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Loanhead “at home” Gala week

LOANHEAD “AT HOME” GALA WEEK 2020

As June approaches we would normally be looking forward to our annual Gala celebrations which mean so much to so many people in Loanhead and which form such an important anchor point in our town’s annual calendar. To counter the cancellation of our usual programme, we have devised a special Gala Week for 2020 with “at home” activities and virtual alternatives which seek to mirror the events of our normal Gala Week schedule. We hope you will enjoy taking part in some or all of the following activities, that they will help to lift spirits and remind us that the current very difficult times will eventually pass. The current crisis has certainly reminded us all of the importance of community and the people of Loanhead have once more demonstrated the strength and resilience of our community with so many acts of kindness and support to our neighbours.

HANG OUT THE FLAGS

We invite all residents to assist in creating as much as we can of the special atmosphere which normally prevails in Loanhead during Gala Week. Whilst it will not be possible for us to erect the street bunting in June this year, all residents are asked to decorate their own homes with bunting for the period from Friday 12 June until Sunday 21 June. What better way to demonstrate our solidarity as a community and help to lift everyone’s spirits.

FRIDAY 12 JUNE – CARNIVAL PARADE

All children (and also such adults as wish to take part) are invited to dress up in fancy dress at some point on this day. The exact timing and how long you stay in costume is entirely up to you. Please post your photos in your fancy dress costumes on the Gala Day facebook page and share the fun.

SUNDAY 14 JUNE – FAMILY FUN RUN

As part of your daily exercise on Sunday 14 June, stage your own Fun Run with other members of your household. You decide the time of day and the route, which can be anything from several laps of your garden to some laps of one of our local parks. Make your own race number and pin it to the front of your top. Send a private message to Anne Allard through the Gala Day facebook page advising the name, address and number of children taking part and we shall deliver a Fun Run medal for each child participant. Please note, our stock of medals is limited to 120 so medals will be allocated strictly on a first come first served basis. Please post your photos on the Gala Day facebook page.

SUNDAY 14 JUNE – BOWLING COMPETITION

At the time of release of these details, it would appear likely that lawn bowls should once more be a permitted activity by the time we reach mid June. Whilst the usual Gala open pairs’ competition may not necessarily take place this year, we hope that there will be play on both of the town’s bowling greens on 14 June.

MONDAY 15 JUNE – NOVELTY DOG SHOW

This year it will be a virtual dog show. On Monday 15 June, please post photos of your dog or dogs on the Gala Day facebook page. If you wish, your dog may be in fancy dress. Please remember to tell us your dog’s name. No judging or prizes this year. This is just for fun and to let everyone see all of the great dogs in Loanhead.

TUESDAY 16 JUNE – JUMBLE FOOTBALL

In place of the usual Jumble Football competition, we are issuing a challenge to all footballers up to P7 to create your own soccer skills’ obstacle course around your garden, or on an open area of grass close to your home or in one of the parks. Incorporate rows of small obstacles to dribble the ball round, perhaps build some small hurdles with a garden cane or stick balanced between some boxes or plant pots for you to jump over whilst passing the ball underneath, include a section for you to run or walk backwards whilst keeping the ball at your feet, perhaps you have a wall that you can play the ball against and take the return and finish with a section where you sprint with the ball. You may have your own ideas for other features. Use your imagination. Time yourself around the course and then try to improve your time. Try it with a tennis ball in addition to a full size football. Let us know how you get on and post your photos on the Gala facebook page.

WEDNESDAY 17 JUNE – PROMENADE CONCERT

Instead of our usual open air concert at Fountain Green, we are calling on all musicians in Loanhead to entertain their neighbours with open air performances at your front door or in your garden between 7pm and 8pm on Wednesday 17 June. If you play an instrument of any kind, this is your chance to take part. Or perhaps you would prefer to lead a sing song or even make use of that karaoke machine which is gathering dust in the cupboard. No need to enter or book a slot, but please contact the Gala Day facebook page to let us know what is happening in your street and post your photos.

THURSDAY 18 JUNE – TEA DANCE

The Tea Dance is usually a highlight of the Gala Week for many of our senior citizens. This year, on Thursday 18 June we invite those of you who are able to do so to prepare one or more individual afternoon tea plates or boxes with a small selection of sandwiches, scones and cakes and deliver these to neighbours who are elderly, or who are key workers or just to anyone living close to you who you think might need cheering up. Perhaps an opportunity for some family home-baking projects?

FRIDAY 19 JUNE – TEDDY BEARS’ PICNIC

This event is for the younger children. Invite your own bears to a Teddy Bears’ Picnic in your house or garden on Friday 19 June. Perhaps have some story telling or games to entertain your teddy guests. Send your photos to the Gala Day facebook page and don’t forget to let us know the names of the bears taking part.

THE SCARECROW TRAIL

We invite anyone who wishes to take part to make a scarecrow or similar figure and place it in your front garden to be viewed by passers-by. Any size and any theme you like. The scarecrow can be in place for the entire week if you wish but we would ask that, if at all possible, it is on display from Thursday 18 – Sunday 21 June. Please send your photos to the Gala Day facebook page with a note of the street where the scarecrow or figure is situated. This is not a competition, just a fun activity to entertain those making the scarecrows and those who see them around the town.

CHILDREN’S GALA ART CHALLENGE

All Loanhead children (pre-school, primary and secondary) are invited to paint or draw a picture with a Loanhead Gala theme. Entries should be no larger than A4 and may be in either portrait or landscape format. Entries should be delivered to Alan McLaren at 23 Polton Road, Loanhead not later than Sunday 21 June. The name and school class (2019-20 school year) of the child artist should be written on the back of each painting or drawing. The painting or drawing should not be folded. We will seek to exhibit the entries when it is possible to do so and feature a selection in the next Gala Programme which is published.

