A PENSIONER who dedicated 10 years to helping sick children at Malcolm Sargent House was disgusted to find it has become a ‘drinking den’.

Ayr Advertiser:

Billy Herd, 79, could not believe the state of disrepair when he ventured out to the abandoned building, once a gateway for children with cancer and other life altering conditions.

The former volunteer, who once trekked the Great Wall of China for the charity, has been shielding from coronavirus and had not left the house for three months.

Ayr Advertiser: The damage to Malcolm Sargent House is extensive.The damage to Malcolm Sargent House is extensive.

When restrictions were lifted, and he was allowed to go out a walk, he rushed over to check out his old stomping ground, and couldn’t believe what he saw.

He told the Advertiser: “I have been shielding and just got out for the first time last Thursday.

“I had known that Malcolm Sargent House was in a poor condition before lockdown, but it’s a complete disaster.

Ayr Advertiser: The children's village once used for visitors to play in has been destroyed.The children's village once used for visitors to play in has been destroyed.

“Young people have been there, kicked doors in, it’s been turned into a drinking den. There’s empty cans of alcohol.

“It’s a disgrace considering the history of it.

“I was involved there from 2006, it was an amazing place, opened by Princess Diana. There are so many wonderful memories and stories of Malcolm Sargent.

“Now there is just broken glass lying everywhere, with boarded up windows, it’s really sad.

“They have completed ruined the children’s village, which was a place where kids would play.”

Malcolm Sargent House opened up as a holiday escape for families with children who had cancer or other illnesses in Easter 1989.

It was officially opened by Princess Diana on September 27, 1989 and consisted of just two flats with an amusement and a shop in the grounds.

Ayr Advertiser: Smashed glassed was found left on the grounds of the former holiday home for sick children.Smashed glassed was found left on the grounds of the former holiday home for sick children.

Named after Sir Malcolm Sargent, the home became part of charity CLIC Sargent when the two charities merged in 2005.

But the charity announced the shock news that they were to close in 2016, with the building to be sold off for £1.75million.

Billy was instrumental in the campaign to save the ‘magical’ holiday getaway which he says the charity have ‘spoiled’ by not giving it back to the community.

He said: “When they announced the closure, everyone was astonished. We tried so hard to save it, we offered so much, but the charity just kept knocking us back.”

Councillor Hugh Hunter has urged police to patrol the spot to prevent further damage to a “Prestwick icon”.

Cllr Hunter said:“I am calling on the new owner to act quickly to prevent further deterioration, vandalism and, some might say, desecration of this symbol of Prestwick’s caring, compassionate community which holds such fond memories for many.”

The Ayr Advertiser tried to contact the new owner of Malcolm Sargent House after it was sold last year by CLIC Sargent but they did not respond in time for publication.

Do you have concerns about the area? Get in touch with our team by emailing editorial@ayradvertiser.co.uk


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