Connecting Communities Along the Carron


Building owner/client:

19.8 miles of River and the 16 Communities which run along it

Local Authority Area:


Nominating Body:

Communities Along the Carron Association

Project Description

Connecting Communities Along the River Carron Communities Along the Carron Association was formed in 2010 following a 9 month consultation with over 3000 people in the 16 communities along the River Carron. We spoke to them about their concerns and aspirations for the river and adjacent communities and recorded their comments, wrote a 31 point development plan then got to work. Since then we have achieved more than we could ever have imagined! Our projects were as follows: 

  • Cleaning the River: professional deep cleaning of 9 miles of the main river and 8 miles of tributaries over two phases which involved: raising £100,000 for professional cleaning services, engaging 3000 community volunteer hours to assist the professional deep clean, recruiting community volunteers to carry out 143 litterpicks accumulating 1023 volunteer hours, organising 9 Corporate Social Responsibility Workdays with 5 large national companies, the complete removal of 40 tons of scrap metal from the river bed, the removal of 55 tons, (1900 bags) of litter and fly tipping from the river and bankings, the removal of 100 tons of timber blockages.
  • Improving Water Quality: a partnership working with Scottish Water for discussing and planning water quality improvement measures in river and tributaries.
  • Access for walking and cycling: active involvement in fundraising for delivery of 10km of paths and the installation of 4 new bridges at a cost of circa £1Million.
  • Environmental and Heritage Education: the delivery of a large number of educational projects in schools consisting of: the engagement of the pupils and staff of Larbert High School to embrace their local SSSI site for outdoor education which resulted in the site gaining LNR status on 8th March 2013, winning the Sustainable School Award for Larbert High at the Scottish Educational Awards ceremony in June 2013, winning the Nature of Scotland Award with Larbert High School at the prestigious RSPB awards ceremony supported by the BBC in Oct 2013, the installation of two sections of the River Carron Nature and Heritage Trail with Heritage signage and seating, being selected by the BBC Cbeebies children’s programme to film an episode of ‘Here and There’ with Mr Bloom showing the projects we do with the children, the delivery of over 1000 John Muir awards in Larbert High School, the delivery of ‘Fish in the Classroom’ projects to 25 primary schools reaching a total of 750 children directly and the involvement of a further 3000 children through information sharing, winning the RSPB ‘Nature Of Scotland’ Community Volunteer Project of the Year 2014, the river becoming a vital part of Central Scotland’s Green Network (CSGN) by linking communities, people, and places, along sustainable walking and cycling routes, winning Rural Scotland Conservation and Environment 2016 award and being shortlisted again in 2017, nominating our local member and historian for the Heritage Angels awards 2016 and him winning the Lifetime Achievement award.
  • Winning the MBE for Volunteer groups in 2016 The Queens Award for Voluntary Service.
  • In total we have raised over £1million of funding for local projects since 2010.

Supporting Statement

Our group was unaware that a project of this nature could be nominated until we were encouraged to do so by the judges when they came to view one of the bridges we nominated in 2015. We thought that the Scottish Civic Trust awards were mostly for structural developments. On reflection the people who came together from communities along the entire length of a river, which is an integral part of the 16 communities, has shown us that it is not just shared buildings that can unite communities, but green space and a river can unite people in ways we never thought possible. When we set out to consult with people, we thought we would have difficulty in getting people to come and talk to us about connecting communities along the Carron, but to our delight that simply wasn’t the case! CATCA are very proud to have been featured as an example of best practice with regards to community engagement procedures by the Scottish Government in 2011. Additionally, we were selected by the CSGN as a case study for their path and bridge project on Denny/Dunipace in 2012, the opening of which was hailed by the Chair of the CSGN and the local Provost Pat Reid as the best and most inclusive community engagement project they had witnessed and was selected by SNH as an exemplar project to promote the launch of the CSGN in March 2014. In 2015 we turned our attention to another huge infrastructure project in our communities and helped with the delivery of additional path networks and the replacement of another bridge over our watercourse. We hosted the celebration and blessing of the bridge which was another hugely successful and memorable community event and has led to a 700% increase in the usage of this part of the path network. Since we gathered the above summary we have continued to advance our aims and objectives and deliver on our promises to the communities we serve and are delighted to have been recognised for this by winning the Learning to Achieve Awards for School and Community Partnership Project 2015 and 2016, the Rural Scotland Award for Conservation and Environment Award 2016 followed by the Queen’s award for Voluntary Service 2016. Ultimately we feel that what we do in our communities and the successes we have are due to us being an integral part of the communities we serve. We share the frustrations of the people and the aspirations for improvement. We reach them by sharing the desire to make a difference and winning hearts and minds, by instilling their faith in what is achievable and empowering them to help make a difference in their own little corners. Although recognition is by no means the driving force for all the hard work we do, it does go a long way towards making the volunteers feel that their efforts are appreciated beyond the many people and the communities we aspire to support and improve.