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Government Supports Highland Show

The UK Government will show its support for Scotland’s agriculture, food and farming sectors this week when it takes part in the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh.


David Mundell MP


Scotland’s biggest agricultural event gives the rural industries and members of the public the chance to speak to UK Government ministers and staff about what is important to them, and find out more about how the UK Government delivers for people in Scotland.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said:

“I’m very pleased to be attending the Royal Highland Show – it’s a fantastic event which shows rural Scotland at its very best.

“The Royal Highland Show is an important opportunity for the UK Government to hear views from farmers and others in the rural economy, and for us to talk about our plans to support them.

“Agriculture is vital to Scotland’s economy, and I look forward to discussing with the industry and show-goers how the UK Government can help the sector flourish.”

The Scottish Secretary will attend the event on its opening day, Thursday June 20. A number of other UK Government ministers will also visit the four-day show and eight UK Government departments, plus partner organisations will be represented.

As well as touring the show site and meeting industry representatives, the Mr Mundell will host a whisky reception showcasing the best of Scotland’s distillers and toasting their success.

The whisky industry makes up 70 per cent of Scottish food and drink exports, employs more than 10,000 people, and contributes £5.5 billion a year to the UK economy.

In total hundreds of thousands of jobs are reliant on Scotland’s farming, food and drink sectors which produce billions of pounds of exports annually.

To help boost sales further, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will be promoting the ‘Food is GREAT Britain and Northern Ireland’ campaign at the show. And the Department for International Trade (DIT) will be promoting the ‘Exporting is GREAT’ campaign and encouraging Scottish food and drink businesses to join its community of Export Advocates to provide advice, encouragement and support to other companies looking to sell their products and services overseas.

UK Government departments will also be on hand to give advice about a number of initiatives, including opportunities available through the Industrial Strategy, and information about pensions and Tax-Free Childcare. Meanwhile Diesel, a Scottish Fire and Rescue search and rescue dog with his own Twitter page, will be the star of the Department for International Development (DFID) display showcasing UK aid work

Public Meeting in Kirkcudbright - The Tour of Britain

A Public Meeting will be held in Kirkcudbright on the evening of Monday 24 June, in the Cochran Hall to promote the Tour of Britain and involve local people and cycling fans in the preparation and management of the event. The Public Meeting is being organised jointly by the Council, the Tour of Britain and Kirkcudbright Community Council and starts at 7pm.


Tour of Britain Logo 2019

The Tour of Britain will visit Kirkcudbright on the high profile first Stage of the 2019 Tour, which takes place between Saturday 7 and Saturday 14 September.

One hundred and twenty cyclists will participate in the Tour, representing 20 professional cycling teams, many of which will also be taking part in the world class Tours in France, Italy and Spain. The Glasgow to Kirkcudbright Stage will be covered live on ITV and syndicated race coverage will be shown in more than a hundred countries worldwide.

Rob Kennison of the Tour of Britain said;

“Within the Tour we’ve always enjoyed our visits to Dumfries and Galloway and benefitted from the cooperation of the Council, cycling clubs and local communities. The Tour of Britain is now a massive global event and one of our nation’s biggest live sporting occasion and we want to do our best for all involved. I hope people come out for the meeting on the 24 June and find out more about this year’s Tour.”

Councillor Adam Wilson, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Events Champion said;

“The Tour of Britain returning to our region is a huge opportunity which is why we are committed to ongoing consultation with local communities that host major events – and the Tour of Britain is a significant event for our region to welcome and host. The Public Meeting is our first way to engage with residents and cycling fans to generate ideas to showcase the town, and work closely with the people of Kirkcudbright around the delivery of the Tour of Britain.”

Organisers will do a (free) prize draw on the night for one lucky winner to win 2 VIP hospitality invitations to the Tour of Britain on Saturday 7 September.

Box Office To Stay Open Thanks To Community Help

Two local organisations have stepped in to provide short-term funding which will keep Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Box Office at the Midsteeple in Dumfries open until the end of March 2020. 


See the source image

Council officials recently met representatives from The People’s Project and The Crichton Trust, as well as the organiser of a paper petition against the proposed closure of the Box Office which had secured 153 signatures.  An online petition had also secured a further 1,005 signatures.  Having heard their concerns over the potential impact on the Town Centre and client organisations, coupled with a pragmatic offer of financial support from The Crichton Trust and People’s Project, a proposal has been agreed by the Council. 

This will enable the Council to continue with its intended extension of Box Office services to facilities across Dumfries and Galloway, whilst retaining the current Midsteeple service for the remainder of the financial year.  The Crichton Trust and The People’s Project will contribute one third each of the running costs of the facility.  They will also work with other groups within Dumfries to develop community-based operation of the Midsteeple as a Box Office and other uses which assist in sustaining the economic, cultural and community focus of the Midsteeple within Dumfries Town Centre.

Andy Ferguson, Chair of the Council’s Communities Committee said;

“Following discussions, we are now in a position to postpone our withdrawal from the Midsteeple to enable the community of Dumfries to work together to find a way to keep the Midsteeple open.”

John Martin, Vice Chair of Communities Committee added;

“Recognising the very generous offer from The People’s Project and The Crichton Trust, we will continue to roll-out the extension of Box Office services to other locations, to serve the entire region.  The petitions showed there is a great deal of interest in retaining the Midsteeple as a focal point within Dumfries Town Centre, and we hope that all interested parties can now work together to achieve a positive outcome for the community.”

Mark Jardine of The People’s Project said;

“This is a great example of local democracy in action, coupled with practical assistance from outside groups at a time of great financial constraints placed upon the Council. However, although this is incredible news for the Midsteeple and the town centre, it is imperative that local people appreciate that this is merely a stop-gap measure, buying time to find a future for one of our most iconic buildings.”

Gwilym Gibbons, Chief Executive of The Crichton Trust said;

“We very much welcome this decision by the Council to allow breathing space while with others we consider a partnership solution to keeping the doors of this vital landmark building open. The Midsteeple is an important heritage building that has been at the heart of the Dumfries town centre and our community for well over 300 years. The Crichton Trust is delighted to play its part to help by bringing our experience of keeping heritage properties alive, building on the long-established role historic building have and continue play in our lives as keepers of collective memory, generators of a vital sense of place which together are potential exciting drivers for regeneration and new life.”  

An Authority Wide Approach For SCQF School Ambassador Programme

The SCQF Partnership (SCQFP) introduced its SCQF School Ambassador programme in 2016, with an initial six schools involved in the pilot. The programme has now been rolled out to around 78 schools across Scotland.

The newest SCQF School Ambassadors are all based in Dumfries and Galloway Council area and, in a departure from the usual training sessions which have been delivered to each school individually, all secondary schools teamed up to receive their Ambassador training at four different venues in Dumfries and Galloway over two days.


Stranraer High School teachers with SCQF approval


The schools involved have benefited by bringing together staff in similar roles across different schools to share good practice and discuss opportunities for joint projects. Lesley Watson, Education Officer with responsibility for the Senior Phase in Dumfries and Galloway, said: Our vision is for a Senior Phase which enables all young people across Dumfries and Galloway to progress in learning and equip them with the skills, knowledge and positive attitudes they need to participate and progress to their next stage of learning, whether that be further or higher education or to training and employment. A sound understanding of the  SCQF and how it can help schools and partners offer a wide range of pathways is at the heart of our work to develop a dynamic offer for all our young people.”

Julie Cavanagh, Head of Partnerships and Communication at the SCQFP, said: “We were really pleased that Dumfries and Galloway Council were so keen to adopt an authority-wide approach to the School Ambassador programme. It shows how important the team see the SCQF as a tool for developing individual learning pathways for young people in Senior Phase and helping learners and parents understand the equality of different qualifications.”

The SCQF School Ambassador programme offers schools the opportunity to learn more about the benefits of the SCQF and the wider ways in which it supports learners such as recognising wider achievement, developing Senior Phase learning pathways in line with the Developing the Young Workforce strategy and giving equality between vocational and academic qualifications.

The SCQFP wants to support schools so that the Framework becomes second nature to learners and school staff, and the benefits of using the SCQF are cascaded throughout the school and to parents and carers. Benefits include supporting flexible learning pathways for learners as they plan their learning journey and understanding the many different learning programmes that are on the Framework and how these can be compared against standard academic qualifications.

Due to the success of the School Ambassador programme, the SCQFP has recently launched a College Ambassador programme for colleges across Scotland.

For more information on the School Ambassador programme, visit and for the College Ambassador programme see

Region’s Volunteers Honoured

The 2019 Dumfries and Galloway VOscars have been held to celebrate the impact of volunteers and volunteering on the region.

Eight winners were chosen at the ceremony in Castle Douglas in front of an audience of just over 100.


Voscar Winners 2019


Nominations came in from across the region before a final shortlist of nominees were selected by independent panels and invited to the event, organised by Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway to coincide with this year’s Volunteers’ Week.

