Stirling Observer

Volunteers would be havens sent


Stirling nature-loving volunteers are being sought for a project which aims to transform city spaces into green havens.

Residents in Raploch, Cornton, Top of the Town, Braehead and Hillpark are being asked to help plant native trees and wildflower­s that will boost population­s of butterflie­s and moths, as well as other wildlife, for the Wild Spaces scheme.

Butterflie­s and moths are important pollinator­s and are fundamenta­l food for birds as well as bats. However, their habitats have faced catastroph­ic declines and some species in Scotland have declined by 27 per cent in recent years.

Funded by a grant of £79,800 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, and with support from Stirling Council, over the next two years the project will not only help create a network of restored habitats for pollinator­s but will also offer additional greenery and bring benefits to local people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Wild Spaces project officer Anthony Mccluskey said:“the Wild Spaces project is the perfect opportunit­y for people in Stirling to get directly involved in improving their local greenspace­s and gardens for wildlife and the people living near them. Nature is in crisis and we all want to do something to help, so it’s fantastic to have the support of Stirling Council for this important work.”

Events will also be held around Stirling to show people how to identify and record butterflie­s, and opportunit­ies for people to come along to Discovery Days and Moth Mornings to find out about the wonderful world of insects in their communitie­s.

Gardeners and community groups will benefit too, with training workshops to show them how to make their gardens and greenspace­s better for insects. The project will give away 200 native trees or wildflower packs to residents of Stirling so they can do their bit to help at home.

Director for Scotland at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Caroline Clark said:“wild Spaces is going to have a real impact improving the environmen­t for people and nature in the heart of communitie­s.

“These volunteeri­ng opportunit­ies are a great way for local people to be part of that change. Volunteers are at the heart of much of the work that, thanks to National Lottery players, we support. We know it is a tremendous­ly rewarding activity. On this project volunteers will be able to enjoy watching the local havens for wildlife they create grow and thrive for years to come.”

Stirling Council environmen­t, transport and net zero committee convener Jen Preston said:“stirling Council fully supports projects which seek to improve the availabili­ty of habitats that help to support our pollinator­s.

“We are also keen to see projects delivered that better connect our communitie­s with the natural environmen­t.

“We have made a commitment through our recently adopted Alive with Nature Plan to manage 50 per cent of our land for biodiversi­ty and this exciting project will help us to achieve that target.”

Details of events and how to take part in the project will be on Butterfly Conservati­on’s Scotland website.

To sign up to take part in the Wild Spaces project or for more informatio­n contact Anthony at: amccluskey@ butterfly-conservati­ or go to www.butterfly-conservati­ scotland.

The family of a Doune teenager who tragically died of a rare heart condition have met with Stirling’s MSP.

Evelyn Tweed MSP met with Morag and Gilbert Ferrier to discuss the debate on cardiomyop­athy and hopes for the future.

Earlier this year, Ms Tweed led a debate in the Scottish Parliament on cardiomyop­athy, to raise awareness of the condition and to celebrate the fundraisin­g efforts of the Ferriers.

Morag and Gilbert lost their son Callum to cardiomyop­athy in 2008.

Callum, described as fit and “sports-mad”, was aged just 16 when dad Gilbert found him dead in bed.

The popular Mclaren High School pupil was later found to have died of hypertroph­ic cardiomyop­athy, a disease of the heart muscle.

Since then, his family – including his three brothers – have raised over £30,000 for Cardiomyop­athy UK through treks, ceilidhs, sky dives, and other events.

As well as regular charity ceilidhs, Callum’s brothers Sean, Darren and Neil have raised thousands of pounds through a host of events including 10k runs, half and whole marathons, and even a 64-mile charity trek in the Sahara Desert in 2012, as well as challenges in Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China.

Cardiomyop­athy is a group of conditions that affect the shape of the heart and make it difficult for the heart to pump blood around the body.

Ms Tweed met with Callum’s parents at the newly reopened Woodside Hotel in Doune to present them with the motion and to reflect on the debate and their hopes for what can be achieved next.

They discussed the issues around screening, including parts of the world where all young people are screened before they take part in sport.

Mstweed said: “I was grateful for the opportunit­y to meet with the Ferrier family to personally congratula­te them on their successful fundraisin­g, and to discuss the future.

“We talked extensivel­y about screenings, which are vital as there are no signs or symptoms in 80 per cent of cases of cardiomyop­athy.

“Screening in the UK is limited, being offered to those with symptoms on the NHS but those without symptoms rely on charities working in this area.

“I am committed to continuing to raise this issue in the parliament, and in my role on the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, and to work towards more widespread screening.

“I am grateful, and I know the Ferrier family are too, for the interest and engagement on this debate, and I look forward to a future where cardiomyop­athy is diagnosed and treated for as many young people as possible.”

Morag said: “It was a great pleasure to meet Evelyn Tweed MSP. We met after her recent debate in the Scottish Parliament on Cardiomyop­athy.

“Evelyn has been very supportive of this cause, which is dear to us.

“To move the cause forward and possibly have some sort of support in Scotland for the benefit of sufferers would be our dream. Evelyn has encouraged us with her support.

“Our next fundraisin­g event is Callum’s Ceilidh. Past ceilidhs have been successful and enjoyable.”

Although cardiomyop­athy is frequently undetected, it is possible to diagnose it. Doctors use scans and tests such as electrocar­diograms, echocardio­grams and magnetic resonance imaging, and once diagnosed the condition can be managed through lifestyle, medication or surgery.

Diagnosis for family members is also available on the NHS due to the genetic nature of the condition.

Symptoms can go unnoticed or remain mild, or they can get worse over time. They include breathless­ness, chest pain and feeling faint or light-headed; the abdomen, legs and feet may become swollen; and the rhythm of the heart may be abnormal.

Callum’s Ceilidh will be held on March 18 at 7.30pm in Victoria Hall, Dunblane. Tickets are available from Morag on 0790956496­3 and Neil on 0778686722­25.

Anyone interested in volunteeri­ng for Cardiomyop­athy UK in Scotland can find out more at https://www.cardiomyop­athy. org/westscotla­nd

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