"Opportunity Walks 2008" (The Walk)
Wed, Sep 10th 2008 at 12:00 am - 2:00 am
Opportunity Walks 2008
Opportunity Walks 2008 was organised by the Rotary Club of Gourock as a fund raising event in support of the proposed new Greenock Arts Centre to ensure the inclusion of children's facilities within the Center.
The first bus arrived and although the children I am certain were a little unsure of what to expect, they soon started to enter into the spirit of the event as soon as they saw the Tee Shirts. They quickly put them on and as the logo on the shirts read "Be Active Walk or Cycle" the smiles started to beam out. The Tee Shirt logo captured the sense of the activity they were about to enjoy.
I witness the small huddles of school friends laughing and joking, for me at least some of the years fell away as I remembered my school days and the trips I went on and enjoyed. Still enough sentiment, today was about letting the children of Inverclyde have a wonderful time doing the walk to raise funds for their new Arts Centre. Yes I am of the view that as they will be around for many years to enjoy the shows and partake in the activities in the new Arts Centre and they will no doubt recount that they raised the money to build it, to their families in time, it is and will always be their Arts Centre.
The busses just kept coming and our police adviser Inspector Charlie Paul was delighted at the orderly way the children behaved and the bus drop off was working well in practice. As the park filled you could see the smiling faces, as the excitement of what the children were about to be part of came ever nearer. Some were queuing to have their Tee Shirts Autographed by Morton Football Club's Alan McManus, Dave McGregor and Liam Kerrigan. There were photograph opportunities taken with "Clyde", Funworld's bear mascot I even snapped one young man with the Minister Linda Fabiani MSP who also seemed to be enjoying being with all the children.
The children were certainly keen to be photographed as they smiled and waved every time a camera lens was raised. The children calmed a little for the official speeches from Rotary Club President Norman Pettigrew, Rotary District Governor Catherine Stewart, Depute Provost Charlie McCallum and Linda Fabiani MSP, but these were focused and to the point speeches giving just the right balance between message and time. What followed was Caledon, three guys Jamie MacDougall, Ivan Sharpe and Alan Beck who sang "500 miles" with all present joining in. This was just the re-raising of spirits everyone needed.
The numbers of children by this time had risen in the park according to one person to 946, which meant with supporting teachers and others the number of people in Battery Park well exceed 1000 individuals. Then before I knew it they were off on their walk and I just kept snapping my camera which captured many happy faces.
You never really think about the sheer number of children in the area but there seemed to be a never ending march past me as I watched them walk on by and this event was only for the primary six children from the Inverclyde schools. Twenty seven schools in all, Garvel, Lilybank, Glenburn, Gourock, Newark, Sacred Heart, St Michael's, Kilmacolm, St Ninian's, Ravenscraig, Overton, Highlander's Academy, Lady Alice, St Francis', St John's, Moorfoot, Ardgowan, Wemyss Bay, St Lawrence's, King's Oak, St Patrick's, St Mary's, St Gabriel's, Inverkip, Earnhill, St Kenneth's and St Joseph's. I am glad I am finished that list as I am out of breath.
The children were led around the park by our Morton Footballers, well there was no one in Rotary that could have kept up anyway. Sorry District Governor Catherine. I went off to catch more images as it was clear everyone was enjoying the walk. Just after the final bend was turned I took a shot of the children heading down to the start only to be surprised to see that the final group of children were only then just setting off, the children certainly were filling the Battery Park pathways.
At the end of the walk there were bottles of water and boxes of treats to be had as mementos of what the children had completed. It was then farewell to "Clyde" the mascot and back to the busses for the return journey back to school. I can say that all the organisers and dignitaries were delighted with the success of the event (I know I listened to all of the speeches that followed).
It remains only for me to put into print the word's of the Rotary Club of Gourock President Norman Pettigrew, "a great big THANK YOU to the children and to the supporters who put in significant efforts to ensure that all went smoothly you all are to be congratulated".
"Lets do it again next year"