Neil Ballantyne joins Renfrewshire Leisure in wake of being part of one of the highest-profile events of COP26 in Glasgow

A new manager has taken charge at Renfrewshire’s museums and says he’s looking forward to telling the story of his home region’s proud past while helping shape a vibrant future.

Neil Ballantyne has started work as museums and collections manager at Renfrewshire Museums Service, part of Renfrewshire Leisure, the charity which runs cultural venues across the region and is responsible for its globally-renowned collections.

He joins at a time of unprecedented investment, with work including the £42m transformation of Paisley Museum – and just weeks after he played a role in helping host world leaders and royalty as part of COP26 in Glasgow.

Dr Ballantyne, who grew up in Houston, said: “It’s exciting.The ambition and vision of Renfrewshire Leisure and Renfrewshire Council really should be commended. I hope to help make it a success.”

He has made the move to Renfrewshire Leisure after 13 years with Glasgow Life as manager of Kelvingrove – a role which saw him part of a team which welcome more than one million visitors a year while overseeing a vast range of high-profile, successful exhibitions and events which latterly also covered the People’s Palace and St Mungo’s Museum.

And he says it’s the chance to use his experience to be part of significant events in Renfrewshire which has attracted him to his new job.

The transformed Paisley Museum is due to open in 2023. It is expected to attract 125,000 visits a year – four-times its pre-overhaul numbers – and generate a £79m economic boost over 30 years. Paisley Museum Re-Imagined is the flagship project of Renfrewshire Council’s £100m regeneration programme in the town.

Dr Ballantyne said: “Working in Glasgow, I heard and saw how the city had regenerated itself through culture. I started to hear people talk about the vision for Paisley in the same way. 

“I was obviously aware of Paisley’s City of Culture bid and then heard about the plans for the museum. Colleagues were talking about how Paisley was building its vision by working with the community. That really made me take notice.

“The fact that it’s Paisley was a factor too. I’ve a history with the place. The first toy shop I remember going to was under the railway bridge at Gilmour Street. When I started buying records it was from Stereo One on Moss Street.

“Culture will play a major part in the regeneration of Paisley. It is going to be really interesting to be part of that.”

Dr Ballantyne, 56, whose mum Maisie Ballantyne is well-known as the former school secretary at Houston Primary for 32 years, hopes to use his personal experiences to help further the reach of his home region’s story. 

As well as showcasing art, science and natural history collections, the transformed museum will tell the story of Paisley’s pattern, the town’s famous weavers and being at the centre of the global thread-making industry.

“I am really looking forward to having the chance to help Paisley Museum develop and become a place where the people of Renfrewshire feel welcome – and proud. I hope it will not just be a place which tells the fascinating story of our past, but be a major part of our present too,” he added.

“We have internationally-important collections and there are a lot of stories still to be told. I’m learning things all of the time.

“One of the things I hope to do is help to get people from outside Paisley into Paisley. When I was at school in Houston, I don’t remember any trips into Paisley. I would like to see schools coming into the museum as a matter of course.”

Managers at Renfrewshire Leisure have welcomed Dr Ballantyne to his post.

Kirsty Devine, Project Director of Paisley Museum Reimagined, said: “We are delighted to have Neil join the team. He brings the perfect combination of extensive museum sector experience as well as great local knowledge. This undoubtedly will prove invaluable as we develop both a world-class Museum and a community resource at the heart of the town’s regeneration.”

Just weeks ago, Dr Ballantyne’s previous role – as manager of Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – saw him part of the team which welcomed world leaders, including US President Joe Biden and then German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to the venue.

“I had responsibility for the museum team inside the venue for the Heads of State Reception. We had 120 world leaders and four members of the Royal family there,” he explained.

“It was a massive job, with a huge team involved. There were 1,200 police officers outside Kelvingrove that night.

“It was interesting, exciting and a little scary at times – a great event and experience to have had.”

Before embarking on his career in the museums sector, Dr Ballantyne served in the Army for three years from the age of 17, as a tank gunner and driver in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

Message reinforced following latest update from the Scottish Government

The chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure has highlighted the safety measures that the charity continues to follow in order to mitigate the risks posed by Covid-19.

Dr Victoria Hollows says vigilance remains high – with stringent measures in place – across the organisation’s leisure, sport, cultural and community venues throughout the region.

