KILWINNING'S Abbey Tower Heritage Centre is back in action for the summer - and more volunteers are wanted to help out.

The centre, found in the Abbey Tower, which dates from 1816 and sits in the grounds of the 12th century abbey, is run by a team of passionate and dedicated volunteers.

Although the building is owned by North Ayrshire Council, the Heritage Centre is staffed solely by the volunteers who do an incredible job all year round as they work to raise awareness of local history, take care of the amazing artefacts and critically, allow visitors the chance to access the important heritage location.

Normally open on a Saturday and Sunday for two hours each day, the volunteers recruited will help Kilwinning Heritage to lead the tours through the centre and up to the top of the Tower.

Christine Watson, Kilwinning Heritage secretary, said: “We’re excited to welcome more visitors again this summer, but we can’t do it alone.

“People from the local area as well as visitors from abroad come to our Heritage Centre. They love to see our archery display, matchstick models and exhibits from Kilwinning’s past as well as find out more about the town’s history.

"All visitors are offered guided tours provided by our volunteers. This includes climbing up the 143 steps for spectacular views of North Ayrshire and beyond.”

The Tower sits within the Abbey precinct, just a short walk from Kilwinning Main Street. Within the tower, there’s an exhibition space on the ground floor with access to a further three floors and the roof.

Perhaps a favourite stopping place is the clock floor where the original clock made by James Blair of Kilwinning in 1816 is to be found. The bell floor has the town bell and the church bell.

Christine added: “From the roof there are wonderful views of the Garnock Valley, the Firth of Clyde, across to Arran and down to the hills of South Ayrshire. We would love to welcome more people to experience what Kilwinning Abbey has to offer.

“The volunteers enlisted will help us to welcome visitors throughout the summer and into September. At other times, the Tower can be opened by special request.

“While an interest in history is useful, all we really need is your time and for friendly, approachable people with a willingness to chat to the visitors. No wealth of knowledge about Kilwinning or special skills are required. You will need to commit to a two hour shift on occasional weekends and you will always work as part of a team with other experienced volunteers.

“Those interested would need to be 18 years or older and would also be reasonably fit to confidently navigate up and down the stone spiral staircase.”

Irvine Times: Kilwinning's Abbey Tower Heritage Centre

North Ayrshire Council leader, Marie Burns, commented: “Whether you want to help out at the tower with weekend openings or provide assistance to school pupils and community groups during the week, please come forward to offer your assistance. Don’t delay, get in touch with the team.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for volunteers to help their community and support Kilwinning Heritage alongside the council’s heritage and culture team to look after and preserve an important historical landmark while sharing the fascinating stories of Kilwinning’s past with local people and visitors alike.

“There’s even the chance for budding historians and those interested in heritage to get involved in curating the tower’s next Heritage Centre exhibition… so why not get involved, share your skills and most importantly have fun with this dedicated local history group who are doing a brilliant job in keeping the history and heritage of Kilwinning Tower and Abbey alive.”

If you’d like to pledge your time or find out more, email Kilwinning Heritage at: