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From the Ayrshire Post. February 9th, 2001

MAYBOLE training agency May-Tag Ltd aims to change its image - and become a centre of learning the town can be proud of.

The company wants to encourage everyone to become `computer wise' and involved with the Maybole web site that's proving so popular with `visitors' from all over the world. It is planned to develop local people's computer and Internet skills by running evening classes and special weekend events for community groups. The goal is to help every local voluntary group own a computer - and have members with the skills to use it. May-Tag manager Ellen Hawkes and her staff will be working with the town's new Community Development Officer Peter Walker and Inclusion Officer Yvonne Simister to provide the kind of training and access that people need, at a time and cost that suits their wallets and schedules. 

Mrs Hawkes says the Government is providing grants of up to £150 for training to people who are willing to put £25 towards it too. Her staff will help people to fill in application forms, available from May-Tag at Maybole Castle.

 The first small group of four evening students has already met in the Castle for an introduction to `Computing for the Terrified'. It is a basic beginners' class which lasts for five weeks and can lead to another five-week course on Internet activity and e-mailing. These courses are designed to allow learners to proceed at their own pace and become comfortable with computers.

 The Internet course will start at the beginning and show people how to move around the Maybole web site. By the end of the course, trainees will be contributing new articles to the site - and perhaps pictures too. Later on, classes to help people produce leaflets, a new course called European Computer Driving License and web site design will be on offer.

Stressing that the courses will have something to offer everyone, Mrs Hawkes pointed out: "Families are scattered around the world now and Internet communication is the way ahead. "Once you get over the initial steps, it's easy - and cheaper! "I have family in California and I can chat with them via the Internet for 2p a minute - much less than a Trans≠atlantic phone call - and far better because you can send photographs and the whole family can be on line at the same time.

"I have been able to have a family conference linking members in the United States, London, Dundee and Glasgow with Maybole. And my kids think the Maybole web site is great, especially when they see or read about people or places they have known." Mrs Hawkes believes the future will involve more and more communication via computers.

She said: "From filling in application forms, paying bills, ordering shopping and booking holidays, the Maybole community will be up there with the best.

"As more and more people take an interest in the town's web site and start to contribute, as every voluntary group keeps the town posted on its activities, we will have a site that points the way ahead for other small towns throughout the country." May-Tag is keen top hear Maybole people's ideas for the we site and will help anyone put an article on the Internet.

Ultimately, working with other agencies, like Community Education and the Library, it is hoped every person is able to access and use a computer.

One of the projects being set up now involves a group of 16 to 18-year-olds. They will be looking at various aspects of life in Maybole that affect them, with the aim of producing a web con≠tribution that's an accurate and up-to-the-minute reflection of youth in Maybole. Another project about to hit the web is of a different nature and involves Scottish Country Dancing enthusiast and May-Tag employee John Moore.

John has completed a booklet of his own country dances including one called "Maybole Castle" and he has already had requests from far and wide for details. He will be put details of dance classes, events and topics of interest about Scottish Country Dancing on the site. May-Tag hopes to secure funding to publish his booklet - so look out for further details if you would like to learn how to dance a reel.