Winner of Young Volunteer - sponsored by The Holywood Trust – was Damola (Dami) Samuel, who volunteers at several places within Dumfries, including local food bank First Base and the Salvation Army. She also volunteers with Youth Work Dumfries and Galloway and was a Year of Young People Champion, regularly helping at the Oasis Youth Centre. Dami also has a part with The Toon, an issue-based drama production, which uses peer education to inform other young people of issues that they may face and how to get support.

Adult Volunteer - sponsored by Burns Developments - was Sylvia Armour, of Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Service (DAGCAS) where she has volunteered since the organisation was founded in 1997 and prior to that at the old Citizens Advice Bureaux in Stranraer. She has advised clients at three offices in the town since becoming a volunteer: Hanover Street, Lewis Street and now at DAGCAS’s present location in Burns House seeing hundreds of clients.

This year’s winning Board Member – a category sponsored by Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce - was Jane Simons. Involved with Annan charity Kate’s Kitchen since its creation 10 years ago, Jane started as a volunteer befriender and since then has helped the charity grow to its current 10 staff and 35 volunteers, supporting over 200 service users per year. She has hosted many fundraising activities, including fashion shows, ceilidhs and coffee mornings.

In the Children and Young People group category - sponsored by the Theatre Royal - Dumfries Arts Award Programme was selected as winner. The programme provides young people with additional support needs the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in the creative and performing arts in a safe and supportive environment. The project not only teaches young people about the different roles in the theatre and arts sector but also a variety of transferable skills such as communication, teamwork and organisation.

It gives members - often isolated in the community - an opportunity to grow in confidence and have a meaningful experience that allows them to see how valuable they truly are. They are also taking part in a new multi-sensory storytelling project in partnership with the organisation Promoting A More Inclusive Society.

Creetown Initiative was selected as Social Enterprise of the year - sponsored by Loreburn Housing - with the organisation now employing five full-time and seven part-time staff. They have carried out several major projects in Creetown including the redevelopment of the playpark and MUGA; restoration and re-opening of the village hall; and the redevelopment of an old pub into the Barholm Enterprise Centre to offer quality accommodation, an arts and craft co-operative, community shop and a home for a bike hire and car scheme. The initiative has brought in over £3.5million in funding for projects within the village and its work in Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Castle Douglas and Stranraer has helped bring in over a further £10million of funding for a wide range of projects – the most recent being £2.6million for Johnston School in Kirkcudbright.

The Community Group category - sponsored by Dumfries and Galloway Council – was won by the Young at Heart Group from Summerhill Community Centre. Developed in 2012, this group’s main aim is to improve the quality of life and opportunities for older people at grass roots level in the heart of their community, all done by volunteers. There are 10 committee members and an additional 12 volunteers committed to the smooth running of all events, totalling over 25 hours per week. The work of the dedicated Committee goes beyond just a weekly gathering of 60 or more older people in the Summerhill area. They also create the activities and manage a bigger programme of regular day trips, holidays, a weekly lunch club and several weekly fitness groups.

The Inclusion award - sponsored by the Equalities Partnership – was won by The Usual Place. It helps young people with learning disabilities, autism, physical and sensory

impairments, mental health problems; those who are looked after and accommodated and all representing a range of ethnic groups. The Usual Place challenges the prevailing stereotypes for disabled people and the poverty of expectations and ambition, discrimination and exclusions that young people with additional support needs experience. It works in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway College, the Employability/Skills Team and another Social Enterprise Café in Motherwell, Windmills, to develop and deliver a range of accessible accredited qualifications enabling these young people to achieve greater parity in qualification and work experience.

The final award, Outstanding Contribution to Volunteering - sponsored by Anderson Kilts - went to Jane McCulloch, the driving force behind a team of highly committed volunteers at Moffat Town Hall Redevelopment Trust. Described as an outstanding leader, she demonstrated tremendous dedication to developing the Town Hall over many years, involving the volunteers in these developments. The trust has also seen the creation of a Friday Club to offer social contact, a hot meal and activities with 65 people attending; and a Monday Wellbeing Club catering for people with mental and/or physical disabilities. Also, with Jane’s help a Thursday Reading and Discussion Group has been created for people with visual impairment; along with a Changing Places facility and a Meals on Wheels service when the regional service was cut.

The awards were presented by broadcaster Bruce McKenzie and welcomed Margaret McGroggan, volunteer co-ordinator for NHS Dumfries and Galloway as guest speaker. The event was also supported by The People’s Project, Solway Print and Dumfries and Galloway Life.