LOCAL HISTORY WALK

As many of you will remember, last year’s celebrations were expanded to incorporate a wide range of additional activities to mark the 350th anniversary of the grant of Loanhead’s Royal Charter. One of those extra events was a guided local history walk. Alan McLaren had been intending to lead another such walk on a different route within Loanhead this year. In place of that, for anyone interested, he will provide a short written guide drawing attention to points of interest to allow you to undertake the walk at a time of your own choosing. Anyone wishing to receive a copy should contact Alan on 0131 440 3830 or by Email alanpmclaren@aol.com.

LOANHEAD CHILDREN’S DAY

Saturday 20 June would of course have been our Gala Day. As you probably already know, we have provisionally re-scheduled the activities planned for that day to Saturday 5 September. The vast majority of our bands, entertainers and external contractors have confirmed their availability for the new date.Whether and to what extent we can proceed on 5 September is of course entirely dependent on the progress made in tackling the coronavirus and the point which has been reached in the Scottish Government’s route map for easing the lockdown. We can of course only proceed if it is considered safe to do so and, in that regard, we must follow government advice and guidance. We continue to monitor the situation closely and hope that it may prove possible to proceed with even a restricted and modified form of event in September. A separate announcement on this matter will follow.

For Saturday 20 June we would recommend a walk around the town to view the bunting and the scarecrows. Whilst the traditional Gala parties for family and friends will not be possible this June, weather permitting, it might also be a day when families may elect to have a barbecue or picnic meal in your garden for members of your own household.

PLEASE SHARE AND FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK

To ensure as many people as possible in Loanhead are aware of these plans and might hopefully take part, please share these details as widely as possible. Please also make use of the Loanhead Gala Day facebook page to keep up to date with all activities as they happen.

DISCLAIMER

As everyone will appreciate, by their very nature, the events listed above will not be conducted under the direct management, supervision and control of the Gala Committee as would be the case with our usual Gala Week events. As such, it is necessary for us to state that anyone participating in any of these events does so entirely at their own risk. Loanhead Children’s Sports & Gala Day Association, its office bearers and members shall have no liability in connection with any injury or loss arising through participation in any of the events listed above.PUBLIC HEALTHWhilst taking part in any of the events listed above, all participants are reminded that Scottish Government public health guidance in relation to matters such as social distancing and hand hygiene should be followed at all times. Please help to keep everyone safe.


Committee Statement

Over many years Loanhead Gala has enjoyed considerable support from the people of Loanhead who have attended and participated in events in great numbers. Both the public and the local business community have provided strong financial support and many people have been willing to come forward and assist as volunteers at the time when Gala events have been taking place.

There has however been one area of particular difficulty and that concerns the number of people willing to actually serve on the Gala Committee and undertake the huge amount of administrative and organisational work and also the extensive fundraising required to allow the annual celebrations to take place. Numbers have been dropping steadily over several years, culminating in the 2019 Gala celebrations being organised and run by a committee of only 6 people.

This was the lowest ever number in the long history of the event and resulted in a handful of unpaid volunteers bearing responsibility for the entire organisation of one of Scotland’s largest community events.

The problem of a lack of committee members has been exacerbated by two additional factors. Firstly, two of the main office bearers who have given many years’ service are not getting any younger. They have over recent years indicated a desire to step back and pass responsibility for the Gala to the next generation.

Secondly, over the last decade, the level of regulation and bureaucracy which requires to be negotiated to allow large scale public events and, in particular, large public processions to take place has increased enormously. Various consents and licences require to be obtained. A detailed event plan resembling a small book has to be prepared and submitted to the Council and the emergency services.

Traffic orders, risk assessments, traffic management plans with diversion routes and detailed stewards’ instructions are all required, as are the likes of suitable indemnity insurance, first aid and ambulance cover. Detailed liaison is required with both the police and the council. That is all before dealing with the bands and many other groups which actually take part. The workload of the Gala Committee’s Parade Marshal who attends to all of the arrangements for the processions has increased enormously in recent years.

The Gala Committee acknowledges that, whilst many people will wish to see these events continue, there is an understandable reluctance on the part of many to take on responsibility for the extensive and onerous behind the scenes tasks which must be attended to.

A primary aim of the committee is to ensure the continuation of the Gala tradition in Loanhead for future generations. Taking all of the above factors into account, the committee members reached the conclusion that the best option open to them is to reduce the organisational workload. That will make the event more manageable for the current small committee in the short term and hopefully create an event structure which is more sustainable and not so much of a challenge for others to undertake in future years.

The organisational resources available to the committee will essentially be concentrated on the Children’s Day which is of course the most important element of the annual celebrations. It is intended that the scale and standard of the Children’s Day achieved in previous years will not be diminished. Whilst a Gala Week will be maintained with the retention of some of the smaller events, the other large scale event, the Carnival Parade will not be staged in 2020. This will achieve a considerable reduction in the organisational work required.

The committee fully understands the cancellation of the Carnival Parade will disappoint many people. Many residents hold happy memories of participating in the event in their own childhood and it is a much loved event. The decision has been taken with much reluctance and sadness, but we hope it will be understood that, after appealing for more committee members over several years, we were essentially left with no choice and the step was necessary to ensure the continuation of the Children’s Day itself.

It is intended to incorporate certain elements of the Carnival Parade in the main parade on the Children’s Day, so hopefully we can retain much of the fun and enjoyment of the Carnival and reinforce the position of the Children’s Day Grand Procession as Midlothian’s largest annual parade. It is of course the case that most towns have only one annual parade. Whilst Loanhead was not unique in having two, the situation was unusual.

The committee members hope the reasons for their course of action will be understood and that they can count on the full support of the Loanhead public to ensure the success of this year’s Gala.