This is the section where we hear what folk in Forres think about their town and local newspaper.
In the spotlight this week is Sarah Johnstone (41) from Bogton. Sarah is Kira (16) and Anya’s (10) mum, as well as an independent digital artist and photographer, a social media adviser at Moray Art Centre and Forres Hub volunteer.
How long lived in Forres?
"Altogether about 33 years! I moved to Forbeshill from Aberdeen aged one, went to Anderson’s Primary, Forres Academy and Moray College, before leaving for higher education aged 17. I did a year’s foundation art in Liverpool before studying a BA honours in design practice where I specialised in fashion design and photography."
What is the best thing about living in Forres?
"The slower pace and the beautiful scenery. Having trained and worked in the city, it’s so much more relaxed here. The folk are really friendly – it’s nice to be able to go up the street and catch up with people. They don’t just walk past – someone you know will always stop and ask how you are.
I’m always up Cluny Hill and used to go up the Muiry – they offer a different world just out of town where I’m reminded of my childhood and my imagination runs wild.
There are so many photo opportunities in Forres with all the beautiful colours combined with memories like walking home from school."
Describe a favourite moment or memory from your life here.
"I enjoyed working at the Mosset as a teenager when the Reapers owned it – they were a nice, hard-working family. At 16 I worked on the checkout at Tesco through the week but collected glasses in the pub at weekends. I was eventually trained to work behind the bar which was great fun. Forres had a lot more going on in pubs then, there was hardly any trouble and always a good laugh!"
If you could make one change in the town, what would it be?
"I’d like to see more local opportunities made available for teenagers. I’m an advocate of people’s rights and social inclusion. I feel Forres fails a lot of teenagers and elderly folk because of a lack of resources. For example, it’s disappointing the potential of the Enterprise Park isn’t better exploited – IT firms up there don’t tend to employ locals. I’m trying to set up a weekly "code club" at the Hub to provide 9-12-year-olds with basic IT skills. I also want to help interested teenagers and adults develop IT graphic design/video production skills. An awful lot of people need this kind of help – an example is older folk who get tablets as presents but have no idea how to use them!"
Who is/was your favourite/inspirational local person and why?
"Mr Laing, my Higher history teacher and former deputy head of Forres Academy. He took a lot of command over his class and I really enjoyed his lessons. He gave me a lot of encouragement when I needed it most as a teenager who could have gone off the rails! He saw potential in me and instilled confidence."
What are you the most passionate about... and why?
"Kids and art. There are a lot of talented children and teenagers out there but many families cannot support them mentally or financially. Unfortunately there isn’t much for them to put their faith in here. There aren’t enough resources for families with mental health issues but I feel art and music could help combat depression and anxiety."
If money was no object, what good deed would you perform in the town?
"I’d like to do up all the old empty buildings in and around Forres using local joiners, builders etc but only if they each took on an apprentice (or two), whether out as tradesmen or in the office. They would benefit and the town would be far better off with plenty of skilled tradesmen/women and solid small businesses. Then I would utilise the buildings accordingly and gift them to the community. If only!"
What would you like to see in the Forres Gazette?
"There isn’t enough visual interest in it at the moment so it would be nice if here was a page or half page dedicated to the work of local creative people including children, craft makers, musicians and writers. It would be an opportunity to showcase the talent here.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel it is value for money after the recent price increases so I just read the stories online. Editor’s note – the paper is availble for 75p (30p less than the cover price) to subscribers."
Who would you like to nominate to do this feature?
"My sociology lecturer at Moray College - Ian McColl."