Community spirit is dead, right? Everybody knows it.

Sure, there are times when small communities within West Lothian come together, like Gala Days and… eh, that’s about it. A recent survey by the Department of Communities and Local Government revealed that community spirit is dying out, with around a third of people saying neighbours do not respect each other.

We are all more mobile than a few years ago. There is more reliance on the motor car, and the changing nature of work has had an impact, all of which has killed off community spirit – according to the survey.

Proof positive. Case closed.

But that may not be the case; the survey could be wrong. And that was proved beyond all doubt recently by one small West Lothian village.

I can’t remember the lat time I was in a pub. But I took a notion last Friday and called in at my local. It was deserted. There was a singer in one corner performing to an audience that consisted of around five people, including the proprietors and the bar staff.

The atmosphere was gloomy; it perfectly illustrated the demise of community spirit. Or so I thought. But, no. I discovered that there had been a death; a young child of only a few weeks. And around the same time, a young man from the same village had been killed in a car crash.

As a result, the village residents felt this was not an appropriate time to go out seeking entertainment. It was a community in mourning. With one mind, they demonstrated empathy and sympathy with the families that had suffered such crushing losses.

Sure, I felt sorry for the entertainer, doing his best to create a party atmosphere to a non-audience. But, honestly? I had a new-found pride in the “family” that is my community, and their kinship with some of their own who are suffering terribly.

The Government statistics may suggest that community spirit is finished. But there is one village in this county that has demonstrated it has a long way to go yet.

And I bet it’s just one of many communities dotted across this county.

Drew McAdam


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