Heritage day will bring history to life

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Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is urging people across Argyll and Bute to come face to face with history as details of the inaugural Heritage Awareness Day were revealed.

Heritage Awareness Day – Scotland’s first day dedicated to celebrating heritage – will take place on Friday October 6, as the country continues to celebrate the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Melanie and Eliza Chiswell, aged 20, and four-year-olds Blair and Samuel McCullough

Leith Theatre took centre stage for the launch, which saw identical twins Melanie and Eliza Chiswell, aged 20, and four-year-olds Blair and Samuel McCullough face a mirror image of the past as part of an open invitation to place a spotlight on Scotland’s heritage on October 6.

Heritage Awareness Day has been launched with the aim of showcasing Scotland’s rich and diverse history and encouraging individuals, organisations and communities across the country to share and celebrate heritage in all its different forms.

With the countdown now officially under way, groups, individuals, communities and schools across Argyll and Bute are being encouraged to delve into the past and explore their heritage as part of this nationwide initiative.

Whether it’s highlighting local heritage projects, theming a community event or gathering, encouraging schools to research or dress up as a historical character to raise funds for a community project of their choice, or taking the opportunity to share and celebrate heritage through a virtual conversation online, Heritage Awareness Day is a chance to collectively celebrate Scotland’s vibrant and varied past.

Chief executive of Historic Environment Scotland Alex Paterson said: ‘Scotland’s first-ever Heritage Awareness Day will provide a platform for people across the country to celebrate heritage in all its different forms.

‘Heritage means different things to different people and spans everything from places, traditions, buildings and landscapes to family history, people and archaeology. It promotes a sense of place, shapes and defines communities, and we want the day to be a celebration of this.

‘It also continues to play an important role in shaping Scotland’s story, not only telling the story of the past, but also makes an important and diverse contribution today from being a key tourism driver, to inspiring fantastic local projects and helping to make a positive contribution to communities up and down the country through the reuse of historic buildings.

‘Venues such as Leith Theatre very much demonstrate the ethos of this campaign, where the community has been empowered to preserve their local heritage and give a new lease of life to this historic building.

‘We hope that what is being achieved here in Leith encourages other groups and individuals throughout Scotland to get involved on October 6 and highlight and celebrate heritage.’

The launch marking the countdown to the big day took place at Edinburgh’s Leith Theatre, a historic venue currently entering a new chapter in its story.

Gifted to the people of Leith following the decision in 1920 to incorporate the burgh of Leith into Edinburgh, it opened its doors in 1932, and welcomed acts ranging from Thin Lizzy to AC/DC. Following its heyday, it continued to serve sporadically as a venue for events such as the Edinburgh Festival until 1988 when it finally closed its doors.

The Leith Theatre Trust is now embarking on plans to bring the site into re-use, and have launched a fundraising campaign to create a cultural hub at the theatre, which recently received grant funding through a new scheme, the Scottish Community Development Grant, administered by the Architectural Heritage Fund and supported by Historic Environment Scotland to help the project move into its next phase.

To help facilitate opportunities to get involved, a series of resources offering ideas and inspiration have been created, available to download at www.historicenvironment.scot/heritageday.

For more information, and to take part in the countdown to October 6, follow us on Twitter at @HistEnvScot, and explore the hashtag #HeritageDay17.