THE folk of Forth are ‘sitting pretty’ and relaxing today thanks to their ancestors’ hard work in one of the dirtiest and most dangerous industries of the past.
The iron-making which virtually created Forth and its neighbour Wilsontown died out many decades ago but this distant history still qualifies the area for help through the UK Steel Enterprise fund, set up to help former steel manufacturing areas.
Although in Lanarkshire most of this help understandably goes to the vicinity of the former mighty Ravenscraig Steelworks, the fund still makes grants to aid the Forth area, the latest of which, along with a contribution from South Lanarkshire Council, not only gave villagers some new working skills but also five new locations where local folk can take their ease on unique wooden public benches.
The grant of £4,200 went to the Forth Gateway Group which has developed a number of community projects since it established in 1999. Tasked with enabling local people to become more involved in their community, the group previously ran stone-carving courses for locals to create ornamental stones for community gardens in the area.
Said a group spokewwoman: “The success of the project led to participants wanting to expand their skill set into wood-carving and funding from UK Steel Enterprise fund enabled the group to roll out the `Sitting Pretty Project’, inviting local people to wood-carving classes and take on the craft to decorate the five wooden benches.”
Around 30 local people aged between 18 and 81, designed, carved and installed five benches which are now sited in community gardens and popular walkways, creating a two mile circular walk around Forth.
The wooden seats were built in sustainable green oak and each has a unique design inspired by nature and the local history.
Anne Clyde, regional manager at UK Steel Enterprise, said: “I was truly impressed by the Sitting Pretty Project as a unique and multi-beneficial community programme. The 30 participants involved were able to learn and practice wood-carving, a skill they can take with them through life and the finished pieces will encourage the local people out into the countryside and experience nature.”
Yvonne Howley from the South Lanarkshire Council’s Developing Local Communities Fund said: “We are all about supporting local community projects which improve the environment and develop local opportunities for education and learning.
“The Sitting Pretty Project combines the two perfectly with their skills workshops and the finished pieces, which will be enjoyed by the local community for a long time to come.”