From There… To Here

The social history of Wester Hailes

Run Away Success!

Runners on the canalThe 2014 Wester Hailes Fun Run/ Walk was all about the fun of taking part. Serious runners lined up with families, children in buggies, fancy dress runners and those who planned to walk round. A new route took everyone along the canal, as well as starting and finishing at the WHEC. The Lord Provost welcomed everyone to the day before taking off his chain and joining the competitors! Chloe Hynd, winner of the Edinburgh Libraries Baton competition got the race underway with a wave of her winning baton.

The Fun Run is organised by a group of local organisations including Prospect Community Housing, Wester Hailes Community Council, CHAI, The Health Agency, SCOREscotland, KCYC Youth Club, WHEC, Clovenstone Community Centre and Police Scotland. Many thanks as well to the Pentlands Neighbourhood Partnership and the Wester Hailes Land And Property Trust whose funding supported the event so generously.

The original Wester Hailes Fun Run took place during the 1980s and 1990s. It was a very popular event attracting serious runners but also those who were more interested in the fun element. It WH_FunRun17eventually stopped in the mid 1990s and was sadly missed in the area. After being highlighted as a great way to bring the local community together, it was decided by a group of local organisations and residents to bring back the fun run to see if the great community spirit of the original event could be passed on to the present.  The Digital Sentinel put together some great videos of the 2014 Fun Run which show how much of a community celebration it was.  The one below shows everyone warming up before the run.  You can see the other videos and photos at The Digitial Sentinel’s site.





This year, thanks to support from the WHEC, people taking part were timed. If you were part of the event, see if you can find your time below!  Either click on the link or check out the chart.  It’s the first year of trying this, so the Planning Group hope that the times recorded match what you think you achieved.  For those who couldn’t be identified, there will need to be a reminder next year to wear your number on your front, or just to remember to wear your number at all!


  2014  Fun Run Results

Wester Hailes Fun Run results 2014

Wester Hailes Fun Run results 2014




Wester Hailes Fun Run 2013

Fun Run 1992After we blogged last year about the history of the Fun Run in Wester Hailes, a group of organisations and residents decided it was time to bring this popular event back to the area.  The 2012 Fun Run was a great success despite some torrential rain, with a great range of people turning out to run despite the terrible weather conditions!

fun run finish

This year the 2013 Fun Run is taking place on Sunday 16th June starting at 10.00am in Hailes Quarry Park.  The route is still 5k, and you can run, walk or jog, it’s up to you!  Completed entry forms have to be returned by Friday 7th June.  The route includes a large part of the old route that used to be used, including the infamous Greenway hill, but most competitors manage to climb it, and there’s a water station at Clovenstone Community Centre for those who need a breather!

If you would like to know more, please contact Caroline Richards on 0131 272 5025 or you can download the entry form here. 

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The Sentinel often featured local residents whose achievements were making a positive difference  so today the blog entry comes from Thomas Kane who contacted From There To Here about his friend and former band member Alex Marr. 

Members of AC Rid

I am organising a charity gig in aid of the British Heart Foundation in memory of my friend Alex Marr who sadly passed away in July last year.  Alex was a singer and songwriter from Wester Hailes in Edinburgh, and played several gigs and events with his band AC Rid. Alex was taken into hospital in June with a suspected heart attack, however the doctor’s found he had suffered a dissected aorta, a tear in the aortic artery. After heart surgery, Alex never regained consciousness and passed away in July at the Royal Infirmary at Little France in Edinburgh. He was only 34 years old.

AC Rid were formed in 1997 by Alex on lead vocals and guitar, Steve Atkins on guitar and Thomas Kane on bass and vocals. They were joined by a host of drummers in the following years, so many they could’ve rivalled Spinal Tap! However the core element of Alex, Steve and Thomas remained for several years.  They were more than just a band; they were best mates who hung out at weekends between practices and gigs. AC Rid played many gigs around Edinburgh, such as The Venue, Tap O’ Lauriston, The Cas Rock, and Alex even organised his own mini festivals, unashamedly entitled MarrFest.

