Happy scenes played out in Elgin at the official opening of a new £900k community-funded sport facility.
Hundreds of people gathered for the launch of the sporting complex at Lower Borough Briggs.
The full-sized football pitch and two enclosed 5-aside pitches is their new pride and joy.
Cutting the ribbon on request from the grateful community for his 50 years of services was stalwart football coach Tiger Porter.
Dad-of-three Dave Allen, the project leader of the community-driven scheme, said: “It has taken a lot of determination to get us to this point – but it is all community-driven.
“There’s no reliance on council or anybody else. We got off our backsides and we did it ourselves – local mums and dads have made this happen.”
Sports pitch dream
Mr Allan first set his sights on a community-funded sports pitch five years ago.
Lesser Borough Briggs was just a piece of barren ground next to the River Lossie.
A court approval transferred the common good land to Elgin Sports Community Trust on a 99-year lease paved the way for its construction.
Mr Allen, 54, who is taking up a new post with Boeing at RAF Lossiemouth, is trust chairman.
He believes the community transfer process could be smoother and is determined to see barriers come down.
He added: “Now that we have demonstrated what we can do, I am really keen to roll this initiative out to other areas. We have actually created jobs for three young people through this.
“I’ve had loads of rubbish ideas in the past, but I knew this would work if I could just get some support and I got the support and now we can go and do other cool things as well,”
The 54-year-old, who lives in Elgin with wife Mel and their three children, added: “We have had fantastic support from Highlands & Islands Enterprise along with Scotland’s national sports agency, SportScotland.
“They gave us two juicy grants to enable us to do what we did. And there’s some really good people out there.”
Mr Allen said the scheme cost was approximately £900,000, which was partly-covered by HIE, SportScotland, and a company called VolkerFitzpatrick.
It carried out the scheme’s ground works as a gift to the community after securing a bid RAF Lossiemouth’s runway.
The remaining cost of the scheme was funded by other charities, businesses and locals in the community, including the sporting complex’s partner charity, Keiran’s Legacy, which has donated a life-saving defibrillator.
Gleaner is the main sponsor.
‘Jobs for three young people’
“It’s absolutely brilliant, “said Mr Allen.
“All sorts of things have helped massively. And my wife too deserves a medal. She’s put up with me being down here every waking moment.
“The thing I am most pleased about is that we have created three jobs for three young people and that has given them a chance. That’s a really good news story.”
Benn Morris, Sarah Westwood and Tyler Harrison have landed jobs with the trust.
At today’s launch a range of sports teams and charities, including the Moray Distillers American Flag Football Team, were trying out the new pitches.
Cutting the ribbon was
Local businesses along also attended along with charities.
The included the RAF Benevolent Fund, plus children’s cancer charity, the Abbie’s Sparkle Foundation, which was founded in memory of Elgin Academy pupil Abbie Main who died aged 15.
Keirans Legacy, set up by Sandra and Gordon McKandie whose passionate mountain-biking son Keiran died after being involved in a car accident, also had a stall at the event and were offering defibrillator, resuscitation and CPR training.