The Badenoch Great Place Project has its project officer.
Oliver O’Grady, based at Kingussie Courthouse, will be working with local communities across the Badenoch area of the Cairngorms National Park to take forward the scheme.
It has been granted £352,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with additional funding from the park authority, Transport Scotland, The Highland Council and Highland Islands Enterprise.
The appointment, which was much anticipated locally, means that work can now begin on developing a suite of projects and collaborations based on the area’s special cultural heritage and character.
The project will involve a wide range of initiatives including a programme of volunteering opportunities, studies of Gaelic place-names, exploring collaborations with local schools and businesses, and new mobile interpretation and marketing research, all of which aim to enhance the visitor experience and promote economic opportunities in the area.
Dr. O’Grady brings a professional background in community heritage projects and historic landscape and archaeological research, having managed a successful consultancy business prior to taking up the new position. Before running his own company for the past seven years, He worked for stints in the Heritage Trust sector and with a national heritage body. His expertise in managing high-profile community heritage projects with a strong emphasis on volunteering opportunities, led last year to an appearance on BBC 4’s Digging for Britain TV programme as part of his work to put local cultural heritage on a national platform.
"Badenoch has an incredibly rich landscape of cultural heritage to offer residents and visitors," said Dr O’Grady as he settled in this week.
"I am thrilled to be appointed and I’m looking forward to working with our partners on an exciting programme of projects that will help deliver Badenoch as an even stronger destination in the 21st century with a reputation based on its fascinating past."
The project plans to launch with a special community event early this summer.
Murray Ferguson, planning and rural development director at the CNPA and chair of the project board said: "We are very pleased to appoint Dr O’Grady. Work can now begin with local people to deliver a three-year programme of projects across Badenoch. The heritage of this part of the park is exceptional and there is loads of expertise locally to develop it and ensure it is even more valued. This is not a project that any one person can do alone and I would like people and organisations to make the most of this opportunity and get involved."
Karen Derrick, chief officer at Voluntary Action in Badenoch and Strathspey – a charitable company limited by guarantee whose mission is to support third sector organisation throughout the strath - said: "Myself and the project team are thrilled to welcome Olly, who will be co-ordinating the collective development of an impressive programme of activities thanks to the funding support from National Lottery players.
"Oliver brings with him extensive professional experience in working with community volunteers, local organisations and businesses on cultural heritage projects across Scotland, and his appointment, which is much anticipated locally, is great news for Badenoch."
The project is a partnership of local and national organisations whose vision is to ensure that by the end of 2020, Badenoch will be renowned as a place within the Cairngorms National Park with a strong character and identity that is based on its distinctive heritage.