Frustrated farmer Robin Baird set up a website to show the world there is more going on in Dumfries and Galloway than people think.
What is your day job?
I’ve been a farmer all my life. My family run Balgreddan Farm in Kirkcudbright. It was dairy, beef and sheep, but we diversified about ten years ago to a cattle B&B – basically we contract rear people’s dairy cattle.
Why did you start the website?
I felt like Dumfries and Galloway got bad press. My friends would say, ‘Nothing ever happens in Dumfries and Galloway.’ So I decided to start a Facebook page sharing local events and photographs. Within 18 months, people were saying that I should have a website.
How has it grown from there?
It started off as Facebook, then Twitter and a YouTube channel. I then asked Derek, my partner in the project, to build the website. The latest addition is Instagram and my step-daughter tells me I have to get Snapchat.
When we had the big snow in 2013, I couldn’t do much farm work so I spent the day uploading and sharing information. Locals can get involved by sending in photos and warnings of problems. When there has been a big storm, people find it really useful. When we had the floods in January, I got 1,000 more Facebook followers in one day. The website has more than 70,000 visitors per month, and the Facebook page has 30,000 followers.
It sounds like a lot of work – how many people are involved?
It’s just myself and Derek – his background is IT, so he does that side of it, and I do the content. I bought a fancy camera and taught myself how to use it, so my fi ancée Lara gets dragged around the county to lots of events while I take photographs for the website. It is a lot of work. Sometimes I wonder why I bother with all the stress and hassle, but a lot of people appreciate it, which makes it worthwhile.
What’s been the highlight of the last five years?
We cover a huge variety of things – sports, theatre, music, arts. I have interviewed the Hollywood actor Brian Cox at the Theatre Royal in Dumfries and photographed Status Quo. I often have to pinch myself because I’m just a farmer from Kirkcudbright!
I won a Scottish Thistle Rural Ambassador award, and that was the moment that I realised it had really taken a turn. The fact that somebody had taken the time to nominate me was lovely.
What do you hope to achieve going forward?
I saw a Facebook page for the Lake District and Cumbria that had 40,000 followers and I thought, ‘I want those people to continue up the M6 to Dumfries and Galloway,’ which is just as beautiful. The towns might not be set up for tourists yet, but I’m hoping we can change that. Dumfries and Galloway has what the whole of Scotland has to offer, but all in one place – that’s the message we’re trying to get across.
For further information visit www.dgwgo.com
(This feature was originally published in 2016)