She reinforced the message after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tightened guidance in an attempt to battle the coronavirus Omicron variant, including the reintroduction of physical distancing in the likes of shops and hospitality venues.

Dr Hollows said: “Our staff, customers and the wider community should feel reassured that our charity’s entire team is doing all that it can to keep everyone safe. 

“For example, we have maintained physical distancing between equipment in our gyms and other venues since reopening following lockdown earlier this year. We also have rigorous cleaning regimes in place.

“The team here has been fantastic in following guidelines at all times and doing all they can to ensure that those using our sites and services have been able to do the same. We have, however, reiterated our safety messages to colleagues this week. Visitors should feel confident that their safety and that of colleagues is our priority.

“We all have a part to play in trying to prevent further strain on our NHS by doing all that we can to slow the spread of Covid-19. Visitors to our sites can help that by following the safety and hygiene measures we have in place, including physical distancing.”

Guidance shared with staff this week includes asking them to follow all of the guidelines shared by the Scottish Government, whether at work or home. This includes having no Christmas gatherings. Calls for them to be fully vaccinated have also been repeated.

Renfrewshire Leisure is monitoring all Scottish Government advice and will react immediately on any updates to that.

Any knock-on effects from the wider work to tackle Covid-19 on services will be shared with members and customers as they emerge.

Extension of gym hours part of Renfrewshire Leisure’s ongoing work following impact of Covid-19 on charity’s services

Gyms at three of Renfrewshire’s most popular leisure centres are to be open for longer in response to customer demand.

Hours are being extended from Monday, November 29, at the Lagoon in Paisley, ON-X, Linwood, and Renfrew Leisure Centre. Session slots are available now.

The move is part of operator Renfrewshire Leisure’s ongoing recovery of services following disruption caused by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mark Tokeley, Head of Leisure and Community Services, said: “We’re listening to our members and customers all of the time and tailoring our services as best we can to meet their needs. We’re delighted to be able to offer this increase in hours at the Lagoon, ON-X and Renfrew. We hope they will give more people the opportunity to use our services to lead better, healthier lives.”

From Monday, Renfrew Leisure Centre will be open from 7am until 9pm Monday to Thursday. Services are currently not operating between 10am and 3pm. A Covid-19 vaccination centre currently operates there each Friday.

Both the Lagoon and ON-X will be open from 6am until 9pm, Monday to Friday. Weekend sessions at Lagoon will start an hour earlier at 8.20am. Currently, each only opens at 6am on two days of the week, opening at 7.20am on the other days.

At all of the venues, the first and final sessions of each day will be longer. For the final session of the day, that gives users the flexibility to arrive later than 7.20pm for the session. The final entrance time is 8.20pm.

For the latest details about all Renfrewshire Leisure services, go to


Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron is searching for community heroes across Renfrewshire as nominations open for the 25th edition of the Provost’s Community Awards.

The 2022 event will see seven categories, including one introduced last year to recognise businesses who have adapted to ensure their survival during the Covid19 pandemic.

Anyone who lives or works in Renfrewshire can send in a nomination for the following categories:

  • Community Volunteer (sponsored by Glasgow Airport Ltd)
  • Community Group (sponsored by City Gate Construction)
  • Sporting Achievement (sponsored by ACRE Industrial)
  • Employee of the Year (sponsored by UNISON Renfrewshire)
  • Carers Award (donated by the late Provost Nancy Allison)
  • Arts and Culture Award (sponsored by Renfrewshire Council)
  • Ingenuity in Business (sponsored by Provost Lorraine Cameron)

This year’s awards will also see the return of an in-person awards ceremony – due to take place in March – after last year’s was conducted online due to the pandemic.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron said: “I am delighted and honoured to be able to open nominations for the 25th edition of the Provost’s Community Awards.

“A quarter of a century on from the first edition, we are living through a time which has brought so many challenges, as the pandemic continues – so it is as important as ever we honour those in our community who go above and beyond to help those around them.

“I know Renfrewshire has more than its fair share of unsung heroes and the awards are a great way for them to be recognised.

“It’s always a pleasure to be involved in and the fact the nominations come from the community themselves makes it extra special – so I’m looking forward to seeing your nominations.

The deadline for entries to all categories is Friday 7 January 2022.

For more information, and to submit your nomination, visit, or email

THE trials and tribulations of living through the coronavirus lockdown have been captured on film.

Renfrewshire Leisure is to screen the video diary style movie – 2020 – A Film By Paul Mothersole – on its Ren TV online channel.

Like many other people Paisley-based filmmaker Paul had to endure not being able to visit his mum and dad, Mary, aged 73 and 74-year-old Vincent, sister Fiona, aged 40, along with other family and friends during lockdown.

And Paul decided to ask his family to make a video diary documenting his family’s experience of living through the coronavirus restrictions. Filming took place between November 2020 and June 2021.

The innovative short film – funded by Creative Scotland’s Venue Recovery Fund and supported by local charity Renfrewshire Leisure – has been described as “incredibly moving” is being broadcast on Ren TV at 8pm on Thursday 25th November.

It can be viewed free of charge by logging on to

Paul said: “Like many others, my family were communicating via video conferencing and social media.  It occurred to me that collecting these videos, calls and clips and photos would be a great way of documenting this unique time in our history. 

“Though this is my family’s experience of lockdown I imagine that many people experienced something similar and I hope that my film will remind people of what we have gone through.  Hopefully in future years it will be a reminder of what we have survived.”

Paul continued: “My 50th birthday was at the end of lockdown and that was the first time our family could get together after lockdown.

“The film’s final scenes are of my birthday celebrations, so we were able to end the film on a positive and hopeful way.

“When my mum and dad saw the film, they were quote emotional as it showed everything they had to go through during lockdown.”

Richard Weeks Film Project Producer at Renfrewshire Leisure said: “Renfrewshire Leisure has been working with local filmmaker Paul Mothersole to document this important part of Paisley’s history. 

“Paul’s family have shown great courage in telling their story. The film is incredibly moving, is told from multiple perspectives and provides a valuable reminder of the pandemic which may otherwise be lost in the mists of time.”

Collaboration and commitment credited with making town stronger highlighted as a trailblazer for other communities to follow

The collective will which has helped power the transformation of Paisley has been hailed as an inspiration for other Scottish towns to follow.

Work to improve the community is highlighted in a recently-launched website designed to empower and inspire those determined to make the nation’s towns stronger and more attractive.

Scotland’s Towns Partnership’s (STP) Town Toolkit aims to help local authorities, community groups, social enterprises and businesses take action to build better communities. More than 200 people and organisations contributed to the Toolkit, whose development was supported by the Scottish Government. 

And Paisley will be among the communities highlighted as a prime example of success as the toolkit is discussed at the Scotland’s Towns Conference next Friday (November 26).

Nick Wright, a Johnstone-based town planner who developed the toolkit for STP, will speak of the town’s achievements.

He said: “Paisley may have had its struggles in recent decades, but now the town is leading the way in showing what collaboration, commitment and a strategic approach can achieve.”

Among the initiatives highlighted are the “inspirational” 2030 vision for the town centre, which shows how Paisley can be redesigned to re-energise the high street, mapping out how that can be achieved.

The £100m investment in the town centre – spearheaded by Renfrewshire Council – is also highlighted, with work including the transformation of Paisley Museum, revamp of Paisley Town Hall and a new library, learning and cultural hub on the High Street.

On the lessons that other communities can learn, Mr Wright added: “The council may be taking a leading role in Paisley’s transformation, but it knows it doesn’t have the power or resources to do everything.

“Much more impact can be achieved by helping everyone’s projects and initiatives to materialise. So a crucial part of the council’s role has been to support everyone involved in the town centre to work together, from the local youth theatre to the chamber of commerce.

“Collaboration helps individual projects come to fruition – such as the proposal for a community-owned cinema on the High Street to reconnect socially isolated individuals of all ages, circumstances and abilities, making cinema accessible for all.”

Mr Wright said that the toolkit is about sharing that wealth of experience from across the country – showing that communities can do it because it’s been done before.

While inspiring communities and groups, it is also hoped that the toolkit will prove useful for local authority officials working in planning, community development, leisure, transport and the economy when considering developments in their region, as well as for politicians at every level.

For more information, go to Details about how to join in the discussions at Scotland’s Towns Conference, which runs from November 22 to 26, can be found at

Pen Pals2

Powerful impact of writing project in forging friendships highlighted as Renfrewshire Leisure and Ethnic Communities Cultural Steering Group secure grant to continue creating cultural connections

Children from diverse ethnic and migrant communities have described how finding pen pals has made them feel loved as they build lives in Renfrewshire.

Pen Pals1

A group of six to 11-year-olds have forged new friendships while taking part in a project aimed at encouraging understanding and creating new cultural connections.

Ten children of Syrian refugees living in Renfrewshire have been paired with 10 youngsters of African heritage, writing to each other – sharing all kinds of experiences and feelings – so that they can learn more about the background of each other’s families.

Pen Pals2

The scheme, led by the region’s Ethnic Communities Cultural Steering Group – comprising, Renfrewshire Leisure, Pachedu, School of African Cultures, Jambo Radio, Inspiring Families and the University of the West of Scotland – aims to create a greater understanding of the diverse cultures that make up modern communities, particularly “new Scots”, whether they be those whose families have lived in the country for many years or those who are new to the country.

Its success is attracting national interest, with a pilot project launched as part of Refugee Week securing £4,420 to continue it through this year.

Describing how the work made them feel, one of the children who took part said: “It helps create love, friendship and respect for people from all countries, fighting racism everywhere.”

Another said: “I want to make a new friend – someone who can relate to me but who is completely different.”

The cultural steering group is spearheaded by community charity Renfrewshire Leisure, which works with communities across the region.

Heather Paton, Renfrewshire Leisure

Cultural Development Officer Heather Paton said: “A rich diversity of cultures make up modern Renfrewshire and Scotland. We want to build relationships between and celebrate them all, encouraging understanding. It’s so important. Families will have shared experiences that each can relate to.

“It has been fantastic to see the difference this has made to the children. Particularly during lockdown, we could see the difference that these connections were making, tackling loneliness while allowing them to learn about each other and what they enjoy about being in Scotland.

“This project will play an important part in shaping their outlook on life here while celebrating their family’s roots as well. This is something we can all embrace.”

The project is run in alliance with Pachedu – a charity which promotes dignity and tolerance – and its School of African Cultures, established to enhance cultural identity for children of African descent born in Scotland and to redress stereotypes in wider society.  

Young people of African Heritage from The Redeemed Assemblies church also took part in the pilot scheme.

Explaining more about Pen Pals, Regine Bews, Founder and Project Coordinator at the School of African Cultures, said: “We want to build bridges between different ethnic communities in Renfrewshire – Polish, Chinese, Syrian, African, Asian – and find ways to connect with each other.

“Children are a great way to break down barriers and reach adults. Introducing the Pen Pal Project to the Syrian Community was a way for the African Community in Renfrewshire to say ‘welcome’. 

“The theme of Refugee Week 2021 was ‘we cannot walk alone’. This connection has demonstrated that the Syrian children who are settling in our communities are not walking alone.

“Children from all of the communities in Renfrewshire love Scotland.

“Through these letters, young people connect with other ethnic community groups, they learn about other countries and cultures, they present their own country and culture, they improve their art and English writing skills, contributing to removing cultural barriers and stigma.”

Rahaf Sharif, who coordinated the Syrian children who took part and works closely with Syrian families living in Ferguslie,  said: “The children really enjoyed it.

“It was something new that made a difference for their lives during the restrictions in the pandemic. It helped them socially to make new friends, gave them confidence, meant less screen time and more positivity and self-expression through creativity.

“They learned to do something their parents had before the internet which helped improve their English writing, communication skills and encouraged them to learn about other cultures and be creative.”

It is hoped that the new Scottish Government grant will further strengthen connections across communities, allowing the team to work with up to 40 children over four months. News of the support has been welcomed.

Aneel Singh Bhopal, Regional Integration Coordinator for the South West of Scotland with the Scottish Refugee Council, said: “It’s great to see Renfrewshire Leisure’s Pen Pal project receive funding to build on the positive work done with children from refugee and other minority ethnic communities from across Renfrewshire and the West of Scotland.

“I am confident that the project will continue to help strengthen connections, improve integration and enhance the artistic skills of a diverse group of young people living in Scotland at a crucial time.”

The stories and artwork that the children share with each other will be collated into a book so that everyone who takes part has a copy to keep. That book is set to be shared with the public as part of Paisley Book Festival in February, where all of those who took part will be invited to an event to celebrate the work.  Copies will be shared in Renfrewshire’s libraries.

