Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

Coulters Candy

Well it was a wonderful sunny day for the unveiling of a statue of Robert Coltart, with the sculptress Angela Hunter and Jimmy Macgregor in attendance. Jimmy along with Robin Hall made the song famous and the story of Robert Coltart, former weaver turned confectioner of Gala, was brought alive by Graeme McIver. Because Coltart was known for his flamboyant clothes, ribbons were tied to his tray of candies by school children. I have no doubt over the years more will be added. I met up with Angela a week or so later at her studio in Innerleithen and saw the original sketches and indeed the sketches for the two children who have yet to be sculpted to sit either side of the statue. Well done to all involved.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland

As it happens, and you may recall I campaigned for this to be in Gala rather than Tweedbank, progress on the site is highly visible. The building is quite close to my Gala office, so I can watch this as the weeks pass. Cranes are on site levering in the supporting metal work so, with the structure growing daily, there is no time to waste in looking to in regenerate the rest of Gala and in particular Channel Street. However, Dorothy Perkins/Burtons has now closed and Greggs has moved to outside TESCO leaving another gap. This adds to the decline. Now this is of real concern as that is the path any visitors will take from the Transport Hub and station to the tapestry. I have convened regular meetings in my office so that the problems with Channel Street in particular are addressed. Attending are representatives from the council, Energise Gala, Borders Buses, Heriot Watt and the college, Professor Russell Griggs (South of Scotland Enterprise), Diana Findlay now chairwoman of the Scottish Older Peoples Assembly (SOPA).


Speaking of which, as one of the presiding officers of the Parliament I occasionally chair other meetings outwith Parliamentary sessions. SOPA was one of them on a recent Saturday and during the Festival of Politics I chaired two science discussions at Parliament. It’s worth, next year, if you have the chance, looking at what is on then. The discussion on outer space, the possibilities, the challenges, the politics was incredibly interesting as was the other discussion on Women in Science. Three professors demonstrated how interesting a career in the sciences could be: in radiology, engineering and forensics in crime.


Both of my offices, in Gala and Parliament, are open at limited times until October 27 as staff rightly take some leave. Emails are always accessible though. This week I am off to Brussels in my Deputy Presiding Officer role to meet up with Flemish counterparts to discuss and share information on the way our committees work. I hate flying so it's rail for me all the way which is also much greener. This means that we may be slower with our responses to your queries than usual. Please bear with us.