Garnock Connection is two years old
Last week saw us celebrate two years of Garnock Connections with a virtual gathering of partners, friends and other interested parties.
The afternoon began with a friendly welcome from Dave Beaumont, RSPB Scotland's Operations Director for South Scotland, and chair of Garnock Connections' board. Following Dave was Simon Lees of Countryside Training, who presented his findings from the project's mid-term review. So much has happened in the last couple of years, so it was a great opportunity to take stock of everything that's been achieved so far.
Next came four fascinating talks from some of our delivery partners, highlighting the amazing work they are doing to enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the Garnock Connections landscape. The Scottish Wildlife Trust's Reserves Manager for South West Scotland, Gill Smart, filled everyone in on the latest happenings from Garnock's Buzzing, a joint venture with SRUC and Buglife to help local communities build new habitats for pollinators. After Gill, we heard from Peter Livingstone, co-founder and CEO of Eadha Enterprises. Peter is running our Growing for Garnock project and told us about the different species he's planting across the project area, and the fantastic volunteers helping him along the way.
Next was Jessica Gillespie, Active Travel Officer for North Ayrshire Council. Jess is leading the All Ability Access project and has been working hard to purchase special wheelers that can travel over mud, gravel, sand and more. These wheelers will allow more people than ever before to access some of our most beautiful beaches, parks and woodlands.
And last but not least, our former Wildlife Recording Assistant, Elouise Cartner, detailed her experiences on the Heritage Trainees project and what she achieved for Go Wild in Garnock. Elouise is now working for RSPB Scotland as their Kelvingrove Project Officer, so it was wonderful to hear how her time with Garnock Connections helped prepare her for this.
Follwing the break (and a quick refresher on how to use the breakout rooms on Zoom), all of the participants had a chance to discuss their thoughts on Garnock Connections. This was really useful for the team as we got some great feedback on what has worked well, what hasn't, and where we should focus our efforts going forward. With representatives from a wide range of communities, backgrounds and projects in attendance, there were lots of excellent suggestions put forward.
With new habitats created, new archaelogical discoveries and lots of new volunteers engaged, the first half of Garnock Connections has certainly had its successes. However, we have no desire to rest on what we've already achieved. Instead, we want to do more. So keep your eyes open for more volunteer opportunities, more wildlife recording classes, more footpath networks, and maybe even more projects that haven't even been thought up yet.
Thank you so much to everyone who came along to last week's celebration, and to all those who have contributed your time and effort to Garnock Connections. Your commitment to enhancing the special qualities of your local area, especially in these difficult times, is inspiring.
You can learn more about all of our projects by visiting our Projects page. Or check out the links below to see the presentations from last week's event.