LANGHOLM’S successful performing arts centre is the toast of the town after winning a high-profile regional award.
The Buccleuch Centre won tourism champion at the Dumfries & Galloway Life awards 2019.
The board of trustees, staff, volunteers, patrons and supporters have expressed their delight that the centre has brought such a valuable accolade to the Muckle Toon.
The centre was up against the Heart of Galloway Visitor Centre and the Kirkcudbright Art & Crafts Trail.
But the judges Stuart Martin, John Glover, Anne Barclay and Mandy Green were won over by the centre’s outstanding work.
In the awards brochure the section on the Buccleuch Centre says: “In a town blighted by job losses in recent years the centre provides “a beacon of hope” for Langholm.
“The theatre and arts venue opened in 2007 and attracts audiences totalling about 12,000 from all over southern Scotland, northern England and farther afield every year.
“It offers a wide variety of entertainment, including live concerts by well-known artists and tribute acts, films and comedy performances and live screenings of opera, ballet and theatre productions.
“Visitors, attracted to the town by the centre, often browse the town’s shops, stay or eat in a hotel or café or enjoy the venue’s own catering before a show.
“The centre has a small, part-time staff team but relies on an army of up to 80 volunteers, including 10 trustees.
“Other volunteers run front of house and the booking office, supporting the centre’s managers and catering staff.”
Gavin Graham, chairman of the trustees, said: “This award means we are, at long last, being recognised.
“I remember when I was being interviewed several years ago to become a director of Destination Dumfries and Galloway by four of its directors.
“I told them I was involved with the centre and they asked what it was. These were the people selling tourism to Dumfries and Galloway and they didn’t know the Buccleuch Centre.
“So, from my point of view, we’ve now been recognised and it will do us tremendous good.
“It really means a lot to us after 12 years. I took over as chairman this year and prepared the application in the summer. I put a lot of work into it, providing information to prove we’re bringing visitors to the town.
“We get a lot of support from people in this region, the Borders and Cumbria so we’re bringing in a lot of people. We get about 20,000 a year through the door.
“If it weren’t for the centre, one of the hotels in the town would have closed by now.
“We had two shows recently: Charlie Landsborough and Isla Grant. Every hotel room in the town was booked and they were fully booked for dinner as well. Some people had a four-day stay.
“I’m only six months into my chairmanship and I have got some ideas but none have been put forward for approval yet.
“They include doing more during the day for older people who don’t want to go out at night.
“The café has never been busier and it’s amazing how many people come for conferences and meetings. There is a lot going on, like the moorland buy-out and the red squirrel group.
“There is hardly a day goes by without a function on. It’s very well used.”
Iona Davidson and Michele Lowe are co-managers at the centre.
Iona said: “Both of us are absolutely over the moon for the hard working volunteers and staff.
“It’s great for the centre and for Langholm. We always seem to be forgotten about so it gives us a little boost for the town.
“I’ve worked here for nine years and Michele for eight. We’re definitely busier and it’s great to see the coffee shop and the centre busy. We have every right to be proud for the whole team.
“It’s the little things which make the difference. Everyone has their part to play. It makes for a great team.
“Gavin puts so much work into what he does. It makes a huge difference having someone like him.”
Iona praised the other two organisations in the tourism category. She said: Everyone was deserving.”
The centre is always looking for more volunteers, particularly to look after the box office so if anyone would like to join the team, they can call in or ring 013873 81196.