Category Archives: News

Easter 2021 with the AIA

Our Easter Duck Race has been a staple family event in the East Neuk calendar for decades, but due to Covid we have made the decision to pause the big race for a second year running and this year will instead host a series of fun family activities across the Easter holidays.

We are kicking off with a design a duck competition and we invite people of all ages to decorate, colour-in or design a duck and place it in your window for the duration of the Easter holidays. Photos of entries can be sent to the AIA ( or by DM in Facebook) for a chance to win various egg-citing prizes!

The Easter fun continues with the launch of a cracking brand-new story in The East Neuk Pirate Series. Written by Cellardyke writer and teacher Steve Blair, the story series is set in the East Neuk and sees Steve’s son Bertie as a pirate setting off on various adventures.

Especially for the AIA, Steve has penned a new adventure – Pirate Bertie and the Great Anstruther Duck Hunt:

It’s the day before Anstruther’s annual Duck Race but disaster has struck! During the night, the last of the winter wind blew the ducks across the town. If the ducks can’t be found in time, the race can’t go ahead. When Pirate Bertie hears of this news, his rallies his crew and they embark on The Great Anstruther Duck Hunt to bring the ducks back safely. But can they find all the ducks? And will they make it on time? Join us for our new adventure and find out!

The pirate theme will continue with our first ever Anstruther Duck Hunt. Families can follow a treasure map between Cellardyke Harbour and the Dreel Halls in order to find 10 lost ducks in the windows of shops and homes. The duck hunt will run for the duration of the school holidays allowing the community to get dressed up as pirates and set off on a socially-distanced adventure to track down all the ducks.

Anster Community Development Project

Anstruther Improvements Association is proud to launch the Anster Community Development Project, our new three year community development project for 2021-2023.

Thanks to a National Lottery award from The National Lottery Community Fund, Anster Community Development Project will enable our member-led SCIO to build on our strong history of working to improve the Anstruther, Kilrenny and Cellardyke communities over the last 70 years. This new initiative will provide opportunities for local people to take action, strengthen connections and joint working, highlight our community assets and provide opportunities for volunteering.

This community development initiative is a step change for our member-led charity.  Anster Community Development Project will be managed by our trustees with the support of our first member of staff, Julia Priestley. As a locally based Community Development Worker, Julia will drive forward the AIA’s strategy to meet the needs of Anstruther’s community, working in partnership with the many other dynamic local groups. Julia is a local resident with a young family and has a background in community development initiatives in arts and wellbeing, inclusion, mental health, community engagement and working with young people.  

Anster Community Development Project will also support social, cultural and educational events and activities in the recently refurbished Dreel Halls building. This is an exciting new beginning for us all, as we support the members of our community to re-connect with each other after the challenges of the past year. We look forward to welcoming everyone through the doors again when we can safely do so.

If you have an idea you would like to share, would like support to make things happen or just want to get involved in our project, we would love to hear from you!

Please email Julia:  or DM our Facebook.

AIA “Building a thriving and resilient community, improving Anstruther for all”.

February’s Anster Nicht In

February’s Anster Nicht In, a talk about the marine mammals that inhabit the Firth of Forth by Ronnie Mackie, will be held online via Zoom on Thursday 18th February at 7.30pm. Members will be sent details of how to attend the online meeting, and any other parties interested in attending are invited to contact the AIA via email (  

Forth Marine Mammals
Ronnie Mackie will tell us about the cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoise) that regularly visit the Forth and the citizen scientists who monitor them. The talk will be illustrated with slides and stories from 30 years of watching the waters around us.

We hope to see you there!

January’s Anster Nicht In

January’s Anster Nicht In, a talk about the surgeon Thomas Black by Glenn Jones, will be held online via Zoom on Thursday 21st January at 7.30pm. Members have been sent details of how to attend the online meeting, and any other parties interested in attending are invited to contact the AIA via email (  

The Surgeon and the Painter
The surgeon, Thomas Black, drowned tragically in Anstruther Harbour in the early hours of February 29th 1864. But who was he? What were the circumstances of his death? What happened to his family? How did his portrait come to be painted posthumously in Liverpool, some 20 years later, by the internationally-known artist, Robert Fowler R.I.? How did it later come to be hanging for over 60 years in Anstruther Town Hall, only to be found badly damaged in a store room under the Town Hall in 2014? And where is it now?

