Following many years of performing and traveling in America Dougie came across a wonderful project known as the Food Bank. He was invited by Bob Randels (Food Bank of South Central Michigan) to perform at a concert in Battle Creek, Michigan which was a fundraiser, where members of his audience were encouraged to bring along food which was then distributed to those most in need. Dougie was really impressed by the organisation and its ethos and was inspired by this initial event to find out more about the Food Bank network in the USA.
The first Perthshire Amber Harvest in 2006 handed over on stage...
After long deliberation he felt that the time was right to do something along these lines, in conjunction with his audiences here in Scotland, as well as other parts of the UK. Dougie felt that the 2006 Perthshire Amber Festival would be the ideal place and time to launch Perthshire Amber Harvest. He looked very hard at the FareShare and Cyrenian sites and thought their Good Food in Tackling Homelessness Programme suited his idea, in providing the means to handle any food he could collect at his concerts. FareShare are a long established charity that collect and distribute food to those that are most in need. The FareShare Scheme is administered in Edinburgh by the Cyrenians (Scottish Charity Number 11052).
At the 2006 Festival there were baskets for collecting all the food. Over the four days over 700 tins, packets, jars and boxes of food were donated by people attending. At the close of the final concert on Sunday evening Dave Berry from Edinburgh Cyrenians joined Dougie on stage, along with Westminster MP Pete Wishart and one particular fan (Duncan) who had taken the whole concept to heart, to receive the food that had been collected.
This was only the start of the relationship between Dougie and the Cyrenian's FareShare Project through the "Harvest" concept. The collection of food has continued in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Of the 2010 Amber Harvest Dave Lacey of The Cyrenians said:
"What a 'Harvest' !!! I am sure this is the biggest one so far. As I write this there are four volunteers sorting the produce in to categories ready to go on our database and therefore be ready to be redistributed; mostly this will be held for our very high demand for “emergency packs” a vital resource for so many people at the very edge of food poverty."
Amber Harvest in 2012 ...Perthshire Amber team members with Cyrenians volunteers.
In 2011 we moved our festival HQ to Dunkeld and our concerts spread all over Perthshire! this meant the opportunity to collect food for the Cyrenians at concerts in Blair Atholl, Pitlochry, Aberfeldy, Weem, Perth, Birnam, Blairgowrie and Edradour....as well as at the Royal Hotel in Dunkeld which has become known (during our festival) as Amber Central. To every concert we took the baskets and our collection grew! In 2012 we added the wonderful Amber Afteroon Concerts (further developed in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016) and needed yet another set of baskets for the Amber Afternoons team to take with them to venues like Methven Castle, the Carnnog on Loch Tay, Caputh Church, Butterstone Village Hall ... and the Amber Harvest grew yet again!
The 2018 and 2019 Amber Harvest though collected over only 3 days was the best ever! ... it felt as though every single festival-goer brought a contribution to our Amber Harvest! Non-perishable food (tins, packets, jars) was brought along for our collection...with a basket at every venue ...and we know that every bit of food donated was well directed by the Cyrenians team to those who needed it most!