• FACT

    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.

    Hogmanay celebrations to return to beloved Moray venue for first time in half a century

    Forres Town Hall has stood on the High Street since the mid 19th Century.

    by David Mackay, Press and Journal

    Hogmanay celebrations will return to a treasured Moray town centre venue for the first time in half a century.

    Findhorn Bay Arts is hosting the shindig at Forres Town Hall with a wealth of traditional music acts taking part.

    The venue used to be the home of Hogmanay for the local community but has not hosted such a party since the 1960s.

    Now revellers are being invited to dress up with “dazzle and sparkle” from the era of the last celebration held at the town hall in order to bring in 2019.

    Kresanna Aigner, director of Findhorn Bay Arts, explained that the recent takeover of the venue by the Forres Area Community Trust from the council had inspired the decision to revive the events.

    She said: “The hall is in the hands of the community now which has made it possible to open it again for Hogmanay.

    “We had such a successful festival this year that it just felt like the right time to resurrect the parties at the town hall.

    “We’ve got people from six to 86-years-old coming. It’s a real mix but we want to help bring people together.”

    Tickets for the event are nearly sold out with proceeds being put towards supporting creative activities in the local area.

    Crowds are also expected to gather at the foot of Dufftown’s clock tower to bring in the bells, while sharing drams and shortbread.

    In Aberdeen, meanwhile, ABBA tribute band Thank You For The Music will be one of the top attractions.

    They will be joined on stage on Schoolhill by local musicians Rachael Bisset and Scott Mellis and the Celtic rock band Gleadhraich, with the fun beginning at 9pm.

    Marie Boulton, the city council’s culture spokeswoman, said: “There is always a great atmosphere in the city centre on Hogmanay.

    “Our free street party is an excellent way to bring in the bells.”