Bathgate becomes Scottish Toilet Twinning capital

Bathgate has been crowned Scotland’s first official Toilet Twinned Town after locals joined forces to flush away poverty.

It’s been all cisterns go in the West Lothian town where locals have raised hundreds of pounds to fund toilets in poor countries. The accolade is awarded by charity initiative Toilet Twinning, which encourages people to ‘twin their loo’ and provide a latrine for a family overseas.

Bathgate toilet twinners converged on the aptly named Boghall Parish Church on November 19 – World Toilet Day – when the award was presented.

West Lothian Fairtrade campaigners present Cllr John McGinty with a toilet twin

West Lothian Fairtrade campaigners present Cllr John McGinty with a toilet twin

Heading up the Privy Council of local loo-minaries is Gillian Reid (third from left, above), who has lived in the town for 35 years. She is involved in both the Bathgate and Whitburn Fair Trade groups whose coffee mornings funded some of the 20 local twins. However, their fundraising has also sparked a toilet chain reaction, encouraging other locals to twin their loo too.

Gillian, who was born in India, has long had a passion for fair trade and international development. She says: ‘So many children die every day because they don’t have clean water and sanitation. How much more basic can you get than needing a toilet to keep healthy? A toilet is something so fundamental. We’re really proud to get this award – and I hope it will inspire others to twin too.’

Local venues with twinned toilets include: Bathgate URC, St John’s Church, Boghall Church’s Cosy Café, Stewart Opticians, and Sheila Fraser Associates. Bathgate Fair Trade also presented one toilet twin to Councillor John McGinty, Leader of West Lothian Council.

Toilet Twinning raises funds for Tearfund’s water and sanitation programme, which provides decent toilets, clean water and hygiene education in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Lynne Paterson, Director of Tearfund Scotland, who presented Bathgate’s award, said: ‘We tend to get a bit embarrassed talking about toilets in this country – but in the countries where we work, they are quite literally life-savers. Bathgate should be very proud of its achievement: its toilet twins will change many lives forever.’

It costs £60 to twin a household latrine – and in return you receive a certificate with your toilet twin’s photo and GPS coordinates.