Grant Recipient: Abbey St Bathans, Preston & Bonkyl Community Council
Grant Awarded: £1000
In 2014 Abbey St Bathans, Preston & Bonkyl Community Council began an extensive community consultation exercise to help us develop a collective vision for future community led regeneration in our area. Following a series of community events, stakeholder interviews and focus group meetings a Community Action Plan was produced which outlined the key projects & activities people in the community wanted to see happen over the next 2-3 years, including a playpark in Preston, a community broadband scheme and a new village hall in Abbey St Bathans. The grant from the Blackhill Community Windfarm Fund contributed towards the cost of printing and distributing a copy the plan to every household in the community council area. A new community organisation, the Preston & Abbey Community Trust has been established to lead on the delivery of these projects and new volunteers, identified through the consultation process, have been recruited onto the board of the Trust. Work is already progressing on a broadband project and a new village hall for Abbey St Bathans.
Blackhill Wind Farm Community Grant
A Heart for Duns (AHFD) was awarded £4,750.00 in a letter dated 22 August 2014. The grant was for:
Professional Support 3,250.00
Subscriptions and Travel expenses 500.00
Training and Development 1,000.00
In late August 2014 AHFD achieved SCIO status (SC045056). In the period from September to December 2014 AHFD continued to offer a range of events in the Volunteer Hall, Duns while developing its ideas for the future, with a Feasibility Study and Business Plan funded by Big Lottery.
AHFD was also negotiating with Scottish Borders Council (SBC), the tenant and operator of the building, and the Lowland Reserve Forces and Cadets Association (LRFCA), the owners, to take on the lease of the Volunteer Hall, following SBC’s decision to focus on premises that it owns and to withdraw from leased venues. Agreement was reached in principle for AHFD to take on the lease with effect from 6 April 2015, with financial support from SBC and in kind support from LRFCA, both for an initial period of three years.
Although the lease has yet to be signed, its terms have been agreed and AHFD did take responsibility for the operation of the Hall on 6 April. In order to achieve this AHFD has appointed an Administration/Events Support Officer, funded in part by the Wind Farm grant, and a Housekeeper, funded from earned income.
In addition volunteers have received a range of training, primarily related to the operation of bars and catering facilities. In addition further training is planned in first aid and for scaffolding safety. The Convenor undertook a media relations course at Carlisle.
Volunteers have also participated in the work of the Borders Touring Network, including attending meetings, visiting theatre groups and performances.
This grant has been crucial to giving AHFD the confidence to take on the operation of the Hall and to safeguarding this popular facility for the people of Duns.
Derek Janes January 2016
Photo - 'The Scratch Choir performing Handel's Messiah in the Volunteer Hall to mark the Hall's 120th anniversary in February 2015'