PLANS to expand a children’s outdoor adventure business at Galashiels are being hampered by vandals, who have caused damage to equipment and facilities during the school summer holidays.
Mike’s Military Mayhem has been operating for three years on land leased from Pavillion Estates at Ellwyn Glen, on the outskirts of Galashiels.
It is run by the Oliver family and uses dad Mike’s expertise as a former physical training instructor with the Royal Engineers and his wife, Jane’s 15 years’ experience working with children and adults in various sports and physical activities.
Jane also runs her own separate business, Ravivworks, for children and adults with learning difficulties, while Mike, a qualified rugby and football coach, also has a contract cleaning company.
Mike’s Military Mayhem runs parties – mainly for children aged from six to 15 – which are based on army training-style obstacle courses, complete with missions and water battles – all under strict adult supervision.
However, the Olivers have started to see more bookings from further afield, including from as far as Edinburgh, and more adults booking parties for events such as hen nights and special events.
Mike says he would like to develop the management and running of the adventure site into a full-time role for himself, as he sees massive potential for expansion in what can be offered – but the vandalism attacks, which also happened last year, have been making things difficult.
“We’ve had some of the tyres we use slashed, our caravan, where the kids can get changed, was also damaged with some of its windows smashed and its door pulled off and we even had the tent we use for toilet facilities stolen,” Mike told TheSouthern this week.
“The police came out last year and have been here investigating the incidents this summer as well and they have said they will keep an eye on the place with drive-bys.
“But it is a real shame when you are trying to start something new, which has great benefits for children, and yet there are some folk who would rather wreck it.”
Mike believes youngsters from Galashiels, a bit bored during the long summer holiday, have been cycling out and coming on to the site, which is adjacent to the well-known Fairy Glen local beauty spot.
Jane says the family – the couple’s two primary school-age children, Christopher and Eloise, help out – are also disappointed because they want to expand the venture to include much more.
“Mike built everything that is already here by hand and when you have several bookings for children’s parties at a weekend and you come out on a Friday night and find things have been stolen or you have to spend hours repairing damage to ensure all the equipment complies with health and safety standards, it’s heart-breaking.
“We’d really like to expand things with aerial walkways, zip slides and low rope areas and are in discussions over that now.
“But attacks by vandals are not helping and it is a great shame because this is a venture which provides children and young people with fun and healthy activity sessions that comprise achievable challenges that increase self esteem and confidence.”
Mike believes the business has great potential citing a lack of similar ventures in the Borders.
“Although we mainly deal with local people, we have started attracting a large percentage of our business from Edinburgh and that has to be a good thing for this area.
“These visitors to the Galashiels area are probably spending money elsewhere in the vicinity on things like food and refreshments and that means other local businesses are benefitting from our presence.
“That has to be good for Galashiels and the Borders.”