Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum

A network of organisations and individuals committed to developing routes for off-road pilgrimage travel across Scotland

Telephone : 01786 841809 E-mail :
Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation - Charity No. SC045212


Click on the topic to read more about items of news.
The news is detailed in chronological order, the newest to the top.

SPRF Exhibits in Germany

SPRF attended the 2020 Pilger Messe symposium and gathering in the St Jacobi Hauptkirche in Hamburg over the last weekend in February for the first time - this being an annual pilgrimage event and exhibition. This fine mediaeval church has been a centre of Christian pilgrimage for over 600 years, with historic links with Santiago de Compostela via the network of St James Ways across Europe.
The main event on Saturday was very busy, with some 4,000 people attending during the day and nearly 40 pilgrimage walking groups from across Germany and Scandinavia exhibiting.
SPRF gave a short presentation on our new Scottish pilgrim routes to a packed audience and the SPRF stand attracted much interest.
For more information and images of the Hamburg event link to the SPRF's Facebook page.

Report on the 2019 Gathering

To read and view the full report, the video and two of the PowerPoint presentation click on the appropraite links below.

Video of the Columba Experience

SPRF - SPG 2019 summary report

John Jackson - Sannox Presentation

Mark Calder - Embrace the Middle East Presentation

Updated SPRF brochure

The earlier brochure required to be replaced in the summer of 2019 due to stocks running out and the fact that elements of it were now outdated.
This was especially true with regards to the centre fold map which details all of the pilgrim routes both existing and those under development.
Also updated are sections on

  • Why SPRF Matters
  • What is the Forum
  • Membership Information
  • SPRF Strategic Aims

2019 Guided Walks Programme

The Guided Walks Programme is open to all members of SPRF and any other person who is interested in walk and learning more about the Priority Pilgrim Walking Routes that SPRF are developing with their steering group partners.

There is no cost for registering and taking part in what tends to be generally walks of between 5 and 8 miles in length. We do however require all walkers to register in advance and they should follow the instructions and link as shown on the downloadable WALK SCHEDULE.

The first Guided Walk will be on Thursday 11th April starting at 11 am and goes from St Fillans to Comrie on a section of the Three Saints Way.

Walk with St Cuthbert New to this programme is the open invitation for walkers to join in the annual pilgrimage walk from Channelkirk to Melrose walking in the footsteps of St Cuthbert. This is organised by Channelkirk and Lauder Parish Church and attract over 100 walkers. This is a full days walk on Saturday 8th June 2019.

Click on the poster image to download a full promotional sheet that provides you with all the details and registation information.

Ask more details come forward regarding any of the SPRF Guided Walks this will be posted to the News page of the website.

Argyll Pilgrim Routes Network

This meeting was the third such meeting in Argyll and proved to be a most successful meeting attracting some new participants and resulting in some very definite action points.
To read more and access the minutes from this meeting members and associate members need to enter the Members' section of the website.

2018 Autumn Gathering & AGM

Each year SPRF as a SCIO body requires to submit an annual report and approved account to the Charities Regulator, OSCR.
This is an important document and members and associate members can access a copy of the complete report by going to the Members' section of the website.

2018 Autumn Gathering & AGM

This took place in North Berwick on Friday 5th October 2018 and followed the now favoured structure of a guided walk on one of the SPRF priority pilgrimage routes in the morning followed by related presentations on the theme of pilgrimage in the afternoon. The presentations were then ended with the SPRF AGM.

Walkers prior to setting off from Whitekirk

Following the line of the ancient pilgrimage route

Porch of ruined medieval St Andrew's Kirk

There were around 25 persons on the walk that was on the most northerly section of the Forth to Farne Pilgrimage Route and following a lunch provided by the "Beacon Group" of St Andrew's Blackadder Church the afternoon session was a Gathering of about 35 people.
The full report on this successful event can be downloaded along with copies of the various presentation by clicking on the following links.

Guided Walk on the Three Saints Way

This took place on the 15th August and started from Abernethy and concluded at Lindores Abbey just to the east of Newburgh.

