Abbotsford Celebrates Prestigious Volunteer Award

10th Jan 2019

The Abbotsford Trust, responsible for the legacy of Sir Walter Scott, is celebrating becoming the first historic house museum in Scotland to gain a prestigious national award for its volunteer programme.

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.

Volunteers who have served at Abbotsford since the house reopened in July 2013 received five-year long-service awards at their Christmas lunch, to mark their commitment to the Trust.

Back row: James Holloway (Chairman Abbotsford Trust); Hamish Reid; Sandra Davies; Keith Crosier; Giles Ingram (Chief Executive Abbotsford Trust); Malcolm Morrison; Jack Scott; and Ian Skinner.

Front row: Maggie Allan; Gill Howes; Margaret Cassidy; Carole Evans; Marian Keith; Nancy Marshall; Joyce Cook; and Frankie McBrier.

Volunteers not pictured but who also received an award are: John Collin; Margaret Collin; Simon Hemsley; Allan Herd; Derek Martin; Dawn McKenna; Mary Robertson; and Linda Murray.

Claudia Bolling, Volunteer Co-ordinator, said: “I am always telling the volunteers that we really couldn’t do what we do without them, and it is so true. They delivered more than 12,000 hours of service in the 12 months until September 2018, which is invaluable to a charity like Abbotsford.

“We were delighted that in our last survey 100% of those who responded said they would recommend volunteering at Abbotsford to their family and friends.”

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer at Abbotsford can find out more at the next annual recruitment day on January 19th.

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