THE people of Scottish Borders’ town, Selkirk, and the surrounding area are about to benefit from a range of fresh opportunities with a unique, local community hub entering a new phase in its historic existence.
New plans are afoot for Selkirk’s spectacular 18th century Haining House and estate that will build on the restoration work, the creativity and the community participation that has succeeded in putting this remarkable venue on the local, Scottish and international cultural map.
This follows the astonishing bequest to the local community in 2009, of not only the magnificent house itself but of the surrounding designed landscape, including 61 lochside acres of woodland and parkland, by estate owner, lawyer and visionary, the late Mr. Nimmo Smith.
The trustees – among them chair, Galashiels lawyer, Susan Edington, and retired architect, Lawrence Robertson – were quick to recognise the financial and practical challenges posed by such an undertaking within the limited available budget, yet their relevant professional skills have enabled the Haining to achieve an essential capital development programme which now benefits all who visit the estate.
Said chair, Susan Edington: ““Suddenly becoming a trustee was a task I was delighted and, indeed, privileged to have been involved with, yet one could see at once from the dilapidated condition of the Haining House and all its ancillary buildings, that the related capital and ongoing maintenance costs were going to be the major challenge facing us in terms of creating a truly sustainable enterprise and income stream for the community within the strict terms of Mr. Nimmo Smith’s legacy.”
In addition to the gargantuan task of rescuing the massive house itself, including the installation of a professional catering kitchen to support events, the listed Georgian carriage houses have been converted into award-winning, state-of-the-art rented studios enabling a number of small local businesses to flourish.
Within the same complex, Visit Scotland ‘four-star’ holiday accommodation now creates further income for the estate.
Highly significant in the entire mix are the many volunteers from the local community who have made much of this work possible by carrying out crucial essential maintenance and estate management tasks; they have also devised and organised some of the most popular and successful events in the Borders’ annual social calendar.
With their full support the Haining has played host to an impressive range of creative, artistic, literary, nature-based, educational, family and child-friendly community events, professional performances and private functions, engaging many local residents while also attracting many new visitors to the area from all over the UK and abroad.
And the thousands who have flocked through ‘The Haining Gates’, to be mesmerised by the unique experience when encountering for the first time, this most historic and romantic of places, have also in different ways contributed to the wider local economy.
With phase one now completed, the trustees, fully recognise the need to bring new talent onto the team. Trustee chair, Susan Edington, and Lawrence Robertson will shortly be standing down and have invited Selkirk Councillor, Michelle Ballantyne, with her contrasting portfolio of skills and experience to play a major role in the organisation of phase two.
Says Michelle: “I have always been aware of the Haining’s enduring potential to give back to the community that surrounds it. I’m delighted to be able to support the Haining in a way that builds on what has been achieved to date and which will also explore new ways of fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the community to whom it was bequeathed.“
The Haining is a terrific asset for Selkirk and for Scotland. This is sure to endure as its colourful history continues to evolve and unfold, inspiring locals and visitors for generations to come.
Notes to editors:
Fairy photo credit if used: Colin Hattersley
Further info from:
T: 01988 700 974
M: 07766 754 877
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