• Community News

    Find Out the FACTs

    An activity day where people can try their hand at drumming, listen to children’s storytelling sessions and enjoy a spot of Highland dancing and piping is taking place this month.

    Forres Area Community Trust is staging a ‘Find Out the FACTs’ event in Grant Park on 21st of August.

    The event is to showcase what the Trust does and how the Forres Town Hall is used.

    Kirsty Williams, who is the Old Persons’ Project Co-ordinator with FACT and who is organising the day explained: “We are really looking forward to Find Out the FACTs which is really an opportunity for people to come along, have some fun and find out more about what we do.

    “FACT works with so many different partners and we have a very busy schedule with loads of activities that support many different groups in the community. All we want to do at our Grant Park event is spread awareness of what’s available to do in the area, not just by ourselves but those organisations and groups we work in partnership with to make the area a better place to live, work and visit.”

    “Through the pandemic, FACT really came to the fore and we worked with a range of partners to support those who were vulnerable or struggling during the lockdowns, but now things are getting better and restrictions are easing, we are working on promoting our classes and workshops and just want to showcase what we and our partners have to offer the people of the area.”

    In March, it was announced that FACT had taken ownership of Forres Town Hall after a successful community asset transfer process. The Trust had been managing the building since 2018.

    It is now pushing forward with a fundraising strategy to raise the £3.4 million for a regeneration project to redevelop the building as a thriving venue and facility fit for the 21st century and to provide services and resources for the area into the future.

    Kirsty said: “FACT is delighted to be the custodian of the Town Hall on behalf of the community, and our event will also allow us to talk to the public about the hall and what the plans are for its future. We can also share with attendees about all the great activities that take place in the hall.”

    Find Out the FACTs will take place between midday and 4pm on 21st of August.

    FACT secured funding from the Scottish Government, via Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), from the Communities Recovery Fund.

    Kirsty said: “HIE is co-ordinating the Communities Recovery Fund in the Highlands and Islands, on behalf of the Scottish Government, for all eligible community organisations, who are implementing changes to reintroduce the delivery of existing services and activities that have been suspended or severely reduced because of COVID-19 and/or deliver new services identified as a priority by the community as a result of COVID-19.”

    “We are delighted that our event is able to go ahead after securing this funding. There will something for everyone. We have some great entertainment lined up and there is something for all age groups. We have drumming with Active Minds Moray, Forres Online will be there to explain how they can help people improve their digital knowledge, we will have storytelling from Margot Henderson, Scottish country dancers and pipers from the Forres and District Pipe Band.

    “We invite people to come along and bring a picnic and spend the afternoon with us. It’s a real community event. Wave Radio are supporting us by handling the announcing and the organisers of the Forres Highland Games which have been hit hard by the pandemic are lending us tables and chairs.

    “If a picnic is not your thing, we will be situated near Mather’s so there will be an opportunity to grab something from there as well, and for kids to not only enjoy what we have on offer but have fun at the playpark and in Grant Park too.”

    Forres Online is Back

    Due to the easing of lockdown Forres Online can re-open face to face tech support at the town hall.

    We will be moving into the newly refurbished North Room.

    To keep people safe, we will be working a appointment only system. Please find out contact details in the poster below.

    About #connectingscotland

    Connecting Scotland is a Scottish Government  programme set up in response to Coronavirus. It is a partnership with the Scottish Government, Local Councils, and SCVO.  It is also supported by a range of  other organisations from around Scotland and the UK.

    Getting online will help people access the support and services they need. As well as helping them to keep in touch with friends & family. In order to help get people online they are supplying Ipads, Chromebooks and Internet Dongles along with help and support people to develop digital skills. They are mainly targeting those that are:

    • Digitally excluded – Those that do not have the appropriate device/connectivity at home.
    • On low incomes – Those that cannot afford to purchase a device and or pay for internet access at home.
    • At risk of isolation due to coronavirus – Those that are vulnerable (shielding) or higher risk of severe illness.

    Forres Online via Moray Council  has been allocated a number of devices/connectivity and will be providing ongoing support.  If you know of someone who falls into the category above and would benefit from this programme, then please get in touch with  Janice Cooper Forres Online Project Coordinator 01309 674388 or email janice@forresarea.org

    Forres Rotary’s Citizen of the Year

    Debbie Herron

    Congratulations to Debbie Herron on being chosen as Forres Rotary’s Citizen of the Year.

