The Abbotsford team receiving the Volunteer Friendly Award from Brian Lawson, Senior Policy & Development Officer at Volunteer Centre Borders, are (left to right): Sandra Mackenzie, Heritage Engagement Manager; Claudia Bolling, Volunteer Co-ordinator; and Giles Ingram, Chief Executive.
The Trust, which manages Abbotsford, Scott’s home between Melrose and Galashiels, has received the Volunteer Friendly Award, a national scheme for organisations working with volunteers, delivered locally by Volunteer Centre Borders (VCB). Currently 400 organisations across Scotland hold the award, with 16 in the Scottish Borders. Assessors scrutinised the charity’s policies and procedures in five strands covering a range of areas including training, motivation, equality and communication.
VCB Executive Officer, Gordon Brown, said: “Volunteers are an integral part of ensuring Sir Walter Scott’s legacy at Abbotsford continues and this is obvious from their work plans and how they are supported in their volunteering roles.
“At a time when volunteers are needed more than ever before, good volunteer management is essential and it is obvious The Abbotsford Trust puts volunteering at the forefront of its strategic planning.”
Giles Ingram, Chief Executive of Abbotsford, said: “As an independent charity, the Abbotsford Trust relies heavily on the support and goodwill of our army of volunteers. Their enthusiasm and generosity of time is invaluable and we really appreciate all they do across the estate.”
In 2017 Abbotsford secured three-year funding from Historic Environment Scotland to invest in volunteers, enabling the appointment of a Volunteer Coordinator and the introduction of a volunteer training programme. Since then the number of volunteers has grown from 45 to 105, with new roles of path wardens, event volunteers and minibus drivers joining the existing guides, room stewards, gardeners and visitor centre volunteers. To show its appreciation, the Trust also has regular social events for its voluntary workforce, including a quiz night, Christmas lunch and outings to other historic visitor attractions, plus regular meetings and an annual survey to keep up-to-date with the support volunteers need.
At this year’s Christmas lunch, 22 volunteers who have served with Abbotsford since the house reopened in July 2013 received five-year long-service awards, to mark their commitment to the Trust.