Item Posted: Monday 11th August, 2008

Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop has scooped another National Award for its work in the community. Shortlisted last year for the prestigious Third Force News Scottish Charity awards, this year they went one better, picking up the Community Action Award.

Third Force News is the newspaper of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, and the awards help publicise the impact of volunteers in improving the quality of life in Scotland and ‘demonstrate the high calibre of charitable activity existing in Scotland.’ Awards are available in different categories – Campaign of the Year, Charity Champion, Charity of the Year, Community Action and a Partnership Award. Susan Smith, TFN editor, said “ For too long there has been little recognition of professional excellence within Scottish charities. We launched these awards in a bid to rectify this, and to ensure that everyone is aware of the wonderful work charities do to improve the lives of Scottish people.. the strength of the nominees is testament to the hard work and progress made by Scotland’s third sector.”

Elizabeth Bain, LFW’s Project Manager, accepted the Award on behalf of the Workshop from Scotland’s Finance Minister John Swinney, and said : “ To be nominated for – let alone to win- such an award gives great encouragement to the volunteers in our rural organisation and creates a wonderful sense of pride in the local communities who support our endeavours. In the current climate of uncertainty of funding, it is good to see we are all still able to keep our heads above water!”

The irony is that Awards such as these have increased the profile of the impact of charities, but they come at a time when local authorities and central government funders are dramatically cutting back on funding, particularly, it seems, in the area of the arts and culture. Major organisations such as Voluntary Arts Scotland, The Traditional Music and Song Association, RSAMD in Glasgow and many others have found some of their core funding stripped away. More than ever before the time spent by volunteers has to be focussed on raising money rather than getting on with helping people or arranging events.

In recent years LFW has forged a link with Argyll and Bute Council to teach in five local schools, and they now teach 70 children throughout the school year. LFW believe that by widening the curriculum they are helping local communities build a sustainable cultural and educational future.

Over 200 other children have had the chance of a free ‘taster’ on fiddle, mandolin and tin whistle at 30 Come and Try Sessions. In addition children can attend a heavily subsidised annual residential weekend on, giving them the opportunity of an intensive weekend of traditional music with a difference. In addition to the “normal” fèis activities of fiddle, clarsach, stepdance, pipes, whistle, song and drama, they are also offered sessions in canoeing, sailing, archery, and wall-climbing.

Adults keen to learn the fiddle are not ignored. More than 30 adult members (a surprisingly high proportion of the local population), most of whom have never played an instrument before, are given four weekly classes in two Cowal villages. On top of this local communities benefit from concerts put on (about 10 a year) with visiting top quality professional musicians.

The Workshop has also had strong public recognition from other sources, winning the Best Community Group in the BBC/Hands Up for Trad Awards in 2005, and being the only Scottish Arts group shortlisted in the UK wide Big Lottery Awards in 2007.

More information on the Workshop can be found at www.fiddleworkshop.co.uk

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