THERE is a "breathtaking" number of volunteers helping to make Dunfermline a better place.

Dunfermline Heritage Partnership praised the locals giving up their own time for the good of their town and said the model is one that's admired by the Scottish Government and envied by other towns and cities.

They highlighted initiatives such as Cruise Forth, Cycling Without Age, the Fresh Air Festival, Defend Dunfermline, the Tour of the Kingdom Sportive and Dunfermline Foodbank as just some of the examples where volunteers are making a real difference.

Fife Council's former area manager for Dunfermline, Joe McGuinness, said: "The level of volunteering going on in Dunfermline is breathtaking. It's phenomenal.

"We're just trying to pull those resources together through shared interests and ideas."

And added to the Design Dunfermline ideas (see other story), which were dreamed up and taken on by members of the public, it's given the town an army of people who want to bring about positive change.

Derek Bottom, chair of the partnership, said: "People will do what they are passionate about. That's why they volunteer.

"It's a fun thing to be involved with and then they take ownership because they care about it.

"I think there's lots of people in Dunfermline who want to make it a better place and want to get more involved; they're not bothered about agendas and committees and who's going to be chair, they just want to get on with it."

Mr McGuinness, who volunteers on the Cycling Without Age project, explained that Dunfermline's big advantage is that it has only one plan, the Local Community Plan, which is a 'vehicle' for delivering opportunities such as those identified in Design Dunfermline.

Keen to ensure it wasn't seen as "another council plan", it is chaired by a volunteer member of the public and the six-weekly meetings have input from interested parties and individuals, groups and communities, the third sector and BID company.

The council's 'light touch' means it may provide seed money and backing but then the projects are left to volunteers to get them up and running and make it a success.

Derek said: "Cruise Forth, under Peter Wilson, is a good example. It received some support from the area committee for the shuttle bus for cruise passengers to get to Dunfermline but has been grown by the volunteers into a major success story.

"Cycling Without Age (where volunteers give free bike rides round the Glen to the elderly) benefited from £90,000 funding for the hub in the Glen, but from there it was taken forward and run by volunteers.

"The sportive, at the weekend, finishes up with 200 cyclists in the Glen, they all bring people with them who spend money here, and Dunfermline Cycling Club did it themselves.

"The Fresh Air Festival, it's run by the community council and volunteers, and the Defend Dunfermline festival, looking at the role of the Poles during the war, they've created a whole weekend themselves.

"We had volunteers from Plastic Dunfermline cleaning up the Lyne Burn recently and there are 200 people alone involved in Dunfermline Foodbank. They are all run by volunteers and it's fabulous. But they also need to feel they're part of a bigger plan, and by being part of this one plan for Dunfermline they can see how they fit in and benefit the town."

And because the local plan is endorsed by the council, through the City of Dunfermline area committee, it makes it easier to attract external funding too.

As a result, the partnership has helped bring in almost £1m of investment to the town in the last two years.

Derek added: "We've not been sitting on our hands. Several local authorities have come to Dunfermline to look at community planning and how it's working for us."

It's contributed to an overall positive mood in the town with business vacancy rates down, new restaurants opening, Abbot House's re-opening plans set for planning approval, progress on Design Dunfermline, the transformation of the former 'eyesore' Pilmuir Works and the new owner of the old registry office in talks about bringing it back to life.