Our NETCO project has been in existence for around 18 months. We all know the goal – to set up and run a mountain bike trail centre in Aberdeenshire. As we’ve stressed numerous times, we want to do this ‘properly’, to set up a structured process that delivers. So, we are a charitable body, with a constitution and a governing Board. One of the upshots of this is that we hold Annual General Meetings. However, all that seriousness and structure doesn’t mean we can’t have fun! So for our first AGM, we chose Brewdog Underdog in Aberdeen as a venue and enticed folk to come along with the promise of beer, big announcements, raffle prizes and new NETCO merchandise. All that added up to around 100 folk down in Underdog on 10th November 2016.

The evening opened with introductory talks on the project, progress to date and future plans from our Chairman Martin Byres and Vice Treasurer James Davidson.

Our Treasurer Jim McPhail followed to set out financial activities and then made the big announcement – WE HAVE FULLY FUNDED OUR FEASIBILITY STUDY! This clearly is a huge milestone for the project and we’d just like to say massive thanks to our funders and supporters for making this happen. The independent study will explore both site and business feasibility. It will identify a favoured location and will help make the business case to funders, regulatory bodies, supporters etc. It is so great to have got to this point!

TCD Architects, an Inverurie based firm that are providing us with fantastic support, presented some notional designs and concepts for what our trail centre hub could look like. They have great ideas on materials, maximising energy and financial efficiencies and incorporating the key features we want. It’s early days but it’s great to see some ideas set down and we are grateful to TCD for their support.

Our Vice Chair Chris Hutchens presented some thoughts and findings from a recent trip to Northern Ireland where he spoke to a number of organisation involved in the development of a network of trail centres over there. These are more recent developments than many of the established centres in Scotland. They have a strong focus on community regeneration and attracting tourists. They are very willing to further share their experiences with us – all of which helps us deliver this centre we all want.

The night also gave us the chance to announce the winner of our race jersey design competition. We’ll have more info on this later, but we are working up designs with the winner and will be putting them on sale in the coming months. If you’re racing in 2017 then feel free to put it on and use NETCO as your team name.

We closed the ‘formal’ proceedings with a raffle of items received from our generous supporters at Nukeproof and Brewdog. The raffle, coupled with the newly produced NETCO T shirts on sale, raised £1000 towards our cause. Fund raising wasn’t the focus of the night at all so, as ever, we are absolutely bowled over by the generosity of our supporters.

The beers then flowed. We had a great chance to speak directly to our supporters and got some great feedback. Good times!

A big thanks to Brewdog for hosting us and a massive thanks to all those who came along.