George was driven to take over the running of Ardroy outdoor education centre through a desire to save the asset that benefited thousands of school children a year and created jobs in the local Argyll community.
George started running Ardroy in 2011 after its owners of 40 years, Fife council, had to shut the facility due to the costs involved in running it. George is a strong believer in the benefits of outdoor education centres on a young person’s development, particularly those from deprived areas, so didn’t want to see thousands of young people shut out of the experiences Ardroy offered. In addition to this, closing the facility meant a cut of 15 jobs in the area. Despite the deficit the centre had been running at, George saw potential for the business – particularly if it were to be run as a social enterprise.
George has experience working in large scale companies, but initially came to Firstport to get business support on some of the business aspects of business that are unique to social enterprise. As well as helping him with business support Firstport was able to help George access networks and events with social entrepreneurs.
George successfully applied for a Level 1 award to cover some start up costs, and Level 2 award that helped George expand Ardroy.
Ardroy exceeded its targets in its first financial year, and managed to secure a steady stream of customers who had previously used the facility – a crucial step in developing stability for the venture. In its first year alone Ardroy was able to work with almost 2000 young people, both in schools and youth groups, and secure the jobs of 15 people.
George is hoping to build on this early success and target new customers and markets.