Crowdfunding campaign targets £150k for new Highland indoor climbing centre, The Ledge as backers claim 'massive interest' in project
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A crowdfunding campaign has been launched as a project to open a world-class indoor climbing centre in Inverness later this year gathers pace.
The Ledge climbing gym is set to become Scotland’s national bouldering centre of excellence and will also include climbing walls, yoga and gym space, a cafe and retail space following the conversion of a former store at the Telford Retail Park.
While just over £850,000 has been secured from various funders for the sports elements, the adventure sports charity behind the project is launching a £150,000 fundraising campaign to help ensure a start-of-art complex is created in the unit previously occupied by Bensons for Beds.
People will be invited to buy wall panels which make up the bouldering, training, lead and fun climbing walls with the names of each funder shown on a digital map of the walls which will be displayed in the centre and available to download online.
The Ledge – also known as The Wall in the North – will also deliver charitable programmes while the social enterprise aims to positively impact on lives through the vision of "vertical living".
The project was approved by Highland Council in January after two proposed locations fell through for different reasons.
The Ledge chief executive Duncan McCallum is confident the money will be raised, given the "massive" interest in the project.
"It really helps to engage the community," said Mr McCallum who co-presents BBC Scotland’s Adventure Show.
"It helps tell everyone this is really happening.
"The money will help to convert the building from a big box which was used for retail into a sports centre."
Various levels of incentives from priority invitations to events to coaching and training will be offered depending on the investment ranging from £30 donations to £100 and over.
He believes the fundraising campaign will be supported by a broad range of interests from the mountaineering community to people wanting to see more family activities in the city.
"There is absolutely massive interest in the Highlands to get this done," he said.
Mr McCallum said there were about 3500 people in the climbing community in Inverness alone who would be attracted by the venture but he also urged anyone with a small child looking for a greater choice of family activities to support it.
The project is currently going through the tendering process to design the climbing wall with the successful bid to be announced this month.
Work is expected to start at the end of the May with an anticipated opening at the end of October.
A bouldering wall capable of accommodating 300 people at any one time is set to be a big attraction as the nearest similar facility is in Edinburgh.
"One of the big advantages of the new design we have is that you can come in straight off the street and you don't need to learn how to use ropes," Mr McCallum said.
"Bouldering is much more accessible. It can be done at any level."
He said many people in England were turning to bouldering walls as an alternative to gyms.
In a joint statement with chief financial officer Alastair Lawton, he added: "Having had our own lives transformed by climbing, we are determined to pay this forward.
"The Ledge’s goal is to empower those in need – all through the awesome activity of climbing.
"Our social and community programmes will reach directly into the community to offer a fresh vertical perspective to those struggling in a complex world.
"Our aim is to provide life skills, training, mentoring, and support to those who need it most.”
Grants have been given by Highlands and Islands Enteprise, Sportscotland, the Robertson Trust and SSE.
First mooted in 2015, the original plan was to build the Ledge at Inverness Marina but that was shelved while another bid to site it in a converted warehouse in Lotland Street – next to a fuel storage and distribution site – was rejected by Highland councillors due to health and safety grounds.
After starting a new search for premises, the Ledge secured its new home.
The fundraising link is at support.theledgeclimbing.com/fundraising