Construction has begun on a new £1.5 million purpose-built learning and development centre for deafblind people on the outskirts of Lenzie.
The first spadeful of earth was cut on Wednesday at the “Field of Dreams” site at Initiative Road.
Supporters hailed it as a “historic day for deafblind people across the country.”
Deafblind Scotland directors and staff were joined by Provost Una Walker, East Dunbartonshire councillors Rhondda Geekie, Anne Jarvis, Jim Gibbons and Manjinder Shergill, as well as local MSP Rona Mackay, MP John Nicolson and contractor Clark of Paisley at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Drena O’Malley who was Chief Executive of Deafblind Scotland in 2007 when negotiations started to build the centre, paid tribute to all those who had fundraised to help make deafblind people’s dream of a new purpose-built facility become a reality.
Vice-Chairperson Michael Anderson, deafblind member and avid fundraiser, was given the honour of cutting the first sod, with a ceremonial spade.
The “Field of Dreams” story began nine years ago with a chance meeting between Colin Smith HG Consulting and Drena in a local supermarket.
Drena told the Herald: “Colin asked how Deafblind Scotland was doing and I replied they desperately needed a new and better building for deafblind people to use.
“Colin said a piece of land might become available when the new road was finished, and so the quest to raise the almost £2m needed to secure a new centre began.” To date more than £1.7m has been raised, identified or pledged towards the cost of the land and the new centre, and efforts continue apace to raise the remainder needed.
Two major fundraising events have been organised by Deafblind Scotlan over the next two months.
An afternoon tea takes place in the Radisson Blu Hotel Glasgow on September 11. Tickets cost £15. A dinner dance takes place in the Millenium Hotel Glasgow on October 29. Tickets cost £40,
Drena said: “This is all in a drive to raise the funds to buy the specialist equipment and adaptations needed to ensure this building truly meets the needs of deafblind people.”
Local MSP Rona Mackay said: “It was a privilege to attend the construction opening ceremony of Deafblind Scotland’s new centre. The charity has worked so hard to get to this point and its members’ tenacity should serve as an inspiration to all. As their MSP, I’m so proud to represent such tireless campaigners.
“I wish Deafblind Scotland all the best for the future and look forward to the official opening ceremony of the building when it is finished.”
The building is expected to be finished by May 2017.