We are planning to build an extension onto our Barony St John Centre in Ardrossan and turn this new area into a wellbeing café.

However, this project has had its fair share of trials and tribulations since its conception two and a half years ago.

First of all, our architect had a heart attack just before Christmas 2021.

Luckily, we advertised our intentions to build our wellbeing café on North Ayrshire Council’s Community Benefits Wish List.

This is where local groups and charities can add their wishes down, and the various contractors used by the council can take a look and perhaps give something back to the community by helping a group with their wish.

Last April, J&M Architects got in touch with us and asked us to send them our existing café plans. From there, with input from React Catering Services, they helped us develop architectural plans, which saw us eventually gain planning permission this February.

In March, we received a demolition warrant to allow us to take down the existing lean-to building, the former church nursery, in our courtyard. And in April, with the help of Blyth & Blyth structural engineers, we finally received our building warrant.

The only problem we still faced is that the building warrant asked for trial pits to be dug to confirm that our foundations will hold a café building.

To be honest, I would have thought that as we have our massive Victorian church hall building on one side and the massive former Barony St John’s Church on the other, that it would be obvious that the foundations were strong, but there we go.

Last week, Ian Farmer Associates arrived to oversee the trial pits, but first we had to have a team with ground penetration radar arrive to detect where the utility cable and pipes were in our courtyard to ensure we didn’t dig a hole and burst or break a pipe containing water, gas, electricity or telephone cables.

What gave me a laugh was that the engineer arrived with a divining rod, hovered over the courtyard, and notified the other engineer where the water and gas pipes were.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: An engineer using a radar to detect water and gas pipes were present.An engineer using a radar to detect water and gas pipes were present. (Image: Submitted)

This engineer then took the radar over to where he had pointed and confirmed what pipes were present, marking the ground appropriately.

Let me reiterate this again: one thousand pounds to detect where the pipes lie, and they used a divining rod! I honestly thought divining was a myth.

Anyway, at a total cost of £5,000 to find the pipes, dig the holes and take the necessary samples for the council, that’s the job done.

On behalf of The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety, I would like to say a huge thank you to J&M Architects for their patience, kindness and support for this project and for completing all the architectural drawings and the several amendments required, all free of charge for us. You guys are heroes.

Also, a big thank you to Blyth & Blyth and React Catering Services, both of whom have worked extensively on our plans, again free of charge.

We are so glad organisations within our community and beyond are coming together to help with our café project. It means a lot to us – and our funders.

If any joiners, builders, glaziers, electricians, plumbers, etc can help with the building work, or anyone has materials they could donate for the project, please get in touch via my email - Alan@ScotCPS.org.uk - or visit our website at www.ScotCPS.org.uk to see how we help vulnerable people within our community.

In the meantime, stay safe.