With so many unanswered questions, Glenn Jones has been doing some detective work, and invites you to follow the trail.

We hope to see you there!

November’s Anster Nicht In

November’s Anster Nicht In, a talk about the gansey by Di Gilpin, will be held online via Zoom on Thursday 19th November at 7.30pm. Members have been sent details of how to attend the online meeting, and any other parties interested in attending are invited to contact the AIA via email (  

An Exploration of the Gansey
As a lifelong knitter with a special interest in Gansey knitting, Di Gilpin will be taking a journey through the history and special knitting details of these fascinating garments. There is a huge story to tell and a lot of history to discover: tensions, stitch counts, patterns, construction details, yarns, colours and motifs. Di will share these special details and qualities with us on the evening and show how she uses them in her fashion work internationally.  Di is Creative Director of Di Gilpin Ltd, specialising in hand knitting, pattern writing and design.

We hope to see you there!

AGM and October’s Anster Nicht In

The AIA’s AGM will be held online via Zoom on Thursday 15th October at 7pm, just before October’s Anster Nicht In. Members have been sent details of how to attend the online meeting, and any other parties interested in attending are invited to contact the AIA via email (  The agenda can be found here and the accounts for 2019 here. The minutes for the 2019 AGM are here.

Nominations for election to the Board of Trustees are welcomed from Ordinary Members. They must be in writing by at least two Ordinary Members and the nominee should confirm his or her willingness to act as an elected Trustee if elected. Nominations can be made by email as above, or by post to The President at 11 Bankwell Road, Anstruther KY10 3DA not less than seven days before the AGM. Nomination forms can be found here.

Following the AIA’s AGM, at approximately 7.30pm, we will welcome Darren Peattie for our Anster Nicht In:

Salt Harvesting in the East Neuk

Two years ago, after 18 years living and working away, Darren Peattie brought his family home to St Monans. On a family walk at the St Monans salt pans he was struck by an idea to bring salt harvesting back to the East Neuk. Darren will talk us through the history of salt harvesting in the East Neuk, and how he is making his dream of revitalising the industry into a reality with the East Neuk Salt Company. He will also outline the project to reconstruct salt pan house number 9, creating a heritage visitor attraction in St Monans.

We look forward to seeing everyone there!

We’re hiring!

We have secured a National Lottery award from The National Lottery Community Fund, to employ a part-time community development worker for three years.  We’re looking for an experienced community development worker to start at Dreel Halls in early 2021. This is our first employee and will enable a step-change in the level of activity we can support. We are on the verge of completing our capital regeneration project, and this addition to the team will put us in a really strong position to ensure that the refurbished Dreel Halls building can play a key role in making our community even stronger and more resilient than it already is.

The community development worker will be responsible for driving forward the AIA’s strategy to meet the needs of Anstruther’s community, working in partnership with the many other dynamic local groups. In times when we are not subject to the current COVID restrictions, the AIA organises social, cultural and educational events and activities, provides small grants to improve the area, runs the Anstruther Writing Awards, the Anster Cinema and All-Ages Anster Café, contributes to the burgh’s floral displays and manages Dreel Halls. Despite the restrictions, we are still running our winter Anster Nichts lecture series, now online and retitled Anster Nichts In. You can find out more about these on the events page of our website or on our Facebook page. For information on the community development worker role please go to Goodmoves.

New season of Anster Nichts In

The AIA will run the inaugural Anster Nicht In on Thursday 17 September at 7.30pm via Zoom. Members have been sent details for how to attend this online event. Anyone who is not a member and interested in attending should email for more information. 

The Manx Beauty was a state of the art ring net boat built by Provost Carstair’s boat building company on Cellardyke bulwark in 1937. She was launched on the 11th June along with her sister ship, the Manx Fairy, in front of a large crowd. Their connections with the East Neuk did not end there. A community group got together in 2019 to rescue the boat, to restore her to her former beauty and to create multiple projects that would interest and involve many people beyond the historical boat geeks, who see her importance in the story of Cellardyke and fishing boat design.

