The Averon Centre in Alness has become the location of the first stitch to be sewn into the Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands.
The project, spanning communities from across the Highlands and Islands, has over 500 stitchers of various ages ranging from aged 16 to 89.
Norma Bain, lead stitcher of the nine ‘Spirited Stitchers of Easter Ross’, threaded the first stitch in one of 52 panels that are currently being distributed to communities throughout the Highlands and Islands as part of the tapestry.
Also present for the first stitch were Julie Coghill and Anne Thackray, also part of the Spirited Stitchers group. Norma, a retired social worker from Edinburgh who moved to Easter Ross last year, said:
“As my mother taught me to knit and sew at a young age, I am delighted to be part of such an exciting project showcasing stories from across the Highlands and Islands.
“It has really started to bring the community together and I have met lots of new people through our group.”
The tapestry is being created as part of the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project, a partnership project between The Highland Council and High Life Highland, which will be delivered in collaboration with VisitScotland.
The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project will encourage visitors to explore and experience the more remote and rural parts of the Highlands and Islands, as well as inspiring them to attend and support festivals and events, workshops, visitor attractions and outdoor locations across the area.
Andrew Crummy, designer of the Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands was present for the first stitch, explaining the stories and symbolism behind the journey stones to be incorporated into the tapestry.
“It is very exciting to see the tapestry finally underway.
“This has been a long time in the planning and we are looking forward to visiting other stitching groups throughout the project.”
Kirstie Campbell, stitch coordinator for project which now involves more than 500 stitchers, added:
“It is lovely to start meeting the people and communities who are volunteering their time to be part of this project.
“This project will not only aim to tell stories of local communities, but also bring people together, starting new friendships and creating new stories.”
Cllr Ian Brown, Leader of Inverness City and Area and co-chair of the Inverness Castle Delivery Group said:
“This project has become a platform for communities around the Highlands and Islands to reunite after a difficult few years.
“It keeps a valuable skill alive and offers others a chance to learn new techniques whilst growing new friendships.
“I am looking forward to watching the tapestry progress and the design come alive.”
The Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands project is supported by a grant from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund (NCHF), led by NatureScot and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Completed tapestry panels will be exhibited within the newly transformed Inverness Castle and at venues right across the Highlands and Islands.
The Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands is part of the Inverness Castle project.
The Inverness Castle project, opening in 2025, will benefit from £30m investment to support its re-development from the Scottish and UK Governments, The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and a range of other partners.
The Inverness Castle project is part of the Inverness and Highland City Region deal, which is a joint initiative supported by up to £315m investment from the UK and Scottish governments, The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and University of the Highlands and Islands, aimed at stimulating sustainable regional economic growth.