    Debbie is the lead development officer with Forres Area Community Trust (FACT). Among other ventures they have taken over the responsibility for running the Town Hall.

    We are sure you will agree that Debbie is a very worthy winner as she has done so much for Forres in a very unassuming way.

    Community group celebrates first anniversary running Moray town hall by submitting bid to own it

    by David MacKay, Press & Journal

    Picture: L2R – Vicky Flood (Community Development Worker), Kirsty Williams (older Persons Project Co-ordinator), Janice Cooper (Forres On-line Co-ordinator), Kirtsy-Ann Wilson (graduate Marketing), Rory Dutton (Tenant Co-Worker) and front – Debbie Herron (Development Manager) Picture by JASON HEDGES

    A community group has submitted a bid to take over a cherished Moray landmark and bring it back to life.

    Today is the first anniversary of Forres Area Community Trust (Fact) signing a lease to prevent the local town hall closing.

    Now the charity is aiming to take over the ownership of the Victorian building, which has been a gathering point for generations, as well.

    Today new art gallery will be opened in the hall during a party to celebrate the landmark, which dates back to the 1850s.

    Annual Hogmanay bashes have been revived at the hall for the first time since the 1960s and the town centre venue is also now fully booked for Saturday coffee mornings until the end of next year.

    Debbie Herron, Fact’s development manager, wants to preserve the building’s strong links with the community.

    She said: “During the last year we’ve had a few people come in who have met their husbands and wives here – it used to be very popular with a lot of evening dances.

    “The social history of the building is really important. We knew it was important to the community but I didn’t realise how much until this year.”

    Forres Town Hall faced closure with similar venues last year due to budget cuts from Moray Council. Fact has applied to the authority for ownership of the hall to be transferred to them.

    Meetings have been set up between Fact, other groups who have taken on their own community facilities and council staff so they can learn from what each other is doing.

    The group has drawn up plans for a £1.9million refurbishment of the Forres hall to build on the success of film screenings in the venue with tiered seating and more gallery and office space.

    Mrs Herron added: “The biggest challenge for us at the moment is the condition of the building.

    “It’s nearly 200 years old now. The roof leaks in places, it’s safe but it’s just another thing that needs repaired.

    “Ultimately we want to completely refurbish the entire hall over the next five years. It doesn’t make best use of space at the moment so there’s a lot of untapped potential.”

    The celebration at Forres Town Hall today will run from 4pm to 6pm with regular users of the venue present to provide information about what they do.

    Forres Skate Park campaigners need community input to carry on

    by David Walker, Press and Journal

    A funky roller disco for all ages is being held in Forres House Community Centre to raise awareness of the Forres Skate Park Initiative. Getting their skates on are, left to right, Sophie Fullard, Franky Haymer, Kirsty-Ann Wilson and Fi Rodger. Picture: Marc Hindley

    Campaigners, who plan to build a Skate Park in a Moray town, have launched an online survey to garner local support and input.

    The Forres Skate Park Initiative want to hear from anybody interested in their project to become involved in the campaign which is just starting to gather pace.

    However, before they can really get going, they are in desperate need of more members to achieve their goal of installing an all-inclusive skating facility in the community.

    FSPI has yet to formally constitute a campaign group, apply for charitable status or gain funding for a feasibility study to support applications for funding.

    That is why they have launched an online survey to gauge the public’s view on the Olympic training facility which would encourage the use of skateboards, roller blades, scooters and bikes.

    Once they have gained enough support, they intend to commission a study that would look at materials, landscaping options and opening times.

    Community development worker Vicky Flood is hopeful that the survey helps the group better understand what the people want.

    She said: “There has already been consultation over this project, however it is still important for funding and covers Moray Council’s obligations regarding Community Asset Transfers.

    “As the Bogton Road site next to Mosset Park was the second choice for a skate park in the Forres Planning for Real consultation, we have sent letters to residents closest to it.”

    The group recently held a popular bright roller disco in Forres to raise funds and awareness of the initiative.

    As of last week, nine people had expressed an interest in joining the group and becoming more involved in the campaign.

    The group has gained the support of FACT (Forres Area Community Trust) and meets in the Town Hall, but it now wants to stand on its own two feet.

    Committee member Fiona Rodgers added: “If we can get people together who can see the potential for an all-year-round skating facility, hopefully we can get the right people on board to make it happen.”

    The survey can be found here.

    Anyone interested should email vicky@forresarea.org.

