Christine makes house call at re-opening of Gala bingo club

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INVESTIGATORS are still trying to determine why the ceiling of a Galashiels bingo hall collapsed 14 months ago.

Last Thursday saw the re-opening of the Pavilion Bingo Club, which has been closed since May 2010 when a newly-installed false ceiling fell to the floor.

A total of 102 customers and eight staff were evacuated from the Market Street venue – owned by Border Bingo Clubs who also have a Hawick facility – as well as 34 people from the adjoining cinema.

An investigation was immediately started but a Scottish Borders Council spokesperson confirmed this week it had yet to find an answer.

“Due to the complexity of the investigation, SBC’s health and safety investigation into the collapse of the Pavilion bingo hall’s ceiling is still under way,” the spokesperson told TheSouthern.

The spokesperson added: “Both landlord and tenant have given their full co-operation with the investigation.

“The council continues to collaborate with specialists from the Health and Safety Executive in order to establish why the ceiling collapsed.”

No-one was injured in last year’s incident but three fire engines from Galashiels and Selkirk, three ambulances and two police vans attended the scene.

Bingo player Kurt Ramage and his wife Dot, from Galashiels, were among those who escaped without harm.

Mr Ramage said at the time: “It was miraculous no-one was hurt and quite fortunate that it was a Thursday night rather than Friday when it is a lot busier.

“I heard a crack and thought it had come from the bar area. I then looked up and saw the crack in the ceiling above my head.

“There were two tiles hanging down. We then heard more and more cracks and the ceiling began to sag. The manageress then stopped the game and we were all told to leave.

“My wife’s elderly mother was at the front of the hall so we had to make sure she could get out.”

More than a year on, and customers involved in the incident were invited to attend the Golden Ticket opening night of the refurbished club, including Mr Ramage, his wife and mother-in-law.

Mr Ramage said this week: “The new club looks tremendous.

“We all got a free glass of wine and a free game of bingo.

“Myself and Dot very seldom went to the Hawick bingo club on the free bus, so it is great to have The Pavilion club back. The incident has not put us off.”

They were joined by Christine Grahame MSP, who swapped the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament for a short stint as a bingo caller.

Ms Grahame said: “It was lovely to meet so many local people enjoying their bingo with friends and I am delighted to have helped to open this impressive new club for them.

“It is also good to know that this means 16 valuable jobs for the Borders too.”

A Border Bingo Club statement said: “We would like to thank each and every one of our members for their continuing patience and loyal support throughout the last year and are proud to reward all with a fabulous new state-of-the-art club. The Pavilion looks amazing and promises to be bigger, better and more glamourous than ever before.”