they are aiming to raise £100,000 for the “urgent renovation” which is required.

However, the need for repairs will come as no surprise to those who are familiar with the Barony St John’s building.

Local charity The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety took over the site from the Church of Scotland in 2015 and planned to develop the space into a music and events venue.

However, a lack of financial and political backing for the idea put paid to the grand proposals and the building was put back on the market.

Alan Bell, founder of the charity, posted on his Ardrossman blog at the time: “From 2018 until 2020, we have tried our best to get backing for this project, not just financial backing but also project support from the council and various ‘movers and shakers’ in the area.

“Despite our best efforts, unfortunately we could not get this project off the ground, and when Storm Brendan hit and devastated the connecting corridor back in December last year, I began to think maybe it was an omen.

“Every year the building is left derelict sees the chances of it being saved reduce further.

“The time has come to let someone else have a go at saving this building before it is too late.”

The former church was bought in early 2021 by Tom Easton, managing director of V2 Construction, who hoped to preserve the building after what he called a “spur of the moment purchase”.

In April that year, he told the Herald of his plans to be use the building for luxury flats – with the potential use for offices or a venue - but the idea never came to fruition and the building was offered for sale by auction in April last year.

Now, it seems someone is finally willing to put this building back into use - and hopes the community can reap the benefits.

The fund-raising campaign has got off to a positive start, with a GoFundMe page set up in support of the plans receiving more than £8,750 in donations so far.

There is also a separate avenue of fundraising set up via bank transfers to the AFECC.