    Planning The (next) Big Lunch Forres

    Volunteers get together at St Leonard’s Church to plan the next Big Lunch

    by Forres Gazette

    REPRESENTATIVES from a national charity stopped in Forres to discuss an event to be organised in the area for the third year running.

    The Eden Project communities team were at the town hall to discuss The Big Lunch which took place over the last two summers at Transition Town Forres and Grant Park. The Eden Project want as many people as possible to get into the picnic spirit, grab a blanket, neighbours, friends, sandwiches and have a Big Lunch on June 1 and 2.

    Richard Lochhead MSP attended the workshop and expressed support for the event.

    He said: “It was great to hear how the initiative helps to bring people in communities together. There are many social benefits to people being more connected and it’s clear that The Big Lunch is making a difference to communities right across the country. The Scottish Government recently published its strategy for tackling loneliness and social isolation, and projects like The Big Lunch can play a vital part in that agenda.”

    He added: “Forres has a fantastic community spirit, and I pay tribute to those who have organised big lunch events in the past – I hope that they’ll continue.”

    Big Lunchers provided first-hand accounts of the power of the Big Lunch in bringing people together, offering suggestions arising from their experience throughout the workshop.

    Kirsty Williams of Forres Area Community Trust, the creative force behind last June’s Big Lunch in Grant Park, helped organise the workshop.

    She said: “It was an informative day and my colleague Vicky and I have already arranged a planning meeting for March 19, inviting different groups along so we can all work together to make The Big Lunch a success this year.”

    Discussions led to possible future Big Lunches in the town hall, the Findhorn Foundation and Hopeman, to add to those planned for streets and gardens around Moray.

    One participant, native to Forres but working in Gairloch promised to take the Big Lunch to the west coast after attending the workshop.

    Over 40,000 people in Scotland took part in The Big Lunch last year.

    Free starter packs, tips and ideas can be found at www.thebiglunch.com or by calling 0845 850 8181.

    Toun Mercat just one of Scottish Week highlights

    by Forres Gazette

    SCOTTISH Week returns on Saturday and with it comes a buzzing street market in the town centre.

    The triennial event co-ordinated by Forres Community Activities Association (FCAA) continues the Gala Week tradition, including the highlight for many, the crowd-drawing Toun Mercat on Friday, June 8.

    Rachel Philp, from Philp’s Fine Food, is organising the market stalls this year.

    She said: “With just three weeks to go, there has been a phenomenal interest from both stall holders and performers wanting to secure a place at the popular open-air market held along the entire length of Forres High Street between 6pm and 9pm.

    “We have almost 80 stalls confirmed already and applications are still coming in!”

    Attendees will find a pedestrianised high street, closed off to traffic for the evening, full of stalls, demonstrations, fairground rides and live performances.

    Cafes, bars and shops will also be open, and a new farmers’ market area will offer fresh, local and organic products direct from the producers.

    The theme for window dressing and fancy dress (open to everyone) is ‘Come As You Were’ in keeping with Scotland Year of the Young Person 2018.

    The entire event will also be compered by Wave Radio.

    Forres Area Community Trust development officer Debbie Heron is organising the entertainment.

    She said: “We know from experience that people look forward to the Toun Mercat but it’s up to businesses make it special.

    “I’m delighted we’ve had so many applicants but there is room for plenty more, especially street performers.

    “Anyone interested can contact me at the FACT office, 1 Leask Road, Forres or by telephoning 01309 674388.”

    Stalls are £15 and High Street retailers are given priority outside their shops.

    Booking forms for stall holders can be downloaded at https://forresarea.org/tounmercat or picked up from the FACT office on Leask Road between 9am and 1pm.

    They are also available from Rachel at Fresh Horizons Café on the Forres Enterprise Park between 9am and 3pm, Monday to Friday.

    Scottish Week 2018 runs from June 2-10.

