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
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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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
"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.