Stonehaven Men’s Shed has been officially opened.
The ceremony took place at the Beach Pavilion last Friday and was attended by local politicians, council representatives and benefactors who contributed funds to the project.
The Men’s Shed was declared open by STV presenter Andrea Brymer.
It marked the completion of a three-year project from when a committee was formed to take the initiative forward.
By August, 2016, the Shedders had achieved charitable status - but the main challenge was to find suitable premises.
Chairman Bill Allan explained: “In the course of the next year we looked at 25 possible locations, both council and private, from small huts, portacabins, greenfield and even sharing existing locations.
“This took some time and to keep interest going, we had weekly Thursday meetings in the Community Centre in Bath Street involving presentations by members and non-members on topics like health, hobbies, history, and a variety of subjects of interest to older men.
“We also took over the abandoned polytunnel at Mackie Academy, got it up and running again and in the process helped teach gardening skills to pupils in the school with learning difficulties.”
He added: “In late 2017, we learned that the council had plans to dispose of the Beach Pavilion and we immediately initiated a CAT (Community Asset Transfer) application for this facility.
“This went through its three stages and was finally approved in late 2018 and in December a lease was agreed for a period of 19 years at a nominal rent of £1 per year.”
The Shedders then faced a major renovation of the building and designers estimated the refurbishment would cost around £65,000.
Bill said: “We set about identifying how to raise the funding required and we learned that major support could be available through the Scottish Governments Rural Development programme.
“However, to get access to this sort of funding, organisations like ourselves had to provide what is called match funding and we managed to raise £10,000 from Big Lottery (Awards for All) and £8000 from Aberdeenshire Council, Kincardine and Mearns Area Development Grant.
“In addition, we were very fortunate to get corporate donations from local companies Balmoral, Whittaker Engineering, and Macphie Ltd of Inverbervie and another who wishes to remain anonymous.
“We are extremely grateful to all these benefactors as by adding a contribution from our own fundraising efforts, this enabled us to provide match funding of £27,500, which resulted in us obtaining Leader Funding of £37,500 thus achieving our target total of £65,000.”
The group took over the building at the end of December and renovation started in January. Initially, it is due to be open three days a week for six hours a day. It is anticipated the separate social area could be used by other community groups involved in craft and hobby activities.