As snow sports enthusiasts wait for the first snows to fall on the Scottish hills, Newmilns Snow and Sports Complex in East Ayrshire launches a new and improved facility with a social twist.

A refurbished slope equipped with a conveyor belt lift will allow the complex to cater for more beginners and those with a disability, while the new intermediate slope with a poma lift measures an impressive … 110m in length, making it the longest slope in South West Scotland and offering space for more advanced and freestyle skiers. Both slopes have a combined capacity of over 100 skiers and boarders, and are the first slopes in Scotland to use a state of the art material called Proslope which is considered safer than traditional materials. The centre will also offer tubing and sledging activities.Newmilns Snow Sports Centre

The project has attracted a total of £930,000 of investment from funders including Social Investment Scotland, Sports Scotland, the Scotland Rural Development Programme, East Ayrshire Council and the Robertson Trust.

The centre was officially launched today as 10 teams of primary and secondary school children from local Ayrshire schools went head to head in a series of downhill races.

Having opened back in 1975 the complex, which contained a single beginner’s slope, was on a downward financial spiral until the community stepped in and took it over from the local authority. Now established as a social enterprise community organisation, Newmilns joins a growing number of community-based sporting organisations choosing to succeed as third sector organisations and focused on making a positive social impact.

With the aim of making snow sports accessible and affordable, as well as seeking to address the economic and social challenges in the region, the project will enable Newmilns to boost visitors, increase sports participation, create jobs and volunteering opportunities, train instructors and host competitions.

Robert Pollock, Chairman of Newmilns Snow and Sports Complex, said: “For a long time, skiing and snowboarding have been regarded as expensive sports for those with money to spend.  Our ethos is to make snow sports accessible for all, be it young people, adults, those with a disability or those who are unemployed.” Newmilns Snow Sports Centre_school visit

Pollock added: “In the past the complex has predominantly catered for beginners with young people falling away from the sport when they got past the basics. These new facilities will enable us to create an exciting place to ski and board at the heart of the community, and to cater for all abilities.”

The complex is already catering for community groups and schools by offering an affordable fixed price package. Newmilns is working with Snowsports Scotland to design programmes for school children in line with the Curriculum for Excellence. In the past 18 months, 63% of South Ayrshire schools and 53% of East Ayrshire schools have visited the complex. The past 6 months alone has seen visits from 32 local schools in the region.

Alastair Davis, Chief Executive of Social Investment Scotland, which invested £100k in the project from the Social Investment Fund which it manages on behalf of the Scottish Government said: “Newmilns Snow and Sports Complex is one of several projects SIS is supporting which are providing sports facilities for their communities through a social enterprise business model. These organisations are particularly well suited to improving the lives of their surrounding communities because of their ability to both generate revenue and also create local jobs.

“As a community run social enterprise, Newmilns understands the need of the local populace and has the expertise to run a successful business, generating profit which can then help to meet those needs. It’s a model that has huge potential to create a healthier and more equal society in Scotland and we’re committed to connecting more capital with more communities across Scotland.”