Former townsman talks about his new life in Scotland

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A FORMER Banbridge man now running his own distillery in Scotland features in a new BBC Northern Ireland programme taking a look at those who have relocated across the Irish Sea.

Raymond Armstrong, who now owns the Bladnoch Distillery near Wigtown, talks to Helen Mark in ‘12 Miles: The Narrow Sea’ which aired last night (Monday), in the first of a new three-part series.

At the closest point, Scotland and the North Antrim Coast are just twelve miles apart and the migration of people between the two countries has been a century-old tradition.

Helen, who left Scotland 31 years ago to settle in Northern Ireland, says she has always felt comfortable here and asks why so many ‘locals’ feel the same about her native homeland.

In the first episode entitled ‘The Land’, she journeyed to Ayrshire, on the west coast of Scotland where the landscape is similar to the Antrim coast and where so many Ulster farmers have laid down roots that the area is now known as ‘Little Ireland’.

Raymond is one of her first guests and when he bought the distillery it had been out of action for several years. The former townsman set about reinstalling the necessary equipment and soon re-opened the small, but successful business.

Also in the series, Helen meets farmers, students, entrepreneurs and the crew of a ferry who regularly make the journey between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“The ship’s crew live on board one week at a time and many of the passengers feel as much part of the furniture as they do,” says Helen, who spends time on a ferry in the third programme, ‘The Sea’.

“What’s great about being involved in ‘12 Miles’ is that, as a Scot, it makes me rethink about the ways in which the people of Northern Ireland and Scotland are connected to one another.”

The series starts at 7.30pm and goes out each Monday evening on BBC1 Northern Ireland.