Nairn groups create a powerhouse for action

Four organisations have joined forces to create a powerhouse which will work to regenerate Nairn town following the Covid 19 crisis.

Nairn BID, Nairn Improvement Community Enterprise (NICE) and the town’s two community councils believe by pooling their resources they can get the seaside town back on its feet with a series of initiatives.

Representatives from each of the groups have developed a strategy for recovery which will involve engaging with Highland Council and relevant public agencies and others to mobilise resources.

The key aims of the group are to take forward projects which will support enterprise and job creation, to retain local workforce and skills and to promote Nairn as a place to live and visit. 

From left: Nairn BID chair Michael Boylan, Tommy Hogg chairman of Nairn River CC, Sheena Baker chair of Nairn West and Suburban CC and Alastair Noble chair of NICE


Speaking on behalf of the collaboration, Bob Ferenth a member of the Nairn BID board and convener of the group said: “There are many projects that we can develop as a collective working group and have identified several that should be progressed to help revive and improve the town. By working collaboratively, we will have a stronger voice. The effects of the downturn are already evident, but the community wants to move quickly to plan for and build a more resilient local economy for Nairnshire.”

He added: “During the lockdown, businesses adapted and found new ways of operating, but these were short-term responses to the immediate crisis. The local economy now faces the threat of a substantial rise in redundancies as the furlough scheme winds down. Some local businesses are not yet confident of reopening. Guest bookings are uncertain. Almost all the major annual events that bring visitors have been cancelled. What our collective approach has done is identify key areas such as encouraging visitors, regenerating the town centre, enhancing the amenities at the Links, and improving access and travel routes into and around the town to name but a few, that will help Nairn recover from what has been catastrophic for the local economy.”


Speaking specifically about tourism, Michael Boylan, chairman of Nairn BID said: “Our collective aim is to limit and alleviate the impact of the current difficulties and find ways of encouraging the tourism, visitors and footfall which so many businesses depend on. The beach is still there as are the golf courses and there are plenty of outdoor recreational options. We want to persuade people to visit and enjoy what Nairn offers and contribute to the revival of the local economy.”

Work has already begun on a new children’s splash pad which was a jointly funded project between charity Team Hamish, NICE, Nairn Common Good Fund and Highland Council.

Team Hamish

Alastair Noble, Chair of NICE said this is evidence that collaboration can lead to positive outcomes: “The entire community responded to the Team Hamish vision. The partnership shows that cooperation can work.  We now need to extend and reinforce that approach on a much more ambitious scale to deliver the kind of measures that will keep the local economy going and sustain local employment.”

Led by NICE, the group has already submitted an application to the Scottish Government, with the support of Highland Council for funding to restore and repurpose a historic building as a visitor centre and business hub which is intended to encourage greater footfall into the High Street.

Sheena Baker, chair of Nairn West and Suburban CC said: “We are already making waves and in this time of adversity, it is more important than ever the people of Nairn pull together.  

“We are counting on our elected councillors to join in these efforts and to back the proposals and projects which we are proposing. Public money will be needed. 

“The Council is meeting on Thursday (June 25) to consider the challenges of regeneration and recovery.  We are keen to collaborate in action which will make a real and sustainable difference to the economy, will create and protect jobs, and will enable us to find a way out of the present difficult situation.”

Splashpad Work to Start Soon

#TeamHamish pride as first phase of work is set to start on Nairn’s new children’s splashpad

The family behind the #TeamHamish fundraising effort to bring a new children’s splash pad to Nairn has welcomed news that phase one of the work is to start on 15 June.

Nairn couple Sam and Susan Hey lost their son Hamish to a rare and aggressive soft tissue cancer on 20 February 2017.

The support Hamish’s family received from the Nairn community in the aftermath of his death was incredible and the family wanted to do something to thank everyone.

They also wanted to create a lasting legacy to their son, so they set up the charity, #TeamHamish, to raise funds for a new splashpad at Nairn beach.

The splash pad is a jointly funded project between #TeamHamish, NICE, Nairn Common Good and Highland Council and is the result of extensive engagement with the community in Nairn.

Today’s announcement is a bittersweet moment for all involved in the project following the tragic death of Hamish’s mum Susan in May, who co-founded the #TeamHamish charity. Susan sadly lost her own battle with cancer last month.

The new start date is in line with Scottish Government guidance on construction sites reopening and the contractor, Ustigate, will be following all appropriate health and safety guidance including physical distancing measures for the operation of the works.

Cllr Tom Heggie, Chair of the Nairn and Nairnshire committee said: “Whilst the Council, Team Hamish and NICE are pleased that work is about to begin, we all acknowledge that it is with great sadness that Susan Hey, who had looked forward to this so much and done so much to bring it about, is unable to be with us to see this happen.

“The first three weeks or so will see a small number of operatives (approx. three) setting up the site and demolishing the existing paddling pool. They will be installing protective barriers around the site to ensure a safe distance between the workers and the general public.”

Works are expected to take around four months to complete.

Susan’s husband and co-founder of #TeamHamish, Sam said: “We are absolutely delighted that after over three years of fundraising, the first phase of our #TeamHamish proposals are finally coming to fruition.

“This represents positive progress for Nairn, its Community and beyond and is a bright sparkle of rainbow light shining through the difficulties of recent months, as well as the creation of a lasting legacy for both Hamish and Susan.”