Glenkens 'going places' predicts south west MP

One of the jewels in South West Scotland's tourism crown is going from strength to strength.

This was stated by Dumfries and Galloway constituency MP Alister Jack after his latest visit to the scenic, but remote, Glenkens area, north west of Castle Douglas.

At the showpiece CatStrand arts and visitor centre in New Galloway Mr Jack was brought up-to-date with the latest developments and plans.

He met general manager Brian Edgar, chairman Alan Smith and youth co-ordinator Aidan Nicol.

They explained how the centre, in a converted old school building, was successfully catering for a wide range of interests for all age groups within the Glenkens communities.

It was also a popular regional venue for the arts, activities and entertainment with events ranging from a recent gaelic conference to a forthcoming concert by singer Kiki Dee.

Mr Jack said: "It has been a remarkable success story since first opening in 2007 and later, thanks to great resolve by everyone involved, it recovered and expanded after being flooded and badly damaged in a storm.

"They have turned being in a remote, yet beautiful, location from being what some would see as a disadvantage into being a distinct unique selling point.

"As well as catering for the local area the CatStrand attracts visitors from far and wide."

In addition, the umbrella organisation behind the centre, Glenkens Community and Arts Trust, runs a successful transport initiative with six minibuses.

They were also gifted a long-term lease on the Old Smiddy Cottage in the neighbouring village of Balmaclellan which will be transformed into a heritage and cultural centre.

Work will begin this week on the refurbishment which will include IT facilities, exhibition areas, a film and recording studio and a meeting area.

The £450,000 grant-supported project will provide a community hub, encourage youth activities, traditional crafts and create employment for the area.

During his visit, Mr Jack was shown the former phone box at New Galloway which has been converted into a 'youth booth.'

The kiosk, bought from BT for £1 for the CatStrand youth group, has been painted blue and fitted with stained glass windows.

Local young people led the way with the conversion and the box now provides a youth information hub and a mobile phone charging point.

With the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership also increasing their activities, the MP predicted the Glenkens looked set to be 'going places.'



YOUTH BOOTH . . . Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack, centre, beside the converted village phonebook, now an information hub for young people. Also, left to right, Alan Smith, chairman, Aidan Nicol, youth co-ordinator, Ann Jack and Brian Edgar, general manager

SUCCESS STORY . . . the CatStrand arts and visitor centre in New Galloway