The National Lottery has confirmed something that Bairns have know for a long time – Falkirk’s a Great Place.
Now thanks to a windfall, the area has over £460,000 to celebrate its unique heritage.
The Great Place scheme has been devised by the Heritage Lottery Fund to create better places for people to live and visit.
This week the first nine ‘special places’ to receive a share of the £2.4 million funding were unveiled – and Falkirk will get the largest share of the pot.
Money will be used to celebrate the “rich and varied heritage through investment in physical, social and digital networks while raising awareness of career opportunities in modern industry”.
It will also fund four jobs – one full and three part-time.
The area’s bid was spearheaded by Falkirk Community Trust, working in partnership with Falkirk Council, Scottish Canals and Central Scotland Green Network.
Lesley O’Hare, culture and libraries manager with the trust, said the partners already collaborated but the funding would allow them to “move to the next level” to ensure there was a lasting legacy.
She added it would provide a valuable investment at times of budget restraints to allow the trust to work even more with the voluntary sector.
“We will try to build capacity in the voluntary sector, which will hopefully help the likes of Friends of Kinneil and other organisations to work with us going forward.”
The inspiration behind the new scheme is using an area’s unique heritage to shape a successful future and contribute to tackling wider issues such as poverty, employment, health and education.
Falkirk’s culture chief said: “We’ve known for a long time this area is great, now we want to make it greater.
“It’s all about learning from the past. This area has a wealth of stories – Grangemouth Heritage Trust has huge amounts of information and we want to pull it all together into a virtual community storytelling archive where people can lodge stories and images.”
Heritage routes will also be set up to encourage people to combine exploring the past with walking, cycling and other activity.
There will also be an initiative to encourage a new generation of young people working in the area’s industries.
Other areas deemed to be Great Places are: Outer Hebrides; Paisley and Renfrewshire; Galloway and Southern Ayrshire; Glasgow; Dunfermline; Badenoch; Greenock; and Preston, Seton and Gosford.
Falkirk district already has its recognisable heritage attractions – the Antonine Wall, canals and railways and its iconic buildings, including Callendar House, Kinneil House and the Falkirk Wheel.
Now it hopes to capitalise on all of them.
Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “Heritage and culture gives the place a unique identity and makes it special for the people that live there. It’s the roots if you like.
“This scheme will show how building on those roots can have a hugely positive impact on the local economy in terms of health, employment and education, as well as instilling community cohesion and pride.”
A Falkirk Council spokesperson said it would not only strengthen links with community and heritage organisations but “art and cultural events will be supported to attract more visitors to the area and encourage local people to explore our rich Falkirk heritage”.
Richard Millar from Scottish Canals and Simon Rennie of Central Scotland Green Network Trust are also delighted to be involved in the project.
Both agreed it was the next step to ensure the Falkirk area remains a top tourist destination, bringing with it a boost to the economy.