Since forming in 2003, Callander Community Development Trust has organised Farmers Markets, run the town’s annual Spring Clean, extended the Festive Lights display and secured funding for numerous other projects.
More recently, the CCDT set up Creative in Callander to support the area’s many artists and crafters, a venture which has been so successful, the group of 40 has already become an independent co-op and runs its own shop.
Now the Trust has its sights set on acquiring Callander’s landmark building, St. Kessog’s church, and redeveloping it as a cultural events and community centre (something which the town has never had).
In fact, having taken out a three-months lease on the building from owners, Stirling Council, the Trust is currently holding the Callander Summerfest there, a brand new event for the community and visitors, created specifically for the church premises, which will run from July 12 to October 12.
Says CCTD secretary, Anne Docherty: “When St. Kessog’s closed about 20 years ago, the council acquired it and part of it was used as a tourist information office. It also has a marvellous little theatre with comfy, raked seating for up to 70 people which had been used by the film society.
“However, when Visit Scotland moved to more suitable premises in the town a few years ago, the film society was given notice to quit and the church was put up for sale.”
“We hope that Summerfest – which looks set to be a great success (as well as running arts and crafts workshops, exhibitions and so on, it is also hosting both the jazz and film festivals) – will demonstrate to Stirling Council what a great asset a redeveloped St. Kessog’s church would be to the community, both culturally and commercially.”
The Trust’s ideas for the church which dominates the town square, include the creation of studios, workshops and office spaces to let which would encourage and support entrepreneurship in a community that is already very entrepreneurial.
The redevelopment, featuring a permanent exhibition gallery, would also encourage tourists to linger longer in Callander (although reducing charges for the town’s two council-run car parks would also help, say local people).
Wanting to get even more projects up and running, Callander CDT held a ‘charette’ in 2011 and decided they needed a paid co-ordinator. Funding was raised from a variety of sources and in March last year, Sheila Winstone was appointed on a three-days-a-week basis.
Says Anne Docherty: “Sheila has been brilliant and we’ll make the most of her many talents until the funding for her post runs out in March 2015.”
For up to date information on what the Trust is doing visit www.callandercdt.org.uk