Scottish Land Fund cash secures future of Duns Volunteer Hall

The future of a thriving community hub in Duns has been secured, thanks to Scottish Land Fund cash announced today.

A Heart for Duns manages the town’s Volunteer Hall on behalf of the community and has leased the building since 2014. Now, thanks to a Scottish Land Fund grant of £206,000, the group will be able to purchase the building, which will empower local people to be involved in its future development.

Welcoming the news, Derek Janes, Convenor of A Heart for Duns, said: “The trustees are very excited by the investment from the Scottish Land Fund into the community of Duns and district. We are delighted at the level of support we have received from community groups, strategic partners and funders, and we look forward to the next stages of development that will follow once we own the venue. Working with the community, we plan to transform this key asset for the town, making it even more fit for purpose, energy efficient, equipped with digital technologies, and with more flexible performance and work spaces. There’s a lot of work ahead but this grant gives us a solid base on which to build.”

Announcing the funding, John Watt, Scottish Land Fund Committee Chair, said: “I am delighted to see another enterprising community take control of its own future with Scottish Land Fund assistance. When considering this project for funding, the committee was very impressed with the community consultation that has brought A Heart for Duns to this point. It is clear from the popularity of the building that there is a great desire to continue developing and enhancing the hall’s facilities and in doing so ensuring that it remains a thriving community hub for people now and in the future.”

Cabinet Secretary for Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham, said: “I warmly welcome this award from the Scottish Land Fund for Duns. It shows that there are a number of routes open to local groups who want to realise the potential of key community facilities – in this case, a leasing arrangement allowed the group to manage the facility, build their capacity to take on the challenges, and then put together a successful application for support to buy outright. It shows that groups who are already involved with assets at some level can still go on and achieve outright ownership if they wish.”

Ailsa Raeburn, Head of Community Assets for HIE, said: “More and more communities are taking control of their future by purchasing land and assets that matter to them. A Heart for Duns now has a great opportunity to take the hall and create a place where the real spirit of their community can flourish.”

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A Heart for Duns appoints Development Manager

A Heart for Duns, which manages the town’s Volunteer Hall on behalf of the community, has appointed Lindsay Wood as its first full-time Development Manager. This new post was advertised in April and is funded for three years by the Big Lottery Fund. Mr Wood has a range of experience and qualifications in project management and economic development.

Derek Janes, Convenor of A Heart for Duns, said: “We are very pleased that Lindsay has been able to join us, particularly at this time: the charity has recently become a Development Trust and we are looking to buy the Volunteer Hall from its owner, the Ministry of Defence. The experience Lindsay brings to the role — including over 25 years working with the principal economic development agencies in the Borders and as an active volunteer in many local groups — should prove invaluable as we develop a business plan for the sustainable future of the Hall.”

Lindsay Wood said: “A Heart for Duns is a dynamic institution and I look forward to working with the trustees, volunteers and staff, as well as the Hall users and community members and groups. I think the power of an organised community linked to the right motivation can enable a small group of enthusiastic people to change their world.”

Contact Lindsay Wood at the Volunteer Hall on 01361 884 935 or

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Duns Volunteer Hall to benefit from Big Lottery Fund

A Heart for Duns, which manages the town’s Volunteer Hall on behalf of the community, has been awarded a grant of £88,660 from the Big Lottery Fund. This will fund recruitment of a full-time Development Manager and a part-time Finance Assistant over the next three years, increasing the organisation’s capacity and enabling it to develop the Volunteer Hall as a first-rate venue for a wide range of events and activities.

As a Scottish charity, A Heart for Duns operates with a small team of part-time staff, supported by a substantial body of members and volunteers. The organisation runs its own events in the Hall, including monthly community lunches and film nights, food and craft markets, a beer festival and Christmas parties, as well as the recent Vivaldi’s Gloria concert. It also enjoys a relationship with a core group of Hall users, who together put on a busy and varied programme of theatre, music, dance, exercise, sport and fundraising events.

