Whithorn and District Community Council hosted a very successful ‘Day of the Region’ over the weekend starting with the launch event of a silent documentary film about Whithorn, created by Urbancroft films.
The Saturday and Sunday were packed with free events with lots of sport, but also art and heritage events giving local people from the town and surrounding area, including young people, to have a go at lots of activities including yoga, football, a treasure hunt, chess, painting, upholstery, dance, blacksmithing and boxing.
The Day of the Region initiative is one which comes from Europe and has been enthusiastically adopted by communities across Dumfries and Galloway.
To kick the events programme off, the community enjoyed watching the silent film, made by Urbancroft films at the time of the Community Consultation film in 2013. Three screenings were held to a packed hall in the Community Centre, with live music played by Old Scores. Many of those who were filmed were in the audience. The film is now being sent to various documentary film festivals, including one in Canada, to show life in a small Scottish town in 2013 and will be a valuable social history document for future generations. The Indian and Polish communities excelled themselves by producing delicacies typical of their cultures, and the Whithorn WRI produced literally dozens of scones and cups of tea; the plates were bare by the end of the evening. There was a relaxed atmosphere as people stayed on to chat about the film. The audience included local people, people recently moved in to the area, and visitors who were staying in Whithorn, many of whom were impressed at the way the town had come together for this event.
Saturday began with sporting events including a football session lasted most of the day, while the Bravehearts Boxing Club welcomed new members who tried out boxing for the first time, and Building Healthy Communities handed out healthy kebabs. David Coe kept his Arts Group painting for most of the weekend, while in the main street, many tried their hand at the Priory Church Treasure hunt, which gave clues from Whithorn’s George Street and its history. The Fire Brigade laid on a water relay and firemanship skills, appreciated by younger visitors, while the Knitwits offered advice on knitting and crochet at their usual venue in the Priory Church.A very successful Autoharp Workshop was led by Nadine White, and this attracted many interested in trying and hearing the instrument. Young people put on a play about the need to be prepared for winter, while the Community Resilience gas-fired hob was put to the test, serving over 130 burgers and soups.
There were quieter craft activities in the Community Centre, with the Whithorn WRI making lemon curd, and yoga on offer to those who’d never tried it before. Mel Barr showed his remarkable collection of wood duck decoys to appreciative visitors, Creative Whithorn asked people to draw their own town, and Councillor Geddes challenged young chess players to a game at the chess club. The Saturday finale was School Concert, under the inspiring guidance of Mrs. Steele, played as usual to a packed house, including the Whithorn Junior Guides in costume, telling the story of Whithorn’s famous archaeological dig and early Christian settlement.
On Sunday, a special Family Service attracted visitors, and afterwards the Tai Chi group laid on a demonstration. A large group took the guided historical tour of Whithorn’s built heritage with the Whithorn Trust guide and finished off the morning with a free gourmet soup lunch at the Trust visitor centre. There were more crafts on offer after lunch -Photography for the junior age group, and upholstery techniques were demonstrated on a small scale in making a pin cushion, while Barns Smiddy forge was lit to show traditional blacksmithing techniques. Jarrovian Gun Dogs gave a demonstration of dog handling skills in the playground.
The highlight of Sunday afternoon, which was warm and sunny, was the parade of vintage cars, followed by a fashion show organised by Dolly Daydreams Vintage Clothing, featuring local models in vintage clothing of the fifties and sixties. The audience cheered as models paraded down the cat walk in the Community Centre. The Tea Dance which followed allowed those who have learnt ballroom dancing to show off their skills, while the WRI served delicious traditional teas, in full waitress costumes.
A spokesperson for the organisers, the Community Council said: “There were great attendances at all the events and many of the groups gained new members. There was a buzz about the town, with many saying it had been a great family day out - and all for free! Wonderful sunshine allowed people to mingle, stay a while and chat, which gave a great atmosphere to the entire weekend. We were pleased that not only local people, but those from surrounding villages and countryside, as well as visitors, made the trip to Whithorn to see the work of the talented people who run our clubs and societies. There was a good mix of activities for the young and the older generations and we saw plenty of both at all the events. This is something to build on next year, as we are learning in our first year how things work best. We’re grateful to Derek Hextall and LEADER for the great weekend they have given to local people and the chance for Whithorn to put its best foot forward. The feedback we are getting is that people enjoyed it so much that they would like to see it happening again”.
Here are some of the feedback comments received by the community council:
“We thoroughly enjoyed the fashion show”
“The School Concert was absolutely lovely, I didn’t stop smiling!”
“This is what should be happening everywhere, you are a beacon!”
“Nice to see a community coming together & having a good time”, from a family staying at Burrowhead Caravan Park, from Chorley.
“Pleased to see so much going on & villages being kept alive!” From a couple recently moved into area.
An extended family I encouraged to go along to the gentle exercise i.e three generations; the grandfather wasn’t so keen, spoke to him later and he said surprisingly;
“I really enjoyed that!”
“The School Concert was amazing, as always!”
“The Boxing was great to let young ones not able to join yet experience it!”
“Been a wonderful weekend, lovely atmosphere in the town!”
“Great community event showing community spirit in town”
“I loved Day of the Region, when is it happening again” from a 6 yr old.
“I really enjoyed the soup” from a young child
“When do you ever get a free lunch, brilliant!”
“Gone very well”
“I enjoyed the concert very much”
“Better than watching the telly!”