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Fife church beats vandals to open £1.2m community centre months after wrecking spree

The Fife church beat vandals to open the £1.2m centre
Rev Gillian Paterson says it's fantastic to finally be able to open the centre. Picture Steven Brown/DCTMedia.

A Fife church has beaten vandals and Covid delays to finally open its £1.2 million community centre.

Dedicated members of Wellesley Parish Church in Methil took nine years to raise the funds needed for the state-of-the-art facility.

And they endured lockdown hold-ups and a national shortage of materials before the building took shape.

Methil Parents and Toddlers group was the first to try the new centre on Tuesday. Picture Steve Brown/DCTMedia.

But they were devastated when hooded vandals covered CCTV cameras with mud before embarking on a wrecking spree last September.

The entire town expressed shock and offered support when windows were smashed and the roof was damaged.

And everyone worked together to ensure the project got back on track.

Now minister Gillian Paterson is delighted the centre is ready, albeit two years later than planned.

She said: “It’s absolutely fantastic. What we’ve achieved is incredible.”

Former Church of Scotland Moderator, the Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, will visit Methil on Sunday for an official dedication ceremony.

It will mark the end of a huge fundraising campaign, largely carried out by the church’s 260 members.

Community helped church beat vandals

While some signed up for weekly or monthly donations, others baked, organised concerts, and held sales of work and a host of other events.

Gillian said: “They baked for Scotland. One woman made scones every week for seven years.

“The effort that went in was amazing. That’s how much this means to people.”

In all, members raised more than £500,000, with the rest of the money coming from grants.

The Fife church beat vandals to open this week. Picture Steve Brown/DCTMedia.

It’s not only church members who will benefit, however.

Wellesley Parish Church is well respected in Methil because of the amount it does with and for the community.

Gillian said that’s why people were so horrified by last year’s vandalism,

“People know this building is for them and they were outraged by what happened,” she said.

“The community was really, really supportive and helpful. We got phone calls, letters and emails.

“The high school did an assembly on it and our youth fellowship teenagers were fuming.

“We’ve had no more trouble since then.”

A hub for the whole community

The centre will be used by people of all ages.

A parents and toddlers group was the first to move in on Tuesday and they’re already enjoying the space.

Denise Hancock, who runs the group said, “We feel like we’re on cloud nine and we’re loving every aspect.”

Eventually, it will be home to a holiday club, youth fellowship, guides and girls’ and boys’ brigades.

Youngsters were delighted with the facilities. Picture Steve Brown/DCTMedia.

Support groups will open for the bereaved, people with mental health problems and the families of prisoners.

And there will be a men’s group and singing for those living with dementia, as well as meeting rooms for hire and a training kitchen.

Gillian added: “There will be something on morning, noon and night and all ages will be catered for.”

In addition, the church has opened a community hope chest.

Based in the old community centre next door, it’s similar to a charity shop where people can donate and buy second-hand goods.

But it is also working with Fife Council’s homeless and housing services to provide necessities free for people who need it.

“It opened last Thursday and it’s doing well already,” said Gillian.

“There’s just so much need around here. What we’ve got is a hub for the whole community.”

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