Over 40 delegates from Sweden and Finland will be attending a conference which opens at the Newton Hotel, Nairn, tomorrow (Wednesday). The conference is part of The Highland Council’s Small Town Networks European Project, which looks at the regeneration of small towns in northern Europe.
The delegates will be covering a variety of issues from the use of local produce in business to the benefits of public art, a topical issue with the new Public Arts Officer recently appointed in Inverness. As well as the conference, the delegates will be visiting Fort George, Boath House Hotel, Auldearn, and the Findhorn Foundation.
The Swedish delegates come from several towns from Vasterbotten Region, including Lycksele, Vilhelmina and Umea. While they are here, the delegation from Lycksele will be visiting Alness to cement a connection that has been developed over the last few years. The Municipality of Stromsund has been discussing links with Dornoch and a small delegation will visit Dornoch on Saturday.
The visitors from Finland come from Karelia, close to the Russian border. They are keen to see how the Highlands deals with issues such as town centre regeneration and public art.
Meanwhile, 80 young Scandinavian footballers and their coaches will be taking part in the inaugural Northern Lights Football Festival between Thursday and Saturday (6 - 8 April). The footballers will be mixing with local teams from Tain, Dingwall, Alness and Inverness for a variety of games and coaching sessions. The festival will be held in Tain and Dingwall with all players coming together at the Highland Football Academy in Dingwall on Saturday. The teams are from Lieksa and Jamsa in Finland and Stromsund and Vasterbotten in Sweden.
The event is being jointly organised by The Highland Council and the Highland Football Academy and is being funded through the Council’s Small Town Networks European Project. The project receives funding via the Northern Periphery Programme, itself funded by the European Union.
The festival will bring together almost 160 footballers, providing an opportunity for local boys to meet, play and mix with their counterparts from Scandinavia. Coaches from all three countries will be involved, allowing for an exchange of expertise. As well as the festival the boys will be touring the area, visiting Loch Ness and Fort Augustus as well as Dornoch and Shin Falls.