Creating Stranraer - Listening and Visioning Meeting 21st July 2022

Warning! NOT a 5-minute read. 

You will need a cuppa and a biscuit to read this.

If you Love Stranraer, you will read to the end. 

Stranraer needs YOU!

         Making a town meeting fun

Special thanks to all at the Millennium Centre, for helping me create the right space for this important conversation. And to Mr. Gillespie from Gillespie Bakers for providing the delicious cakes to keep the ideas going. The Free Press donated free newspapers and it was a delight to see everyone reading them and catching up on local news while the room filled.

The meeting began with getting our heads around the importance of being motivated as we embark on this BIG journey of change. 

'Without Vision, man will perish.'

Recently, I quoted this on one of my videos. When my daughter saw the video, she said that I should say person, not man. Not wanting to offend anyone, I gave that a lot of thought. Firstly, it is a Biblical quote and who am I to change that? Also, after giving even more thought, the quote is about Humans. "Without vision, humans will perish". Now we have that out of the way, let's look at what that means. 

You see, the brain needs to be able to see what it is to do before it can send the right messages to create the right action. I explained a little of the science behind this. Everyone's brain has half a billion brain cells, called the visual cortex, at the back of the brain. Why am I sharing this?

Seeing is believing and believing is seeing. First, we must see what we want to create in the mind. When people come together for one common cause, and people's minds are connected, it forms a third mind, the collective mind. This is very powerful. 

Can you imagine the vision we can create with the positive mind of the town?

That was how I started the meeting and that got everyone excited to play an important part in this journey. 

The journey began by following on from the first meeting and forming groups to dive deep into the amazing assets of the town. To improve anything, you first start with an inventory. To improve your finances you need to take an honest look at where you are, what you have and what you don't have. To improve relationships, the first step is to look at the assets, the best bits, of the relationship and build on those. Improving a town is exactly the same. 

The Assets

These are the ones that were discussed. There are many more in the region. 

The Arts - Tourism - People/Community - Sport - Architecture and Heritage - Retail, Restaurants and Coffee shops - The Loch and the Landscape 

The Arts - These were some ideas shared. Please add your comments in the comments section below. 

1. Arts
  • We want the music back in the community, out there for all to see, hear and dance to.
  • All sectors of the Arts, visual, music, performing, writing etc, should provide things for the children of the town. 
  • There should be support for visual arts and artists to make these more affordable and create the ability to make a living and inspire new jobs. 
  • Create a network of artists who can support each other and inspire ideas. Create the opportunity to work together.
  • To add colour to the town and make it more visually appealing. 
There are visual artist meetings once a month. I would love to develop this to be a network for all art forms. Please add in the comments below if you are interested in that.

2. Tourism - this brainstorm provided LOADS of ideas. If you are in the tourist industry in the area, please run with the ideas that excite you and let me know how things go and how I can support your efforts. 

  • It was agreed that the loch is the town's best asset and it needs to be developed, with watersports (a lot is already underway. Click Here to find out more.) Fishing was also suggested, perhaps some fishing competitions. Bird watching was another great idea. If this is your passion and you would like to start something or brainstorm ideas, please add your thoughts in the comments below.)
  • Gym equipment on the sea-front. Personally, I would LOVE this. I also think it would be a great opportunity for groups to get together to improve fitness and overall well-being. Let me know what you think. 
  • Colour by the coast, some street art to make it more appealing. There was an overall desire to have some food and drink bars by the harbour and seafront. 
  • Affordable accommodation and more places for motorhomes and caravans. 
  • For there to be a Maritime Museum. Could this be at Wig Bay, maybe?
  • Artwork to highlight what is in the sea, including the rubbish to highlight the problem. There were also ideas of artwork with the rubbish from the sea.  
  • Re-creating old crafts. Apparently, Iain Gillespie made a boat!? I will ask him the next time I get a cake :)
  • Ged mentioned Whithorn Re-Build. I have made contact with them and I will update this blog with the progress. Their project looks very inspiring. CLICK HERE for more information and inspiration. 
  • Other ideas were fishing net making
  • Knitting and crafting weekends. 
  • Wellbeing weekends - if you have any ideas or relevant services, add your comments below. 

Having some fun with the heart voting sticks

3. Community and People - People are the most valuable asset. Without people and the community, there is no point in this project. The people of the town and the visitors must be taken care of, provided for, and made to feel special. 

  • There must be notice boards in the town. Not everyone is on Facebook or other social media. 
  • Things must be sustainable. In the past, many things have fizzled out. Create ideas to last. 
  • People should take personal responsibility. The trees on the roofs and the state of disrepair on the buildings around the town are a disgrace. The owners should have pressure put on them to take action and repair them. They let the town down.
  • Dog waste in the town needs addressing. Apparently, there are no dog waste bins in town. 
  • Create a 'Beautification Process'. Get the community working together. It was suggested to arrange a midnight painting party! 
  • I love this idea - to scatter re-wilding flowers where the weeds are so that the bees can flourish, bringing back nature.  - update: I was informed of an event, thanks to Lianne, at the Sands of Luce Holiday Park, where they were making seed balls. I was too late to join that so went on a hunt to find the people who did the course. I discovered they were from the RSPB at the Mull of Galloway. I am now waiting to hear from, Ivan, to see what we can arrange in Stranraer. Look out for updates. 

