New Recruits For Rabbie’s Farm

Two young people have been hired by Robert Burns Ellisland Museum and Farm thanks to grant awards from the Holywood Trust and Museums Galleries Scotland.

Caitlin MacLeod and Sarah White, who are both 23, will work at Robert Burns’s 1788 farmstead outside Dumfries, the best preserved of all the poet’s homes.

Caitlin, who has a post-graduate MSc in Museum Education from the University of Glasgow, will deliver school visits and help the museum gain “accreditated status” to protect its collection of precious items belonging to Burns and his wife Jean Armour.

Since Ellisland launched its free school visits programme this year, 261 pupils have been booked to visit the historic farm outside Dumfries, where Burns wrote Auld Lang Syne and Tam o Shanter.

Caitlin also has a degree in archaeology and history, and will spend one day a week with Dumfries and Galloway Council Museums department as part of her eight month internship.

Sarah is a local IT and graphics undergraduate who will maintain the website and administer the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust charity, which has more than doubled its membership since it was formed in 2020. Sarah will run membership, maintenance and visitor services at the 170 acre site.

Joan McAlpine, Business Development Manager of the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust, said:

“We are enormously grateful to the Holywood  Trust and Museums Galleries Scotland for their support. As well as being able to offer career opportunities to two young people, the grant allows us to deliver education experiences through a subsidised school visits programme which has been extremely popular since its launch this summer. Together with the launch of Minecraft Ellisland earlier this year we think we are taking the bard to a whole new generation!
“As well as partly funding three fixed term posts, the Holywood Trust’s £37,000 grant will help develop a masterplan for the site – details of which we will release very shortly. Museums Galleries Scotland’s £17,000 grant comes from the Museums Recovery Fund to help us in the aftermath of the lockdowns and helps us get back on our feet.”

The appointments come at an exciting time for the charity which earlier this year appointed local musician Lee McQueen to help expand audiences, again funded by Museum Galleries Scotland through their Small Grants Fund.

Lee’s recent Farmhouse Harvest Supper event featured music from winners of the Dumfries and Galloway Burns Association schools competition. The young people were joined by local bands Boglemufty and Coograss, and the evening made a profit which will help support the site.

Ellisland recently hosted delegates from the Robert Burns World Federation who held their conference in Dumfries. Delegates from across the world who had joined the Trust’s “1788 Circle” for Burns Clubs collected special certificates in the historic Tam o shanter barn after a tour of Ellisland. They were also entertained by youth music ambassador for Ellisland, Rose Byers.

The next event at Ellisland is “A Scottish Halloween” which takes place on the afternoon of Sunday 30 October as part of the Wild Goose Festival. There will be apple dooking, stalls, music, competitions and warming winter food.

For further information contact [email protected]

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