Numbers come up for seven Borders groups

Seven groups in the Borders have been given a great timely boost in the latest tranche of grants from the National Lottery Community Fund.

By Kevin Janiak
Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 10:44 am
Riddell Fiddles, who were awarded £6,300 to help them teach new players online.
Riddell Fiddles, who were awarded £6,300 to help them teach new players online.

The organisation has focused its support on isolated and vulnerable people who have been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and this is evident in a few of the Borders-based grants, but the others are of a more varied nature, from traditional music workshops to defibrillators to Christmas light replacements.

Peebles and District Men’s Shed is flushed with success as it gets the region’s largest grant of the round, with £10,000 to convert the communal toilets in its School Brae hub into three seperate disabled loos.

Malcolm Bruce, a member of the town’s shed, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded this grant. It is intended that this money will go towards, if not pay for outright, the refurdbishment cost of our toilets, which are sadly over 50 years old.

“It’s always rewarding when a body such as the National Lottery recognises the work that groups such as Peebles Men’s Shed do on behalf of the community.

“We don’t approach applying for these grants lightly ... we do realise it’s a lot of money for these funding bodies and they only award those that make the best cases.

“So it’s gratifying that other people get what we are trying to do and can understand our vision for creating this community facility in the heart of Peebles.”

He added: “It means that when we do get permission to open up fully to our members, the premises will be good to go.

“It will allow us to do the things we were set up to do ... work against social isolation, which is a phrase we all really understand now, and give people in the community a sense of purpose.”

Riddell’s Fiddles, a traditional music group based in Selkirk, is awarded £6,300 to run traditional music workshops for youngsters and adults.

Throughout the lockdown, the group has been using online means to stay in touch, practise and teach.

Organiser Sheila Sapkota told us: “It’s a welcome boost in what is rather trying times for musicians everywhere.

“This cash will boost our online Zoom presence.

“We’ve already been able to supply most of our tutors with computers with decent condensed mikes so that we can run classes online.

“We have groups of youngsters in Bannerfield and Burnfoot in Hawick, and we plan to continue this to keep all the groups going.”

One often overlooked side-effect of the lockdown is that with people working from home or furloughed, relationships in the home can be strained.

Relationships Scotland’s Borders group will use its £9,000 funding to offer free relationship and family support sessions to anyone struggling to cope with family relationships during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Peebles Old Parish Church has been granted £5,184 to produce arts and crafts packs for elderly isolated people, which will be mailed out to individual’s homes and care homes. Volunteers will also make weekly well-being phone calls and compile a community newsletter for circulation with the packs.

Based at Gavinton in Berwickshire, the Learning Space will enhance its garden space in order to enable a “richer and morer accessible outdoor learning experience” for its young clients, as well as a pleasant place to sit for the wider community, thanks to its grant of £7,450.

Also successful in being awarded grants were the Whitsome Enhancement Group – awarded £6,535 to replace the village’s Christmas lights and associated equipment – and Kalewater Community Council, who will use the £3,200 award to replace four defibrillators in the village.