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29 March 2023

Members of The Crichton Trust Board and the CEO met with the Chair and Secretary of the Veterans Garden Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway Council Armed Forces Champion and the Convenor of the Council along with The President of RBLS Dumfries and Maxwelltown Branch on 27th March 2023 to see if a resolution could be agreed on a way forward regarding the tenancy of The Crichton Greenhouse Site.

At what can be described as a very positive meeting both organisations have agreed to work together on a Partnership Agreement and a Business Plan to bring the Greenhouses back into use for the benefit of all who would wish to use them and the surrounding grounds area.

Discussion took place on having several meetings to firm up on a future tenancy arrangement that could support Community Gardening, with the potential of the Veterans Garden supporting the running of this on behalf of The Crichton Trust.

Tam Muirhead, the Veterans Garden Chairman commented ‘the meeting agreed a potential way forward that would support the objectives of our charity that supports our veterans and wider community involvement,  I believe in Partnerships as a win/win and we are now able to move forward with our supporters with the aim of bringing the Greenhouses back into full use supported by The Crichton Trust. This is a positive start to a new clearer partnership,  where understanding the needs of each other’s organisation will be at the centre of the partnership. We will work hard with The Crichton Trust to ensure a positive result out of this Partnership for our veterans and The Crichton’s wider community with a deliverable Business Plan.’

Gwilym Gibbons CEO of The Crichton Trust stated ‘ the meeting on Monday made it clear that both The Crichton Trust and the Veterans Garden Dumfries are seeking the same goals for not only veterans and their families but for the whole community. The outcome of the meeting with both organisations agreeing a way forward and supporting each other’s objectives is based on better communication, clearer responsibilities and a need for shared understanding on what is required in the development of a Business Plan for the Glasshouses and the all-important Partnership Agreement to support and enhance our 100 year ambitions for The Crichton grounds. I am confident that through working together we can deliver the benefit of a hugely important and exciting shared project, a Community Garden for all who wish to visit, grow, recover and develop their horticultural skills.  The Crichton Trust reaffirms its commitment to working with the Veterans Garden Dumfries to seek a Business Plan model that can be supported by our Board as we look to enhance the lease arrangements, with the Veterans Garden Dumfries.’

Archie Dryburgh MBE Armed Forces Champion for Dumfries and Galloway Council advised ‘Over the last few weeks it has been clear that there is a huge amount of support for both organisations and the meeting today clarified that they could help each other, and the community, bring back into use the greenhouses which would support the objectives of both charities.  Today I have seen the potential of improving a long and fruitful relationship, however this is the beginning of a very important road to that. The Partnership Agreement and Business Plan development will take time to be drawn up, and I will be there to support this going forward.’

Malcolm Johnstone Convenor of the Council ‘it is important that our Council,  having signed the Armed Forces Covenant,  do what we can to support our serving and ex-service community, the benefits of the Veterans Garden Dumfries are clear and tangible in what they bring to Dumfries and Galloway and indeed the South of Scotland. Today I saw two organisations wanting to understand and help each other, and thanks to those that were there, come up with a direction of travel that our Council could support.  Whilst this was the start of many meetings to come to a positive outcome, I am confident, with the support of our Councils Armed Forces Champion and all Elected Members both Charities will deliver a Project that will help everyone involved in it.’

At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that members of The Crichton Trust Board who meet on 20th April 2023 will visit the Veterans Garden as part of the process to work on the Partnership Agreement.  Meetings will then continue building the Business Plan for the Community Garden Project with a view to the Veterans Garden Dumfries taking a lead partnership role in the The Crichton Community Garden, pending The Crichton Trust Board’s consideration and approval of both the Partnership Agreement and Business Plan model to preserve and enhance the heritage of the estate. Support for this outcome will be provided by both charities and the Council.

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