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How have community groups benefitted from Perthshire’s Enchanted Forest?

Three of the 17 registered charities which have benefitted from a record £49,750 awarded by The Enchanted Forest Community Trust reveal the difference it has made

Pegasus Vaulting Group. Image: Ewan Stewart
Pegasus Vaulting Group. Image: Ewan Stewart

For two days at the end of September, the ninth annual Scottish Youth Film Festival will take place in Perth.

Film industry guests, workshops, screenings and other events will mimic what might be expected at an ‘adult’ film festival like Edinburgh, Glasgow or Cannes.

Anyone aged 19 or under, who lives in Scotland, can submit a film of seven minutes or under before the August 18 deadline.

Scottish Youth Film Foundation

But the event will also showcase wider career opportunities that exist within the film industry.

These range from administration, accountants and carpenters, to zombie make-up artists, crew, and work behind the lens.

Introducing the film industry to young people is a huge part of what the Scottish Youth Film Foundation tries to do through education.

Now, thanks to £2000 awarded from The Enchanted Forest Community Trust, that outreach work in Perthshire will widen further.

“We’ve allocated money to two schools in Breadalbane and Grandtully,” said Scott Mackay, 55, executive director and co-founder of the Scottish Youth Film Foundation.

“That allows us to send tutors there and allows us to work with the teachers there, bringing them an introduction to the film industry.

“We are still looking for corporate sponsors.

“But that £2000 is a sizeable chunk of what we’d spend on education.

David Barras, co-founder of Scottish Youth Film Foundation, working with young people. Image: Scott Mackay

“All these things add up.

“That kind of patchwork quilt of funding is what you’ve got to do as a charity these days”.

Aims of Scottish Youth Film Foundation

Based in Edinburgh, the Scottish Youth Film Foundation works across Scotland and targets the areas out with Scotland’s four main cities.

They teach people about film as an art form.

How to watch it, how to analyse it and how to read it as a “text”.

“Most young children now grow up watching much more moving image then they would reading books,” said Scott.

“But we also teach them practical skills like how to make their own film, tell their own stories and really take agency over film and the moving image.

Young people working with Scottish Youth Film Foundation. Image: Scott Mackay

“If they want to go into the film industry we demystify that as well and show them how they can.”

Why was the foundation formed?

Growing up in Armadale, West Lothian, as “children of the Thatcher era” during the 1980s, Scott and foundation co-founder David Barras always loved film and telling stories.

But the opportunities to enter the film industry didn’t seem to be there.

To this day, film and TV always has this “aura of being for special people” and careers advisors tend to play it down.

What the foundation hopes to get across is that “normal” people are working on film in Scotland.

Jason Connery in costume for The Golf Explorers at the Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course near Cupar in 2018

With Jason Connery – who is one of the foundation’s patrons – setting up a film hub in Leith and other studios being established, there’s a “massive demand” for people.

“Scotland’s gone from having zero studios to having four or five,” he added.

“Film and TV aren’t just the people in front of the camera or the director.

“These people need admin, accountants, carpenters – there’s a massive crew shortage and that’s not going away any time soon.”

Pegasus Vaulting Group

Pegasus Vaulting Group from Killiecrankie is no stranger to winning rosettes and trophies.

But the £1800 they’ve received from The Enchanted Forest Community Trust is a special prize that will help them on their way to widening opportunities and access.

An equestrian vaulting group which can be likened to “gymnastics on horseback”, the vaulters perform on a horse as it goes round in a 15m circle.

Pegasus Vaulting Group in Perthshire. Image: Ewan Stewart

The vaulters do various artistic moves to music on the back of the horse and are judged on it.

They do individual and pairs categories and do squads up to seven.

They may even have two or three on the horse at one time.

But what they really need is a mechanical vaulting simulator.

The stationary robotic horse, filled with pneumatics and hydraulics, mimics the movement of a real horse and can be used for training.

Crucially, it means they won’t have to use live horses all the time and it won’t have to be fed anything other than electricity.

“The full cost of this simulator is just over £15000 by the time we get the appropriate saddle and everything for it,” said Ewan Stewart, whose 12 year-old daughter has been vaulting for five years.

