2023 at the Visitor Centre

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It’s been a wonderful year here at the Visitor Centre. We started the year with TV fame with the Trust being featured on BBC Winter Watch. Before the dust had settled on that front, we were kicking up more as we had our beautiful new retail unit installed.

Charlotte and Sandie sadly left but we welcomed in Hannah, Gillian, Michael and Pamela to the team.

We’ve welcomed around 20,000 visitors through our doors, 4000 adults and children have flooded a tiny town (and often the floor too) in our exhibition space and we have petted and given out treats to more dogs than we can count!

In the Easter Holidays, alongside our usual Children’s events we ran our first ever Funday event for the Under 6s. Around 20 families joined us in the Dells to discover the wonders of the River and Woodlands in Spring and met some unusual characters along the way.

Children’s events are often a highlight for our staff. During half terms, Easter break and the Summer Holidays we ran 14 events for kids from wee ones to 12-year-olds. Over 180 children and their families joined us to learn how to survive in the wild, to splash, wade and dip in the river exploring the life below the surface, build dens and little rafts, forage for food and hunt for bugs, discover the local faerie folklore and find as many uses as possible for a stick! Similar themes were explored by the 25 children (and their friends) who celebrated their birthdays with us this year!

As part of our Walks and Talks Programme we hosted 4 speakers and led 82 adults up hill and down dale in search of wildflowers, fungi, detritivores, discovering the heritage of Leith and Dean Village, finding their artistic creative flow and even venturing up into the Pentlands!

As well as our events, walks and talks for the public, we engaged around 17 community groups, after school clubs, social groups and day centres. We ran children’s events, young adult learning and exploration sessions, guided walks and talks, allowing them to experience the wonderful world of our river. We even had time to visit 7 clubs to deliver talks on the work of the Trust.

With all that going on, you’d think we wouldn’t have time for much else. But day in day out, our fantastic team of volunteers have served our cafe customers offering a friendly face and welcome chat, advising visitors and being all round super stars! Our sales have continued to go up and up whilst we’ve attempted to keep our prices as fair as possible.

We’re often asked why we only serve snacks but those who have seen our tiny kitchen will understand. However, this Autumn we have been trailing our Souper Fridays, a chance to come along to the Visitor Centre, enjoy a delicious bowl of soup and some company, board games and chat with our volunteers. This Friday is your last chance of 2023

Finally, we hosted a Christmas Fayre at the start of December. It was a fantastic day attended by young and old alike. Gifts were bought and craft sessions taught people to make their own wreathes, cards, Christmas decorations and more. The event raised over £500.

After all that hard work, our staff and volunteers are due a nice rest, so we’ll be closing towards the end of the day on Friday 22nd December and reopening our doors at 10am on Friday 5th January when we’ll be back rested for another busy year! So please pop in and say ‘hello’ before the year is out.

Thank you to our volunteers and customers who make the Centre such a wonderful place to be!

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