A NEW project rooted in Sir Walter Scott’s passion for the outdoors has promised to grow life skills in the community.

‘Learning in a Heritage Landscape – Transforming Work’ has been launched at Abbotsford by the Heritage Lottery Fund and LEADER, a European funding programme which supports rural community and business projects.

The project, already underway at the former home of Sir Walter Scott, aims to offer new skills and inspiration to individuals and groups within the local community through gardening and outdoor activity.

Organisers say it will enhance employability and life skills for young job seekers and adults experiencing long-term unemployment, as well as providing opportunities for young people and adults with additional needs and mental health issues.

Giles Ingram, Abbotsford Trust Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to have secured this funding, which enables the Trust to provide a new service for the local community.

"We’re now looking forward to welcoming local groups on site.”

The project, which runs until October 2019, is also providing employment, with the appointment of a Gardens Heritage Engagement Officer and Seasonal Heritage Engagement Assistants, plus the provision of a Modern Apprenticeship in gardening.

Mary Kenny, the Gardens Heritage Engagement Officer, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to widen the scope of engagement for the local community, who will get to know Abbotsford and its wonderful environment through this project.”

As part of the project, a new multi-purpose facility has been built at Abbostford. ‘The Bothy’ has been erected alongside Scott’s original potting shed and will serve as workshop, potting shed and learning space for the project.

A new ‘Herb Border’ containing edible and medicinal plants has also been created in Scott’s kitchen garden as a learning and demonstration bed.

The project is rooted in Scott’s passion for the outdoors and the impact it has on wellbeing. Mary explains: “Scott wrote of the benefits of being in nature and the positive impact on his own health and wellbeing.

“He understood this for himself and believed in the effectiveness of fresh air and exercise in raising people’s moods and spirits.

"This aim lies at the root of this project, which will take place in the walled gardens and woodland estate that Scott created.”

Lucy Casot, Head of HLF Scotland, said: “Skills are vital for Scotland’s economy, not least in the fields of heritage, tourism and protecting the environment.

"Using National Lottery players money in this way, HLF will help to equip trainees with the skills needed to make a difference to their own lives as well as to contribute to the future prosperity of our country.”