Welcome to the village of Strathyre, which is the first village in the highlands of Scotland travelling North and is Digital Scotland’s first Smart Village. The once tired community has gone through a revival in recent years through a number of steps and initiatives that have made a significant difference to the village and its kerb appeal and has also restored pride in the community. The village has rediscovered aspiration and ambition with some new ideas helping to shape a brighter future.
For Strathyre, the list of enhancements includes:
- Live music sessions in the White Stag Inn
- Establishment of Strathyre Music Festival and Market place
- Derelict public toilets purchased – converted to an award-winning broch cafe
- Closed hotels purchased and open for business
- Former closed down care home now self-catering apartments
- Strathyre Outdoors adventures with canoe safaris and guided treks
- Creation of a double award-winning BLiSS trail featured on TV
- Re-routing the National Cycle Network Route 7 to the village
- Creation of a Mini Stuc hill race for school children from surrounding schools
- Village hall enhancements new roof and larger kitchen added
- River level monitoring and early warning system added to protect the village
- Strathyre Emergency Response Team established with 22 members
- Crafternoon workshops and Yoga classes started
- New Village school with impressive hall to cater for new pupil growth
- Community purchase of 27 acres of land for leisure and recreational use
- Annual Firework Display
- Traditional Christmas Market and Fayre
The above changes introduced over a few years have given the village a lift with new aspiration and ambition helping stimulate even more ideas driven by the BLS Community Trust and a new Community Action plan being implemented with some good ideas for the future. Houses and B&B businesses, previously up for sale for several years, have now sold and new people have moved in with fresh ideas to help maintain the positive momentum.
Tourists that normally bypass the village are now actually stopping and spending an hour or two at the new Broch cafe, or actually stopping over at pubs B&Bs and guest houses or simply stopping to pick up provisions from the village shop. This has delivered a much-needed boost to the local economy. There are more flowers seen in the gardens than weeds with some attractive borders and landscaping maintained by the Old Station Court Tenants and Residents Association volunteers.
The small community of Strathyre has helped to deliver the ingredients of rural development leading to a boost in tourism. This now delivers a natural migration to a digital platform to connect the village with a wide range of information and integrating with all existing businesses to extend the reach of existing websites. The digital platform with its extensive links is then handed over to the community to add further information to benefit everyone in the village. The children of the primary school are also included, with a link to their school and at an appropriate level, engaging the children in the design of their community for the future.
The above process has been encapsulated into a strategy and action plan that has helped create Smart Village Scotland. The next step is the networking and replication of this model at appropriate levels to every rural community in Scotland. An awesome challenge you may think, but no! it’s already happening with some great feedback.
It is important to say that every village or town is different and with different levels of status. Some are already well developed and doing well on rural development and tourism, some don’t have assets or natural attractions to pull in tourism – but in our changing world, digital communication can bring new possibilities, new ideas and help the local economy.
Let us know if you would like to discuss Smart Village or wish to join our growing network.
Neil McEvoy & Kenny Higgins