A DOUBLE Olympic gold medalist has said the loss of Cumbrae National Watersports Centre would be a 'tragedy'

Shirley Robertson OBE says the facility played a 'pivotal' role in her sporting development and has called for action after a leaked report revealed that government agency sportscotland is considering shutting the centre - with the loss of 15 full time and 25 part time jobs.

The body is said to be giving 'serious consideration' to the creation of a new Scottish national sailing academy at Largs as an alternative.

A review and a decision is believed to be imminent.

An island campaign has already swung into action to save the centre.

Speaking exclusively to the News, Shirley said: "Cumbrae Watersports Centre played a pivotal part in my transition from club sailing to be competitive at a British level and recognised within the British sporting structure.

"It’s proximity to both the facilities and knowledge at Inverclyde was also invaluable. I’m saddened to hear it may be under threat.

"Next year will be the year Scotland celebrates its wonderful coastline and it’s association with the sea and waterways it would be tragic if this was the year we lost our national water-sports facility.

"I fully appreciate the expense of running a centre like this but know first hand how life changing watersports can be and the lifetime of opportunities it can offer."

"I hope a solution can be found."

Sportscotland are looking at the creation of a new Scottish National Sailing Academy in collaboration with RYA Scotland, Largs Yacht Haven, Largs Sailing Club and North Ayrshire Council - but documents reveal that this would result in the Cumbrae centre's closure.

The island campaign described the closure proposal as an 'upsetting decision which would impact not only on Cumbrae but more widely on Scotland'.

A spokeswoman added: "Our campaign has already garnered the support of more than 650 people.

"However, we need the support now of the politicians and decision-makers.

"We are committed to formulating a strategy to preserve this important facility for generations to come.

"Every year sees school pupils from across Scotland, learning the basics of kayaking, windsurfing and sailing and Millport itself has seen professional windsurfer Tristan Levie develop his skills and win championships.

"The facility is one of the top employers in Cumbrae and its closure would be yet another threat to our fragile island community."

The Marquis of Bute opened the centre in 1976 after donating the land for the nation's advancement and participation in watersports.

Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson said: "Absolutely no-one, myself included, wants to see Cumbrae sportscotland National Centre close.

"Sportscotland is of the view that the demand for what they provide on Cumbrae is in sharp decline and financially unsustainable.

"Cumbrae’s economy is fragile and that must be, along with the future of the staff, considered in all discussions, with the island community fully consulted on any and all proposals."

Jamie Greene, Conservative Regional MSP, said: “Closing this centre would deal a huge blow to the local community and will have a massive impact on Cumbrae’s economy for years to come."

A spokeswoman for Sportscotland said: "We are currently undertaking a review of Cumbrae to determine the best provision of watersports in Scotland.

"We are looking at all options during the review and will make a decision by the end of the summer."