It is good to see figures for the first time on the number of those speaking Scots ("Census reveals huge rise in number of non-religious Scots", The Herald, September 27).

Now we know 1.54 million people speak the language and where they are located we can begin to plan how to support communities of Scots speakers and encourage these communities to value their language and pass it on to future generations.

After centuries of neglect, it is time for action to be taken to safeguard the language for the future and we are calling on the Scottish Government to draw up a Charter for Scots outlining how the language and its dialects can be supported more effectively.

Children are the key to the future health of the language and we would like to see new efforts being made to encourage innovative projects aimed at creating a sense of pride and self-worth among Scots-speaking school pupils. For centuries the Scots language has been at the heart of our culture. It has helped define us as people and has been one of the key outlets through which we have expressed ourselves artistically and creatively.

Scotland without the Scots language would be a pale imitation of itself and we must do everything we can to encourage and promote it.

Michael Hance,

Director, Scots Language Centre,

AK Bell Library, Perth.