Derek Janes, Convenor of A Heart for Duns, said: “This grant from the Big Lottery Fund is a huge boost to A Heart for Duns at a critical period in the development of our work. We will be able to build the business of the Volunteer Hall and work more closely with our regular users to improve the service we offer them. The whole of Duns will benefit from this grant and we look forward to more and more people, groups and organisations using this very special venue.”

Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn, said: “I am delighted that A Heart for Duns has been successful in securing a Big Lottery Fund grant. The funding will make a big difference where it is needed most and I wish A Heart for Duns every success as it goes on to develop and expand its project for the benefit of their local community.”

The closing date for both job applications was 23 April 2017.

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New Duns Film Club

Would you like to join the new Duns Film Club? Then come along to the Volunteer Hall for a free viewing of  A United Kingdom on Sunday 26 March, at 4pm. A discussion afterwards will enable you to tell A Heart for Duns what you would like from the club. Licensed bar; over 18s only.

A United Kingdom is a 2016 British drama based on the true-life romance between Sir Seretse Khama, later to become the first President of Botswana, and Ruth Williams, a London office worker. In the late 1940s their proposed marriage was challenged not only by their families but also by the British and South African governments. David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike portray the couple. Run time 108 minutes (12A). 

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A Men’s Shed in Duns?

You are cordially invited to a public meeting to look into setting up a Men’s Shed in Duns. The meeting will be held at the Volunteer Hall at 7.30pm on Wednesday 15 February.

What is a Men’s Shed? It is a place where a man who has time on his hands can go to make things, use tools, relax and make friends. The aim is to help men improve their health, address issues such as social isolation, and play their part in community development. Some 1,500 such projects have been set up around the world, with over 70 in Scotland, including in several towns in the Borders. You can find out more at the website of the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association and in an article from Volunteer Centre Borders

This initial meeting is to explore possibilities and to form a plan to set up a similar project in Duns. It would be great to have your input and help!

If you would like to attend the meeting (or if you can’t attend but would like to be involved) please send an email to Eddy Richards at

Lastly, please feel free to pass on this invitation to anyone you think might like to see a Men’s Shed in Duns.

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Thanks from A Heart for Duns

Many thanks to all who supported and voted for the Duns Community Theatre bid in The People’s Millions competition.

Although we did not win the head-to-head with the Peebles music project, we did gain the bonus award for the runner-up among the six contestants in the ITV Borders region. This means that Duns still gets the full £43,000 that we requested in the original

The award will be used mainly to equip the Volunteer Hall with new lighting, sound, projection and staging systems. This will make film nights and theatre performances much more enjoyable, and we hope that many people of all ages will benefit from the new facilities.

We could not have done it without you, so once again, thank you!

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Duns Community Theatre in bid for lottery funding

A bid from Duns has been shortlisted for the People’s Millions competition, which could secure funding to turn the Volunteer Hall into a vibrant community theatre for Berwickshire. The effort is being led by A Heart for Duns, with support from Duns and District Amateur Operatic Society and Duns Players.

The People’s Millions is a partnership between Big Lottery Fund and ITV, where the public help decide which local community projects get up to £50,000 of National Lottery funding. For ITV Border viewers, the Duns project will be screened during the Border News on Wednesday 26 November. Viewers will be asked to vote for their preferred bid, in this case either Duns Community Theatre or a musical project in Peebles.

The Duns bid is for £43,000 to equip a professional quality space for theatrical performances. According to Peter Lerpiniere of Duns Players, “The Volunteer Hall facilities are fairly basic, so we are aiming for a new lighting rig, a projection and sound system, and blackout curtains. These upgrades would also bring benefits for concerts, film nights and other events at the Hall.”

For the Duns bid to succeed, it will need full support from the town and surrounding area. Emma Taylor from Duns Operatic Society said: “A first class community theatre in the centre of Berwickshire would attract people from far afield, whether simply attending a show or pursuing a career in the performing arts. We hope that everyone in the county will support our bid.”

