THE community has last week walked away victorious from a six-year battle to save Tullibody Civic Centre.

The future of the facility was secured when its transfer into community ownership was concluded last Wednesday, March 31.

Tullibody Community Development Trust (TCDT), which originally formed six years before the transfer was complete, proudly owns the once council-ran building after a "long and difficult journey".

Janette McGowan, chair of the trust, recalled how TCDT formed under the Save Our Park banner and held its first public meeting at the end of March 2015.

The move came as the land surrounding the centre was "under threat" when plans for a school campus were being developed by Clacks Council.

There were concerns the centre itself could have been sold off and "this really galvanised our community to come together", explained Janette.

She added: "To lose our only community centre, which was originally built and paid for by our community back in 1968, horrified everyone."

Members of the trust set out to learn about community ownership in the year that followed and the first TCDT vision for the centre was produced in 2017.

It stands true to this day: to create a community-owned and run space for everyone to use, enjoy and benefit from.

Janette said: "The climax came when the council closed our centre due to budget cuts in September 2018."

In the wake of the move, the trust spent weeks negotiating a license to occupy the building and open it up again, but was not allowed to repair or utilise the sports hall.

Improvements to other parts of the civic centre have been coming along steadily since then, even during the pandemic.

More recently, the trust has appointed its first staff members as it opened the community café.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: SUPPORT: The Tullibody Community Development Trust (TCDT) was awarded £5,000 from the Gannet Foundation, the charitable arm of the Alloa Advertiser's parent company, in 2019.SUPPORT: The Tullibody Community Development Trust (TCDT) was awarded £5,000 from the Gannet Foundation, the charitable arm of the Alloa Advertiser's parent company, in 2019.

Janette said: "Our community have been with us 100 per cent along this long and difficult journey, giving us support and encouragement and volunteering for us where they can.

"It's been amazing to see the community spirit surrounding us and driving us towards providing better facilities for our residents and future generations."

The transfer was made possible by the Scottish Land Fund, which supported the development of a future vision, business plans and later the purchase of the building.

Other funders helping along the way included The Gannet Foundation, Roberston Trust, Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Scotland Loves Local, Tabhair Trust, the town's Co-op, golf club, Masonic Lodge and church groups.

Moving ahead, TCDT is turning its attention to repairs as well as various improvements.

In the long run, more funding applications will follow to refurbish and reconfigure the building.

Janette added: "This is the start of our new exciting journey and time to, hopefully, avoid the same hurdles we've gone through to get here.

"We're really looking forward to having a big event to celebrate our new community venture when regulations allow and can't wait to hear everyone's views on the future of the centre."

Meanwhile, a councillor has paid tribute to the “grit and determination” of the volunteers who fought for years to bring Tullibody Civic Centre into community hands.

The town's Darren Lee has thrown his weight behind the trustees and volunteers at TCDT, who began their journey just over six years ago.

Cllr Lee told the Advertiser: “I am thrilled that the civic centre is finally in the hands of the community.

“It hasn’t been an easy journey for TCDT. However, the grit and determination shown by the group is an inspiration.

“A fantastic opportunity to show what the community can do.

“I look forward to seeing TCDT’s vision becoming a reality.”

The vision since 2017 has been to create a community-owned and run space for everyone to use, enjoy and benefit from.

This is to include the promotion of social inclusion through sport, recreation and education and the promotion of healthy living while tackling inequalities.

The trust is also looking to build social capacity and a sense of place while raising community aspirations and opportunities through volunteering and employment.

With the trust also looking after Tullibody Heritage Centre, the vision is also to preserve and promote the history and past of the area.

Janette McGowan, TCDT chair, added: “Our trustees have worked so hard to achieve this, as the chair I am proud of each and every one of them for everything they have done and continue to do for our community.”

The trust is always looking for volunteers and members to come on board, email or find Tullibody Community Development Trust on Facebook for more details.