New Year reflections from Forth Valley and Lomond LEADER

by Ashley Robinson, Forth Valley and Lomond LEADER

Happy New Year from everyone at Forth Valley and Lomond LEADER! The start of a new year is a perfect time to reflect on the past year and plan for the future.

Since our launch in January 2016, we’ve welcomed two new Development Officers to the team and have been busy responding to over 60 Expressions of Interest, attending events, and working with applicants to develop their projects and applications. All the hard work has paid off, with Forth Valley and Lomond LEADER allocating over half a million pounds of funding (£582,313) to 16 projects across our area!

Our Local Action Group and Local Development Strategy, is particularly focused on the economic benefits that projects can bring to our area - which covers rural Stirlingshire, Clackmannanshire, and West Dunbartonshire. From community broadband to hidden gardens - below are just three examples of projects that we’ve funded over the past year, all of which provide substantial economic benefit to the area.

From the far reaches of Stirlingshire, the passionate and dedicated team at Balquhidder Community Broadband CIC were delighted to receive funding towards a Project Manager post. The community-led project has been in the works for over a decade, and is now at the final push to bring super-fast, future-proof broadband to this remote glen. This innovative project will bring more connectivity to the area – helping businesses to work more efficiently, retaining residents and workers, and boosting tourism.

One of our first projects to be funded this year was a small grant towards the marketing and promotional costs of Mugstock Music Festival, in Stirlingshire. Billed as a festival of music and merriment for all ages, this event is coordinated and run by a non-profit organisation. We encourage more events in our area – particularly those that create more over-night visitors to support accommodation in the area, and events held in the ‘shoulder seasons’ to increase tourism in autumn, winter and spring.

From Clackmannanshire, we’ve had the pleasure of funding an ambitious and exciting project near Dollar – the Japanese Garden at Cowden Castle. This historic Japanese Garden, created in the early 1900s, was tragically vandalised to the point of closure in the 1960s. A massive restoration effort has brought the Garden back to its former glory, with improved access and gates to the site proving a key barrier to opening to the public. With LEADER funding helping to alleviate these concerns, the Japanese Garden will open soon - providing a unique tourist attraction of global significance, right here in Clackmannanshire!

Plans for the near future include recruiting a new LAG member to represent Clackmannanshire. Please feel free to share our request with any person or organisation that you think would be interested in joining our team.  

We’re looking forward to another year contributing to innovative projects, supporting communities, and building a more diverse and vibrant rural landscape! For more information, please visit, or get in touch by emailing