The Spotlight On column is intended to shine a light on people who are quietly working away behind the scenes in efforts to make our communities better places to live. As a member of the community council, Alistair (Danny) Riddell is one such person.
Alistair is a Stow man through and through. His family have been in Stow for five generations and Alistair himself was born at Cathpair. Apart from a stint at Watherston and Fountainhall he has lived in Stow all his life. He says he loves his village and always has a good feeling coming back home of an evening, rounding the Watherston Corner, smelling wood smoke on the air and seeing the lights of Stow.
Since childhood, Alistair has watched Stow change from a place where many people could find employment locally, to a place where many people commute elsewhere to work – and quite frequently go elsewhere in their free time. Alistair has observed that this makes it difficult for some people to participate in community life and so the heart seems to have gone out of the community. This, he feels, is not helped by the physical heart of Stow being damaged with the demolition of the Royal Hotel, the deterioration of the Old Kirk and the Subscription Bridge, and the relentless flood damage to the Bowling Club and the Park.
After a long working life as a joiner (he served his apprenticeship with Scott Miller) and working in different parts of the timber trade, Alistair looks at the world around him with a practical eye. He hates just talking about things and wants to get down to action. Like many people he gets very frustrated by the bureaucracy that often seems to hinder rather than help any community action. He is currently on the community council because, as he says, you’ve got more chance of making a change by giving the community a voice than remaining silent.
Of particular interest to Alistair at the moment is the state of repair of the Old Kirk and the Subscription Bridge. He has been instrumental in encouraging the community council to organise some running repairs on the Old Kirk as part of the fabric of the building would not last another winter. Through this interest, the community council is now spearheading a move to look at all the heritage assets in the community, as a piece meal approach will not attract funding or achieve long term results. The idea is to draw up a plan of action so that official bodies, such as Historic Scotland, can be approached with a coherent plan.
Alistair continues with the community council, as he can see a future where the local football team is playing on a brand new pitch next to a landscaped ponds and gardens – and he’s not going to let bureaucracy kill the dream!