New Faces at Robert Burns Ellisland Trust

The farm built by Robert Burns has secured more than £39,000 to employ new staff, run events and safeguard the museum collection in 2024

The work is part of a project called Burns, Barns and Byres, funded by Historic Environment Scotland, Museums Galleries Scotland and The People’s Post Code Lottery.

The two staff employed by the project, Siobhan McDonald and Adam Dickson, recently re-opened the site for 2024, with a weekend of Easter egg painting, rolling and treasure hunts for families.

Project Manager Siobhan has a PhD in English Literature from the University of St Andrews and is a qualified school teacher. She has an expertise on the role of food in literature.




Project Officer Adam from Stranraer is a recent graduate of the Museums Studies post graduate course at the University of Glasgow. He will care for Ellisland’s precious collection of Burns artefacts and be mentored by the trust’s chair, Dr David Hopes, a former Director of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway,  and director of museums and galleries in the city of Leeds.

Ellisland was built by Robert Burns in 1788, it is classed as being of “exceptional” historic and cultural significance and is the place Auld Lang Syne and Tam o Shanter were written.

As well as educational workshops and an events programme to be unveiled shortly, Siobhan and Adam will ensure the museum and site remain open to visitors for the season. Ellisland is now open Wednesday to Saturday from 11am to 4pm.

The grant will also allow the museum to purchase some new cases to keep the collection safe, as well as develop an oral history project, which will be unveiled later this year.

Siobhan and Adam are not the only new faces at Ellisland. The Board of Trustees recently recruited Councillor Linda Dorward, who represents Lochar ward and was formerly Governor of HM Prison Dumfries and Graham Main, Director of the Big Burns Supper.

Joan McAlpine Project Director of the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust said: “This is another vote of confidence in Ellisland and compliments the support we receive from The Holywood Trust and South of Scotland Enterprise. We are delighted to give Adam, a young person from Dumfries and Galloway, an opportunity to develop his museum career.
“The Burns Barns and Byres project means we can maintain the momentum we have achieved these last few years, as we seek substantial funds to safeguard Ellisland in the long term. We will shortly be submitting a National Lottery Heritage Fund application to save the buildings at risk.
“We are delighted also to recruit two new board members of the calibre of Linda Dorward and Graham Main. Linda has very significant senior management experience, as well as expertise in community justice and inclusion and Graham is one of the most dynamic creative producers in Scotland who created the Big Burns Supper festival from scratch, growing it into an event of national importance.”