Kirriemuir Regeneration Group was forged when the Angus town’s camera obscura came under threat of closure in 2015.
The historical instrument is one of only three in Scotland, housed in the Kirrie Hill pavilion gifted to the burgh by town-born Peter Pan creator Sir J M Barrie.
Its optical trickery offers a unique view of the town and the Angus glens beyond to those who climb the ladder into the attic space of the 91-year-old pavilion.
But from that platform, the KRG vision has extended into bringing the community together to enhance other parts of the town and many aspects of community life.
And despite the challenges of the pandemic, the drive of the dedicated volunteers remains a shining example to others and firmly focused on the future.
Stalwarts Irena Krasinka-Lobban and Elaine Findlay were brought together by the common desire to save the pavilion when cash cuts put the council-managed National Trust for Scotland attraction under threat of closure in 2015.
Group secretary Elaine said: “We got a message saying that the £10,000 a year funding to keep the camera obscura open wasn’t there and it wouldn’t be opening.
“We thought we had to do something, put a message out on social media and it just went whoosh.
The Hill, with its Neverland playpark, is a family favourite and KRG aims to make the pavilion a magnet for visitors to Angus.
KRG treasurer Irena said: “It has been such a disappointment not to be able to open properly due to the pandemic.
“We had lots of plans, but the safety of our volunteers was our main concern and we kept in touch with all of them throughout the pandemic.”
Cricket-fanatic Barrie gifted the building to his home town on the day he was awarded the Freedom of Kirriemuir on June 7 1930.
KRG hopes 2022 will see it fully re-opened for people to enjoy a café experience and the remarkable 360-degree views cast onto the dish of the camera obscura.
The group’s other main focus is the Kirrie Den project which brings together a weekly squad of volunteers on a mission to bring the beauty spot back to its best.
It’s another aspect of the determination to see a well-loved local attraction – the park was opened in 1867 – enjoyed by many generations to come.
KRG also operate the public toilets at both The Hill and The Den, remaining unbowed by repeated acts of vandalism to the facilities.
Irena added: “We have a core of around 20 members – hopefully we can add more.”
Supporting local projects
And the group has been far from idle over the duration of the coronavirus crisis.
It has supported projects including Kirrie Christmas lights and Kirriemuir Youth Project, as well as supporting the local elderly.
“We like to keep an eye on what’s happening locally and try to help out on where there is a need,” Irena added.
Elaine said: “We’ve also missed a couple of important anniversaries.
“We were to have taken part in the 2020 Barrie 160 programme for the anniversary of his birth and had also planned a celebration for the 90th anniversary of the opening of the pavilion.
“Both those big days landed on weekend and would have been perfect to bring families to Kirrie.
“But maybe we could just do a big JMB 92 programme in 2022 – I’m sure he wouldn’t mind!”
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