This Borders town should teach the rest of Britain about community spirit

The Great British High Street is supposed to be in its death throes, drowned under the weight of out-of-town supermarket monoliths. But no one has told Selkirk. This Scottish Borders bolthole is burgeoning as others falter, its main square alive with community-driven businesses, independent stores and even a traditional shoemaker – more artisan than Aldi. The signs approaching Selkirk are not good. The glorious Borders hills are rudely interrupted by a brace of hulking hypermarkets at Galashiels . They guard the roundabout leading to Selkirk, but I keep my loyalty cards in my pocket, drawn on by a historic town swimming in tales of Willam Wallace’s proclamation as Guardian of Scotland and Sir Walter Scott, who once served as the “Sheriff of Selkirkshire”. The Haining is an 18th-century country house and estate The 1980s heralded tough times for the Scottish Borders as Thatcherite economics had little sympathy for the collapsing textiles industry. As the famous mills in the home of Tweed closed, towns depopulated and slid off the tourist map. Again no one seems to have read Selkirk the script. Sarah Macdonald of local tourist initiative Scotland Starts Here , explains: “Far from dying, Selkirk is on the up and really came together to stand against all the privations of the Covid lockdowns. Selkirk has always had a fiercely independent and strong community spirit and that has come to the fore.” ‘Selkirk is on the up and really came together to stand against all the privations of the Covid lockdowns’ says Sarah MacDonald I search for that spirit in the grounds of The Haining , an 18th-century country house and estate that helps form a protective green belt around Selkirk. Andrew Nimmo-Smith was obviously impressed by Selkirk’s community as he bequeathed them the house and 160-acre estate in 2009. […]

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By Donato