Newmilns Snow and Sports Complex has doubled its paying visitors over the past two years after taking on a significant investment in its facilities. … 

The social enterprise secured £930,000 of investment in 2013 from funders including Social Investment Scotland, SportsScotland, the Scotland Rural Development Programme, East Ayrshire Council and the Robertson Trust. The funds enabled them to build a new 110m intermediate slope with poma lift and to refurbish the centre’s existing slope adding a conveyor belt lift to allow access for beginners and those with a disability. Both slopes now have a combined capacity of over 100 skiers and boarders.

With 16,000 paying visitors last year, the centre is now in good financial health and has been able to increase its work with community groups and schools significantly. In the past year Newmilns is now working with 77 schools in the surrounding area and has seen visits from individual school pupils increase by over 30%. It is also supporting 56 youth and community groups.

Robert Pollock, Chairman at Newmilns Snow and Sports Complex, said: “We are thrilled to see more and more people visiting the centre. Our aim has always been to make snow sports accessible to all and this healthy business growth is now enabling us to offer even more opportunities to those who need them most.

“In the coming months we plan to introduce a new structure to our lessons, taking clients from beginner right up to mountain skiing and competition level. As well as increasing our capacity for group lessons we plan to introduce regular freestyle nights, a Sunday Clinic and parent and child sessions. At the same time, we’ll be looking to continue working with schools and community groups to ensure the success of the centre is translated back into benefits for the community.”

As a result of its success the complex has been able to offer training and employment to a number of individuals, including 16 year old Abbie Miller. Abbie began skiing at the complex a number of years ago and showed real promise. Due to family health issues, she was unable to attend as often, until Newmilns stepped in and committed to sponsoring her training as a trainee rental technician, offering slope time and training in return for general assistance at the centre during busy periods. Abbie’s confidence has grown considerably and she is now a self-assured, capable part time employee. She recently completed her pre-instructor training, funded by Newmilns, and is hoping to achieve her ski instructor certificate in September 2015.

Alastair Davis, Chief Executive of Social Investment Scotland, which invested £100,000 in the project from the Social Investment Fund which it managed on behalf of the Scottish Government, said: “Newmilns is a fantastic success story for social enterprise. Since being saved from closure and re-established as a social enterprise community organisation the centre’s fortunes have been completely turned around and it now stands up as a financially sustainable business contributing a whole host of benefits to the community as well as to the local economy.”