I was born and brought up in Gorebridge and since I was any age I have enjoyed walking in and around the village and the countryside beyond. Nowadays I see many changes taking place. As I walk down the Main Street I am impressed by some of the regeneration projects taking place including the refurbishment of Newbyres Hall. I’m pleased to see the old railway line and station reopened and I have been glad to see how successful this has been.
However, as I walk in the other direction toward Arniston I pass the half-completed Beacon building which looks a bit of an eyesore covered in scaffolding and tarpaulins. The war memorial standing in front of it looks rather sorry for itself and adds to the sense of dereliction. Like a lot of other people my reaction was “something needs to be done “. But just complaining doesn’t change anything and so I decided to volunteer to help. I knew that the Gorebridge Trust was involved with the Beacon project and called in to their office at number 58 Main Street to talk to the Trust team. I found the volunteers at the Trust open, friendly, and welcoming and they soon found a role for me.
As a retired engineer and business director I enjoy being involved with the practical hands-on side of the Beacon project as well as the challenge of helping to ensure it is completed on time and within budget. When the building is finished, it will be a magnificent asset for the people of Gorebridge and will have something for everyone.
I am finding volunteering work very rewarding and am enjoying meeting other people and working within a team. Various other groups within the village are also working hard to improve the environment and opportunities for the people of Gorebridge and I’m glad to play my part. The decline of mining and other traditional industries has meant that the community has suffered economic hardship and a lack of opportunity for young people. However, Gorebridge is in a state of transition. The railway and significant new house building means that there will be an influx of people coming in to the village. The increase in activity is exciting and it is an opportunity for us all to contribute towards making Gorebridge a welcoming place to which we are all proud to belong. We need to embrace the changes that are taking place but I feel we also need to recognise our past. I worked in coalmining for 26 years and for many in Gorebridge like me mining is part of our personal history and it is part of the heritage of this community. Gorebridge is one of the few mining villages in Scotland where there is no physical symbol marking our mining heritage. I think we need to address this.
So, in my retirement I find I have plenty to do. I’d like to help to complete the Beacon, work on increasing community engagement, and start a mining heritage project. To anyone else who is thinking of volunteering, come forward. I can recommend it!