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Caithness News Bulletins September 2005

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Caithness Horizons  

19 September 05
The Heritage Lottery Fund has officially announced its intention to support the Caithness Horizons project with a contribution of nearly 1 million. This is the second largest single payment the organisation has ever awarded to Caithness.

Tina Wrighton, Caithness Horizons director seconded from UKAEA who has been coordinating the process. 

On receiving the good news, which followed a crucial meeting with the HLF officer last month, the board members and key project players are absolutely delighted with the outcome. Commenting on the award, Paul Cariss, Chairman of Caithness Horizons, said: "This is fantastic news and guarantees the project's key objective to provide a high quality multi-functional facility that both the local community and visitors can use, enjoy and be proud of. Credit must go to our Director Tina Wrighton and Robin Lingard our Project Co-ordinator, who assisted by the project team, submitted the final application to HLF after many months of hard work and dedication."

Along with guaranteed capital and revenue contributions from The Highland Council and UKAEA, both Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise and Scottish Natural Heritage have also confirmed their funding contributions, conditional on all additional funding being in place.

This is a vital step forward in securing this ambitious and exciting project to redevelop a much loved public building.

John Thurso, MP for Caithness Sutherland and East Ross, said: "As Honorary Patron, I know the dedication and hard work that the project team have put into securing this funding. This is wonderful news for Caithness and it is a significant step on the road to creating an important asset for the community."

Commenting from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Colin McLean, Manager for Scotland, said: "We are delighted to make this award, particularly at a time when the area is coming to terms with the closure of Dounreay. This Heritage Lottery investment will hopefully provide the foundation on which the region can begin to develop its cultural tourism. There is an untapped market as many visitors travel through the area on coach tours or en route to Orkney and Shetland yet the nearest council-run museum is over 100 miles away in Inverness. It will also provide an excellent facility for local families and school children."

Paul Cariss added: "There is still a long way to go and a lot of design and development work to finalise, but when you receive such support and obvious belief in your plans, which is essential for the project to succeed, then all the hard work is worthwhile. These are exciting times and as the project develops the benefits to the area will become apparent."

The project team has now submitted an application for European Regional Development Funding. The outcome is expected later this year. If approved, the building refurbishment will get underway during early 2006.

Further public presentations and community briefings are being arranged and expected to commence during October.

Leaflets summarising the project's aims and objectives are available in the Town Hall, Thurso Museum and at the Thurso Service Point. Information is also available on the Company's newly redesigned website at http://caithnesshorizons.co.uk/

Thurso Town Hall

Thurso Town Hall

8 September 05
The Highland Council today (Thursday 8 September 2005) unanimously agreed to bridge the 250,000 funding gap in the exciting new tourism, leisure and community project at Thurso Town Hall and the Carnegie Library.

The additional cash support takes the Council's contribution towards the 3.6 million project to 934,000.

The funding package is now in place to enable Caithness Horizons, promoters of the Thurso project, to bid for a 500,000 grant from the European Regional Development Fund.

Caithness councillors are delighted at the support given to the project, which is supplemented by an increased contribution towards the running costs of the new facility from 2008/9.

Area Committee Convener Councillor David Flear said: "This is a great boost for Caithness. The project represents the single biggest investment in tourism leisure and community facilities in the county for many many years. It breathes new life into a landmark building in Thurso and promises to provide the area with a very welcome economic lift. It is also an outstanding example of partnership working between a number of public agencies and the community."

Board members of Caithness Horizons, Councillors Donald Mackay and Roger Saxon, a former chairman, also welcomed the Council's increased grant aid.

Councillor Mackay said: "This is great news for Caithness. The redevelopment of Thurso Town Hall has the potential to create an outstanding facility in the centre of Thurso for the benefit of local people and visitors to Caithness and the North Highlands."

Councillor Saxon said: "Hopefully, Caithness will soon have a fabulous museum and visitor attraction with enhanced community facilities that we can all be proud of. We very much welcome the support given by the Council towards this important project."

As well as providing modern facilities for community and educational use, the refurbished buildings will contain a high quality accredited museum telling the human and environmental story of Caithness. The museum will bring together existing collections held in the area by Thurso Heritage Society, the Council and the UKAEA, the three partners who have formed a joint venture to take the project forward.

The buildings will remain in the ownership of the Council but will be leased to Caithness Horizons, a company limited by guarantee with charitable status.

The facility will remain open throughout the year, with free entry and will incorporate a Tourist Information Centre. A learning centre will provide locally accessible resources and facilities for schools and lifelong learning, as well as for academic courses and research in collaboration with North Highland College UHI.

Other funding has come from UKAEA, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise, Historic Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.

April 2004

Thurso Heritage Centre which will be integrated in refurbished centre