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'
We are most grateful to the Trustees of Black Hill Wind Farm Community Fund for the £3408 grant for rent, rates and electricity for our premises in Duns Working Men's Institute. This support has helped enable us to continue to provide our much-valued, reliable service .
Every week, a team of local volunteers produces a free digital audio recording of edited news items from the local papers, which is distributed to anyone who can’t see to read or can’t hold a newspaper. Our service promotes the well-being of our listeners (mostly elderly) by giving them access to news of local events and activities. Being well-informed of local issues helps reduce their social isolation and increase their quality of life.
With over 70 volunteers, we also offer opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to become socially involved and make a contribution to their local community. Retired people share experience gained while working, those who are unemployed benefit from increased self-esteem, and all volunteers develop new skills.
In addition, our regular use and rental payments help to sustain a historic building in Duns.
With many thanks on behalf of our listeners and volunteers from
Wendy E Moss
Wendy Moss (Ms)
Manager, Borders Talking Newspapers
The Longformacus and Lammermoor Heritage Centre officially opened on 12 September 2015. The project was running slightly behind as we struggled at times to synchronise the various tradesmen that were required in the refurbishment. However the final result is excellent and we are most grateful for the funding from the Blackhill Windfarm Community Fund towards the project - without it this unique project simply could not have happened.
In the lead up to the opening we held two community events aimed at two things - some fund raising to help us with ongoing running costs and to spread the message of what we were trying to achieve as wide as possible. The first event was a whist drive attended by 60 people and the second an evening of memories of the lammermuirs from two
" weel kent" faces in John Elliot and Andrew Pate who regaled an audience of around a 100 people with tales and memories of some of the characters who had made their own unique impressions on Longformacus and beyond. The evening was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended. At both meetings we asked people to dig around and see what archive material - documents and or photographs they might have that they would be prepared to share with us to exhibit in the Heritage Centre.
The response from people was amazing and the volume of and spread of material staggering.
For the official opening ceremony on 12 September we asked Andrew Pate as the doyen of the lammermuirs to give a short speech. The committee laid on teas in the Longformacus village hall and the generosity of people in making donations on the day was quite astonishing. The opening ceremony was attended by over 120 people including members of the Brown family formerly of Longformacus Estate who had travelled all the way from Melbourne in Australia. They very generously provided a photograph album with memories of Longformacus House from around the turn of the 19 the century.
Since then visitors have continued to visit on a regular basis and the venue has been used for a women's guild service and the annual Christmas carol singing.
Further events are planned over the next few months to continue the momentum and indeed includes a wedding to be held in September.
Thank you once again