St Madoes celebrates opening of £1.5 million worship and community hub

A former Moderator, an Olympic hero and an ancient Saint arriving by coracle to the banks of the River Tay.Those were just three of the attractions at a joyful all-day event held yesterday Sunday 17 September to celebrate the official opening of the Madoch Centre.

Madoch centre opening
The grand opening of the Madoch Centre was attended by: Anthea Bircham, John Swinney, MSP for Perthshire North; Willie Wilson, Deputy Perth Provost; Very Rev Albert Bogle and Rev Marc Bircham.

The congregation of St Madoes and Kinfauns in Perthshire has spent the last two years raising funds to build and equip the £1.55 million Madoch Centre, which will host a social enterprise café, sports activities and community events, as well as church services and worship events.

“We have been holding worship in the centre for the last three weeks now,” said Anthea Bircham, wife to minister Rev Marc Bircham, who has acted as project manager during the build and has now been appointed community development coordinator for the centre.

“Our café and drop-in centre has been open for the last 10 days and we’ve had about 80 customers a day. We expected to get a lot of interest from people living closest to St Madoes, but we’re finding that people from along the Carse of Gowrie are keen to be involved. They are telling us how fantastic the centre is and that there is nothing else like it.

“It’s been quite overwhelming how enthusiastic people are.”

The congregation and visitors celebrated the opening

The all-day opening event began with an all-ages service of celebration at 10:30 am conducted by Very Rev Albert Bogle, founder of the Sanctuary First online ministry.

The congregation chose the theme ‘Living Stones’ for the celebration to reflect the heritage of the area, which includes standing stones that date back to 7th century and the early Christian saints.

A lunch was held for funders and VIP guests, while congregation and community members brought lunches. Visitors took a walking tour of some of the ancient stones or cycled to the Tay riverbank at Inchyra where, at 12:30, St Madoch, (represented by Rev Scott Burton of St Matthews in Perth)) and his monks arrived in coracles.

The monks made a procession to the centre accompanied by a junior pipe band. Then at 2 pm Olympic swimmer Steven Milne officially cut the ribbon to the new centre.

In the afternoon the celebrations continued with a full programme of games, sports, crafts, music, dance and song.

Elliott and Samuel Beatson
Elliott and Samuel Beatson

The centre grew out of the congregation’s vision of a church and community centre where everyone would be welcome. Projects underway include Criss Cross, which aims to bring people together across age groups to combat loneliness, and SMASH (St Madoes Active Sports Club) which will offer sports and health-promoting physical activity for people of all ages and abilities.

A sports outreach worker will mentor high school students and create opportunities for young people to gain leadership qualifications.

Three community groups focused on dance and drama, adult netball and football training have already asked to use the centre as their base.

The centre received more than £65,000 in funding from local donors and another half a million in grants. The largest donor, the European Union LEADER fund which supports rural development, committed £150,000 to the Madoch Centre. Sports Scotland and The Gannochy Trust also contributed grants.

St Madoes and Kinfauns minister, Rev Marc Bircham, last year completed a fundraising challenge where he travelled across the country committing acts of kindness and feats of daring suggested by supporters on the social media site Facebook.

The Suez Community Fund supported two internal soundproofed walls and soft play equipment.

“The soundproofed walls mean that all of our spaces can be multi-purpose,” Mrs Bircham said.

“We can alter the size of the rooms and we don’t have to worry about noise disturbing quiet activities.” Watch the video to see how the project came together.

You can see more photographs from the opening event on The Church ofScotland Facebook page