A collection of short stories inspired by the Lochwinnoch countryside have launched online this week, thanks to funding received from Renfrewshire Council.

‘Tales from Ochwinnay’, created by local authors Lyn McNicol and Laura Jackson, was designed to provide a free story-telling resource for children across Renfrewshire, helping to nurture reading skills during a time where live story-telling events are unable to take place. The five short videos were filmed on location in Lochwinnoch and feature original illustrations created for each story.

The project has been supported by Renfrewshire’s Artist Development Grant, launched in 2020 as part of Renfrewshire’s Cultural Recovery and Renewal Fund to support Renfrewshire’s cultural sector in adapting to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Artist Development Grants are supporting artists who live or work in Renfrewshire to continue their practice at a time when their livelihoods are threatened.

Author Lyn McNicol said: “This support has been a much-needed boost to our creativity. In pre-pandemic years we have toured over 1,500 schools, libraries and festivals for author events with our existing book series. In March 2020 our live sessions stopped so we were a bit lost. I was hospitalised in February this year with a serious illness and whilst in hospital, also tested positive for Covid-19. This project has helped hugely in my recovery and in reminding us both, as authors, of what we do best. “

Author and illustrator Laura Jackson said: “Renfrewshire’s Artist Development Grant has been invaluable in allowing our creativity to blossom again. The stories were great fun to write and I was able to utilise my illustration – which was a joy. Creating the videos in Parkhill Woods was a taste once again of our live events, even though our audience this time, was mostly birds!”

Renfrewshire’s Cultural Recovery and Renewal Fund is part of Future Paisley, a radical and wide-ranging cultural regeneration programme, and is administered by Renfrewshire Leisure on behalf of Renfrewshire Council.

Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, Chair of Renfrewshire Leisure said: “The Artist Development Grants were designed to allow our local professional artists to continue with their work during this difficult time and it is great to see our cultural sector beginning to thrive once again. ‘Tales from Ochwinnay’ is a fantastic resource that can be used across Renfrewshire and beyond in homes, nurseries, schools and libraries to nurture reading and inspire our young people to try some creative writing and story-telling of their own.”

‘Tales from Ochwinnay’ is available to access online here: www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/talesfromochwinnay.