To the casual observer Tayport has everything. After all, the pretty small Fife town is ideally situated by the River Tay on the Fife Coastal Path, and close to Tentsmuir Forest, a national nature reserve.
But the one thing this close-knit community lacked was a central hub where people of all ages and abilities could get together.
Now, though, that dream has become a reality – the new, multi-purpose Larick Centre will open its doors on March 21, marking an exciting new era for Tayport and beyond.
The project evolved from the original campaign for a local sports centre led by Tayport Community and Sports Action Group when local residents raised the impressive sum of £55,178.
Will Whitfield, a volunteer with Tayport Community Trust (TCT), the organisation behind the social enterprise, explains: “The need for a community centre was identified a long time ago. We knew it would have to be a versatile and self-sustainable space.”
The new centre, on the three-acre site of a former steel fabrication works, will be used for sports, arts, courses and classes, community meetings and events, tourism and business, with a cafe and camp site.
Project coordinator Yvonne Wynia explains how the name of the 2.8million hub – funded by a number of generous grants and donations – came about.
“The TCT asked locals to come up with suggestions,” she says. “In the end, we chose the Larick Centre for two reasons. The Larick Beacon, or Pile Lighthouse, lies just off Tayport, and has marked a navigational hazard for more than 150 years. So it seemed an appropriate name for a project that was also at the heart of the community.
“Plus the Pile Lighthouse is also the TCT’s logo,” she continues.
“An elderly lady who has lived in Tayport all her life told me the name took her back to her childhood when people called it the Laricky Lighthoose and Laricky Dyke. She hadn’t heard or seen the name for years and it had brought a tear to her eye.”
The design brief for Edinburgh architect James York and his team was to create a multi-functional space that could be adapted for different interests and needs. As a result, the sports hall can also be used for performances and bands, while a flexible suite of rooms, all named after different wild animals in keeping with the centre’s rural location, can be opened up or divided as the occasion demands.
“We consulted with the people of Tayport to find out what they wanted,” says Yvonne. “So the centre will be a meeting place where everyone can come together, whether they want to take part in one of the many courses, find out what’s going on, visit the cafe or simply rest and relax.
“We’re close to the beach and the forest so people can just enjoy being in nature if they want,” says Yvonne.
The new centre will benefit visitors to the area as well. “We’re right on the Fife Coastal Path, and a lot of people cycle through Tentsmuir, so we hope to hold cycling events, at the Larick,” says Yvonne.
“This project has been a learning curve but it’s also been so rewarding working with such a nice positive community,” she smiles.
The new centre will be officially opened by MSP Aileen Robertson and Tayport’s Citizen of the Year Robert Bates, over a weekend of celebration on March 27-29.
If you’d like to volunteer to help at the centre, please email firstname.lastname@example.org