Shot in the arm for our Little Festival’s funding in 17th year

A helping hand...Biggar Little Festival committee members receive the Co-Operative Society Community Awards bumper cheque from Carol Diack.
A helping hand...Biggar Little Festival committee members receive the Co-Operative Society Community Awards bumper cheque from Carol Diack.

It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child, so it stands to reason it takes a town to pull off a festival.

That’s certainly the case for Biggar Little Festival, a community effort which is looking forward to its 17th year in 2019.

Organised by the people of the town for the whole community to enjoy, it costs thousands to stage annually.

But the eight-strong committee, ably backed by scores of volunteers, are very well supported.

Indeed, the team have just received a £4254 cheque from the Co-operative Society Community Awards.

The award was made in recognition of the hard work the committee, volunteers and community invests to make the festival a success, year on year.

Festival committee members Judy Jordan, Katy Brown and Tracey McMaster received the bumper cheque from Carol Diack, Bigger Co-op store manager.

Carol said: “We are truly delighted to see BLF receive one of our rewards. The Co-op recognises that so many charitable organisations are doing great work in Biggar.

“The award scheme is our way of saying thanks in return for the support we at the Co-op receive from the community in Biggar.

“People who take the time to vote help make this award scheme possible so a huge thanks goes to them too.”

Accepting the cheque, Judy said: “We are extremely grateful to be voted for again this year and we extend our warmest thanks to the Co-op and the many people who voted for us.”

Another ardent festival supporter has boosted the coffers by more than £900.

Artist Carol Taylor donated a limited edition artwork for the team to raffle at the 2018 festival.

Frances Reid, a teacher at Lanark Grammar School, was the lucky winner of Carol’s beautiful triptych, for which more than 900 £1 raffle tickets were sold.

Barbara Duffner, the BLF committee’s secretary, was on hand to present the prize.

She said: “We are tremendously grateful that an artist of Carol’s calibre gives so generously of her time and talent to support the festival.

“I’m certain Frances and her friends and family will have many happy hours enjoying this fine work.”

For a number of years, Carol has shown her art and opened her studio to the public as a member of the Open Arts Trail.

Exclusive to the festival, it gives local artists an opportunity to display their talents to a wider audience.

Carol is a graduate and former lecturer of Edinburgh College and has a masters degree from the Royal College of Art.

Having worked for a time in the Royal Botanical Herbarium, she has also exhibited in the UK and Europe. It is the seventh year she has donated artwork.

Carol said: “I have had enormous support from the festival team and I decided to donate a piece of my work to help raise funds for them.

“It’s a tradition I have continued, successfully, for seven years now.

“My work has managed to reach a much wider audience because of the festival and it is my way of saying thank you to the organisers.”

Work is already under way in terms of planning for the ten-day festival in 2019 – its 17th year.

Chairman Jim Softley has already secured one of the headliners but is sworn to secrecy until next year.

He said: “My job is trying to find a big enough name to give the festival a wee bit of kudos, while also ensuring it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

“We can only seat 250 in the Municipal Hall so it’s a juggling act to make sure we attract someone who people really want to see, while ensuring we cover our costs.

“It’s a fantastic venue but I sometimes wish it was the size of the Memorial Hall in Lanark as we would be able to sell so many more tickets.

“For example, for the Kevin Bridges comedy night a few years ago, we could have easily sold out three nights in a row!

“We’ve always been good at attracting talent to Biggar just before they hit the big time and we plan to continue that tradition.

“I can’t tell you who we’ve lined up for next year though – my lips are sealed!”

The committee will meet early in the new year to discuss the 2019 festival, from October 17 to 27.

And Jim is hopeful that people who want to join the committee, volunteer or take part will get in touch.

He added: “We receive a lot of support from the community, as well as South Lanarkshire Council and funding bodies such as the Clyde Windfarm Trust and the Glenkerie Windfarm.

“But we would love to hear from anyone who would like to get involved in next year’s festival, in any capacity.”

If you would like to find out more, please contact Jim on 01899 220813.