Tears of joy at shopping centre relaunch

Elaine C Smith has a laugh with some shoppers
Elaine C Smith has a laugh with some shoppers

Elaine C Smith says she felt quite emotional as she performed at the relaunch of Motherwell Shopping Centre last week.

The Motherwell-born actress took to the stage on Friday as Brandon Shopping Centre took on its new identity following a £450,000 refurbishment.

Elaine performed at Motherwell Concert Hall for the first time in 30 years earlier this year and was delighted to have another chance to get back to her roots.

She said: “I was asked how it felt and I started to cry. This is the place that made me, and you get to an age where you start to appreciate that.

“I was so pleased when I was asked to help with the relaunch of the shopping centre, and to get a reception like I did was fantastic.

“I was here last Sunday, too, to have dinner with my sister, as she still lives in the town, so I am out here often seeing family and friends.

“The last few years it has been difficult, because I was touring the UK with the Susan Boyle show and before that Calendar Girls for two years, so I have tended to be away.

“This year has been great just to get back to my roots and be able to work here again, I hadn’t played the Concert Hall for a long time, and the welcome I got was wonderful.”

Elaine returns to television as the ever popular Mary Nesbitt later in the year, and this visit to Motherwell will form part of a new documentary.

She said: “We have just finished filming on the Rab C Nesbitt Christmas special and I am doing a play at Oran Mor in Glasgow. Then I have panto at His Majesty’s in Aberdeen, which will be followed by a new play at the Tron in Glasgow, so I’m being kept busy.

“I have been filming about coming back to Motherwell as part of a series I’m doing for STV, taking my stand-up round the country.

“That should be shown in the spring, and hopefully it will be the Motherwell one that kicks it off.”

As Elaine’s career continues to flourish, William Gear, director of Motherwell Shopping Centre owners Chester Properties, is confident the mall will also prosper after the refurbishment.

He said: “We are delighted with the final result. We spent £450,000 to bring the centre from something that looked down on its heels to something that looks fantastic.

“We have some great tenants and hope to have more in place in the near future, certainly before Christmas, and we’re really thankful to the people of Motherwell for their support which gives us the opportunity to give them the shopping centre they deserve.

“When we bought the centre it was looking its age and the building fabric was beginning to deteriorate. It’s difficult to bring new tenants into the town if the overall image of the centre is rather dowdy.

“We decided to do some work to improve the overall image, but it takes time as you need to get the finance and the planning in place.

“We have to thank North Lanarkshire Council for their help as everything we discussed with them they have been very supportive of.

“We obviously want to ensure our existing tenants are happy to stay, but at the same time we’re talking to a number of retailers and have terms agreed with one mainstream retailer who should be opening in late October/early November.

“After that, our main focus will be to get the front two units lets. Ideally I would still like to see a gym above Perfect Homes, which I think would do fantastic business. We are talking to every gym operator there is, but I am always open to suggestions.”

Elaine and William were joined for the relaunch ceremony by STV presenter Josie Smith, Motherwell FC mascots and local politicians, while a host of children’s entertainers were on hand for several hours to keep young visitors amused.