Morag Young combines her creative skills running a tattoo studio with being Chair of Blairgowrie Community Council. Clare Cooper, co-producer of Cateran’s Common Wealth found out a little about how she came to be in this very important civic role.
Morag Young at a Blairgowrie & Rattray Community Council meeting
Can you tell us a bit about yourself Morag and how you come to be living and working in Blairgowrie?
I was brought up in Blairgowrie, went to primary school here, high school in Perth and University in Dundee. I have a mainly catering and business background and have run and owned a few successful catering businesses.
Since returning to Scotland in 2013 from the U.S, my husband and I relocated our award winning tattoo studio to Blairgowrie, where it’s gone from strength to strength. I am the resident piercer and he’s the tattooist, and it’s great being so close to my parents and one of my sisters, who still live here.
An example of the work of Hammer God Tattoos
You are Chair of Blairgowrie and Rattray Community Council – what do Community Council’s do?
We’re just supposed to represent the voice and views of the community to the Council, but we actually do far more than that. Blairgowrie and Rattray Community Council (BRCC) is made up of some very dynamic and motivated people, who seem to have endless amounts of energy. I honestly don’t know where they all get the time from!
We continue to develop a working relationship with PKC and work towards changing things in the community for the better and have set up, and are involved with, several small groups to help make these changes. Everything from assessing the number and condition of litter bins, grass cutting of local paths to sourcing event funding to bring back Bonfire Night and trying to set up a local cycle path network to link Coupar Angus, Alyth and Blairgowrie are all on our To Do list. I think the public would be really surprised if they knew how many small and local groups do things now instead of the council.
The Ballot Box for Citizen of the Year 2016
Lots of folk would say that Community Council’s don’t have any real power and so they aren’t important … but they can influence decisions about a lot of very important issues that affect local people on an every day level – I’m thinking of the Wellmeadow traffic lights issue in Blairgowrie for example. Can you give us your perspective on what you think Community Council’s can achieve and why you think all of us living and working around the Cateran Trail should engage with them more?
You’re right, we don’t have any direct power but we do have the power of persuasion. Sometimes it’s enough just to be part of the conversation and have the community’s voice heard for things to change.
A Banner advertising the Blairgowrie & Rattray Charette that took place in 2016
You’ve mentioned the Wellmeadow traffic lights, but there’s also been the issue of the public toilets. These were scheduled to close but after dialogue with PKC, and help from John Swinney, we were able to avoid their closure and, at over a thousand visits a month, you can see why it’s an important penny to spend!
There’s now safer access to the Cottage Hospital because of the extension to the pavement from the road to the hospital entrance and the installation of a pedestrian crossing. We did that.
The changes to parking waiting times from 30 minutes to an hour and the removal of the outdates loading bays, that was us too.
The installation of a speed bump at the top of Reform Street to help slow traffic down and prevent any more accidents. Us again.
Blairgowrie Wellmeadow from the air, Photo copyright Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust
What motivated you to get involved in the Community Council and to stand as Chair?
I’d heard these were the people who could make a difference, who could affect change. That was enough for me.
When I came onto BRCC, I was Vice Chair. At that time David Bailey was the Chair and he agreed to do it for one year, to help set it up and set it on its way. He did this marvelously. When it came time for him to step down, I kind of had to “put up”. I took on the role and have been doing it now for 2 years. It’s been very challenging and rewarding and could easily be a full time job if I’m not careful.
Arms Crest of Blairgowrie & Rattray
It’s big responsibility and a huge time commitment … what makes it worthwhile?
I want to see things change. I’m sorry to see how much we’ve lost over the years and someone needs to step forward and stand up for the area. I don’t mind being that person and being part of a group of like-minded people who want the best for our area.
Seeing the changes and improvements is very rewarding. Knowing that I’ve helped is really satisfying.
Ashleigh Slater’s Cherries & Berries Tartan on the loom, photo, Clare Cooper
Where do you see the greatest opportunities to strengthen and sustain our East Perthshire communities are in the next wee while and how do you see those opportunities being realised.
I think things have really changed over the last couple of years with regards to communication. Groups are talking more to each other, there is a Forum group that facilitates the coming together of local groups and organisations and they share what’s going on and their vision for the area, and it’s wonderful. At the last Forum meeting there was standing room only!
I feel that’s the key. The more people allow others to be part of what’s going on and share their ideas with each other, the more successful we’ll all be.
Eastern Perthshire is thriving right now, there’s so much going on and with a bit more investment we could see it turning into a real hub, a real destination.
Glen Isla, Photo by Clare Cooper
What’s your favourite part of the Cateran Trail?
To be honest, I’m not much of a walker but I really enjoy the sections that are near water. The trail has some absolutely beautiful views.
Photo of Hamish Henderson
Which is your favourite object out of those chosen for ‘A Story of the Cateran Trail in 100 Objects’ ?
The more I find out about Hamish Henderson the more I think he’d be my first choice.