Nick Walker, Board Convenor – Wigtown & Bladnoch Community Initiative

 

What makes a working day great?
Getting to the end of the day with everything done that needed done. This rarely happens, of course, but some days I get close!

How many hours a week do you normally work?
I work full time in the NHS, so my working week typically runs to 48 hours. Once in a while I get away early though, and I do get six weeks holiday a year, so I can’t complain.

What projects are you working on in Wigtown & Bladnoch Community Initiative?
Wigtown & Bladnoch Community Initiative was established in February 2017 as our community developed a plan for the Old Showfield. This open area central to the town was home of the local agricultural show for generations, and holds dear memories for many local residents. It’s been disused since the show moved out of town in the 1990’s and is ear-marked for housing development. With no progress on that, the Community was keen to take control of the land, to ensure its longer term value as a recreational space, woodland and park, as well as offering the opportunity for a small number of environmentally friendly affordable houses. We now have a registered community interest, under Community Right to Buy legislation.

The Bank of Scotland in Wigtown has just been closed. This inconveniences many in the wider Machars area, but also provides an opportunity. W&BCI is looking at buying the disused bank building for a community hub and one or two affordable flats. As part of this work, we teamed up with Dumfries & Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust on a full assessment of housing needs.

We are new to all this but have some very talented people on our Board. And we have had fantastic support and advice from Community Land Scotland, and from other communities who are further along this path – groups like the Mull of Galloway Trust.

What is your favourite book?
I don’t do favourites. But the book I remember earliest and still love is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Its slightly surreal reflection of life (or is it all a dream?) encouraged me always to think laterally and never to be surprised by the unexpected. This comes in handy working in mental health.

What has been your most unusual challenge?
Thought-provoking question, this one! Life is a series of unexpected events, which I never really see a challenges, though some people might. My last great challenge is my current one: helping my partner run a café / second hand bookshop in Wigtown during Scotland’s National Booktown’s annual book festival – eleven days of unremitting busyness, and on my feet almost all the time!

Is Facebook a friend or an enemy?
Personally I detest Facebook and don’t use it. I confess to liking Instagram though, and using Twitter (@WandBCI). But for Community projects and so on, Facebook is a great way to get word out; it is the modern word of mouth. So we do have a W&BCI Facebook page as well as a (developing) website (www.wigtownandbladnoch.co.uk).

Would your 16 year old self be impressed with where you are now?
My 16 year old self wouldn’t have cared!  But i would’ve got to where I am quicker if my 16 year old self had been more confident.

What would be your one piece of advice to young people in your community?
Believe in yourself, how you feel, and what you are aiming for. And get on with it.

Where do you hope to see Wigtown & Bladnoch Community Initiative in 20 years?
Ah ha! The £64,000 question. We hope that we will still be here. And if things go to plan, we will be core to Community owned public space, community owned social rented accommodation, community banking, and a town and surrounds that are flourishing, renewably powered and environmentally friendly.