I was really pleased to see Polish Paths to Freedom exhibition in the Rothes Halls as part of the celebrations around the 70th Anniversary of Glenrothes.
The new display of archival photography, which was gifted to Fife Council by the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region in central Poland, documents the 3000 officers and 10,000 Polish First Division Corps stationed in Scotland between 1940 and 1947 who provided support to Scottish regiments during the First World War.
I know that Scotland, and in particular, the region of Fife and Poland have a long shared history, and that these photographs are an important part of Fife’s rich history of migration.
I was really interested to read stories in the exhibition log book of local people’s familial connections and memories and would encourage visitors to contribute.
Last week I was delighted to welcome members of Ravenscraig Probus Club to the Scottish Parliament, where I gave them a tour of the building before they were able to watch First Minister’s Questions from the public gallery.
Following the opening of the Scottish Parliament, there was a conscious effort to ensure that Holyrood was open to voters and constituents. It is right that schools, clubs and the general public are able to see the workings of their Parliament and meet and question their representatives.
Ravenscraig Probus Club were able to do that and get a front row seat to what turned out to be a lively First Minister’s Questions. I was pleased to answer all their questions and hope they had as good a time visiting Holyrood as I had showing them around.
With the Queensferry Crossing opening this year I have called for a charity event to celebrate the new bridge and raise vital funds for local and national charities.
The event would follow the success of the ‘M74 bike and hike’ which took place before the opening of the M74 extension in Glasgow in 2011. This event saw around 20,000 participants take part in 2 separate courses; a short 4km route or the longer 14km round trip.
Participants could raise money for the charity of their choice but the event officially recognised 8 main organisations, including SAMH, Macmillan Cancer Support and the British Heart Foundation.
This was a great way to open the M74 extension and simultaneously raise awareness and money for charity and it would be fantastic if such an event could be arranged for the opening of the Queensferry Crossing.
I have no doubt that Fifers would love the opportunity to be amongst the first to cross the bridge and take part in what could be a full day of fun stretching from one side of the Forth to the other.
With great views of the rail and road bridge along with the coast of Fife, the opportunity for people to cross the bridge before it is open to cars should be fully considered. This would be a great initiative to raise money for local charities such as MND Scotland but also for the many local charities across Mid Scotland and Fife that do great work day in day out.
I hope that people across the region can get behind an event to mark the opening of the crossing event and that the Scottish Government will make such an event a reality.
Recently I met with the Transport Minister and Transport Scotland where I once again called for the re-introduction of Levenmouth Rail Link.
I’ve been campaigning for its re-introduction since I was first elected in 2007 and was pleased that my lobbying resulted in it being included in Scottish Labour’s manifesto ahead of last year’s election.
However there is still much work to be done and recently I also took part in a local conference with Levenmouth Rail Campaign, Fife Council and opposition politicians, which you can read about on Fife Today.
I look forward to working together as we continue to campaign for its re-introduction.
Recently I was delighted to welcome representatives from Malawi and give them a tour of the Scottish Parliament.
The group were visiting Scotland as guests of Dalgety Bay Parish Church who have a working partnership with Engcongolweni’s Church of Central Africa Presbyterian.
It was really good to meet members of both churches and hear about their relationship which has brought many positive benefits to communities in rural northern Malawi. This includes a project that provides clean water supply to the area, reaching over 7,500 people.
I was pleased to play my part in continuing efforts to strengthen the strong relationship Fife has established with this community in Malawi and I very much hope that they enjoyed their visit to Scotland.
I was delighted to attend the recent Coalfields Home Internationals at Forthbank Stadium to watch teams from Benarty and Alloa battle it out with teams from Derby, Hartlepool, Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil.
Coalfield Regeneration Trust do a great job in supporting and empowering coalfield communities across the country and this football tournament was the culmination of a nationwide competition that pitted teams of 14 to 16 year olds against each other.
I was delighted that my region was hosting the final and that two local teams had made it through the Scottish section. I was also pleased to see Kelty & Blairadam Pipe Band providing the entertainment throughout the day.
Congratulations to the team from Hartlepool who were the overall winners.
Recently I visited Newburgh in the north of my region where I met with locals who are campaigning for a re-opening of the local train station.
Like another such projects that I support, including Levenmouth Rail Campaign, the area in and around Newburgh would benefit greatly from its reintroduction.
The Newburgh Train Station Campaign is a campaign which deserves greater support and I was delighted to sign up to it. I have also written to the Minister for Transport and the Islands, Humza Yousaf MSP, to call for action.
If you want to join me in supporting this campaign you can visit their website here: http://newburghtrainstation.org.uk/
I’m pleased to support the 2016 Coalfields Home Internationals – which take place at the end of this month – with a motion in Parliament. Good luck to all teams taking part, including the teams from Benarty and Alloa, in my region.
I lodged the motion after meeting with staff at the Coalfields Regeneration Trust in their offices in Alloa last week. I was pleased to catch up with the team and hear about the work they are doing to support former coalfield communities across Scotland. Continue reading
This week I went along along to Fife Gingerbread AGM. It was a moving and inspiring event. We heard from families who have worked with Fife Gingerbread and their experiences of supporting their children, building their own confidence and getting on in life.
It was great to see the way Fife Gingerbread are imaginatively using creative writing and art with families. It was clear to see how much everyone had benefited from expressing their creative side.
It was also great to hear about the progress of the Teen Fife Teen Parent Project and the awards they have been winning. It was a real pleasure to present the AGM awards this year and help recognise the women’s achievements. Looking forward to next year!
I was delighted to be invited to FRAE Fife’s conference on Equalities and Citizenship in the current international, national and local context to give a keynote speech.
The conference, which took place in in the Old Kirk in Kirkcaldy, was well attended and informative and included speeches from politicians, lecturers and leading campaigners from across Scotland.
The event was an opportunity to discuss the impact of international and national events on Fife along with the approach of the UK and Scottish Governments to the implementation of equality policies.
I was pleased to be able to discuss the work I have done in the Scottish Parliament on the ongoing refugee crisis, the case of Sheku Bayoh’s death in police custody and the contribution people from around the world make to Scottish society.
I’d like to thank FRAE Fife for the opportunity to attend and speak at the conference. I hope that it will kick start a positive debate locally on how we ensure fairness, race awareness and equality in Fife.