School children get into the spirit of Ballantrae smugglers festival

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Now that the summer holidays are nearly here the children of Ballantrae and Colmonell Primary Schools have completed their smuggling project in preparation for this year’s Ballantrae Smugglers’ Festival.

The teachers and the children of the two primary schools have put tremendous energy into the project. Last year they were involved in the festival in a variety of ways but this year it was decided to start much earlier and build the activities around the curriculum.

This year, pupils have made posters and wall boards, scarecrow smugglers, practised smuggling songs they will perform and identified games and activities for the Village Fayre.

But their big project has been writing their own “Smuggling Story Book” which they will also print and bind themselves when they return from their holidays. As a reward for all of their hard work they will have their own smugglers day as part of this year’s festival.

Yvonne Templeton, Head Teacher of both schools said: “Last year’s smugglers festival provided both schools with a great theme in order to deliver a number of aspects of Curriculum for Excellence.

“The children were fully involved and learned historical and geographical information about local smuggling.

“The expressive arts played a large part of the project and brought the project to life for the children. They created their own pieces of art work, contributed to murals and a gala day float; took part in dramatic activities and sang some smuggling songs in class.

The children worked collaboratively with each other and with other involved groups. They were actively involved in all projects, their opinions sought and their voices listened to.

“Because of the huge success last year in terms of outcomes for our children, I am fully supporting being part of this year’s festival. We have had the additional privilege of working with an author and social historian to create a book of smuggling stories; an activity which has been of huge educational benefit to our older children allowing them to develop skills within the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence and to become successful learners, responsible citizens, effective contributors and confident individuals.”

The Carrick Gazette is supporting this year’s festival as a festival partner. Three weeks ago we jointly launched the Ballantrae Smugglers’ Festival Creative Writing Competition with 3 age groups: children under 12 years of age, children 12 years or over and under 18 years of age, and adults (ie over 18 years of age). All ages at 1 July 2014. Full details of the competition including the rules can be found on the Carrick Gazette website or on the Ballantrae website The deadline for entries is Monday 30 June.

Over the last few weeks we have told you what we know from the archives about the families involved in smuggling in Ballantrae and the surrounding area and the people who pursued them – the revenue officers (including the excisemen). We are keen to try to make contact with people who think they may be descendants of the smugglers or the revenue officers. If you think your ancestors may have lived in Ballantrae or the surrounding area in the 18th centuries and 19th centuries, were a member of “The Revue” or were members of the crew of one of the revenue cutters, then we may be able to help you find out more about your ancestor. Details can be found on our website.

This year’s festival runs from Monday 18 to Saturday 23 August. A detailed programme will be available shortly. Keep watching