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Loanhead Community Development Association
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Page updated 9th November 2020

Due to the current Coronavirus and, in particular, Government guidance on mass gatherings, limiting social contact and that we should anticipate current restrictions remaining in place for some months, the diary will remain empty until further notice. We felt it important to include a statement issued 22nd July 2020 by Loanhead Gala Committee

In the early stages of the Covid 19 emergency, the Gala Committee decided to postpone the Children’s Day from 20 June to a provisional re-arranged date of 5 September 2020. At that point in time there was optimism that the crisis would only last a few months, that lockdown measures would not extend beyond early summer and that by August / September normality would have returned, allowing the Children’s Day to proceed along familiar lines.
That decision reflected the general view of many in the country at the time. As the weeks and months have passed, it has however become clear that the Covid 19 emergency is likely to be with us for a much longer time than we had originally anticipated.
There is currently no realistic prospect of mass gatherings being allowed to resume any time soon and certainly not by 5 September. As such there is no possibility of the Children’s Day taking place along anything resembling familiar lines on that date.
The Committee has considered the possibility of staging a smaller scale event on 5 September. Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown does include the reintroduction of some live events. There is however currently no date for when such events may be permitted to resume and this may well not occur until after 5 September.
We have examined the guidance published this month by the Scottish Government to assist event organisers to prepare for the reintroduction of live events. It is clear from this guidance that, as and when permission may be given for such events to recommence, organisers and promoters will find themselves subject to a myriad of additional rules and regulations designed to protect public health, adherence to which will prove a major challenge for large commercial concerns, never mind a small voluntary community organisation such as ourselves.
It appears highly likely that only a relatively small number of people will be permitted to attend any events which might take place in the near future and it would clearly be a problem for us if the vast majority of the local community had to be excluded.
After taking into account the uncertainty over whether or not any event may be permitted by 5 September and the conditions which would require to be met to ensure any event could proceed safely, the Committee has decided there is no realistic prospect of our being able to stage even a much smaller event on 5 September and we shall no longer seek to do so.
We had previously considered a fall back option of a Crowning Ceremony at an indoor venue later in the year, but with the likely continuation of physical distancing measures in the months ahead and the greater transmission risks associated with an indoor venue, we have been forced to conclude that also is no longer a feasible option.
Looking ahead to 2021, the Committee has considered whether we should suspend all activities until such time as the pandemic has passed. This would essentially mirror the approach adopted for a number of years during each of the World Wars. We have however rejected that approach.
After taking into account the success and evident popularity of the “At Home” Gala Week organised at short notice in June, it is clear that event raised spirits in the town at a difficult time. Indeed, some events such as the Scarecrow Trail proved so popular it is intended to retain them as permanent features of the Gala Week. We thank everyone who took part. It was great to see the blue, white and gold colours displayed in almost every street.
It is currently impossible to predict what the future may hold. In a best case scenario a vaccine for the virus and / or more effective means of treating its effects may be found, allowing normal life to resume. In a worst case scenario, the number of cases could again spiral and we could once more find ourselves subject to strict lockdown measures.
We cannot simply assume that everything will have returned to normal by next year. We shall however seek to stage the most extensive programme which circumstances permit next June. We may have to reinvent parts of the event and some of it may look quite different to what we have been used to, but Loanhead Children’s Day will be back in some form on Saturday 26 June 2021.
It may be well into 2021 before we are able to make decisions on the particular format to be adopted next year. The selection of the 2021 Gala Court will quite possibly take place later than has traditionally been the case, although we certainly intend that all P7 pupils will, as normal, be given the opportunity to take part.
As regards the children selected for the 2020 Gala Court, we are currently consulting with those children and their families to ascertain if they may wish to have the opportunity to participate on Children’s Day 2021 and, if so, on what basis. We shall seek to accommodate their wishes insofar as it proves possible to do so.
Even if the virus is defeated in the months ahead and all lockdown measures are lifted, the Committee is aware that we will face an extremely challenging set of circumstances as we prepare for Children’s Day 2021. Many of the local businesses which have supported us so willingly over many years may no longer be in a position to do so. Midlothian Council will quite possibly not be in a position to provide the level of support which it has done in the past.
Many members of our community may find themselves affected by unemployment or otherwise in challenging personal financial circumstances. Our fundraising activities essentially came to a halt in March and it is difficult to see the majority of those activities resuming in the months ahead. The activities of many local groups and organisations which work with us to present the annual celebrations are currently suspended and likely to remain that way for some time to come.
Notwithstanding all of these difficulties, the members of the Committee are determined to do everything we can to allow Loanhead to enjoy the best possible Children’s Day and Gala Week in 2021. Recent months have once more demonstrated the value of local communities with a clear sense of identity, good community spirit and a willingness to help and support our neighbours in difficult times. We look forward to everyone in Loanhead once more coming together to enjoy our annual celebrations next June.

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