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Mar 282017
 March 28, 2017

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16-year-old Georgia McLellan, an aspiring illustrator from Kippford is part of a team of young writers and illustrators who will be responsible for planning and hosting StoryCon 2017


Scottish Book Trust has  announced the names of the seven teenager writers and illustrators who have been recruited to steer the nationwide What’s Your Story? programme aimed at helping to increase opportunities for young people to access and contribute to literary culture across Scotland.

16-year-old Georgia McLellan, an aspiring illustrator from Kippford is part of a team of young writers and illustrators who will be responsible for planning and hosting StoryCon 2017, Scotland’s biggest creative writing and illustration conference for young people. This free two-day event featuring workshops, panels and network-building opportunities, for up to 100 teens (aged 13 – 19) each day, will be held in Glasgow on June 24 – 25 2017. Spaces are limited, so those interested in being informed when StoryCon 2017 opens for bookings should sign up to our E-Updates here:

As part of the programme Georgia will also work on her own creative development, benefitting from a residency with The National Library of Scotland, professional mentoring, and a retreat at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s creative writing centre. Her work will be showcased at a special event in collaboration with Neu! Reekie! in September 2017.

Speaking about the project, Georgia said: “I applied for the What’s Your Story? programme so that I could meet likeminded and interesting people whilst also learning more about illustration in Scotland. I hope to learn more about how a career in illustration unfolds and how I can improve and expand my own work.  I’d like to create a series of history-related illustrations for the Autumn showcase.”

Nicole Brandon, Young Writers Co-ordinator at Scottish Book Trust said: “Scottish Book Trust is delighted to have chosen its seven teens to participate in the What’s Your Story? programme. The project is in its second year and puts young people, who are passionate about writing, at the heart of the decision making process. These seven teens had to convince us that they had a heartfelt belief in the importance of creative writing and illustration in the lives of Scotland’s teens, and it’s our pleasure to be demonstrating our heartfelt belief in them as they’re taking part in our ground-breaking programme.

“Scottish Book Trust is committed to developing, nurturing, and celebrating the teen literary scene in Scotland. Our aim is to support the talents and ambition of young writers and illustrators of all backgrounds, and to help them connect them with others across the country who hold similar interests and to help them shape the future of writing in Scotland. Our seven participants will now have the chance to develop creatively, create resources and opportunities for their fellow teens, and showcase the contributions and fantastic potential of Scotland’s teen literary scene. We can’t wait to support them through this journey and show everyone what they’re capable of.”

Jenny Niven, Head of Literature, Languages and Publishing at Creative Scotland said: “We are delighted to be able to support the fantastic What’s Your Story initiative. It is crucial that young people across Scotland view literature and writing as something vibrant, connected and dynamic, and that they have the opportunity to have their talent recognised and developed.

“The unique combination of activities offered by this program provides a really well rounded accelerator program which we hope will act as a springboard for this talented group. We’re also very passionate about having young people guide and shape their own arts provision and What’s Your Story is a terrific example of this in practice, with the selected group working together to devise the June conference for their peers. We’re enormously proud to be supporting the next generation of Scotland’s literary talent and look forward to seeing what they produce.”

Graeme Hawley, General Collections Manager, Collections and Research Department at National of Library Scotland said: “Being involved right at the start of the creative journey for the mentees is a real privilege. It gives us the opportunity to show them, through Scotland’s national archive of publishing, the extraordinary forms that literature can take. By doing this, we hope to demonstrate to them the diversity of writing and publishing, and to show how it can become a rewarding career. We also want to show the mentees how they can make use of our collections in their creative writing, by discussing ways in which they can put to use a train timetable, or a government advice leaflet from the 1970s on nuclear war for example. It is a great opportunity to work with talented young writers and illustrators to get them thinking about the importance of research and authenticity with regard to creative writing.”

What’s Your Story? is funded in part by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund, and is intended to celebrate and nurture the talent and ambition of young writers and illustrators of all backgrounds, connect them with others across the country who hold similar interests, and help them shape the future of literature in Scotland. The support of The Gaelic Books Council has aided this goal through specific provision for a teen participant working in Gaelic.

The judging team, including one of the previous What’s Your Story participants, and representatives from Creative Scotland, The National Library of Scotland, The Gaelic Books Council and Scottish Book Trust carefully reviewed applications from around Scotland before selecting the final seven. Participants were selected on the enthusiasm and dedication they expressed for teenage participation in creative and literary culture.

More information about What’s Your Story? is available at

Anyone interested in finding out more about StoryCon 2017 should visit

Mar 152017
 March 15, 2017


SOUTH of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has criticised the UK and Scottish Government’s lack of focus on the economy of Dumfries and Galloway

His criticism comes after the region bucked the national trend and say a rise in the number of people out of work and claiming benefits.

Figures released today showed that for the second month in a row people in Dumfries and Galloway the number of people claiming unemployment benefits had increased.

In total 1,625 people in Dumfries and Galloway are claiming unemployment benefits, representing about 1.8% of working aged people. This is slightly below the UK average of 1.9% of people and well below the Scotland average of 2.4%.

Last month (Jan 2017) only 1,520 people where claiming unemployment benefits 6 months ago (Sep 2016) that figures stood as low as 1,445.

The figures are further compounded by figures showing that in 2016 Dumfries and Galloway workers earned on average £454.60 per week whereas the average Scottish worker earned £535.00 and the UK average worker earned £540.20. This considerable wage gap highlights how the area is suffering from a considerable lack of living wage jobs.

Colin Smyth MSP said: “These figures show that whilst the Scottish Government’ bangs on about independence and the UK Government goes on about Brexit, the issues that matter to people’s everyday lives such as jobs are taking a back seat.

“Rather than focusing on improving our economy, our schools or our hospitals, we have two governments fighting over the constitution whilst our area suffers.

“People are losing their jobs in Dumfries and Galloway and we are seeing no action from either Government to prevent this.

“We need strong investment in the area to encourage businesses to come to Dumfries and Galloway but also to help existing businesses stay and grow here. Jobs are so crucial to our communities, but whilst we have the SNP and Tory parties in Government fighting amongst themselves over referendums, I fear the concerns of the people of Dumfries and Galloway will fall on deaf ears.
We need our governments to start focusing on what really matter to the people of Dumfries and Galloway.”

Mar 152017
 March 15, 2017

POLICE in the Stewartry are hunting the driver of a silver Mercedes car who failed to stop for police in Castle Douglas.

About 8.40pm on Thursday March 9, Police Officers in Castle Douglas attempted to stop a silver Mercedes car in the town’s Queen Street.

The car subsequently failed to stop and made off in the direction of Gelston.

It was later recovered abandoned near to Kirkcudbright Cemetery and police are asking anyone with information about the occupants of the vehicle to contact police.

Constable Thomas Patterson at Castle Douglas said: “We want to hear from anyone who may have seen this vehicle or knows the identity of the driver, or of the passengers.

“Anyone who has any information which might help with this investigation is asked to call Castle Douglas Police on 101.”

Mar 152017
 March 15, 2017

The Bridge

A court has ruled plans to create a learning hub on common good land in Dumfries can go ahead.Dumfries and Galloway Council had to apply to allow the use of the land at the King George V sports complex. A sheriff has now granted the application which paves the way for the project to proceed.

The development is part of the multi-million pound Dumfries Learning Town project to overhaul education in the town.The new facility is designed to offer specialist higher academic and vocational studies.It is hoped the work could start on the project later this year with completion expected early in 2019.

Mar 152017
 March 15, 2017

Karine Polwart

Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival has launched the programme for this year’s event which it says is its “most ambitious to date”.

Singer and songwriter Karine Polwart ( pictured above) kicks off proceedings at the Easterbrook Hall in Dumfries on 26 May.

A wide range of theatre, music and comedy performances will follow throughout the region.

Billed as Scotland’s largest rural performing arts festival, it runs until 4 June.

Among the events being highlighted by organisers are:

  • the return of the Scottish Ensemble for a residency in the region
  • the Daleian Singers Male Voice Choir with Stranraer’s award-winning Scots traditional singer Robyn Stapleton
  • classical concerts by the Universities of Scotland Symphony Orchestra and the Tinderbox Orchestra
  • Scottish Opera’s pop-up roadshow
  • stand-up comedian Mark Nelson

Ken Gouge, who chairs the festival, said the event had been going from strength to strength.

“We’re anticipating our audience figures increasing again,” he said.

“In the last two years we have more than doubled our audience figures and, indeed, our ticket income has gone up by 131% over the last two years.

“So we are clearly doing something right.”

