Smith’s praise for record-breaking festival

A Hawick councillor has heaped praise on the Borders Heritage Festival which attracted record numers to a plethora of events in September.

The annual festival has grown from just a week of events a few years ago into last year’s best ever effort with a month-long extravaganza of activities being held the length and breadth of the Borders.

Ron Smith, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for planning and environment, said the 2015 programme was “particularly well thought out and provided a wide range of events designed to be of interest to both local people and visitors to the area”.

From Eyemouth to Newcastleton and almost everywhere in between, there was something for everyone. Overall, 18 sites hosted 62 events ranging from theatre displays through to walks, talks, exhibitions and family-friendly activities.

Historic Scotland sites saw record numbers coming through their doors at the Border abbeys, and Hawick Museum, Bowhill and Abbotsford were also among those reporting a high number of visitors.

Councillor Smith continued: “It was also a great opportunity to show off the wonderful heritage assets that we have in the Scottish Borders. It did not disappoint with record numbers enjoying the variety of activities on offer.”

Organisers are now keen to build on the success of the 2015 event and are already planning ahead for 2016. They invite anyone planning a heritage related-event in September to get in touch.

They are also looking to establish a Borders Heritage Forum which will take a leading role in co-ordinating future festivals and promoting the region’s heritage generally, both at a local and national level. Membership is open to historical and archeological societies, historic venues and

businesses with an interest in promoting heritage. They would also like to hear from individuals with a keen and longstanding interest in history and who could make an effective contribution to the development of the forum.

Councillor Smith added: “The Borders has a rich and underexplored seam of heritage going back to the last Ice Age. The proposed Heritage Forum would be led by the community itself and would promote and encourage better understanding of the region’s history, its archaeology and its buildings. Heritage tourism in particular will greatly benefit from a group of dedicated enthusiasts seeking to put the Borders’ unique past on the world stage. I would encourage anyone with an interest in joining to get in touch with the organisers.”

For more information, contact Julie Nock on bordersheritagefestival@gmail.com or Dr Chris Bowles, SBC’s archaeology officer at archaeology@scotborders.gov.uk