Bid mooted for ‘Elliot bandstand’

Zandra Elliot
Zandra Elliot

A proposal to name the new bandstand in Wilton Lodge Park in memory of the late Zandra Elliot has been put forward by Provost Stuart Marshall.

Speaking at a Regeneration of the Park stakeholders’ meeting in the council chambers last Tuesday night, Mr Marshall said: “Her sudden death in March shocked the town. She was not only a very hard worker for Hawick both in her role as honorary provost, of which she was elected to serve three years, but also as Scottish Borders councillor and community council chair, as well as holding various positions in the town for a great number of years.”

He recalled one conversation with her when news that the park was to receive a huge cash injection and, of course, at the same time a bandstand, she was “thrilled to bits”. She told him: “What a scoop for Hawick, let’s make it not just a bandstand – but a bandstand that will be fit for a purpose – one that will get used properly and one that will benefit all of the town and, of course, the visitors to Wilton Lodge Park”.

The Provost continued: “I raised this idea recently when chairing a meeting of the Honorary Provost’s Council and it received unanimous support, and I would hope that this suggestion to name the bandstand in the memory of one of Hawick’s ‘bright-eyed daughters’ will be welcomed by all of you.”

The proposal, seconded by Evelyn Sangster, was well received. The name envisaged is the ‘Provost Elliot Bandstand’.

Chairing the meeting, Scott Castle, project manager, confirmed the proposal would be looked at and on the subject of the bandstand said they were only weeks away from commencing building and a local primary schools’ weathervane design competition has been a “massive success” with some 160 entries – many of which were “absolutely brilliant”.

Included in the designs were the Common-Riding flag, 1514 Horse monument and a representation of music.

Coins incorporating the chosen design will be cast, with one awarded to the school which submitted the most entries and one to the winning pupil.

Mr Castle gave an update on the five-year lottery-funded project to representatives of the stakeholders’ group, Councillors George Turnbull and Ron Smith and those involved in the museum room upgrade. His presentation covered the development of the work to date, such as the renovation of the park’s monuments and statues; improving the Lawrie and Henderson Shelters in which a local contractor is involved; what had been achieved by the volunteers at the Walled Garden under the leadership of co-ordinator Lisa Brydon, and the diverse range of activities throughout the year, organised by events manager Gordon Webber.

Rachel Hunter, gallery project manager, and Shona Sinclair, curator, outlined the work being carried out at the museum, transforming the former 20-year-old natural history Ellliot Room to a “History of the House and Park” presentation.

This renovation will show a range of ways visitors can enjoy the park and with photographs and audio visual displays, the flora and fauna, to then go out and explore the 107 acres.

This new room will be educational-orientated, popular for school trips, the timescale being fitted out in January, artefacts installed in February with an opening in Mach, followed by a formal opening to coincide with the completion of the bandstand. As this museum room is not accessible to wheelchairs there will be an audio visual presentation of the displays in the ground floor entrance hall.

Turning to the Walled Garden development, Mr Castle said that the project there was currently out to tender and by next April the work will be completed, as will the new bandstand, Walled Garden and extensive hard landscaping in front of the museum which will include increased disabled car parking.

He said that some trees will be coming down in all areas of the park, many of which are past their appeal, but there will be consultation before the work of as he puts it “tree management” gets under way. Much of it is to create an “open vista of the museum and fountain”.

When it came to ‘questions’, there being no cafe nor toilets next year were the immediate and not unexpected points raised.

Conceded Mr Castle: “I can’t give you these, there is no money in the project for these and the only solution for the latter are those in the museum, the pavilion changing rooms and the Volunteer Park. If the stakeholder groups can come up with proposals for temporary toilets and limited catering (such as a mobile unit), these will be looked at.”

The meeting was told that the present ‘swings’ will be removed in 2016 and a playpark installed adjacent to the new cafe and with all brand new equipment, chosen in consultation with local primary schools.

Local KOSB Association official Brian McLeod said that Hawick is one of the few towns in the country with a South African War Memorial and questioned whether the area could be opened up to give a better visual effect by the removal of some of the trees behind it. Again, this could be looked at.