IN the early hours of September 19, 2014, the result for Clackmannanshire came in. I immediately went to bed.

A few hours earlier we'd gathered in our little Yes shop in Dunoon, where I'd got in extra tea and biscuits and somebody had dropped in a nice bottle of malt and there were several bottles of wine for the big day. We had shaken hands, hugged and some of us had set off for the count.

We had agreed to meet the next day to greet the new dawn. And when about 30 of us crowded into a wee room, which could comfortably fit 10, we did indeed greet – like hundreds and thousands of others across Scotland.

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But we didn’t really believe it. We knew Dunoon and Cowal had voted very strongly for Scotland so we took a big decision: we had worked ourselves to the bone and we had nearly won – but this was not the finish.

After all, we had been the first Yes shop in Scotland. As the campaign had grown the Yes shop had seemed to get smaller. Occupying a premises on the high street had brought in more and more people.

What had started out as a couple of dozen activists had blossomed to well over 100 signed-up activists. We called a meeting for the following Friday in Dunoon Burgh Hall. More than 120 dedicated activists turned up. The overwhelming sentiment: we are not beaten – just delayed. But, if we were to continue, we had to move fast. We had to keep the team we had built together.

The premises on the main street had shown us the huge benefit of accessibility. If we were serious we had to maintain and improve that. But we needed premises that could provide more facilities. That, however, had to be paid for. That was the main problem.

A monthly standing order for supporters was suggested. We agreed to meet the following Friday with standing order forms at the ready. We did so and more than 60 people immediately signed up to pay sums ranging from between £5 and £40.

We set a target of £600 per month. We achieved it. Next, the search for suitable premises began. These were acquired in a prime site on Dunoon’s main street and had to be up and running quickly to provide viability for the venture. And with rent, electricity, water charges and insurance we needed £900 a month to pay for them.

Now here we are, at No 186 Argyll Street, Dunoon, nearly three years and the best part of £30,000 later, gearing up for our next battle.

The shop we had taken was entirely bare. We organised an “exploration” night of the new premises for supporters. Martin Compston and Paul Brannigan came along as guests and there wasn’t an inch of room in the place.

Within a month, after appeals, it had been fitted out. We had a front area for sales, a cosy, furnished meeting space and a small office. And there was a toilet and a kitchen, which brought a huge benefit.

Apart from the normal furnishings we were also given microwaves, computers, fridges, TVs, desks, filing cabinets and everything else we needed from generous supporters.

There wasn’t actually a plan. We just got started and by frantic experience we worked out what to do.

There were things we realised quickly. We should remain a shop. A change of use would have cost us as it would have made us liable for substantial rates.

We should not sell snacks and refreshments as that would require food-handling certificates. But we could offer visitors a cup of tea or coffee.

There were some who believed we should concentrate on being a political office. But we needed the busy social centre to bring in donations to help pay for our tenancy.

This was very important. We needed £100 per week above what our S/Os were bringing in. We realised that the shop at the front was going to be crucial – and so it has proved. With no staff costs, sales of a variety of Scottish-themed stuff and independence articles – Saltire flags, etc – are guaranteeing that we achieve our £100 per week.

And what is more, our little centre is so comfortable now there are evening meetings by a variety of local organisations who help themselves to cups of tea and contribute a few pounds. And we host a small community online radio station in the back for a small monthly rent, which pays for our phone and broadband.

So here we still are, gearing up for another referendum, with a central facility in place and a healthy bank balance to fund our “forward” march. (“Forward” is the motto Dunoon adopted in 1878 when it achieved burgh status, so it was voted a suitable name for the shop.) There was discussion about what form of organisation we should be. This was important as responsibility and probity require that a formal structure is operating, to provide appropriate scrutiny, and that a committee takes responsibility and records activity.

There are several models that are appropriate. Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation is one. Yes Cowal has decided on a voluntary company limited by guarantee. (Local authorities can provide details and advice.) But there is a caveat. It’s the rota. As is often the case too few people end up with too much responsibility because of their willingness. This has become an issue over recent times, mainly because the independence heat has cooled; it can be a critical concern.

We open every day for about five hours. The plan was to have six key-holders with teams but this has had to change. But we are confident that if another referendum is called this issue will recede. We are already seeing an increase in visitors.

Bring it on!