Rainbow Opportunity Centre
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Open Day at the new Rainbow Opportunity Centre in Maybole's Whitehall. The centre is the former Carrick Hotel and recently local people had the chance to look round the premises. There was even music by veteran DJ George Wallace.

Background on the Rainbow Opportunity Centre and its former use as the Carrick Hotel. ( Article published March 2006)

AFTER 17 years with their names above the door of the Carrick Hotel, Sandy and Alice Abbot will soon be calling last orders on their time as well-known Maybole publicans.
Considering the couple had only intended to stay in the town for two years, the decision to close the bar and open a homecare service and day-care centre hasn't been taken lightly, but the building which has traded as a pub for over 200 years when it was bought for only one penny, is currently undergoing a renovation and preparing to be turned into an opportunity centre for over 65's.
Although the couple are sad to be saying goodbye to the pub and their loyal customers who have become friends, they are also looking forward to new challenges, and are equally delighted that what was a "pipe dream" for so long, is about to become a reality.
The Abbot family took over the reins of the Carrick in June 1989 after running a B&B and the Kildonan Hotel in Ayr.
"We wanted some experience of running a bar, and the intention was to sell up within two years and then maybe open a nursing home," said Alice.
Things didn't quite go to plan, however, and aircraft inspector Sandy decided to leave his job with British Aerospace to help his wife run their busy pub.
Over the years, the pair have witnessed many changes to the licensed trade, and in their clientele, who have been left a little shocked that the popular watering hole will soon be no more. But the Abbot's have their reasons for declaring time on their old life, and starting afresh.
Alice explains: "We decided around two years ago that we could either spend money renovating the pub or going in a different direction. One of the biggest deciding factors for us was the introduction of the no smoking law, which would have affected us. The licensed trade has changed drastically over the years and is very regulated now.
"The Carrick became more of a working man's pub, and seventeen years ago men would come in on a Friday after work for a drink and stay for hours, but people have different priorities now and don't go out as much as they did."
Sandy adds: "With the increase in prices over the years and supermarkets charging next to nothing for cases of beer, more people are drinking in the house.
"Working men's pubs are disappearing, and there's nothing to replace them. We're sad to see the pub go, but we've got to think ahead to the future.
"A few pubs in the town have closed recently, and with us following suit, it'll give the rest of them a better chance at succeeding."
Over the last seventeen years, Sandy and Alice have gathered many happy memories, although they admit there's been some stressful times as well.
"We've made a lot of friends over the years, but things change, and 75 per cent of our customers are now in the cemetery," Sandy says.
Pointing to the seats next to the front window, he goes on: "All the old characters used to sit there and we had many good times over the years, but most of them are dead and gone now and there's nobody to replace the likes of old Bobby Conn and Co."
Alice recalls some of her favourite times: "We've been doing a lot of reminiscing lately and been going through boxes of photos which Sandy has dubbed 'The Carrick Bible'.
"The social club days out were always the best of times. Fifty-two mad folk going to Millport or Rothesay! But numbers dwindled over the years and there were only about 11 of us who went last year."
The couple's two daughters, Sara and Lianne, will also be sad to see the closure of the pub. Alice said: "They've been brought up in this environment and had many good times. All of the important milestones in their lives such as their 18th and 21st birthday parties were held in here. Both of them have worked behind the bar at various times over the years and Sara, who got married last year, now runs 13 hotels in South Wales. My sister Irene has also been a great support in our time here." Sandy and Alice are also now grandparents to Courtney, Zara and Robbie.
Other highlights since 1989 include the formation of a "great" pool team. Sandy said: "The pool team have won plenty of trophies over the years and a lot of good players have come out of the Carrick, with Martin Fisher now playing for Scotland."
There's been weddings, Christenings, funerals, communions, hen and stag parties, Halloween parties (which Sandy and Alice were always happy to participate in) and lots more.
There have also been numerous charity events held in the Carrick in aid of the Heart Start Foundation, and the Willie Hill Memorial Day with all proceeds going to the Kidney Foundation.
Another occasion which springs to Sandy's mind was the night the social club were holding a charity karaoke competition with 100 prize money.
"We put a lot of work into it and had just got everything ready when a customer who shall remain unnamed fell in the door drunk and went flying into the machine. A 48 inch TV was left lying in 4,000 pieces, but that was a mild night compared to some we've had in here!"
Throughout this time, Sandy has remained a permanent fixture behind the bar.
"We've probably lasted so long because I've spent most of my time behind the bar. You have to do most of the work yourself or you can't survive," he said.
"I've made a lot of friends working here myself and I'll keep in touch with them. I'm sure there will be a few days out with the boys in future."
Both Sandy and Alice have enjoyed close links with the local community over the years. Both have been members of the Town Twinning association, small business association, and chairperson and secretary of Maybole and District Licensing association.
It was Alice's long background in nursing that prompted the decision to start Rainbow Services, to provide homecare and an opportunity centre for over 65's.
A registered nurse, Alice started her training at 15 and was a student at Ayr County hospital in 1971, going back to full-time nursing 10 years ago after a career break.
The aim of the Centre is to provide opportunities for life enhancing activities which will be provided by well trained staff, and to give support to the elderly in maintaining their ability to remain in their own home.
Alice and her staff are also able to offer support to family carers.
The service, which will be available seven days a week, will be registered by the Care Commission Scotland.
Rather than holding a final farewell party when the doors of the Carrick close for the last time in the next few months, Sandy and Alice would like to host a charity event in the Town Hall, and will advertise the event when they decide on a date.
Looking on as the bar in the lounge is ripped out by workmen, Alice says quietly: "It's like the end of an era, and it really hits you when you see these changes being made.
"To all of our loyal customers, and the many others who have supported us over the years, we would like to say a heartfelt thank you."
Sandy goes on: "Even though the building will still be here, it's still another Maybole landmark disappearing as it won't be a pub for the first time ever.
"I could tell hundreds of stories from our time here, and if only the pool table could talk!
"My hair was black when I came here and it's now grey, but I wouldn't change anything. We've done not too bad."

For more information on Rainbow Services, telephone Alice or Justine on 01655 882022.