MarrFest started locally in Wester Hailes, at The Greenway Centre. Alex would give many young musicians and bands a platform that they could showcase their music on, and the events were extremely popular. The thing was, Alex would always give people a chance, whether it was drummers, singers or even brass players in the area, he would give them all an opportunity to play at his events. As AC Rid grew to include singer Lisa Aird and a brass section including a young Phil Ramsay, MarrFest also grew, changing locations into the city centre at The Bongo Club. Still, Alex would sign up bands and musicians who were known to him, giving many new bands and musicians their first taste of a gig in the city centre. MarrFest continued to grow, reaching its height at The Liquid Room in 2003 and featuring a line up including Edinburgh stalwarts Bombskare and Phil’s new band, Big Hand.

AC Rid finally broke up in 2004, however Alex continued to play and write music under several other guises such as Big G, and the humorously named 12 Inches of Thunder. The three founding members of AC Rid remained good friends. Alex played his final gig which included guest appearances by Steve Atkins and Thomas Kane once again, as 12 Inches of Thunder at Whistle Binkies in December 2011. It wasn’t a spectacular gig, or incredibly busy, but it felt special for those three close friends to play together one last time.

Since Alex passed away, there has been a lot of discussion about putting on an event to celebrate Alex and his music. Then in February 2013, founding members Steve Atkins and Thomas Kane got together with AC Rid’s last drummer Lewis “Forbo” Forbes to have a practice. This session went better than ever expected, with Thomas even stepping up to lend his vocals to some of Alex’s songs. It wasn’t long until the words MarrFest were suggested once again.

MarrFest 2013 takes place on Saturday 1st June 2013 at The Bongo Club in Edinburgh. Tickets cost £5 and are available from all band members and at Tickets Scotland on 127 Rose Street. Doors open at 7pm, and it has a 10pm curfew. It is a charity event, where all money raised will go to the British Heart Foundation in Alex’s name. Playing at the event will be an acoustic performance from Lisa Aird, who is the lead singer with local act Bias Firey. Also playing is Black Riot Valves, who feature Dan Lowe on guitar and vocals. Alex gave Dan his first ever gig at one of the first MarrFests at The Greenway Centre. Headlining the event are Edinburgh favourites Victorian Trout Conspiracy, who feature one time AC Rid member and close friend Phil Ramsay on trumpet. However, before the main headline act, once again AC Rid will take to the stage, playing songs written by Alex Marr. The current AC Rid line up features all ex members of the band including founding members Thomas Kane on bass and vocals and Steve Atkins on Guitar. Also playing with AC Rid are Lewis “Forbo” Forbes on drums, Lynsey MacDonald on alto sax, Siobhan Hunter-Reynolds on trombone and guest slots with Lisa Aird on alto sax and vocals and Phil Ramsay on trumpet.

For more information please contact Thomas Kane at

Small Change: Big Difference

25 years of Comic Relief will be celebrated tomorrow as the 2013 Red Nose Day gets underway.  Despite the many issues and difficulties facing Wester Hailes, the local community responded generously and enthusiastically to initiatives such as Comic Relief and the history of the event over the years can be traced through the editions of the Sentinel.

dressing up 14In 1988, the year Comic Relief was launched, patients and staff at Sighthill Health Centre raised £46 with a spontaneous event held on the day.  By 1991, more local residents had been affected by red nose fever, raising money for Comic Relief with a variety of events and stunts.  WHEC students ran a school radio station for the day, broadcasting live to the school, and playing requests for 50p a time.  Meanwhile young people on YTS took to the streets in fancy dress to raise money while children at the Wester Hailes Child Care Project held a Hawaiian beach party.

dressing up 19a

1993 saw all the local schools involved with children being allowed to come to school in fancy dress if they paid 20p.  Westburn School went for sponsored silences which raised a quiet £150.