Abernethy Market Cross

Vantage point from the Ochil Hills looking NW over the Tay

Lunch stop at Macduff's Cross

A total of 22 walkers took part in the walk this included the group leader, John Andrews (members of the Three Saints Way Steering Group), and walkers from as far afield as the Scottish Borders, various locations in Perthshire and some locals from Abernethy and Newburgh.
Although there were a few showers this was mainly a dry day's walk with some great views from the hills above Abernethy and Newburgh.
The guided walk was part of the Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum programme of guided walks on developing pilgrim routes and there was a very clear interest in there being future such event both on other parts of the Three Saints Way as well as on other walking routes.
It is hoped that there may be a similar interest and number of walkers on this years final guided walk on the 12th September when the walk will be from Whithorn to St Ninian's Cave.

Heritage Phone App Workshop

The Elie and Earlsferry History Society are holding a seminar and workshop session on Wednesday 29th August 2018 to look at how to create and design heritage related phone apps.
The event is open to interested parties and will be held in Elie & Earlsferry Sailing Club between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm. There is a nominal charge of £5.00.
To learn more about this and how to apply click on this link.

Diocesan Pilgrimage 2018

On Saturday 28th July 2018 there is to be a pilgrimage along a section of the Fife Pilgrim Way organised by the Scottish Episcopal Church. This is part of the overall programme set up by SPRF to offer guided walks on all of the SPRF Priority Pilgrimage Routes.
The pilgrimage offer 4 options from the longest walk being over 10 miles to the shortest at about half a mile , these all ending at the Cathedral ruins in St Andrews, then followed with refreshments and Evensong at All Saints’ Church.
To learn more about this and how to register click on this link.

Monthly walks on our Priority Pilgrim Routes

Starting in April and running to September there will be SPRF lead walks on our priority pilgrim routes. This is open to members and interested individuals. For the list of all the dates and application information link to our EVENTS page.

SPRF Spring Meeting - 2018
This was successfully held on Thursday 12th April at Luss Parish Church.
The days events was started at 11 am with an introductory presentations from Very Rev Dr Sheilagh Kesting, SPRF Chair of Trustees followed by a presentation from the hosts on 'Pilgrimage ancient and modern – the Luss and Arrochar story' presented by Donald Hardie with Mike Palmer (Luss Parish Church) and David Pollard (Arrochar Parish Church).
This was followed by a talk from Jonathan Sheldrick (Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance and SPRF Argyll Pilgrim Routes Steering Group) on 'Argyll Pilgrim Routes – New Beginnings’. To conclude the morning session Nick Cooke, SPRF Secretary spoke on 'Current SPRF Developments'.

Following a very hearty lunch provided by the church volunteers the afternoon session has a series of updates from the various Pilgrim Route Development Groups.

  • Fife Pilgrim Way: Ed Heather-Hayes, FPW Project Manager (FCCT)
  • Forth to Farne Way: Jimmy McGuinnes (Whitekirk & Tyninghame Parish Church)
  • Whithorn Way: John Henderson (Walking Support)
  • Iona – St Andrews: Three Saints Way – John Henderson (Walking Support)
The afternoon then finished with an Open Forum Discussion led by Chair and following tea a walk round the Pilgrimage Trail in the Glebe Field, led by Mike Palmer.

The fuller report on the days events can be downloaded by clicking on this link.
PowerPoint presentations regarding the Fife Pilgrim Way and N Cooke's SPRF presentation which were not shown due to technical issues have been centrally held and if anyone is keen to receive a copy of either they should click on the appropriate link and the file will be sent back to the requesting person's e-mail address.

The photo is taken showing some of the delgates during the guided walk.

Autumn Gathering & AGM

This was a very successful event held on Friday 15th September 2017 at Markinch Parish Church. As with prior Gatherings this took the form of a walk in the morning ending back at the Parish Church for lunch, presentations and then the AGM.
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For a full report on this days event you can download various items from the website:

Forth to Farne Way Official Launch

The route was formally launched on Sunday 15th October 2017 at St Mary’s Church, Whitekirk, East Lothian.
The launch will be carried out by Lord Wilson of Tillyorn, Patron of the Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum and former Lord High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland.
The joint Service also marks the centenary of the Rededication of St Mary’s Church in 1917, after its restoration from a devastating fire in February of 1914. The service was conducted by Rev Joanne Evans-Boiten Minister of Athelstaneford l/w Whitekirk and Tyninghame and the guest preacher was The Very Rev Dr John Cairns KCVO.
Following the Service there were light refreshments in the Church Hall.
The Stenton Singers and the Penston Band were providing musical items at the Church and Hall respectively.
Following the light refreshments a group of around twenty walked on a part of the Forth to Farne Way between Whitekirk and North Berwick ending the afternoon at the Coastal Communities Museum.

St Columba Pilgrims Walk

Over a week in mid September 2017 Jonathan Sheldrick and others walk a 100 mile pilgrimage route from Tarbert to the island of Lismore. To read more about this charitable walk and the plans for the longer term link to the Argyll Steering Group page.

Argyll Pilgrimage Steering Group

On Wednesday 21st June at the Corran Hall in Oban the Argyll Pilgrim Routes Steering Group was inaugurated.

The establishment of an Argyll Steering Group was first discussed at Craig Lodge Dalmally in the Autumn 2016 while running along side these discussions has been the work of "Faith in the Cowal", the "Slìghe Chaluim Chille/Columba Way" project and the Presbytery of Argyll "Faith Tourism, Heritage and Pilgrimage in Argyll" HLF funding application. With all having a clear focus on the rich chritian heritage of Argyll and the potential from increased faith tourism in Argyll the SPRF initiative is based on walking pilgrimage in this part of Scotland.

At the meeting it was agreed that Jonathan Sheldrick would chair this steering group and that within the work of the group there would be a focus on the following unique pilgrimage opportunites.

  • Developing the pilgrimage focus and theme associated with the Cowal and Kintyre Ways
  • Developing a walking route that would link the northern end of the Kintyre Way with Oban and hence onward to Iona and Lismore. This would be very much based on a forthcoming walk being arranged by Jonathan in September 2017.
  • Making use of an existing core route between Balloch and Tarbet on Loch Lomond to create a pilgrimage way that links in Luss with its established pilgrimage activities.
  • Further explore the already defined but still to be developed Iona to St Andrews cross Scotland pilgrimage route with a specific focus on the route west to Tyndrum.
At this time all of the initiatives are working out how they can best present their elements of work and avoid unnecessary duplication of information, however, as this is being worked out SPRF are pleased to use this news section to inform on the establishment of this steering group and to update on its activites as its work progresses.

Participants at the inaugural meeting. Left to right back row - Donald Hardie, Dr Chris Brett, Nick Cooke, & John Henderson
front row - Calum Macfarlane Barrow, Jonathan Sheldrick & Rev Nicola Moll

Heart & Soul 2017

This was an even more successful event to that of 2016. SPRF had more material to hand out and a bigger story to tell the visitors. We were also stronger in number with Alec Currie, Jimmy McGuiness and Jessie Cross all spending some time helping John Henderson and Nicke Cooke at the stall.

We were also delighted to welcome Her Grace The Princess Royal to the stand, her position being as the High Commissioner to the 2017 General Assembly.

Donate to the work of SPRF

As a charitable organisation having gaining all of its unrestricted income to date through membership levies we are now opening this up to receiving Donations from anyone interested in furthering our aims and objectives. Any money received by this means will be initially credited to the SPRF PayPal account and then transferred as required into our unrestricted funds to be used to further and develop the work of SPRF.

On receipt of a donation SPRF will within a few days e-mail you with an acknowledgement.

2017 Forum Programme

We are able to announce that following details so that they can be put into members diaries. More details for each of the events will follow along with any other dates that may still be arranged.

In addition to the above there is an onging programme of meetings related to all of the developing pilgrim route steering groups.
For more information on these meetings use the contact links on the relevant "Projects" section.

Heart and Soul - Princes Street Gardens

SPRF for the first time on the 22nd May 2016 took a stand at the Heart and Soul event in Edinburgh. This is part of the Church of Scotland's General Assembly week and consists of many exhibitors and services and events in the bandstand.
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The displays that were used featured the Fife Pilgrim Route, the Three Saints Way and the Whithorn Way.
A large number of visitors came by and were very interested in these new pilgrim route developments, we also had members passing by and the image shows Ron Shaw talking with Nick Cooke, Ron just back from walking the Santiago do Compostella pilgrim route.
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Several videos were also taken and we hope to be able to load them to the site shortly.

