Linlithgow guides making great strides, say walkers

A scheme to enhance children's education at Linlithgow Palace has earned praise from a national initiative focusing on community projects.

The town was in the spotlight last week thanks to a visit from The Big Walk, an initiative from the Eden Project made possible by the National Lottery.

It celebrates the people at the heart of the UK’s communities, who work together to make a positive difference locally. It was launched on BBC’s The One Show on May 16.

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The walkers arrived into Linlithgow having visited community projects in Morecambe, Penrith, Carlisle, Gretna, Lockerbie, Larkhall, Easterhouse, Glasgow, Lenzie, Stirling and Alloa.

They were given a tour of Linlithgow Palace by the Junior Palace Guides. The scheme, which has been running for more than 40 years, sees P7 pupils from Linlithgow Primary School trained as tour guides. The young guides then take other school visits on tours of the palace.

This year, there are about 25 pupils enrolled in the scheme in Linlithgow and its success has prompted Historic Scotland to roll it out at other destinations.

After the palace visit, the walkers went to the school to talk to the pupils about the scheme.

Leading the Scotland team, Angus McLeod, 52, has been overwhelmed by the support of people and projects along the route.

He said: “This is an amazing opportunity to see Linlithgow and its history through the eyes of its young people.

“When I was young, I was involved with the Boys’ Brigade, which taught me important life skills and gave me a sense of community and it was really interesting to find out how this project helps the young people of Linlithgow.”

Robbie Taylor, deputy head teacher at Linlithgow Primary School, said: “The benefits are tenfold. We watch their self-esteem and confidence go through the roof and their drama skills, literacy and organisational skills all improve.

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“They also get practice of job applications, as they all get interviewed for the opportunity to do it as a summer job for Historic Scotland. They also get to know more about the palace and are able to talk about their own community and its history. We’re delighted to be able to welcome the walkers and the pupils are looking forward to having the chance to show them around.”

The Big Walk, in which four teams travel to the corners of the UK, is also helping to spread the word about The Big Lunch, the annual get-together for neighbours this Sunday.