Covid-19 took colour out of Galashiels town centre last year but it will be back in bloom this summer

What a difference a year will make in Galashiels.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 2:37 pm
Members of Gala in Bloom, John Gray, Alaistair Waddell and Ken Hay at Bank Street with Judith Cleghorn receiving a cheque from Dalgetty's Bakery owner Craig Murray. The money was raised bu customers of the bakery. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)

Last summer volunteers were prevented from bringing a splash of colour to the town through the ongoing Gala in Bloom and Floral Gala fundraising efforts.

The restrictions imposed as a result of Covid-19 left the town centre looking rather drab and colourless.

But that’s all set to change in June after the town’s community council was successful in attracting £16,000 in funding to purchase a number of barriers and three tier planters to be placed on Douglas Bridge and in Channel Street.

The majority of the funding – £13,000 – came from the Build a Better Gala fund, through Energise Galashiels, with the Focus Centre adding £2,000 to the pot, £1,000 from Sykes Global Services, in addition to other smaller donations.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 27, Judith Cleghorn, chair of the town’s community council, will accept a donation of more than £600 from Dalgetty’s the bakers in Bank Street as this year’s fundraising campaign takes off.

Judith said: “I would like this to be just the start of the project. I would like the whole town filled with flowers, and the roundabouts done to make Galashiels bright and cheerful.

"Last year we weren’t allowed to do anything because of Covid, because of government regulations. We didn’t get Bank Street gardens cut, the Gala in Bloom guys were banned from being in the gardens and we got a real public outcry about that and we wanted to make sure that going forward not only did we do Bank Street Gardens but go on and do more and basically put some colour in the town and help cheer people up.

"My ambition eventually is that Galashiels will be known as the floral town. We need things in the town to support the tapestry, we need to get people down on the train from other areas and making the town bright and cheerful and full of flowers will go a long way to achieving that.”

The contract for installing the planters has gone to Melrose-based Milestone Garden and Leisure, with the work to be carried out in early June.

Judith added: “Although we have the money spent we need to be able to look forward to next year, for replanting, putting more planters in. It’s an ongoing fundraising project.”

A spokespetson for Energise Galashiels said: ”The community council successfully applied for and received funding from Build a Better Gala to further support the Floral Gala project. This funding will enable the community council to purchase a number of barrier and three tier fountain planters which will be situated in the Douglas Bridge and Channel Street area of the town centre. These planters will be deployed in June and will provide much needed colour in and around the town. The Galashiels community council would like to thank Energise Galashiels Trust for their assistance with this project.”

Tracey Alder, of Galashiels Community Council and Gala in Bloom, added: “The Gala in Bloom team have for many years tasked themselves with tending the gardens around Galashiels to make this town an array of colour.

“Over the past year which has been very uncertain for everyone due to Covid 19, nothing has been more noticeable than the lack of colour and vibrancy to the town because of there being no plants.

“This is all about to change, as the planting starts in Bank Street and in Old Gala House, so will we begin to see various new planters full of colour going up around the town.”

Gala in Bloom’s John Gray added: “Now that the floral displays in Bank Street gardens, Old Gala House , War Memorial Gala Aisle are the responsibility of the community council (Gala in Bloom group) the greatest challenge will be to raise the funds required annually to retain those floral displays.

"Prior to Covid the Galashiels councillors had agreed to re-establish some assistance from the parking money but because of the very limited us of the car parks this assistance is not expected to be available for this summer’s planting. The community council are grateful for monies already offered from the Hayward/Sanderson Trust, the Galashiels British Legion, Galashiels Rotary Club, from the customers of Alex Dalgetty & Sons Bakers and the Gray/Sanderson Trust and together with monies from the community council funds this year is affordable.

"However to prepare for future years we will be launching an appeal to ‘Save the Public Gardens Fund’ and we are also looking for volunteers to join the Gala in Bloom group who have already been offered assistance from a Girl Guide Group and the Ex Braw Lads & Lasses.”