Derek Janes, Convenor of A Heart for Duns, said: “We are very excited to get through to this stage. Having up-to-date equipment will allow us to run a full programme of activities at the Volunteer Hall, which will in turn allow it to become fully sustainable. Please galvanise your friends, relations and work colleagues, in person and through social media, to vote for Duns Community Theatre.”

To support the Duns bid now, please visit The People’s Millions website.

On 26 November, People’s Millions will release telephone numbers for voting and the lines will be open from 9am until midnight. Mobile and BT landline votes cost no more than 15p; other landlines may vary.

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Volunteer Hall survey launched

A Heart for Duns has launched a survey to find out what services and facilities the local community would like to see in the Volunteer Hall. We want to ensure we develop what the people of Duns and Berwickshire want, as well as build a strong business case for the improvement of the Hall to support applications for grant funding.

Please take a few minutes to complete the online survey

Paper copies of the survey are also available in Duns, to be completed and handed in to Nairn’s/the Post Office.

This research is being carried out by Community Enterprise (01506 862227) on behalf of A Heart for Duns. All information is gathered in the strictest confidence.

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New phase in the campaign to revive the Volunteer Hall

Our campaign to reinvent Duns Volunteer Hall as a modern, vibrant community venue has shifted gear and has entered a critical and exciting phase. The Ministry of Defence, which owns the hall, has pledged significant funds for an initial refurbishment. This will help considerably, but the hall requires very high levels of investment that can only be secured through grant funding. Our Grants and Applications committee, working with Scottish Borders Council grant aid professionals, is making good progress through the complex and demanding application process. The journey might take three years, but we hope to access grant funding at levels that align with our ambitions for the hall.

In the meantime, it is vital that the Volunteer Hall be used fully, so that revenue from events can offset its significant operating costs. For this we need the support of the community of Duns and outlying areas. You can help by attending the events at the hall and by volunteering: please see our call for help later in this programme.

A Heart for Duns events are varied and popular. In May over 220 people visited the Food and Craft Market and over 100 came to see Philomena. Our June programme included the first annual Duns Community Challenge Quiz, sponsored by Aitchison’s Garage, and The Lego Movie.

We hope you will find much to interest you in this programme, including American Hustle (July), The Butler (August) and an evening Food Market (September). Other events, updates and photos are posted on our website:

To help us deliver an outstanding community facility in Duns, please be part of our campaign and continue to attend and enjoy events in the Volunteer Hall.

Jim Cook, Chairman, A Heart for Duns

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Edging closer to long-term certainty for the Volunteer Hall

I open this statement with grateful thanks from A Heart for Duns to Andrew Lester, who has relinquished his position as Chairman of the AHFD Committee. Andrew has led the effort to galvanise the people of Duns and surrounding territories behind the campaign to return the Volunteer Hall to the centre of local community life. Through Andrew’s skill, hard work and commitment, significant progress has been made toward ensuring that the Volunteer Hall will endure long into the future. Thankfully, Andrew will remain on the AHFD Committee in the role of Vice-Chairman.Our campaign has gathered momentum and achieved much in recent months. The number of events held at the hall has increased by 12% over the past 12 months. Over the same period, the number of people attending events has increased from 4,400 to 7,000 — a 59% increase!

Four monthly Food and Craft Markets have attracted on average almost 30 stallholders and over 240 visitors. The showing of Gravity in February drew 80 people, whose responses indicate that the Film Night will become a regular feature of our events calendar. This edition of Volunteer Hall Events reflects our full and varied programme.

The Committee is relentless in its effort to ensure that we meet the social need of providing a sustainable facility for use by the community. We have engaged other stakeholders, canvassing their moral and financial support: Scottish Borders Council management team, Mid Berwickshire Councillors Renton, Moffat and Greenwell, and the landlords, The Ministry of Defence. All parties are working in close liaison to achieve our common aim that the Volunteer Hall endures as a fully funded and fully utilised facility for use by the community of Duns and surrounding areas.

May I thank the public of Duns and the commercial community for the immense support you give to the AHFD Committee and to this campaign.

Please visit us at

Jim Cook, Chairman, A Heart for Duns


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