“But including the Enchanted Forest money, we have secured just about £10,000 so far, so we are well on our way!”

Who are the group’s members?

A big sport in Europe, Ewan said vaulting is usually – but not limited to – young girls.

The Perthshire group has one male vaulter.

They also have a couple of members who have learning difficulties and disabilities.

Based in a small farm shed by Killiecrankie, they practice two to three times per week.

They currently use a fake horse for training which is basically 45-gallon drums welded together with a saddle or a roller attached to the back of it.

Pegasus Vaulting Group, Perthshire. Image: Ewan Stewart

However, the club also has access to live horses.

As well as the Enchanted Forest money, they have a few other grants in the pipeline as they strive to reach their £15,000 target.

“Because we are a charity, anything to do with equestrian is expensive,” added Ewan, who is an operational engineer to trade.

“Most of our fees and what-not go on the use of the horses and the coaches.

“The addition of a mechanical vaulting simulator will be a huge benefit to our club.

“It’ll allow us to take on more members. We’ve got about 35 at the moment.”

CheckIn Works/Giraffe Trading

As a registered charity and social enterprise based in Perth, CheckIn Works and Giraffe Trading provide work placements and employment support to individuals facing barriers to the mainstream workplace.

It was set up 13 years ago to support people with barriers of some sort whether that be autism, learning difficulties or mental health issues.

Dionne cooking with Giraffe in Perth. Image: Giraffe Trading

The charity supports people on a journey towards inclusion, personal development, training and socialisation.

They run a café, an outside catering business and do wider community support activities which their trainees are part of, from food preparation to distribution.

In addition to the supported work experience, an added value programme gets them involved in team building through outdoor activities.

It takes them out of their comfort zones and helps realise their potential.

In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, a £6000 award from The Enchanted Forest Community Fund will help support and maintain a hub which is now supporting other community groups.

Skills Development Officer Laura Connacher and CEO Gareth Ruddock marinating bbq chicken for some of the meals.

“At the start of lockdown, we had a kitchen full of food,” explained Giraffe chief executive Gareth Ruddock, 45, who took over from the founder of the charity about seven years ago.

“We didn’t want to waste it.

“So a couple of volunteers effectively got together and started cooking off all the food, supplying it to other community groups who were supporting people in need.

“I suppose that formalised and kept going through the various lockdowns.

“But what we were seeing was that our trainees were getting a much richer experience by being able to do the start of the process ie raw vegetables all the way to the end of the process – labelling and setting it out.

“What we’ve done is maintain the creation, the making of the community base.”

How many meals have been distributed?

Gareth said that to date, they’ve distributed around 80,000 meals since April 2020.

The Enchanted Forest funding very much supports and maintains this activity.

They try to keep food costs down.

Preparing food. Image: Giraffe Trading

But they still have to make sure they have compliant labels.

Tackling poverty

Gareth is also chairman of the local anti-poverty task force, set up by the council.

While there’s often a perception of Perth and Kinross as a whole that it’s an affluent area, some areas have extreme deprivation according to the index of multiple deprivation.

But it’s a combination of the statistical deprivation that people read about in the papers, coupled with the fact that many people are “broke” through the cost-of-living crisis.

Money isn’t going as far with more families working full time having to access foodbanks or community larders.

Giraffe food ready to go. Image: Giraffe Trading

“There’s always been people in need and figures that get bandied about with tedious regularity,” he said.

“In 2019 there were 5100 odd kids living in poverty in Perth and Kinross.

“That was pre-covid, pre-cost of living, pre-Brexit, everything.

“But we are hoping to do what we can to break that down.

“It’s a double edged sword as it is our trainees that are supporting this.

“We are developing inclusion through helping people in need who are helping people in need.”

Who else received Enchanted Forest money?

To access the full list of the successful charities, visit

The Enchanted Forest 2023 show, ‘From the Deep’, runs from October 5 to November 5 with this year’s oceanic theme set to transform Faskally Wood in Pitlochry into an underwater adventure for visitors.

To book tickets or to find out more visit: