Elgin CARS was officially launched on 13th August in St Giles Church when a large audience of over 90 people attended the event. Local property, business and shop owners/ occupiers and others with an interest in the overall scheme were welcomed on arrival by ‘Delta Force’, a group of young volunteers from Elgin Youth Cafe who very kindly provided support with registration.
Jim Royan, Chair of Elgin CARS spoke of the background to the scheme including the series of joint initiatives such as Elgin BID, Castle to Cathedral to Cashmere, Elgin City for the Future and the Moray Economic Strategy, that are all linked to the new scheme. Jim acknowledged that having such a motivated collection of partners with belief in the vision for Elgin, combined with the remarkable assets that exist in the city centre, was key to securing funding from Historic Scotland and others, for which he gave thanks.
Marc Ellington, Executive Director of the Scottish Traditional Skills Training Centre then went on to speak of the economic opportunities that a properly maintained and conserved historic environment can bring. Marc stressed that welcoming tourists to visit our towns can provide a much needed boost to local businesses and also highlighted, that restoring un-occupied upper floors above shops for residential use, could help to bring life back into the centre of Elgin.
Jim Royan then invited everyone to join Andrew Wright, chartered architect and locally based heritage consultant, on a short guided circuit of the town centre. Andrew shared his enthusiasm and depth of knowledge of some of the intricate stone carvings and told of the gradual development of the town to a fascinated audience, many of whom commented on not having ever noticed the points of interest that Andrew drew to their attention.
A number of people have already expressed interest in applying for a grant and the CARS Officer, Kirsty Conti, has been very busy arranging site visits with potential applicants to discuss their plans in more detail.