As we begin our thinking about the next community action plan for the town it is worth reflecting back on one of the key successes related to the 2014-2019 Action plan – the restoration and complete transformation of the Rose Garden. A promise made and delivered thanks to the dedication of Maureen Ross and the wider DIG Team.

This had previously been a beautiful spot in Darvel’s Morton Park, but over a number of years had deteriorated significantly to such an extent that it was avoided completely by the community and only served as a drinking den for the youngsters. The development involved the asset transfer of the garden from East Ayrshire Council to the Darvel Improvement Group and the acquisition of the necessary funding mainly from the Renewable Energy Fund but also from other smaller benefactors.

Great credit has to be paid to all volunteers who helped to make this improvement possible, but above all Maureen Ross who was very much the driving force in taking this project forward – never giving the contractors a moment’s peace if they didn’t quite meet the required specifications.

Just in case you can’t remember what it looked like before the renovation here’s a reminder:

Before

The difference has been enormous. The restoration of the garden now provides a beautiful entrance to the Park from Mairs Road. The design of the garden reflects two major historical features of the town – the work of Sir Alexander Fleming, best known for his discovery of penicillin, who was a native of Darvel, and the town’s now sadly gone lace industry.

Plans were drawn up by Darvel Improvement Group and the work was carried out in early 2018 and completed before the town’s Gala day in June. There has been massive community support for the garden and rarely a day goes by without numbers of local people spending time in the garden. It is so encouraging to see people – both locals and visitors – reading the interpretation boards and the memorial plaques that provide information about those for whom roses have been donated to the garden by local people.

In addition, there has been no shortage of volunteers to assist in the regular maintenance of the garden. This in itself reflecting the feelings of the community towards this asset of the town. From a place to be avoided at all costs it has become a peaceful haven in the town, a place for quiet contemplation. It is unlikely that the project would have become a reality without the existence of the action plan, and we can also now see another major element coming to pass- the forthcoming demolition of the derelict co-operative building and the subsequent repurposing of the site as a garden and market. But more about that in a forthcoming article.