Community group to breathe life into former school building

Alford mens shed cat 2 (003)

Alford Academy moved to a new site in 2015 - but now part of the old building is set to be used to benefit the community

6th July 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A group which aims to tackle isolation in the community is set to bring a former school building back into use.

Alford Academy, in Aberdeenshire, moved to a new school building when a £37 million community campus opened in the town in 2015.

Alford and District Men’s Shed requested the right to take on part of the old school site from Aberdeenshire Council as part of a community asset transfer, and has now been given the green light to proceed.

Men's Sheds are a worldwide network dedicated to improving wellbeing through the provision of recreational facilities and activities. Although aimed at combating social isolation in men, they are open to all members of the local community.

The Alford group is a registered charity and aims to offer opportunities for men in the area to meet and undertake creative, physical, purposeful and recreational activities of their choice, and to share their skills and knowledge with others.

Following detailed discussion and agreements between the Men's Shed and the council, local councillors on the Marr Area Committee agreed to the transfer in January 2017.

 The group will now occupy the former technical block and an adjoining area of land, creating a men’s shed, allotments, community orchard and sensory garden.

 The deal relied on the demolition of the remainder of the old former academy, which was completed in January 2018.

Missives were completed this week (Monday July 2) when the group took possession of the keys from the council.

John Reid, secretary for the group, said: “It has taken a long time to get to this stage, but we are delighted to get ownership of the facilities and develop the site for the whole of Alford and district. 

“It will be a real challenge to get the shed and the surrounding ground ready for use. We will need to raise substantial amounts of money, but hope within a year to have a functioning shed and a developing project in the orchard area and community garden.”

Chair of the Marr Area Committee, Moira Ingleby, said: "The plans the Men’s Shed have for the former technical block and surrounding land is ambitious and will bring great benefits to the community.

“This is a good example of how communities can help shape local facilities working with the council – I wish them best of luck and look forward to the Shed opening in the near future.”