The project is supported by Future Paisley and part-funded through the European Union Asylum Migration Integration Fund, making management of migration flows more efficient across the European Union.

Its successes are also being highlighted as part of Black History Month events in Renfrewshire throughout October. More details about those can be found at

activity camp

YOUNGSTERS can enjoy a variety of sports and fun activities if they come along to Renfrewshire Leisure’s October Activity Camps.

Running from October 11 to 15, between 10am and 3pm during the school holidays, the camps for Primary school-aged children – run by Active Schools Renfrewshire – are jam-packed with various sports, games, arts and crafts and dance classes.

activity camp

They are taking place at the ON-X, in Linwood, Johnstone Community Sports Hub and The Lagoon, in Paisley.

The multi-activity camps at the ON-X feature sessions in various activities, including archery, bushcraft, orienteering, dodgeball, rounders and many more sports and fun activities. An early drop off at 8am and late pick up at 5:30pm is available.

A football camp run in partnership with the SFA and Renfrewshire Leisure Sports Services is being held at Johnstone Community Sports Hub, during the school holiday week.

These camps are suitable for all primary-aged youngsters, no matter what their football experience and are organised by qualified SFA coaches, in line with the National Player Pathway.

The camps aim to improve skill level, teamwork, fitness and communication. Players will improve through a combination of coaching, skills challenges and small-sided games, all based around enjoyment and having fun.

Johnstone Community Sports Hub hosts a dance and movement camp featuring a variety of styles from street dance, disco, cheer to lyrical, ballet and jazz.

The sessions will be delivered by experienced dance coaches at UKCC Level 1 and 2, using fun games, activities and routines.

Movement will range from stretching, conditioning, floor and vault skills. General skills will be based around rolls, handstands, cartwheels, round off, bridges, walk over and progressions.

An Active Families Disability Sport and Activity Club for Primary-aged children is being held on Wednesday, October 13 at 3:15-4:15pm and 4:15-5:15pm, at the ON-X, in Linwood; and on Thursday October 14 between 4:30-5:30pm,at the Lagoon Leisure Centre for young people of secondary school age.


Attendees will be able to take part in a club where two bouncy castles will be on offer, as well as the opportunity to take part in sports activities led by qualified coaches. These will include: boccia, archery, football, basketball and frisbee golf.

This family club is available to any family with a young person with a disability and/or sensory impairment and siblings are welcome.

A parent or guardian must stay with the participant for the duration of the club and are actively encouraged to take part.

When a rest is required, soft drinks and snacks will be available. This hour-long club allows all the family to take part in fun activities.

Mark Tokeley, Head of Leisure and Community Services at Renfrewshire Leisure said: “We’ve got something for everyone to enjoy during the school holiday.

“The activities we provide for the young people are not only great fun, but they are beneficial to their health and fitness.

“These camps are a great opportunity for youngsters to keep active, learn new skills and meet new friends at the same time.”

Go to for more information on the camps and details of prices and to book go to

The award-winning Renfrewshire Libraries service is going for the double this year in a prestigious national award.

Primary Outreach Librarian, Jacquelyn Else-Jack is one of six nominated in the longlist for this year’s Library and Information Professional of the Year.

Jacquelyn’s achievement follows Renfrewshire’s School Libraries Support Coordinator and School Librarian, Clare Hemsworth, winning the award last year.

According to CILIPS – the organisation for Scotland’s library and information professionals – who organises the award:

“Jacquelyn has created many innovative engagement programmes, including RIOT (Read It Out Time), in which numerous schools undertook a six week programme based on the work of a local author and worked alongside sports services to encourage the link between sport and reading.

“Jacquelyn was involved in the Just the Ticket project, to encourage Primary Seven library use, which is now being expanded beyond the pilot project.

“She also promoted the Summer Reading Challenge with enthusiasm, leading to Renfrewshire being placed 3rd in Scotland for highest sign ups.”

The outright winner of the Library and Information Professional of the Year 2021 will be announced later this year.

Mark Tokeley. Head of Leisure and Community Services at Renfrewshire Leisure said: “Congratulations to Jacquelyn for being named in the longlist for this award and we’re rooting for her when it comes to judging who will be the outright winner.

“It’s a fantastic achievement for Renfrewshire Leisure and our libraries service to be in a position where we could win the award two years in a row.

