Five years of transformational people power in Dumfries has been celebrated, with supporters declaring: “We’ve only just begun”.
The amazing achievements so far of Midsteeple Quarter Community Benefit Society in helping to revive the High Street were toasted during a special birthday bash on Saturday (April 8).
Members and supporters enjoyed cake, chat and family fun as they marked the milestone and highlighted even greater hopes for the future.
Guests included the Provost of Dumfries, Councillor Maureen Johnstone. Passers-by also called in to find out more, while Dumfries poet Joe McGurk, a Midsteeple Quarter board member, also read a poem especially-written for the occasion.
Since officially coming into being on April 7 2018, the organisation has become a pivotal player in the creation of a stronger future for Dumfries town centre.
Midsteeple Quarter has taken five formerly neglected buildings in the High Street into community ownership – with a plan to transform them into new homes and enterprise spaces.
The first phase of that is coming to life at the former Baker’s Oven – 135-139 High Street – which is due for completion early next year.
Among those who joined in the celebrations hosted in 109 High Street was Dumfries architect Dion Corbett, a long-term supporter of Midsteeple Quarter who now sits on its board of directors.
She first became involved in the project while working with The Stove Network, which played a pivotal part in capturing the community’s imagination about the initiative – and created a drawing regularly used to depict its vision, including on the High Street construction site hoardings.
Dion said: “I’m so pleased at what Midsteeple Quarter has achieved so far.
“This has grown from a seed of an idea among a group of visionary people. To see it becoming reality on the scale it has in a such a short space of time is beyond what anyone could have expected.
“With the building work we have underway, people can see that things are happening and that there’s real investment in the town centre. That’s so positive. And there’s so much more to come.”
The Midsteeple Quarter model of community ownership is frequently flagged as trailblazing on the national stage, with places across the country being urged to follow Dumfries’ lead.
Chair, Peter Kormylo, said: “Given that so much has been achieved in a relatively short space of time, it’s hard to believe that the society is only five.
“We’re incredibly proud of what the people of Dumfries have achieved – and it’s great to take a breath and celebrate that. But what’s even more exciting is that this is just the beginning.
“Over the years ahead – with the continued support of townsfolk and others – we will gradually transform Midsteeple Quarter, creating a vibrant new High Street community. A place where more people will live, work and visit.
“This can be at the heart of a better, fairer future for our town centre.”
Celebrations took place on what was a busy day in the High Street with The Guild Dumfries also launching the new season of the Dumfries Makers Market, with more than 20 makers, artists and food and drink producers taking part with stalls including those set up in The Press.
The regular Dumfries Market was also taking place on the High Street.
As well as 135-139 High Street, Midsteeple Quarter owns 109 High Street, 111 High Street, The Smithy, The Press and 51 Bank Street.
As part of the birthday celebrations, Midsteeple Quarter is entering all of its members into a free prize draw, with two gift cards to spend in Flourish – one for £100, the other £50 – up for grabs.
New members have until April 28th to sign up and become eligible to be entered. Find out more at www.midsteeplequarter.org.