GALASHIELS’ Great Tapestry centre has been awarded a five-star rating following an inspection from Scotland’s national tourism organisation.

The visitor attraction opened its doors to the Borders public back in August.

And the centre has now been awarded the highest rating possible from VisitScotland after its first-ever ‘quality assurance’ inspection.

Paula Ward, VisitScotland’s regional leadership director, officially presented the five-star visitor attraction status.

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She said: “To receive this five-star quality assurance award just a few months after opening is testament to the exceptional visitor experience on offer.

“Quality assurance is more than just stars on the door, it is about the entire visitor experience. Our stars represent world class excellence, helping businesses shine, enabling visitors to make informed choices and driving investment in quality.

Photo: Phil Wilkinson

Photo: Phil Wilkinson

“The Great Tapestry of Scotland is already one of Scotland’s must-see national visitor attractions and a fantastic example of how tourism really is a force for good, creating wealth and social benefits for businesses and people in the south of Scotland, and enhancing the wellbeing of everyone who visits.”

Naomi Harrod, owner of Unwind Yarns in Galashiels, said her store has seen an increase in footfall since the doors of the tapestry centre opened.

The brainchild of Alexander McCall Smith, the Great Tapestry of Scotland was hand-stitched by a team of 1,000 stitchers from across Scotland, using 160 linen panels and over 300 miles of wool.

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In addition to the tapestry itself, the centre houses visiting exhibits, a café and workshops.

Director Sandy Maxwell-Forbes, who led the development of the new centre, said: “I am absolutely delighted we were awarded five stars from VisitScotland who have helped to create our wonderful new visitor centre.

“I am incredibly proud of all that we have achieved and continue to achieve, particularly amidst a global pandemic.”

Photo: Phil Wilkinson

Photo: Phil Wilkinson

Conservative Galashiels councillor Euan Jardine – the council’s executive member for wellbeing, sport and culture – added: “Accolades like this five-star rating do wonders to help promote the national significance of this visitor attraction across the country and places Galashiels firmly on the map.

“This national recognition can act as a springboard for further tourism to the local area and the wider region through 2022 and beyond, providing wide-ranging benefits to businesses and communities alike.”

The Great Tapestry of Scotland is operated by Live Borders, which manages many of the cultural and leisure facilities in the region.