Charitable Status

As of the 5th November 2014 SPRF has moved from being an unincorporated organisation to that of a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO). This has been the culmination of several months work preparing a revised constitution and presenting an application to the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR).This was all in line with the decision of the SPRF AGM of 2013 and the EGM of spring 2014 when members authorised the management committee to pursue this new structure.

The Constitution retains all the key features of the original constitution but strengthens SPRF's position when dealing with other organisations and grant giving bodies. It also provides the Trustees and Members with greater protection on all contractural matters as well as issues of membership.

A full copy of the Constitution can be read or downloaded by clicking on this link.

As a result of this revised status the members of the Management Committee are now Trustees of the organisation while membership and associate member status remain unaltered.

Glentarken Bridge Opening
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On the 9th May 2014 the new Glentarken Bridge close to Lochearnhead was formally opened by Cameron McNeish.
This has been a vital link in developing an off road walking and cycling route along the north side of Loch Earn. A key person in the planning and delivery of this key element has been Geoff Hardman-Carter, one of SPRF's members.
This is going to be a key part of the planned Iona to St Andrews Pilgrim route and a part of the Three Saints Way which is being developed in parallel with the strong leadership of Roseanna Cunningham MSP. The Three Saints Way is the section of the larger coast to coast route and will run from Killin to Abernethy.
Shown in the centre picture from left to right is Cameron McNeish, Roseanna Cunningham and Geoff Hardman-Carter.

Paisley Ecumenical Pilgrimage - 5th to 11th April
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Pilgrims and support team at start of St Cuthbert's Way

Pilgrimage logo

Some of the Pilgrims at the "Saddle" on the Eildon Hills

Inspired by the success of the Paisley 850 pilgrimage, a further pilgrimage event, this time on St Cuthbert's Way, has been organised and at the time of posting this news, they are still walking the route towards Lindisfarne.
This occasion the setting up of the Pilgrimage has been masterminded and lead by Gerry Murdoch, a member of the St Mirin's Cathedral congregation. The pilgrims come from several churches and differing denominations in the greater Paisley area and as with the Paisley 850 walk to Whithorn they are assisted by a small group with vehicle support.
In somewhat overcast conditions the group set off from Melrose on Saturday morning but after crossing the high point on the Eildons the weather started to break up. One of the greatest challenges on this initial stage was the ground conditions, mud might best describe it.
Within the group were several active members of SPRF and although one such member only took part in the initial stages it was clear that the group were in good heart and looking forward to the seven day pilgrimage.

YWAM Norway

YWAM stands for Youth With A Mission and is a worldwide Christian network. It was founded by Loren Cunningham in 1960 and now has a presence in over 1,100 locations in 180 countries with a staff of over 18,000. For much more detail on the work and ministery of YWAM visit

One of the groups who are located in northern Norway has been in contact with SPRF over a number of months and in February 14 two of the group leaders, with their son, visited Scotland and caught up with John Henderson (one of SPRF's members).

The picture is of Arno and Rolinke Bremer and their son enjoying a walk in the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens.

The Norwegian YWAM group are interested in the growth of Pilgrimage Walking and especially Celtic Pilgrimage and are researching new areas where their DTS students might get involved in experiencing and interacting with modern day Pilgrims and Spiritual Seekers. This could result in them having a presence at times here in Scotland, but this is all at a very early exploratory stage.
As a reseult of the brief meeting SPRF has been able to make some suggestions and forwarded one or two contact details of individual and bodies in Scotland who might be able to collaborate.

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2014 Update - meetings have been taking place since the walk featured below, this looking at how the route already walked under the banner of "850 Pilgrimage" can be made more accessible to others to walk and enjoy.
Progress has been made and it is the intention to create what is being called a "Virtual Pilgrimage Route" in the not too distant future where a website will detail the significance of the route and the Christian Heritage along the Way. It will also assistance with maps and route directions. It is additionally SPRF's intention to shortly add the work of this project team to the Projects section of this website and to encourage those who have an interest in a Pilgrimage route running from Glasgow via Paisley to Whithorn to come forward and support this development.

