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Where the Heavens Meet the Stars: A Visionary Project for Doon Valley’s Future

Local councillor Drew Filson is leading an inspiring community initiative in the Doon Valley. The ‘Where the Heavens Meet the Stars’ project aims to rescue the historic Kirk o’ the Covenant, establish a community observatory, create a local history museum, open a charming tearoom, and revive a much-needed florist shop. With match funding applications underway, this multifaceted venture promises to reinvigorate the community.

Left is the Kirk o' the Covenant, an iconic Dalmellington building which it is hoped will be bought by the community for this exciting project. Right is the same location but without the church - a sad but likely alternative if the future of the building is not secured.

Over the past few years it feels like the Doon Valley has seen the sad loss of so many of its community facilities – but that’s set to change with an exciting new project on the cards for 2024.

‘Where the Heavens Meet the Stars’ is the evocative title of a venture which hopes to combine saving the Kirk o’ the Covenant and bringing it into community ownership, creating a local museum, building a community-owned observatory and opening a florist shop and tearoom.

Local councillor, Drew Filson, is spearheading the project. He said: “I think I speak for many when I say enough is enough. We need to take action to safeguard our community amenities for the future, before we lose them all.

“Over the past two years I’ve been working on how to bring these lost assets back into our community. I believe the answer is to purchase the Kirk o’ the Covenant for the community, before it is lost forever. This, the most iconic building in the town, stands proud and is visible from most of the approaches to Dalmellington.

“Working alongside colleagues in Dalmellington Parish Development Trust we have applied for match funding to purchase the building and should find out in May if our application has been successful. Once (fingers crossed!) the building is secured, the next stage starts – to ensure the building is able to  generate an income to safeguard its future through the other community-led strands of this project.”

A YouTube video has been created to show people what the project hopes to achieve – 

The key elements of the Kirk o’ the Covenant community project are:


A community observatory would be created on the top of the church tower; 20 metres in the air, so well above the new LED street lights. 

Images of the night sky would be live-streamed from a 14’-inch telescope to a large screen situated in the new balcony, with seating for 30 people in a unique setting; the observatory auditorium, with planetarium, could also be used as a family cinema.


Underneath the raised platform of the observatory auditorium would be a museum of local history. 

This would allow tourists to see the local area and church, a historical building in itself, as well as further local history in the one building, with the cemetery nearby which would enhance those wishing to research genealogy.

Body Of The Kirk

The aim would be to re-decorate, retaining as much as possible to preserve the history and allow us to still offer a venue for funerals and wedding services as well as other public events throughout the year. The church would still seat 250 people.

Vestry Tea Room

The church vestry would be transformed into a small tea room to provide a place to sit; no meals would be offered, so this would not compete with other local cafes. 


As the last florist in Dalmellington is now closed, and this service is missed in the village, the aim would be to open florist shop at the church. As well as adding another income stream to the project, and local employment, it would be well-placed for organising flowers for weddings and funerals, but also available of course for other occasions. 

Renewable Energy

One of the significant reasons why Dalmellington Parish Church decided that it was no longer feasible to continue to use the Kirk, moving the congregation to the smaller church at Bellsbank, was due to the running costs for heating oil and electricity. 

Significantly reducing these costs will be a key element in future-proofing the building, and to do this it is proposed that renewable energy features are installed. 

The idea would also be explored for installing three electric charging points for cars/bikes.

So, this exciting project will encompass an observatory/planetarium, church, tearoom and florist. These five funding streams should be able to bring in enough revenue to make the venture self-sufficient, and with the reduction in bills through installation of renewable energy, the building and everything happening in it should be future-proofed. 

It is also hoped also to support a circular economy through employing local tradespeople and companies throughout, as well as utilising recycled elements wherever possible.

“This project forms a true legacy for the community, preserving our history as well as working to support our communities into the future. Much of the funding we hope to apply for would be coming from community benefit funds,” says Drew. 

He continues: “In light of this, we want to ensure that we have the community’s support moving forward. So please vote and let us know if you would like to see ‘When the Heavens Meet the Stars’ become a reality for Dalmellington and the Doon Valley.”

Throughout June, we are taking part in the ‘No News is Bad News’ campaign – which is founded on the belief that a well-informed community is more able to act together to shape its own future, that local news is fundamental to a healthy democratic society and invaluable in helping to create strong communities. As part of this campaign, any money we raise for the project during June will be doubled by an Indie News Fund. If our coverage has helped you understand our community a little bit better, please consider supporting our Crowdfunder.

Next: No. 154 McDonald Road – 10 years on

by Alan McIntosh, Broughton Spurtle