BIG plans for a new Kilwinning Rangers community hub progressed last week as a North Ayrshire Council grant filled a £15k gap funding to finalise building works.

The project kicked off at the start of lockdown last year after the football club received £41,000 investment from the council’s Community Investment Fund (CIF).

Named The Claire Hub, the new community hub has been created to address capacity issues for youth activities in the main clubhouse of Kilwinning Sports Club.

The Claire community hub is named in remembrance of Claire Hodge, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Claire worked at the sports club for many years and was a big part of its journey.

With the final stages of internal building works underway, Council Leader Joe Cullinane was given a tour by the visionary behind the project, Kilwinning Rangers Chairman, Colin Boyd.

Digging the foundations himself to house the once-derelict accommodation, Boyd and his team of 100-strong volunteers have transformed the portable cabin building into a sprawling 433 square metre community space.

The extra funding will be used to complete internal building works and make sure the outer building is accessible for all.

In addition to the CIF funding and the football club’s own investment, the space has also benefited from the equivalent of £100k in labour and materials, donated by local businesses and club sponsors.

Dedicated to Kilwinning youth, The Claire Hub communal space was opened for the first time during the summer holidays, to support after-school care and give youngsters from some of the most deprived areas in the town the opportunity to take part in sports and confidence-building social activities.

Set to generate a steady income for the club, the main community hall is already being booked up for local functions and yoga classes, relaxation and wellness workshops, mother and toddler groups and after-school clubs.

Colin said: “The Claire Hub really has been a passion project of ours.

“Kids are the lifeblood of our club and The Claire Hub is crucial to our continued commitment to strengthen diversity in the sport, while offering a safe and inclusive space to some of the most vulnerable young people in our communities.

“Getting the project off the ground simply wouldn’t have been possible without the help of North Ayrshire Council.”

Council Leader Joe Cullinane said: “The work being carried out to create The Claire Hub at Kilwinning Rangers Football Club is absolutely fantastic.

“By working together with their vast network of dedicated volunteers and sponsors, Colin and Kilwinning Rangers Sports Club have achieved the impossible during the pandemic and I have no doubt of how much of a positive impact the project is going to have for the Pennyburn community and surrounding areas.”