As part of the 850 anniversary of the founding of Paisley Abbey a pilgrimage walk was set up and undertaken in sections between Paisley Abbey and Whithorn Priory. This took place over 2012/13 and attracted many pilgrim walkers.
At the end of the journey south a smaller group then walked north in a continuous pilgrimage, and coming from these endeavours work is now beginning to look at both making this a recognised Pilgrim Way and to extend its northern end to Glasgow.
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Argyll Stone & St Conval's Chariot

St Conval's sculpture

Hogback stones

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Govan Old Parish Church

Govan Sarcophagus

End of section - Glasgow Cathedral

As part of this development undertaking the Paisley Abbey pilgrim leaders of Sylvia Jenks, Robin Craig and Jessie Cross have now enlisted the support from Susie Cormack Brown of the Ayrshire Pilgrims' Trail and John Henderson of Walking Support. In early November the group set off from Paisley Abbey to explore and develop a route to Glasgow Cathedral, the above are images taken from that walk.
The likely route will add 13 miles to the overall length of the pilgrimage to Whithorn but it is thought to be well worth the extra with all the added early Christian heritage that will be found in this short section of walking.
We would hope that over the coming months this exciting project will be featured further. For more information Sylvia Jenks, one of the Forum's nominated members would be the initial person to contact for more details.

SPRF Management Committee

The following persons were appointed to the Management Committee at the 2013 AGM held on the 27th September 13.

  • Chairperson - Rev Prof David Atkinson
  • Secretary - Nick Cooke
  • Treasurer - John Henderson
  • Committee - Shona Paterson
  • Committee - Roger Pickering
  • Committee - John Graham
  • Committee - Neil Ramsay

Scottish Pilgrimage Gathering

The "Scottish Pilgrimage Gathering 2013" was held on Friday 27th September at the Vine Venue in Dunfermline.
Keynote speechs were given by Riddell Graham (Director - Visit Scotland), Peter Yeoman (Historic Scotland)and Rev Dr Ian Bradley (St Andrews University) There was also a lively panel question and answer session chaired by Billy Kay and including the addition of Rev Dr Richard Frazer.
Following lunch there was a series of workshop sessions and throughout the day there was a number of exhibits and trade fair stalls.
The event was a collaboration between Forth Pilgrim and SPRF with the support and backing of Fife Council.
Below are a few images from the main hall of the Vine.
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Rev Dr Ian Bradley

General view of the Vine Auditorium

Billy Kay chairing the panel discussion

For a detailed report on this "Gathering" download a PFD file by clicking on this link.

National Planning Framework

SPRF steering commmitte has been encouraged and has submitted a response to the current National Planning Framework 3 consultation process. This is in part with regard to the future development of paths and cycle ways within Scotland and SPRF has been keen to register our thoughts and plans for pilgrimage walking route.
Members of SPRF are encouraged to access the membership section where a copy of the submission is available to read and download.

Forum Meeting at Paisley Abbey - 11th April 2013

The second Forum Meeting will take place at Paisley Abbey on 11th April 2013 (10.00 for coffee, start of agenda 10.30), by kind invitation of the Rev Alan Birss and his team. Details of the final programme are posted in the "Events Section" of the website.
The intention is to broadly follow the successful format of the first Meeting held at Luss last October. We do hope you or your organisation will be able to attend.
This is a historic and prestigious venue. The home page of the Abbey's official website at shows the cloisters entrance to the Abbey which leads through to the Palace (or Place of Paisley) building on the south side which incorporates spacious rooms on the first floor that we will be using for the meeting. For a background note and OS location map of the Abbey, see also
There are good rail and bus links to Paisley for those using public transport.