    A Rock concert at the terraced hills in Grant Park on Saturday, June 2 at 8pm kicks off Scottish Week with a bang showcasing some of the best live music Forres has to offer; there will be performances from Forres Pipe Band including a march through the town centre to the park on Saturday, June 2 at 7pm; street racing for children and adults around the town centre on Monday, June 4 at 6pm has been organised by Forres Harriers; the Burgess Ceremony at Forres Academy is on Tuesday, June 5 at 7pm when six worthy folk will be officially recognised by the townspeople and installed as burgesses of the Royal Burgh to the live sound of Moray Concert Brass; a vintage tea dance with John ‘The Prof’ Matheson and friends is on at Forres Town Hall on Wednesday, June 6 at 2pm; historical tours are on offer including an evening walk around local landmarks and a lecture on witches at the Tolbooth on Thursday, June 7 at 7.30pm; a pet show located between Forres Area Soccer 7’s clubhouse and Forres st Lawrence Cricket Club pavilion will show off youngster’s handling and looking after of their animals on Saturday, June 9 at 11am; and the Riding of the Marches is on Sunday, June 10 at 2pm, a modern twist of the ancient tradition of riding the town’s boundaries on horseback – this year it will be by bicycle!

    You are welcome to The Big Lunch

    Forres Area Community Trust (FACT) is hosting the Big Lunch on Sunday, June 3 from 1-3pm – organiser Kirsty Williams hopes as many people as possible take the opportunity to meet each other and make new friends.

    She said: “Being part of a connected community means knowing who you live next to; saying hello, smiling, waving and stopping for a chat from time to time. Ultimately, connected communities are residents who look out for each other.”

    There will be games including, giant Jenga, skittles, draughts, welly wanging and People Bingo.

    Kirsty added: “Cameron Court and Varis Court residents, members of the OAP Association and The Cameron Project clients and volunteers are all making bunting to decorate the marquee.

    “The community is already contributing – the support is overwhelming.”

    The Big Lunch, organised by the Eden Project, is the UK’s largest annual community get-together. The idea is that, for a few hours, cars and shyness will stop and folk will come together to meet, greet, play games, sing, and laugh.

    Last year, 9.3 million people took to their streets, gardens and neighbourhoods across the UK to join in.

    Around 100 Forres folk enjoyed the local event at Transition Town Forres.

    This year, the Big Lunch coincides with Volunteers Week so attendees will also be celebrating all the volunteers who make our area such a vibrant community.

    Kirsty said: “We want as many as possible to join in so they can get a special thank you for all that they do. Many groups would simply not exist if it wasn’t for the volunteers who so willingly give their time. Now it is the community’s turn to thank them all.”

    Volunteers for any group or third sector organisation in the Forres Area are welcome.

    Tea, coffee and juice will be provided but FACT ask that attendees bring along picnic food to share such as sandwiches and home bakes, as well as blankets or chairs.

    The Big Lunch will be near the play area in Grant Park.

    For more information email kirsty@forresarea.org or call 01309 674388.

    Team to form a green space vision for Forres

    by Forres Gazette

    AROUND 25 people have offered to help achieve the ‘green space’ aims of the Forres 2020 Vision.

    Following the inaugural meeting of the Forres Green Spaces User Group at the town hall last week, the volunteers have agreed to progress some of the priorities detailed in the 2020 Vision Action Plan, launched last November.

    These include joint management of local woodland, meadows, fields and orchards with Moray Council.

    Community support officer, Sylvia Jamieson, said: “It will be a pragmatic group, not just a talking shop but one that actively helps progress work by groups in green spaces in Forres.”

    Ms Jamieson and lands and parks officer, Ken Kennedy, confirmed shared goals with the volunteers, and how they can be achieved through partnership working.

    Initially, the attendees were seated in four groups facilitated by council representatives Ms Jamieson, Mr Kennedy, Grant Speed (Lands and Parks) and Emma Gordon (Development Plans).

    They looked at: what Forres already has in terms of green spaces work; what would make things easier for the people working in them; and how this could be achieved.

    The working group was formed afterwards, including representatives from Forres Community CouncilForres Sports HubForres Area Community Trust, the Sanquhar improvement group, Dava Way Association, Castlehill Veg, Forres in BloomForres Rotary Club and Forres Theme Day.

    Ms Jamieson added: “There was recognition of the huge amount of work being done by volunteers already, and the number of events and activities taking place in them.

    “Common themes and ideas for action included recruiting volunteers (particularly younger folk), sharing resources and volunteers, joint funding applications, joint responses to consultations, training opportunities and sharing of information/networking.”

    The next meeting of the Green Spaces User Group will be in March or April.

    New member, Sandra Maclennan of Forres In Bloom said: “It is to be hoped that this will happen soon and momentum can be revitalised.”

    Ms Gordon highlighted the forthcoming drop-in consultation event at Forres Town Hall (Thursday, March 8, 2-8pm) on the Local Development Plan Main Issues Report and the ongoing core paths consultation.