An Open letter from Dr Graham Tinto retired Arran GP
I am writing ,as a retired Arran GP, formerly resident at Oakbank ,Clauchlands, Lamlash from 1979 to 2014, to express my concern and disappointment at the possible closure of the Arran Outdoor Education Centre .
Being already aware of the excellent reputation of the Arran Outdoor Education service when based at Corrie Croft, I had been happy to write in support of the application for Planning Permission to construct a purpose built Outdoor Education facility at Clauchlands in front of our home . Despite initial reservations and objections of some parties about possible noise, disturbance and environmental impact, I was pleased to see its construction and completion , and from 2008 to witness at close hand ,successions of school parties benefitting from the outstanding services and facilities on offer.
Looking down from the vantage point of our family home half a mile away , we could see and hear the fun they were having in and around the Centre and in Lamlash Bay .Over the years it was pleasing to see the Centre’s broadening clientele as it extended occupancy and use outwith the school term to generate income for NA Council.
I was then fortunate to benefit from the experience at first hand when joining my son, as part of an Ayrshire Downs Syndrome Group outdoor activity weekend, making use of the facility, as it is suitably equipped to cater for wheelchair users and other Additional Support Needs. At this event and on further occasions when my son was involved with school and Duke of Edinburgh Award activities, I was struck by the skill, energy and enthusiasm of the staff as they engaged with their guests.
In my opinion, the opportunity for youngsters from North Ayrshire, many from a deprived and disadvantaged urban environment to experience and appreciate an adventure in such a location at a formative age is of inestimable value for their physical and mental development. Such an experience can be one of the highlights of a young person’s school life , with a lifelong impact on attitudes ,imagination . As you will be aware , environmental issues are an important and growing theme in Education, and in recent years, through a range of initiatives, Arran has had a prominent profile in this respect, particularly through the work of COAST. For the Centre to be the base of its new explorer boat is a wonderful opportunity for youngsters to see Marine and Environmental Concern IN ACTION . In a world in Climate Emergency, young people need to be exposed to such practical examples and to undermine such efforts would be reprehensible.
I appreciate that local authority budgets are currently under extreme pressure, but in my view , the closure of AOEC would be a false economy . Any threat to its existence should be removed, and instead there should be a thorough investigation and development of a business plan which could maximise potential income generation.
From a medical perspective, I have no doubts about the physical and mental benefits accruing from outdoor pursuits, and the construction and maintenance of AOEC has been a far-sighted initiative of which North Ayrshire should be proud. It is an excellent well equipped facility in an iconic location. Its ongoing existence should be celebrated through the positive image it projects.
Yours sincerely ,
R. Graham Tinto ( Retired Arran GP)