Editorial: Smiling faces all around in the week Moray proved it’s fighting back

Sunday Supplement

Our detailed look back on the stories that we have been talking about in Moray…..

Seafest Lossiemouth

Reflecting over the last week on insideMoray what sticks out loud and clear is that our region is fighting back from years of neglect.

When UK defence ministers took the decision to cancel the Nimrod replacement programme and close RAF Kinloss you could almost hear the collective intake of breath throughout our region.

Then when the very real threat of also losing RAF Lossiemouth began to sink in we perhaps became aware that for far too long we had been taking a great deal for granted.

One massive public campaign and a few years further down the line, Moray has accepted that important as the military is and has been we have to do a great deal more to help ourselves.

From the ashes of those tumultuous months of uncertainty grew such as the Moray Economic Partnership (MEP).

This coming together by Moray Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Moray College UHI, Moray Chambers of Commerce and Skills Development Scotland produced a simple mission – to support and diversify the Moray economy with an aim to ensuring that never again would we depend on one single strand for our economic wellbeing.

Three years later we have seen investment in Moray grow both in traditional and new industries.

The MEP has been a vital leader in promoting Moray to existing and new businesses, demonstrating that while we would rather keep our military bases there is a heck of a lot more to the region that that.

People Power in Forres

Now we are seeing individuals in Moray buying into the idea that we need to do more ourselves to promote Moray – and at no time has this become more transparent than in this first week of July 2014.

It started last Saturday when the second ‘Piping Hot Forres’ event drew over 20,000 people to Grant Park in Forres. Perhaps only the annual Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival has come even close to showcasing Moray as a world-class destination for visitors from every part of the globe.

The incredible hard work and investment that has gone into our hosting of the European Pipe Band Championships has paid off – and as exclusively revealed on insideMoray last week, it could be with us for a few years to come with David Urquhart saying that a bid is to be made for a further three years beyond the current franchise due to end in 2015.

Piping Hot Forres has been about Moray business and Moray people coming together to create the perfect stage for an international event – and it has been about proving that not only can we do this, we can do it well.

And now local level community councils and other community groups are not only recognising that they can make a difference – they are actually doing it.

Events this weekend further demonstrated that in Burghead and Lossiemouth.

People Power in Burghead

In Burghead the decision was taken to open the traditional gala week with something special, something that could give local people and tourists a reason to visit the historic harbour that is one of the few still supporting a fishing industry.

A good bit of investment in time and money went into the Fishing Heritage day, including arranging a visit from the herring drifter ‘Reaper’. Organisers are too careful at this stage to declare the event such a success that it will deserve a regular place on the events calendar – but one suspects and hopes that it will.

Burghead’s Fishing Heritage Day is a fantastic idea that deserves to be the summer equivalent of the now well established ‘Harbour Leap’ – with the obvious difference that people can enjoy activities on the water in warmer climes than in the water during a typical Moray winter!

People Power in Lossiemouth

The sun also shone on the Jewel of the Moray Firth on Saturday – and for once the Jewel was shining right back. People power in Lossie is alive and well if the inaugural Seafest was anything to go by.

Thousands turned out at Station Park to enjoy a day that showcased the fantastic and diverse nature of Moray’s food and sense of fun – against a backdrop that  has been hailed by world tourism publications as one of the most stunning areas of natural beauty to be found anywhere.

Seafest appears to have come out of nowhere but it was the result of a great deal of hard work by local people and the wider Moray community, with special mention being made here for local councillor John Cowe in particular.

Councillor Cowe demonstrated a remarkable tenacity in pushing the event through to its conclusion – and through his urging there was no shortage of volunteers to help make the day one of the most successful Lossiemouth has seen in many years.

People Power in Moray

Throughout the region this week we also saw thousands out on our streets in almost every village and town as the Queen’s Baton passed through.

I will confess that I was never really a ‘fan’ of this world-wide event promoting the Commonwealth Games.  But then I became converted when seeing the sea of happy faces as the procession moved through our communities, sometimes there is just no explanation available for why the simplest of plans make absolute sense to millions!

So a fantastic week in which Moray has shown an eager willingness to fight back – and there is of course many more examples in other parts of the region that are not highlighted here, many more events happening in Moray this summer that are new and exciting – and providing proof positive that we are winning the fight.

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