“We always strive to provide the best and most innovative library service and it’s gratifying that our good work is being recognised by CILIPS.”

Renfrewshire Libraries has recently extended its opening hours and more information on opening times is available from

CREATE Paisley, a Renfrewshire based youth arts charity is working with partners to promote creativity and wellbeing again this October by hosting Open Mind Summit, a one-day online event exploring how creativity and culture can improve young people’s wellbeing.

Launched in 2019 on World Mental Health Day (10 October) the sell-out event attracted over 100 like-minded individuals of all ages to be inspired, learn, collaborate and connect.  In 2020, in the midst of lockdown, the event moved online, and discussed ‘how can creativity help children and young people overcome isolation and loneliness’. Over the last 2 years, the summit has hosted a diverse line-up of young people, artists, activists and influencers, national organisations, educators, researchers and more with keynotes from Darren McGarvey and Steven McLeish.

Alan Clark, Executive Director at CREATE Paisley said, ‘We’re delighted to continue Open Mind Summit for a third year and build upon the connections and conversations over the last 2 years. The Summit continues to be a space to be inspired and to explore the role of creativity in improving the wellbeing of children and young people. This last 18 months has been an extremely challenging time for young people across Renfrewshire and further afield and we know the power of creativity and the arts in supporting young people towards improved connections and wellbeing.’

This year, the Summit will be on Friday 8th October and will explore the theme, Mental Health for All with three subthemes: Nature for All, Connections for All and Justice for All.   The programme this year will reflect these themes, with 3 keynote speakers, a morning panel discussion and a range of workshops.

Alan continues, ‘We’re so excited by this year’s line up with keynote talks from Angela Awuah, Ollie Bray and Jo Musker-Sherwood, as well as an opportunity to hear more about 10,000 Miles, a celebration of connection and creativity and a showcase the work of two dance companies right2dance in Paisley, Scotland and yellowwheel in Melbourne, Australia and their experiences with connecting across the globe.’

Angela Awuah is founder and director of award-winning social enterprise Mental Health The Arts (MHTA), an early intervention creative arts academy in South London which works with young people on developing creative coping mechanisms using their gifts and talents. She has been a carer for over 10 years for a family member that was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Her background involves campaigning, public speaking and youth-led social action.

Ollie Bray is currently Strategic Director at Education Scotland where he overall strategic responsibility for National Improvement Initiatives and Professional Learning and Leadership. This includes major national initiatives including Wellbeing and Equality. Immediately before rejoining Education Scotland he was Global Director: Connecting Play and Education at the LEGO Foundation ( where he led the Foundations work related to education improvement through the use of technology and play.

Jo Musker-Sherwood has over fifteen years’ experience in the charity sector. As the Founder Director of Hope for the Future, she oversaw the charity’s growth from a small project to a national NGO impacting climate policy at all levels of government. Following an experience of activism-related burnout, Jo turned her attention to researching and developing strategies for emotional and ecological wellbeing. She is a coach in training, and currently researches, writes, mentors, and consults on emotional resilience strategies for those working in the environmental sector.

Hazel Darragh, Senior Communications Officer at Kibble Education and Care Centre, added “We’re delighted once again to be part of the Open Mind Summit, alongside Create Paisley and other partners, to explore the intrinsic link between creativity, culture and wellbeing. At Kibble, children and young people excel in all areas of the arts; an important means of self-expression, achievement, connection and confidence. This year’s event is set to be one of the best yet, with a host of key speakers, workshops, performances and inspiring conversation.”

“Working with the team at Open Mind Summit has been a really positive experience. The Summits’ aims and objectives fit well with our own at the Centre for Culture, Sport and Events which are aligned to culture, health, wellbeing and regeneration. CCSE’s involvement has seen us facilitate some of the Summit’s online sessions and our PhD student Lam Pham’s multi-faceted association with the Summit has been beneficial for her ongoing research.’ Prof Gayle McPherson, Director of CCSE

“The health and wellbeing of our young people is so important. This event will be a very useful tool and learning experience for young people and practitioners who work with young people. It will look to equip them with better ideas and resources to help them deal with mental health issues they may be dealing with now or in the future.” Cllr. Lisa-Marie Hughes, Chair of Renfrewshire Leisure

Open Mind Summit is funded by Renfrewshire Council and delivered in partnership with CREATE Paisley as part of Future Paisley. Future Paisley is a radical and wide-ranging programme of events, activities and investments using the town’s unique and internationally significant cultural stories to transform its future.

