A SECTION of Ayr Road in Cumnock echoes to the sound of fun and laughter almost every day and night.

If the team at Heart and Soul aren’t Belting it Out with Bernadette, they could be having a Spice Girls night or even Club Tropicana.

Although they opened in July with a formal opening ceremony, their base at 42 Ayr Road was soon filled with music with a song specially composed and performed by Marylin Major. That set the tone for what the facility, which is part of Centrestage Communities, had to offer Cumnock and the surrounding area.

Meanwhile the Heart and Soul cafe, which has won a top award already, serves a wide variety of food and snacks at the refurbished premises. It is a social enterprise, meaning every penny they make is ploughed back into the building and its resources which helps finance the various activities.

Project manager Valerie Barr said that Heart and Soul is nothing specific, just a lovely place to come and meet other women.

She added: “Since we have been here, there has been lots of different things going on, such as when we set the whole place up as a cook school. We have also had a Spice Girls night, Hollywood and Bollywood nights, as well as Club Tropicana which features pamper sessions.

“Everything is about fun and being part of the community. Coming together and speaking to each other and finding out what everyone likes and is good at doing.”

As well as fun and games, there have been emotional moments, such as when one lady had go at knitting and ended up in tears because it had been years since she had knitted and never realised she could still do it.

On another occasion, a guest at the Halloween party was so happy at dressing up as she also hadn’t done so since she was a child. But Valerie stressed that is not a women-only group, as some have brought their partners along, but the key thing is that there is no agenda.

She said: “We just ask them what they want to do, whether it be cup cakes, bath bombs or something else, and we set up a workshop accordingly. There is also a Heart and Soul choir, which meets on a Tuesday, and has performed at an event in the Grand Hall, Kilmarnock.”

All the time this has been happening, the cafe has been building up an excellent reputation. Regular customers are now coming in, including school children, shop workers, office staff and people of all ages who are in Cumnock for a multitude of reasons.

“We are delighted people are coming back and saying nice things about us. So we are having a community party as a huge thank you for their kindness and support on December 6,” Valerie said.

This will include Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and will be followed by a celebration party. Future plans include collaboration with neighbouring communities, which has already led to the Cumnock group doing the catering for a ladies night in North Ayrshire.

Families are also using the cafe and there is a cupboard full of colouring books with their names on them. Likewise the other activities, attended by women from all walks of life.

The Heart and Soul centre is funded by the Roberston Trust, an independent group whose vision is to ‘improve the quality of life and realise the potential of people’.