Mar 152017
 March 15, 2017

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THE Great Mountain Stage’ will be one of the features of the 2017 Eden Festival at Raefhills Meadow at Johnstonebridge, Dumfriesshire

This year’s Eden Festival has secured funding from EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, through the National Events Programme for an exciting new development, which will also celebrate Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Eden Festival has been awarded £12,500 towards the creation of ‘The Great Mountain Stage’, which will showcase established and up and coming Scottish artists performing an array of trad, folk, Celtic music. The National Events Programme supports public facing events which take place out with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, driving domestic tourism and promoting the regions of Scotland.

The Great Mountain Stage will be part of the new arena at Eden Festival called the “The Hanging Gardens of Babylon’ which will also host The Mott n Fiddle Inn (real Ale and Cider bar) and a Japanese Tea House where you can sit back and enjoy the atmosphere.

Founder and Head of Production Adam Curtis said: “We are extremely pleased and grateful that EventScotland have supported the festival in its development and incorporation of its heritage. With the funding we will be constructing ‘The Great Mountain Stage’ which is modelled on the Motte of Urr in the Haugh of Urr (Dumfries & Galloway) where I grew up. The design will feature a mountain with a stage built into it, framed with huge fire breathing towers, will year on year host a fantastic selection of traditional Scottish musicians from folk, classical, Celtic and acoustic. There will also be a large ceilidh on the Sunday.”

More details and an online picture book of the creation of ‘The Great Mountain Stage’ will be released in the following weeks.

Stuart Turner, Head of EventScotland, said: “We are delighted to be supporting ‘The Great Mountain Stage’ at this year’s Eden Festival thanks to funding from our National Programme. Scotland is the perfect stage for cultural events and the 2017 line-up is testament to that fact, celebrating the best of Scottish traditional music talent in the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.”

Eden Festival’s The Great Mountain Stage will host international and Scottish acts including:





Denmark’s Agnes Obel is an award winning musician with two platinum selling albums under her belt and about to achieve her third with her recently released album ‘Citizens of Glass’. She is a top five artist in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark, as well as having two singles in the UK album charts. One of the most exciting and current acts that Eden Festival has hosted, she will be bringing her female classically trained band; expect keys, cello’s, drums and clarinets, and Agnes Obel’s stunning vocals.


Rory Mcleod, a one man soulband, poet and storyteller, singing his own unique upbeat dance stories. Playing a whole host of instruments including a harmonica, guitar, trombone, spoons, finger cymbals, bandorea and djembe.


The Chair, an energetic 8 piece strong band from Orkney, winners of the Scottish Folk band of the year 2008. Expect to hear the fiddle, accordion and lots of percussion.


Leading the way in a new wave of Celtic-based dancefloor sounds is Sketch, they will be bringing the ceilidh to Eden Festival.  Their singer Maeve Mackinnon has twice been nominated for Gaelic Singer Of The Year at The Scottish Traditional Music Awards.

Eden Festival’s playlist also includes; hip hop, dance, RnB, acoustic, soul, funk, dubstep, disco, dancehall, electronica, ska, pop, African dance, jungle, Balkan beat, drum & bass and Celtic music, playing together side by side. More acts will be announced shortly!

Eden Festival, Scotland’s second largest music festival of 2017 will be returning to the Raehills Meadows of Dumfries and Galloway on June 8 -11th for its 9th year,

Tier 1 and 2 tickets have now sold out. Tier 3 tickets cost £109 for an adult, £85 for a teenager and under 12’s get in free! (Must be accompanied by an adult) For more information visit the website

Mar 152017
 March 15, 2017

StandalanePolice have arrested a teenager in connection with a road crash that left three people in hospital in Dumfries and Galloway.

The crash, which happened in Standalane, Annan, involved a red VW Golf and a silver Nissan Almera on Monday.

Police Scotland said they had arrested a 17-year old man following the incident.

A report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal.

Two women in their 30s and a man in his 20s, who were travelling in the Almera, were treated at Dumfries Infirmary following the crash.

The man has since been discharged, although the two women remain in hospital.

Police said their injuries were not thought to be life threatening.

Mar 152017
 March 15, 2017


DUMFRIES and Galloway Council is launching a new Digital Book Group Collection.

Building on the success of the current Book Group Collection this new service uses the Borrowbox app to host a specific digital collection of eBooks.  A launch event for existing book groups, anyone interested starting a Book Group or in joining an online book group will be held on Wednesday 22 March, 6.30pm to 7.30pm at the Ewart Library, Dumfries.

The new digital service will enable book groups to reserve a set of eBooks and each member to download the same title direct to their own iPad, tablet or PC.