Open Mind Summit is on 8 October on online platform Hopin. Tickets are just £25 and there are a limited number of bursary places available for creative practitioners and young people.  To find out more and book your place, visit:


monster dash logo

FUN runners are being given the chance to take part in a Halloween Monster Dash.

The family event over a 5k route is being organised by Renfrewshire Leisure around the ON-X Sports Centre, in Linwood and is an alternative to the annual Paisley 10k Road Race and Fun Run, which is not taking place this year.

monster dash logo

While plans are already being made for the popular Decathlon-sponsored Paisley 10k and Fun Run to be held in 2022, the smaller-scale Monster Dash is an ideal way for fun runners to take part in an event this year.

The Monster Dash is being held at 12 noon on Sunday, October 31 and runners are being encouraged to come along in fancy dress since the event is being held on Halloween.

Everyone taking part will receive a goody bag and there will be spot prizes for the best-dressed runners in Halloween costumes.

ON-X Linwood

The route will take fun runners on two laps of the scenic Linwood Moss and is a flat course with only a few gentle undulations.

Entrance fee is only £3 for adults and £2 for children. Go to to register for the event.

Chair of Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “While unfortunately we’ve had to postpone this year’s big races – the Paisley 10k and Fun Run – we thought we would still give runners the chance to take part in a fun event, albeit on a smaller scale.

“This will be a good way to ease everyone back into running again and since it’s Halloween, we hope the runners will join in the spirit of what day it is and come along in fancy dress.

“We’ve already started planning for next year’s Paisley 10k and Fun Run, which I’m sure will be better than ever.”

The official charity partner chosen for next year’s Paisley 10k and Fun Run is the Armed Forces veterans’ charity, Erskine.

THE oldest swimmer at Renfrew’s Victory Baths can’t wait to dive into the history of the swimming pool.

An exhibition to mark the Victory Baths’ centenary opens on Sunday, September 19 and 92-year-old Meg Main is looking forward to finding out all about the place she describes as her “second home”.

Meg has been visiting the pool for decades and is well-known as the water aerobics instructor to members of the Victory Baths’ Over 50s Club – up until the start of Covid restrictions a role she has carried out for more than 20 years.

The exhibition at the pool begins on September 19  – the date in 1921 the baths were officially opened – and apart from the public holiday on September 24, runs every day until September 26.

Meg, from Renfrew said: “Having an exhibition to celebrate the centenary of the baths is a great idea and a lot of people will be interested in its history.

“We’ll find out how the baths were built for the people of Renfrew and how the baths have benefitted their health over the years.”

Meg added: “Renfrew Baths has been like a second home to me over the years and there were times I would come here five days a week.

“Swimming helps you relax as well as giving you exercise. You can also meet lots of people and make new friends if you’re a regular at the pool.”

The baths were gifted to the town by shipbuilder and government minister, Sir Frederick Lobnitz who along with his wife, Lady Lobnitz and Lady Blythswood conducted the opening ceremony watch by crowds of locals.

People interested in seeing the exhibition at the pool can book a tour on weekdays at 10.30am, 1.30pm and 7.30pm as well as during the weekend at 10.30am, 11.30am and 12.30pm. To book a place on the exhibition tour, call 0141 618 4914.

Following Covid regulations, tours must be booked for Test and Protect purposes and are limited to ten places per tour. Face masks must be worn unless exempt.

To help celebrate the centenary, Renfrewshire Leisure is reducing the charge for swimmers to 100p (£1) per swim and £4 for a family swim at the Victory Baths, on its actual anniversary day, Sunday September 19.

The Baths will also offer extended opening hours of 9am to 7pm on September 20, 21, 22 and 23.

Claire Carlton, a receptionist and swimming teacher from Renfrew Baths involved in the exhibition, said: “Meg is a legend around the Victory Baths and lots of people know her. She’s a real character and a great example to everyone the way she has kept active.

“As Meg says herself, the exhibition will be very popular as the pool has a very interesting history with many unusual stories being told during the event.”

More information about Renfrewshire Leisure’s pools and how to book swim sessions can be found here