4. Sport - A successful town has a successful club. 

  • The need to sustain the third oldest football club in Scotland. If you have any ideas or would like to get involved, please add your comments below and share this blog with anyone you know who is interested in football or values having a town team.
  • Raise awareness of the club in schools, fundraising, kids holiday club, and women's football team. If you would like to start this, contact Ged at the Football Club. 
  • We need ideas for integrating the club into the town. Suggestions below, please. 
  • Getting children active, we could set up a children's yoga club. 
  • Getting Stranraer dancing - Maybe a Saturday Swing in the town square! Ideas below :) More busking? Let me know what you would like. 
  • To create a single communications platform - I will be honest, I have no idea what this could be. I will be sitting with the Free Press in the next week or two about how we can create a 'What's On Guide.' It would involve people getting in touch with them to let them know what they are doing instead of relying solely on social media. 
  • For the Skiffy people to hold more competitions on the loch. Let me know in the comments if this is possible and how I can help. 

The Repeater Station, Stranraer - image by Janet Jones

4. Architecture and Heritage

  • A suggestion was made for the community to take over the derelict buildings. Enough is enough now. The Dumfries model was suggested. I will look into this. If you have any knowledge or know of any grants or policies, please add them in the comments below. I know there is a Scottish Compulsory Purchase order. I don't know anything about this yet but I will look into it. 
  • This is the second time that Geocaching has been suggested. We may have to have a special geocaching meeting and start planning and organising this. 
  • Town trails/footprint trails and treasure hunts - how can we get the community and tourists involved?
  • Develop a heritage trail and collaborate with the coastal trail.
  • To make more of the castle, for it to have interactive exhibitions. 
  • Once again the occupied properties that are in disrepair came up. These affect the overall appearance of the town. This appearance gets people down and causes them to lose hope. Pressure should be put on the owners to keep up their properties. I am not sure how we achieve this. I will start to ask questions :)

5. Retail - making the high street a place to visit, buying what you need, and returning home feeling happy.

  • We need a greater diversity of shops. This will come as we develop other areas of the town. 
  • Inspire locals to come into the town to shop and enjoy the space. Money needs to be spent in the town or the town will close down and 'poverty shops' will appear. They are already waiting in the wings. When that happens it will be difficult to raise the prosperity of the town. Maybe we need some help from Shop Local, an organisation that helps small towns. 
  • Arts and crafts in the town.
  • A food festival in the town with pop-up stalls. This might be fun during December. This could involve local businesses and students of the college. 
  • We need to encourage entrepreneurship. This should be covered in the schools and the college. 

Loch Ryan, Stranraer by Janet Jones

Loch Ryan is our greatest asset. We are blessed with amazing scenery, wildlife and open spaces.

  • The Repeater Station (see the building above) should be made to look great, creative, welcoming, and inviting as it is the first thing you see as you approach Stranraer from the north. 
  • The sea wall looks dreary. A midnight paint by the community was suggested. What are your thoughts? If this were possible, would you get involved?
  • There should be a promenade created from Broadstones to Innermassen with walks, bars and cafes, and art shops with things to do that involve people and nature. 
  • The terrible eyesore of the East Pier. Let's use it. There could be sculptures, unexpected art, a theatre, and a conference centre. Outdoor cinema. Outdoor art exhibition space. Nissen huts for holidaymakers. The suggestions were endless. I don't know where to start with this but I will start somewhere. Leave it with me :)
  • Foraging course on the beach and around the hills.
  • Wildflower beds around the town. This links with number 3. Community and People and sowing wild seeds among the weeds. 
The evening was wrapped with the wonderful Catriona McGhee, singing Caledonia. It brought tears to my eyes as everyone started to sing along. It is a beautiful thing to bring a community together with a common purpose of making life better. 

Thank you to everyone who came along to share their ideas and to get involved with bringing these projects to life. If you would like to volunteer for any projects or form a team to get 'stuff' done, please email me at

The next Listening and Visioning event will be on the 25th of August. I hope you can make it. You will be the first to get an update about all that has been achieved from the above ideas. 

     See you there.

    Janet x

    Your Art and Engagement Officer.


  1. The Dumfries example mentioned in the Architecture and Heritage section is called 'Midsteeple Quarter' it is a project led by the local community to buy back the buildings in a section of the High Street and develop them 'by the community for the community' - in particular, the aim is to create new housing above street level to bring people back to live in the centre of town and combat the current phenomenon of the town feeling deserted after shops shut and office workers go home.
    The Midsteeple Quarter project was started by cultural activities led by arts group The Stove, who got people thinking creatively about the 'Future Dumfries' they would like to see and how local people could actively make that happen themselves rather than waiting for commercial developers or the council to do it for them. The project is now run by a Community Benefit Society called Midsteeple Quarter that was specifically set up for the purpose of allowing local people to retain control of the project as it develops. The community now own 5 buildings on the High St and have raised £7M for their first major redevelopment project, which started on site in June 2022. You can find details about Midsteeple Quarter here or I can do a presentation on the project in Stranraer if there are people who would be interested in doing something similar in the can reach me through Janet. Cheers, Matt

    1. I think a presentation would be great, Matt. It sounds like a really interesting project. That is something for a winter evening :)

  2. I'm happy to help with guerilla planting and painting.


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