Editorial: Moray has a great deal to smile about (despite politicians)

Sunday Supplement
The editor voices his views on Moray’s most topical events of the past week…..

Time to talk up Moray (pic: Chas Rodger)

Spring always seems to arrive with optimism so it would be churlish of me to pick on negative aspects of events in Moray in recent weeks.

So no conjecture about what the SNP might do with their new-found largest party status at Moray Council, no cynical analysis of the bloated promises, spin and downright lies that have already been spouted as the national political machines line up against each other ahead of May’s General Election.

Not even an Easter Sunday assault on council officials as they plot their way through the next round of decisions that will anger many and infuriate some in the coming long summer.

No, today is a day for pointing up the good things that are going down in Moray.

Such as the positive message from the Moray/Speyside Tourism Seminar held this week in Elgin. Not perhaps an event that captured the imagination of the general public – and yet perhaps it should have, as the message it produced was one of a bright future for our part of Scotland.

Blessed with some of the most stunning natural beauty this nation has to offer, Moray of old has without doubt underperformed in selling itself to the world. Until, at least, that wake-up call arrived a few years ago with the changes to our military footprint.

People here realised that we could not simply go on relying on the presence of a large number of military personnel to prop up our local economy. Business and community leaders worked harder at creating new industries – and we are now seeing the benefits of that as Moray is diversifying and reinventing itself, in particular in fields such as Science and Technology.

Sure, there has been a few setbacks but generally the pace has been firmly set to forward and the message is a positive one.

To encourage tourists new initiatives are being created not just by politicians but by communities themselves.

While events such as the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival and Piping at Forres are taking place this summer largely on the backs of civic and business leadership initiatives, without the support of the Moray public none of these things would enjoy anything like the success they have.

Likewise such as the Findhorn Bay Arts Festival and the recently created Laich Coast Tourism Group lend themselves firmly to communities getting off their backsides and doing something to promote Moray, rather than sitting back and complaining about local and national political leaders not doing enough.

It is no accident either that the World Orienteering Championships are being held, at least in part, in Moray. The work being done in this part of the world by Scottish Orienteering’s Mike Rodgers in encouraging our children to get out and about in an exciting and active sport is showing the rest of Scotland that this computing age need not signal the end of healthy, active children.

Not perhaps the most ‘sexy’ sport in the public eye, but orienteering is navigating itself rapidly into the direction we all want to go – forward, using our natural environment and inbuilt enthusiasm to succeed no matter what the moaning-Minnie’s might say.

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