THE best-kept secret in Langholm last week was launched on an unsuspecting public in the most spectacular fashion.
Behind-the-scenes activity was going on under the radar to light up the Monument on Whita Hill in praise of the NHS and other key workers.
The organisers waited until it was sufficiently dark before unleashing their dazzling light and sound show on the town.
Just after 10pm the display was shared widely on social media and people rushed outside or to their windows to see the monument lit blue and then the colours of the rainbow.
The light show was accompanied by a rendition of Highland Cathedral for those watching it on Facebook and the views rocketed as more and more people shared the event with friends.
It was all masterminded by local man Calum Graham, aided by Chris Jones and Glen Cavers of the Centre Stage Community Theatre.
Calum said: “I was redeployed to work for the council’s communications team during COVID-19.
“When looking for good news stories, I came across Drumlanrig Castle being turned blue and recalled the Angel of the North being turned blue.
“I thought it would be nice to light up the monument as a mark of respect from Langholm for the work being done by those in the NHS, key workers and everyone on the frontline.”
“The monument is an iconic landmark for the town and its traditions. Although lighting it up created greater challenges because of its location, we found a solution.
“As well as acknowledging this, I thought it might help to lift people’s spirits here and further field.
“I’m grateful to the organisations for their donations, Centre Stage Community Theatre for helping make this happen and Buccleuch for its wonderful support.”
He added: “I sought a quote from a lighting and audio organisation to make this happen.
After receiving the price, I spoke to some organisations in Langholm which fully supported the idea of turning the monument blue on a Thursday evening.
“After speaking to one of the funding organisations, it was suggested I talk to Chris who has experience in lighting systems with the theatre company and he offered to help at no cost.
“I went back to the organisations to thank them and say I didn’t need the funding now.”
They were asked whether they would be happy to donate the funds to the NHS, including Thomas Hope Hospital, and they agreed.
The £800 has been given to the Friends of Thomas Hope Hospital and they will decide how to spend the money.
The donors were Buccleuch £300; Eskdale Foundation £200; Langholm Rugby Football Club £100; Langholm Rotary Club £100; and Lodge Eskdale Kilwinning £100.
Calum said: “We didn’t promote this event. We didn’t want people to gather at the monument and wanted to make sure we had no technical problems on the evening.”
One comment Calum received was from Sharon Vallance, charge nurse at the hospital.
She said: “This is amazing and thank you for your kind thought and gesture from all the staff at Thomas Hope Hospital.
Ed Morris, estate manager of Buccleuch’s Borders Estate, said: “Along with the rest of the nation, Buccleuch is thankful for the tireless efforts of our NHS and key workers and to be able to show our gratitude by doing something special in the area.
“Calum’s efforts in pulling this together are a credit to him and the community spirit in Langholm.”