Film star backs £3m bid to save Millport town hall
Plan to transform holiday destination's historic town hall into heritage centre and flats.
A campaign has been launched to raise millions of pounds to save a historic town hall in the holiday destination of Millport.
The building dates back to 1878 but has lain empty for years and fallen into a state of disrepair.
Plans have been drawn up to transform it into a community hall, heritage centre and holiday apartments for visitors who flock to the town on the Isle of Cumbrae, off the west coast.
However, £3m is needed to make the proposals a reality and so far just £250,000 has been raised.
The campaign has now received the backing of leading Scots actor Bill Paterson, who regularly enjoyed holidays in Millport.
The Local Hero actor said: "I think Millport like all places needs a really flexible centre where people can come and do all sorts of things whether local or visiting.
"So it would be a wonderful thing to get it going and I think we've got to fight to do that."
John McNeilly and Angie McCallum set up Friends of Millport Town Hall to raise the millions needed.
They believe a functioning community hub will give the island's economy a huge shot in the arm.
Ms McCallum said: "We've got a really fragile economy and if we can get more tourists then we get more pounds spent on the island.
"So the heritage centre was great and we'll have a community centre which we don't have at the moment."
Revitalising the town hall would also provide a boost and new facilities groups and activities operating in Millport.
Rhona Gourley, the leader of the 70-strong Sonora Community Choir, currently has to rehearse and stage shows in the local church.
She said: "To my mind a town hall is very much the essence of the centrality of actually living in a small town.
"For our spring concert which we'd normally expect to do one show, we have to do two shows - because we don't have somewhere that's big enough to take the numbers who support us.
"So for us it would be a big thing."
It's hoped the presence of Paterson - a veteran of films and TV shows from The Witches to Outlander and Fleabag - will provide a huge boost to the fundraising.
The 74-year-old has fond memories of his holidays in Millport and hopes that will inspire others who spent time there to dig deep for the campaign.
"In those days the island had about three cars in the beginning and so it was total freedom, it was called a children's paradise," he recalled.
"I don't think my mother ever saw me except at tea time when I was forced to go back home to get something to eat.
"They'd never see me from one month to the next. So it was a pretty free and easy life down here in those days and yes, I loved it."