Currently, over 40 community groups use the existing Book Group Collection of paperback books.  Several groups request large print or audio copies to be added to their book sets.  Some of the service users of our eBooks have expressed an interest in an online Book Group. Our Council is keen to improve accessibility and opportunity and the digital collection allows members to change the font, text size and page colour to suit their individual needs from home.

Councillor Tom McAughtrie, Chairman of the Council’s Communities Committee said: “It is great that the success of the Book Group Collection can be built upon to embrace new technology and improve ease of access.  Where we can, we meet the requests of service users, and this is a great example of us taking into account feedback of users and making a positive change based on this feedback.”

The launch event is open to everyone, not just those currently in book group and will include a demonstration of the new Digital Book Group Collection service as well as other eBook, eMagazines and eAudio services.

It takes place on Wednesday 22 March, 6.30pm to 7.30pm, Ewart Library, Catherine Street, Dumfries, DG1 3AQ with coffee and cake provided.

Mar 142017
 March 14, 2017

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Local MSP Colin Smyth has been visiting local businesses to promote Modern Apprenticeships (MA) and the impact they have in our economy.

The national campaign encouraging more employers to take on apprentices and more young people to consider work based learning finished on Friday.

Coinciding with Skills Development Scotland’s ‘Apprenticeship Week’ which celebrated and promoted businesses to get involved and see the benefits of employing a modern apprentice.

Organised by Skills Development Scotland (SDS), Scottish Apprenticeship Week highlighted the benefits for businesses that have decided to invest in the skills of their employees.

Colin visited Treasure Island Nursery, a local nursery in Castle Douglas where met the management team and the Modern apprentices going through their training. MA’s work whilst earning qualifications, allowing participants to gain employment and train to progress their career.

The nursery has employed 4 modern apprentices over the last 5 years and the model has been hugely successful with all either gaining full time employment or leaving with new qualifications.

Businesses in Scotland employed a record number of apprentices last year as more than 25,500 young people got the chance to work, learn and earn.

New Foundation Apprenticeships mean young people can now start a Modern Apprenticeship at school while Graduate Level Apprenticeships provide employees with work based learning opportunities to degree level.

Mr Smyth said: “It was great to visit Treasury Island Nursery not just to see the great work they do as a local nursery but the employment and training opportunities they provide for modern apprentices.

Often people just think about University and Colleges when it comes to further and higher education or training. However, in Dumfries and Galloway we have a wealth of local businesses like Treasury Island Nursery who provide fantastic career opportunities through Modern Apprenticeships.

There is a common misconnection that MA’s are only for young people but in fact anyone can apply for. It offers a route to employment and a chance to gain qualifications whilst working. It is a highly effective way to start a new career.

Not only have the MAs found employment with the business but they have gained qualifications whilst working, which will serve them their entire career.

It was great to see the success of these apprentices and I look forward to seeing their career grow. The work that Treasure Island do to grow and develop talent should be celebrated. The more local businesses that develop talent the better our economy will be”.

Skills Development Scotland Chief Executive, Damien Yeates, said: “We want businesses and individuals to know that apprenticeships are changing.

“Apprenticeships are designed by employers for employers and provide the talent they want for the growth they need to develop their workforce.

“Business and industry continue to invest in apprenticeships, even in challenging economic times, which is a testament to the value they see in work based learning.”

Mar 142017
 March 14, 2017



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LOCAL MSP Finlay Carson has had a meeting with A75 Bypass Campaigners.

The meeting in Crocketford was  to discuss their concerns with the lack of action being taken by the Scottish Government over improvements to the A75.

Finlay saw for himself the damage being caused by the heavy traffic passing through the village. As part of the meeting they also discussed much needed South of Scotland infrastructure projects such as A77 and A76 improvements.

The meeting comes after Chancellor Philip Hammond announced £350m of extra funding for Scotland in the Spring Budget.  The Galloway and West Dumfries member said: “The SNP Government now have the opportunity to use the significant extra funding announced in last week’s budget to support the long overdue additional road improvements to the A75.

“The SNP simply have no excuses; not only do they appear unwilling to make major investments in our infrastructure in Galloway and West Dumfries, they also appear unwilling to keep on top of the pot hole repairs and general maintenance necessary to keep the A75 safe.

“It is time this Government heard the concerns of residents in Springholm and Crocketford who have suffered for far too long. I urge the Government to urgently carry out proper maintenance of the road and to re-think their plans on major investment for our trunk roads.”