A HARD working duo who saved a Greenock bowling club from closing down and secured its future with a major £260,000 refurbishment have stepped down.

Greenock Telegraph: Lady Alice Bowling Club

Secretary Joe Carruthers and treasurer Jim Gallacher worked round the clock to keep the doors open at Lady Alice BC.

They finally won a decade-long fight for a long-term lease so that they could get access to the funding needed to carry out urgent repair work and build an extension.

But then the pandemic struck and it looked like the club would be forced to shut.

But the dynamic duo came to the rescue, cutting through red tape to get the financial support needed to continue.

Now that the new look clubhouse is complete both Joe and Jim felt it was time to hand over the reins to some fresh faces.

Treasurer Jim, 53, who works in procurement, said: "We are relieved that it is all finished now and that the extension is built and open.

"Being so heavily involved with the club takes up a lot of time, we have lived and breathed it all.

"I came in as treasurer five years ago at a time when it was very difficult. We have worked hard at it and the club is in good shape now.

"We just felt it was the right time now to step down and let someone else take it from here."

Long-time club member Joe, a former runner and union official, had been battling away since 2004 to secure a long term lease for the bowling club, which was built on common good land. This resulted in a long, legal process.

Everything came to a head when the club was told in 2013 that urgent repairs were required to the clubhouse, with part of it needing to be demolished and rebuilt.

Joe said: "Without doing it we would not have been viable as a bowling club anymore."

At one point club officials were told they would have to go to the Court of Session to secure a lease, a move which they couldn't afford. But thankfully a change in the law allowed the situation to be dealt with by a sheriff.

It looked like things had finally reached a conclusion in 2019, allowing the club to get funding from both the council and then match funding from elsewhere to refurbish the clubhouse.

However a year later the club faced yet another big setback when they were blocked from access to financial assistance, including furlough for staff, loans and grants, because it their home was on gifted land.

Joe added: "We contacted everyone we could, including our MP and the MSP, but they said they couldn't help. I even asked Nicola Sturgeon for help.

"But Jim managed to get in touch with the Renfrewshire Assessors office and they were brilliant, they secured us a rates number and we managed to stay open."

In November 2020 they finally managed to secure match funding for the £200,000 promised by the council for the rebuild of the clubhouse. The extension is now completed and Lady Alice is set to become a busy community hub as well as a bowling club, clearing a path for Joe and Jim to stand down.

Joe said: "I have held various positions in the club since 2011. I think it is a good time now to step away."