Schools inspire welcome panel for Tapestry visitor centre

School finalists from across the Borders have provided ideas to inspire a welcome panel for the new national visitor destination which will house the Great Tapestry of Scotland in Galashiels.

Scottish Borders Council asked schools across the area to come up with themes which will all be incorporated into the welcome sign for the visitor centre in Galashiels, which will be put together by artist Andrew Crummy and historian Alistair Moffat.

A panel of judges included Mr Crummy, Mr Moffat, Susie Finlayson - who was one of more than 1,000 stitchers who worked on the Tapestry – and representatives from charity Live Borders and Scottish Borders Council (SBC), who all highly commended the designs from the six schools.

Edenside Primary in Kelso focussed on the importance on River Tweed, while Sprouston Primary’s pupils were inspired by their personal connections to the Tapestry.

Galashiels Academy’s team looked at the places and attractions in the Borders, and also focussed on the importance of the Borders Railway and Common Ridings and Festivals to the area.

St Mary’s School looked at their hometown of Melrose, its history and the beautiful landscape it sits within, while Glendinning Primary in Galashiels were inspired by the Borders textiles industry and their discovery during research for the project that a Galashiels weaver named Robert Coulter wrote the famous Scots folk song Ally Bally Bee.

Finally, Heriot and Fountainhall’s joint entry included the beauty of the Gala Water, alongside the railway, which are both local to their communities.

Councillor Euan Jardine, SBC’s Executive Member for Culture and Sport, said: “The finalists all worked incredibly hard to produce some brilliant designs, which will give Andrew Crummy plenty to work with to create a striking new welcome panel for the visitor centre.

“It was fantastic to hear Ally Bally Bee being used as an inspiration for one of the designs, with the Coulter Candy Trail to be created in Galashiels alongside other streetscape improvements agreed this week.

“The Great Tapestry of Scotland is integral element of the new national visitor destination being built in Galashiels, which will create fantastic educational facilities for schools in the Scottish Borders.

“This event was an example of how the Tapestry can inspire young people to think about the fantastic culture, art, heritage and history we have in the Borders.”

Mr Crummy added: “All the entries were fantastic in different ways.

“The ethos of the Great Tapestry of Scotland is helping each other and it is clear that is what the pupils did as part of their designs.

“It is also great to see pupils learn more about the area they live in through this project. It is clear they are proud of the Scottish Borders.“This was a really exciting project and I think the pupils have opened up a fantastic treasure box of ideas.”

Ewan Jackson, Chief Executive of charity Live Borders, said: “We very much enjoyed being part of the judging process and it was fantastic to see so much creativity from schools across the region. It will be brilliant to see their designs come to fruition.

“Education will be an important and central part of the Great Tapestry of Scotland offering and so it’s great to see schools involved at this early stage in the project.”

The regeneration of Galashiels was kickstarted this month with the demolition of the former Poundstretcher building where the visitor centre will be located.

The new national visitor destination will host the Great Tapestry of Scotland, alongside a range of other elements that will significantly enhance the visitors’ experience to Galashiels.

Drone footage and photography has captured the demolition as the building was pulled down piece by piece over a seven-week period, which was ahead of schedule. Construction of the new £6.7million landmark building – which will also see the former Post Office being brought back into use – is now expected to begin in October.