Story wagon rolls into town … ready for campfire tales to begin

It is a former coalmining town with a rich seam of stories to tell – now the people of Lochgelly are being encouraged to share them.

Lochgelly is one of four Scottish communities chosen to host a five-day storytelling event run by the national charity, Scottish Book Trust.

The Community Campfires project will invite local residents to celebrate the people, places and events that make their town special.

Free workshops that bring on board an author, a digital storyteller, a filmmaker and a podcaster will help people share their stories in unexpected ways.

Storyteller Luke Winter and his team will pitch up in their eye-catching blue story wagon from 23 to 27 May.

Their informal drop-in sessions at the Lochgelly Centre – hosted by OnFife Libraries – are also open to people from surrounding towns and villages.

The residency will end with a celebratory community campfire, which enables people to tell their tales in a variety of formats, including print, audio and film.

Community Campfires is part of a wider Scottish Book Trust initiative called Scotland’s Year of Stories. Its focus is celebrating stories inspired by, or created in, Scotland.

“The sessions will be fun,” says OnFife Libraries’ Service Development Officer, Christine Cook. “You don’t have to be a great writer – just willing to come along and get involved.”

“It’s all about drawing out stories and experiences – past and present – that give a real flavour of the people who make up this part of Fife.”

Lochgelly has no shortage of material – carefree days out at the Meedies, Tawse-induced terror in the classroom, or endless hours lost in the town’s gigantic Cooperative Store.

There are rich pickings too in the town’s mining past – a time when its Little Moscow moniker was a badge of honour for so many local men and women.

Once the coal ran dry, in came the Andrew Corporation, whose mysterious microwave antennae, produced on the edge of town, were symbolised by a red lightning flash.

Away from the coalface and factory floor, sporting stories abound – 11,000-plus spectators at Gardiners Park, or the thrills and spills of the wondrously named Thunder Valley Raceway.

Organisers are also keen to hear more recent stories – among them, anecdotes that illustrate how the community responded to the challenges of the Covid pandemic.

“We can’t wait to hear, watch and read the stories of the people in this vibrant community,” says Christine. “It promises to be a great week of shared experiences.

“Keep an eye on our Fife Libraries Facebook page or drop into our Jennie Lee library at the Lochgelly Centre to have a chat with our lovely staff about how you can get involved.”

Says Luke Winter:

“I’m incredibly excited for Story Wagon to be visiting Fife with Scottish Book Trust as part of Year of Stories. As craic catalysts, Story Wagon encourages people to explore and create stories.

“The Your Stories programme from Scottish Book Trust has done a brilliant job of collating treasure troves of stories across Scotland over the past 14 years.”

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said:

“The Your Stories programme has always been a cornerstone of Scottish Book Trust, giving a platform for people to share personal experiences and for some, be published for the first time.”

“Through the Community Campfires residencies project, we will be able to connect directly with these important stories and share them with a wider audience.”

The Your Stories programme is funded by Event Scotland.