TWO Borders politicians recently visited the newly opened Ian Gregg River Academy near Melrose.

Rachael Hamilton, the MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, and Craig Hoy, MSP for South Scotland met Jamie Stewart from the River Tweed Foundation and Peter Straker-Smith from the River Tweed Commission.

The River Tweed Foundation is a charitable trust responsible for protecting, improving and enhancing native freshwater fish stocks in the River Tweed catchment area, while the River Tweed Commission is a statutory body which, by law, manages Salmon and other freshwater fish in the River Tweed.

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Ian Gregg River Academy is a dedicated facility that uses live specimens, interactive displays and hands-on activities to teach children, young people and adults from Northumberland and the Borders about the River Tweed and the organisms that live in it.

Touch screens showcasing the work of the River Tweed Foundation as well as tanks containing small salmon, trout, grayling, minnows and loaches are on display to help explain the river system.

Border Telegraph: (left-to-right) Suzie Taylor (biologist) showing Rachael Hamilton MSP and Craig Hoy MSP live specimens from the River Tweed(left-to-right) Suzie Taylor (biologist) showing Rachael Hamilton MSP and Craig Hoy MSP live specimens from the River Tweed

The River Tweed is Scotland’s second-largest river basin with a catchment area of nearly 5,000 square kilometres spanning across the Scotland-England border from Tweed’s Well near Tweedsmuir in the Scottish Borders to Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland. It is home to 20 species of fish including 10 native species and it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for the protection of Atlantic Salmon and Lamprey.

Being on the Scotland-England border, the river is a unique example of a river body where fishing stocks are organised by one statutory body across two nations.

The River Tweed academy was named after Ian Gregg, the former chairman of Greggs bakery established by his father, John Gregg, who was a former River Tweed Commission Chief Commissioner instrumental to the formation of the UK’s Rivers Trusts movement.

Ms Hamilton said: "I was delighted to visit the recently opened Gregg River Academy in Drygrange alongside my colleague, Craig Hoy.

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"The Tweed Commission’s new educational site is a fantastic resource for school kids to learn about what they are doing to keep the Tweed healthy.

"It was great to meet Jamie and the team at Drygrange, who kindly gave up their time to show us around the academy and demonstrate some of the fantastic educational work they have been doing.”

Jamie Stewart said: “The River Tweed and its tributaries are a huge, shared resource that is vitally important to the Scottish Borders and North Northumberland. Our new Ian Gregg River Academy aims to provide a centre of excellence where schools, colleges, local community groups and interested individuals can discover more about the river and the life that teems within it.

"We believe that local communities on both sides of the Border have an important role to play in helping us protect and enhance the river system and hope that the knowledge gained through this new educational resource will help to inspire them to become involved in conserving the river environment for current and future generations.”

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Peter Straker Smith said: “We are delighted to welcome MSPs Rachael Hamilton and Craig Hoy to view our new facility. The River Academy has been named after Ian Gregg, a former River Tweed Commission Chief Commissioner who was instrumental in the formation of the UK’s Rivers Trusts movement, a truly inspirational person.

“The facility offers a fantastic opportunity to learn about the scientific activities that the Tweed Foundation and River Tweed Commission employs to support and protect the local natural environment.

“We face an ongoing challenge to combat the dual crises of nature loss and climate change and the impact these places on our world-famous Salmon. A key tool in this fight will be to educate people, young and not so young, as to the best ways that they can help protect Scotland’s rich and vibrant biodiversity.”

Further information to support the work of the River Tweed Foundation and River Tweed Commission can be found at: