I’ve lived long enough now to see many worthy initiatives come and go and I must admit that when community councils appeared some years back I had my doubts.
However, let me be the first to acknowledge the fantastic success achieved by many throughout the district in recent times and especially in the area of history and heritage.
For example, back in 2005 Tom Grieve, Moira Heeps and their colleagues on the Brightons Community Council managed to have a special memorial erected in the Quarry Park as a permanent reminder that the prosperity of their village was based on the great sandstone quarry.
From here stone that helped build the new town of Edinburgh was shipped along the canal or carted to Falkirk for many a new church and, of course, the town steeple. Then last year Danny Callaghan and the Reddingmuirhead and Wallacestone Community Council persuaded Tesco to include a special heritage wall inside their new store telling the story of the Redding Pit Disaster and Nobel’s explosive works.
More recently I wrote about the new Dale Bridge across the Carron replacing the historic bridge which had been badly damaged. Many groups and individuals played a part but without a doubt it was the determination of Christine Bell, Colin Belbin and their team on Denny and District Community Council that saw the project through to completion.
There were huge obstacles to overcome but their tenacity in keeping up the pressure was the clincher.
And the same can be said for the latest success. Out in the far east recently I had the pleasure of attending the unveiling of the magnificent replica of the Roman Bridgeness distance slab which now stands in Kinningars Park on Harbour Road near where the original was found in 1868.
The new stone is an exact replica of the original which is one of the treasures in the national museum in Edinburgh.
The central panel tells us that the second legion, the Augustan, built 4652 paces of the wall for the ‘Emperor Antoninus Pius, father of his people’.
It commemorates the first length of the Antonine Wall from Carriden to the River Avon, about four miles to the west.
On either side are fantastic carved panels, the left hand one shows an unfortunate Caledonian tribesman being speared and then beheaded by a Roman cavalrymen, and on the right hand we see the Emperor offering a sacrifice for the success of a great project, probably the building of the wall.
The replica which was created by high technology laser scanning of the original is set in a beautiful sandstone surround and there are information boards to tell the story of the wall and the stone. It takes a lot to get me excited these days but this magnificent celebration of our heritage is a complete knockout. Please go and see it.
Once again many people and organisations played a part in this success but it would certainly not have happened without the persistence and hard work of Madelene Hunt and her colleagues on Bo’ness Community Council.
Like the ones mentioned earlier in this article, and maybe others that I have missed or are in the pipeline, the Bo’ness success has proved the old adage that where there’s a will, a way can be found.
The Community Councils have given a gift from the past to the future, and that is a very worthy cause indeed.
They deserve our thanks and good wishes for more of the same!