Richard Wemyss will provide some of the history, exploring the local connections and how the project will make an 83-year-old boat relevant today.

Coronavirus update

The AIA’s Board met today to discuss the impact of COVID19 and to do some planning. During this period, when social interaction carries health risks for many in our community, we decided that it would be sensible to put on hold any of the AIA’s programmed events and activities until further notice. The building programme at Dreel Halls is coming to a close and we had hoped to be able to open our doors and start to welcome back our friends and supporters over the coming weeks, so it is sad that we cannot celebrate the end of our project in this way. However, the health of our community comes first, and we like to think there will be good times ahead when we can come back together and celebrate.

The first event that will be postponed until next season is Di Gilpin’s upcoming Anster Nicht on Ganseys, due to take place this Thursday, 19th March.

Since it requires a great deal of forward planning, volunteer input and face-to-face contact with local businesses, who will have higher priorities in these challenging times, we have also reluctantly agreed to cancel the AIA’s famous Duck Race this year.

The weeks ahead seem full of uncertainty and quite scary, but we are a strong and capable community of good, caring people and there may be no better place to be at this point. Anyone needing a helping hand can contact the AIA via our Facebook page or by through our website’s contact form and we will do our best to assist. Meanwhile, look after yourselves and look after each other.

Boats, Fish and Folk: Anstruther Writing Awards Celebrate 50 Years of the Scottish Fisheries Museum

Now in its seventh year, since first being reinstated in 2013 by the Anstruther Improvements Association (AIA), the 2019 Anstruther Writing Awards are looking for fishing-themed entries to honour the 50th year of the Scottish Fisheries Museum.

With both the Awards and the Museum steeped in fishing heritage, it is a fitting partnership and a wonderful celebration of all things sea-worthy, with a theme this year of ‘Boats, Fish and Folk’.

Entry to this year’s competition is free, and the winners, alongside other selected entries, will be included in a Museum publication in May 2020. The adult categories (poetry and short story) are open Scotland-wide, while the primary and secondary categories (poetry, short story, reflective writing and creative writing) are open to Anstruther school pupils. The competition has a stellar judging panel of Scottish novelist Jennie Erdal, children’s author Chae Strathie, young adult writer Christina Banach and poet Matt Barnard, all of whom look forward to another year of fantastic writing.

Christine Palmer, President of the AIA, said: “I am thrilled that the Anstruther Writing Awards have gone from strength to strength since they were reinstated back in 2013. It is especially exciting this year, the 50th anniversary of the Scottish Fisheries Museum, to celebrate the Museum and our town’s fishing heritage with our fishing theme. We are also delighted with our talented judging panel, who are looking forward to receiving what we hope will be a wonderful array of entries. The AIA would like to wish the Museum a very happy 50th birthday, and we hope this year’s celebratory competition gets the community, and those further afield, to put their pens to paper.”

Andrea Elder from the Scottish Fisheries Museum, said: “Storytelling is a big part of celebrating fishing life in days gone by and the museum has many examples of this, so it is wonderfully fitting that the Anstruther Writing Awards have taken on the theme of Boats, Fish and Folk this year. The AIA have done a fantastic job bringing back the Writing Awards, revived from the town’s traditional ‘Anster Fair’ and we can just imagine the Fisher lads and lassies from way back when, writing their stories and poems. The Museum can’t wait to read the winning entries and publish them alongside a selection of entries next year; a wonderful celebration of fishing in this seaside town.”

The deadline for entries to the Awards is 31 October and there will be a prize giving ceremony at the Fisheries Museum in Anstruther on 28 November. Further information about how to enter the Awards can be found on the Anstruther Writing Awards page.

The Scottish Fisheries Museum opened in 1969 and over the last 50 years has told the story of the boats, fish and folk around Scotland from the first signs of fishing to the present day. This year to celebrate this, they want to read your stories and poems and share them through a publication as part of the 50th anniversary year.