Our groups celebrate the Year of Stories

This year, we chose the optional theme of the official ‘Year of Stories’ for our Beautiful Scotland and It’s Your Neighbourhood groups to focus activities and events around – a great way to educate and engage people in their own communities.

Groups could chose to celebrate the theme by coming up with innovative and creative ways to tell their community about their climate and biodiversity friendly activities; or install new interpretation panels to showcase their area’s history or natural wonders; run a poster or short story competition for young people, with the winners displayed in a prominent location; or use planting to tell a story...these were just a few ideas we gave to groups to get them started.

We offered three chances for groups to be recognised for their Year of Stories activities – a one-off Beautiful Scotland discretionary award celebrating the theme, a Year of Stories case study slot at our annual seminar, and the opportunity to submit an entry for all our groups and their members to vote for their favourite three…..and what a wonderful response we had.

Be inspired:

  • read the stories submitted for the public vote here
  • watch the Year of Stories showcase slot from the seminar here (start watching at 19:25) – three groups share their stories
  • one of our volunteer judges, Lorraine Turnbull, wrote this wonderful story which focuses on the creative and educational way Keeping Duns Blooming Marvellous overcame adversity; and
  • Find out more about the Beautiful Scotland winning entry and the winner of the public vote below.

Winner of the Year of Stories Beautiful Scotland discretionary award – a walk around Stonehaven with Poetry, Prose and Plants a project by Stonehaven Horizon Project with The Mearns Writers

As part of their contribution to the theme of Scotland’s Year of Stories, members of Stonehaven’s local writing group -The Mearns Writers, wrote a series of narrations relating to aspects of this place: its views, its facilities, its flora and fauna, its history, its connections to the land and the sea, all of which combine to tell something of the story of Stonehaven. These were then recorded, and an impressive walking tour leaflet created which takes people around the town. QR codes at each site enable an auditory and visual explanation that ties in each location historically.

During the Beautiful Scotland judges’ tour, an exceptional performance, in character, of John Duncan, an eminent Botanist, was given in Doric - luckily one of the judging pair was able to interpret!

You can hear about the project (and hear from John Duncan himself!) in our seminar ‘Year of Stories’ showcase slot here (watch from 34:05)

Winner of the Year of Stories public vote - restoration of an Italian Garden

The Allander Road Group of Milngavie in Bloom takes part in It’s Your Neighbourhood. The Gardening Group works with residents who live in Allander Road housing complex which was built by Milngavie Council (now incorporated into East Dunbartonshire Council) in the 1970s on the site of the demolished Ellangowan Paper Mill. The Group meet and work in the Italian Garden which was the centre piece of the estate when it was built. However, after years of neglect, it was in a pretty bad state and it was agreed to try to bring the garden back to its former glory.

After positive engagement with the council to repave the first section, and successful grant applications to repave further areas, this spurred the group on to improve and cut back the vegetation. It was at this point that they entered It’s Your Neighbourhood in 2018, progressing through the early stages, Level 3 Advancing, Level 4 Thriving, Level 5 Outstanding and finally being recognised with a well-deserved Certificate of Distinction.

Read the group’s full story of what was, and what is now, illustrated through early Mill photos and before and after pictures of the Italian Garden which has been transformed into a bright, blooming garden.

2023 theme

We're delighted to announce that our 2023 optional theme will be Health and Wellbeing, which we feel is very fitting, recognising every aspect of what all of our Beautiful Scotland and It’s Your Neighbourhood groups do throughout the year - we look forward to seeing what our groups come up with!

22 December 2022

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