Numerous events were held to raise funds in 1997 including a football team 20tournament where 16 teams battled it out at the Sighthill Pitz.  The eventual winners were the WHOT Shop who beat Kristopher’s Hertz 6-5 in the final.  Other events went for a fancy dress theme with Sighthill pupils wearing specially made hats for the day.  They also held a mini sale and their final total was an impressive £350.

As well as Comic Relief, Wester Hailes took part in numerous other fundraising initiatives.  In 1985, as part of the Sentinel’s celebrations to mark its 100 edition, the Sentinel team coordinated fundraising efforts for the Band Aid Ethiopian Appeal.  This led to Bob Geldof visiting the WHEC to meet pupils who had raised £675 for the appeal.  He was full of praise for their efforts and for what the wider community was doing in response to Band Aid.  He said

 “Keep going, don’t stop now.  To know that people over here care about them and are doing things really helps.”

Surprise Delivery!

Many people have been hooked by the stories and characters portrayed in Call The Midwife.  With the programme generating huge viewing figures, it looks likely to hold onto its prized prime Sunday evening slot.  As a nation, we seem to love stories about new babies and unusual deliveries.  Today we’re able to bring you just such a story from the pages of the Sentinel.

We were contacted on the Facebook page a couple of weeks ago about a story from the Sentinel featuring an unexpected guest.  Back in June 1989, Mary Stewart who was nine months pregnant was on her way home with her friend Rena.  She had just got to her front door when she realised her baby was well on the way.  There was no time to take off their coats, let alone call an ambulance, and Rena realised that in the absence of any midwife, she would need to step into the role.  So she rolled up her sleeves and calmly delivered Mary’s baby girl.  Mary told the Sentinel reporter

“There can’t be many women who can say they had their baby with their coat on.”

You can read the story in full by clicking here.

Pages From The Past

christmas sentinel 1980

We’re looking back at Christmas 1980, 32 years ago.  The front page report features some of the Christmas highlights taking place in Wester Hailes that year, including the community pantomime “A We’an In A Manager”.  Other stories and articles include

  •  A report on the news that children from Westburn Primary School had not been able to take part in the panto.  Fortunately the stop press news was that this decision had been reversed.
  •  A letter from a developer arguing for more shops to be allowed in Hailesland Garden.
  • Information about the WHEC Big Band and their successful performances.
  • A feature on the Dumbryden Primary Gardening Club who held a community planting day at their school to create a heather and conifer garden.
  • Around the Areas- all the local news from the neighbourhoods
  • Cilla’s Kidz Kolumn which includes some creative writing from local young people showing their usual enthusiasm and aptitude for ghosts and gore!
  • Information about volunteering at the CAB
  • The prizewinners in Calder Merribelles Dancing Troupe.

You can find these stories and more at Sentinel December 1980.

Christmas Exclusive!

The Sentinel was excellent at getting interviews with major figures andSanta in Wester Hailes celebrities.  National leaders, politicians, film stars, writers all gave their thoughts and views to the paper.  But perhaps their most exclusive scoop was persuading Santa Claus to reveal a range of information about himself and his job.  Impressively, they appear to have had some kind of hotline number, as they managed this not once but several times over the years!  The series of probing interviews reveal a complicated character who changes his mind about a number of key pieces of information over time.  Whilst careful not to give away all his secrets, Santa does let slip in an unguarded moment that he could be a Hibs fan, which may come as a surprise to some of his fans, but a few years later decides Man U is his top team.  Here’s a selection of his Christmas interviews.

December 1988– Santa reveals that his reindeer know the route better than he does which is why he never gets lost

December 1992– A Braun Supershaver is Santa’s interesting and perhaps surprising choice for what he would like for Christmas this year

December 1994– As well as the revelation that Santa might be a Hibs supporter, he chooses the Bahamas as his top holiday spot

December 1995– Controversially, Santa lets slip that he parks his sledge illegally, accumulating parking tickets.

Santa Claus