Love grows in our Orchard

Orchard Bank residents raise a glass to 30 years of Christmas parties
Orchard Bank residents raise a glass to 30 years of Christmas parties
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MOST people would struggle to give a description of their neighbours – never mind their names.

But residents of one city street keep bucking the trend by showing that community spirit still exists as they celebrate three decades of their annual Christmas party.

More than 60 householders from Orchard Bank got together at the weekend to spread a bit of festive cheer in the quiet Comely Bank street, made up of just over 50 houses.

Moira Anderson, 62, who has lived there for 33 years, said: “The best thing about living on this street is my neighbours. That’s one of the reasons we would never think of moving away.”

Residents are confident Orchard Bank is the most friendly street in the Capital – and have been for decades.

Back in February 1993 they even issued a challenge in the Evening News to find a more sociable and supportive neighbourhood, confident of their premier position.

Their Christmas party was first held in 1981 and has run every year since, with the addition of a separate party for the children of the street.

It started after neighbours got together for a street party to celebrate the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

Mrs Anderson attended the first Christmas party and is now one of the key organisers of the annual event.

She said: “When we had our royal wedding party, some of the people living on the bottom of the street said they didn’t know anybody from the top, so we decided to have a Christmas party so everyone could get to know one another.

“We kept it going and it’s just a fun thing to do. It’s an absolute party with lots of dancing, Christmas carols and a buffet. My daughter, who was a child at the first Christmas party, now helps organise the children’s parties. Those who were children back then all keep in touch with each other.”

Because people love living on Orchard Bank, it is rare that houses go on sale. However, this year, four or five new families have moved in and it is hoped they will became part of the close-knit community.

Mrs Anderson said: “The party gives them the opportunity to meet their neighbours. I went round to see them to introduce myself.

“We don’t live in each other’s pockets, but it’s nice to create a friendly ambience. If anybody needed anything, they would never have to be stuck.”

As well as the Christmas gatherings, the residents get together in the summer for barbecues. They also go out for meals and organise bowling and fundraising events.

One of the longest-serving residents, 74-year-old Anne Gray, who has lived on the street for almost 50 years, said the friendly and caring attitude of her neighbours means she would never move away. She recently lost her Jack Russell, Sam, down a badger’s sett in Davidson’s Mains, and having almost given up hope of finding him, discovered her neighbours had formed a search party to accompany her on another hunt.

She said: “It was a lovely thing – you don’t get neighbours who do that – and eventually Sam was found. I haven’t lived anywhere else for 50 years, but according to everyone I speak to it’s the most friendly street they’ve ever seen.”

gfraser@edinburghnews.com

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