This Forum meeting will give us an important opportunity to learn more about the historic role of the Abbey in the development of medieval pilgrimage in Scotland, now being actively revived through the current programme of commemorative 'Paisley 850' one day pilgrimage walks linking the Abbey to Whithorn and developed by Sylvia Jenks, who will be joining us for the day. It also provides the ideal context for hearing of current progress with the establishment of designated pilgrim walking routes in south west Scotland, e.g. Ayrshire, Argyll, and the isle of Arran, as well as updates on significant pilgrim route projects elsewhere.
As always, a key aim of the day is to facilitate networking and information sharing - we are a Forum after all! Your Committee will be providing news of current developments and plans, including the first 'Scottish Pilgrimage' gathering to be held in Dunfermline, Fife on 27th September which will incorporate our AGM for 2013. Please make a note of this date in the diary.

This notice is being mailed to the current paid up SPRF membership, following the introduction of the agreed structure adopted at Luss. A full list of members now appears on the SPRF website together with web links for all Full members, and currently comprises 17 organisations and individuals. Please note that a Full member organisation can send up to three delegates to any Forum meeting without paying any attendance fee. However, at Paisley we will be charging everyone £7 per head for teas, coffees and a soup and sandwich lunch.

SPRF warmly encourages all who have participated in previous discussions to join us at Paisley. Please let us know of other contacts who you think might be interested in coming as potential members. Although an inclusive £27 fee per person will apply in such cases, which covers the event and catering cost, the first £20 of this can be offset against the first year's membership fee if organisations or individuals join the Forum on the day.

To help us finalise the programme for the day, I would be most grafetul if you could use the attached form to (a) confirm your attendance and (b) state your preference for one plenary discussion topic to be included, and /or let us know what other issues you would like to see raised at the meeting.

AGM Meeting at Luss

A very interesting and successful meeting and first AGM was held at the Pilgrimage Centre in Luss on the 18th October 2012.
Luss Pilgrimage Glebe
Luss Pilgrimage Glebe
A total of 21 members of the current Forum were warmly welcomed to the Pilgrim Centre by Rev Prof David Atkinson as Chairman of the interim Management Commitee.
The morning session had the following short presentation.

  • From Culross to Luss - Nick Cooke - SPRF Secreetary
  • Fife Pilgrim Trail Network - Roger Pickering - Forth Pilgrim
  • Scotland's Pilgrim Journeys - Brian Fraser - Scotland's Churches Trust
  • Iona to St Andrews - John Henderson - Walking Support
  • Luss - Scotland's "Green Pilgrimage City" - Rev Dr Dane Sherrard - Luss Parish Church
For a fuller report on this event click on this link and download the PDF report.

AGM Meeting
The next full meeting of all interested members will be held on Thursday 18th October in Luss (banks of Loch Lomond). This will be at the Pilgrimage Centre which is part of Luss Parish Church.
This will be the first AGM of the new Forum and it will be very helpful to have as many interested persons and organisations present on this day.
More information can be seen on the Events page but please do place this date in your diary now.
The agenda for the AGM and the prograamme for the full day's event are downloadable by clicking:-

Interim Chairman
Rev Prof David Atkinson.
The Management Committee were delighted when David agreed to take on the role of Chairperson. David has a wealth of experience that will help to direct and lead SPRF in its early stages of development. He comes to the Forum as a past Vice Principal of the Scottish Agricultural College, the present Convenor of the Scottish Churches Rural Group, and an advisor to many bodies on matters relating to crop production and genetic modification. To add to this he is also a Scottish Episcopal Minister to a congregation in Aberdeenshire. David has been active over many years in the Pilgrimage development debates and meetings.

Interim management committee
The Management Committee will initially consist of the previous Steering Group Members up until the next full meeting of all SPRF members, the date for this is now confirmed as being the 18th October 2012.

The posts that were agreed are:-

  • Chairperson - Rev Prof David Atkinson
  • Secretary - Nick Cooke
  • Treasurer - John Henderson
  • Committee - Susi Cormack Brown
  • Committee - Shona Paterson
  • Committee - Roger Pickering
  • Committee - Harry Sprange
These posts are only on an interim term up until the meeting of the wider membership at which point the membership will be able to determine if such a committee is to be upheld.

Adoption of the Constitution
We can report on the meeting of the Steering Group held on the 25th May 2012. At this meeting and as we had receiving no adverse comments from the Culross particpants to the draft constitution, the Steering Group proceed to adopt the constitution and to appoint certain officebearers and members of the management committee.

A copy of the constitution can be downloaded by clicking on this link.

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