Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of the Gairloch and District Heritage Company

20 November 2017

Gairloch High School 7.15 pm.




Roy Macintyre; Pauline Butler; Jeremy Fenton; Liz Forrest; Hugh Macintyre; Irene Macintyre; Alice Mackenzie; Dugald Macpherson; Willie Macrae; Karen Buchanan; Vincent Davies; Nevis Hulme; Katie Pilcher.



Marcus Simpson; Allan Templeton.


1. Welcome

Vincent (Gairloch High School rep.) and Katie (Learning & Interpretation Officer) were welcomed to their first Board meeting.


2. Conflicts of Interest

No potential conflict of interest was declared with respect to the Agenda.


3. Minutes of the Board meeting 2 October & Matters Arising

These were agreed to be a correct record, proposed by Jeremy and seconded by Hugh.

Matters arising:

i)  The first meeting of the group looking at preparing publications for the new museum is planned for 23 November.

ii) The annual museum lunch for volunteers had been held on 17 November at The Shieling, Gairloch. It was a very enjoyable occasion.


4. Treasurer’s Report

Dugald produced income and expenditure figures projected forward to the end of the financial year. He is anticipating a ‘break-even’ outcome, which is pleasing given the considerable development project costs already incurred. To date, we have not had to draw down the loan arranged with AHF to meet cash flow demands. The additional operational income, from the increased visitor numbers, shop and exhibition sales, has balanced out the reduction in the High Life Highland support grant. We should be able to start claiming HLF funding support for the expenditure incurred during the current phase of the project.


5. VAT & EGM

Since the last Board meeting, officers had agreed that Dugald should progress GDHC’s registration for VAT in order to reclaim as much as possible of the payments already made to our consultants. We will opt to tax the building. To be eligible to register we have to lose our ‘cultural exemption’, which means that at least one Company director must receive payment. This requires a change in our Articles of Association. MGS has accepted the proposed amendment. We await OSCR’s response so that we can proceed with an EGM in mid-December. 14 days’ notice has to be given to members so Pauline needs to be able to go ahead with making the arrangements within the next few days. It may not be possible to arrange a speaker for the meeting, given the short time-scale.


6. AGM 2018

The date for this is set for 26 March. Various suggestions were made as to speakers and Roy will co-ordinate the quest.


7. Curator’s Report

Karen had circulated her Report covering Building and grounds; Admissions; Collection; Training & networking; Exhibitions, events & outreach; Redesign of displays; Miscellaneous.

Further points:

i) We agreed to have four rather than five exhibitions next season. Two of the three ‘artistic’ slots are already filled. Ideas were forthcoming for the third. In addition there will be a short exhibition at Easter.

ii) After discussion, it was agreed that Karen should investigate the best phone/broadband deal available, provided that ending the current, long-standing contract was not prohibitively expensive.

iii) Karen convinced us of the urgency to purchase a new computer for the office. Advice was given and more will be sought as to what best suits present and future need.


8. L&I Officer’s Report

Katie had circulated her Report covering Loans box scheme; Events; Collections online; Christmas tree competition; Social media.

Various visits to other museums are being organised, particularly to look at their loans box offers. The Board endorsed Katie’s plans for community engagement in the range of ways envisaged and commended the theme for our GALE Christmas tree competition entry.


9. Museum development: updates & way forward

i) On 16 November Mia, Roy and Hugh, along with the architect and quantity surveyor, met the preferred contractor to identify savings and endeavour to match the contract price with the funds available. The ground contamination report is due soon, which might allow for further savings. The contractor is examining the cost of his preliminaries. There are some other proposals to reduce the material costs which we may not favour but which might be necessary. A further meeting has been arranged with the contractors for 7 December and it is hoped that contracts can be signed to enable work on site to begin early in the New Year. HLF have made it clear that all funding to meet project costs must be secured before they will agree ‘permission to start’ and there was some discussion as to how we might meet their requirements, given the potential for more fund-raising next year.

ii) Our solicitor has informed Highland Council of the need for speedy progress with finalising the purchase of the AAOR. Our existing insurance cover has been extended to cover the AAOR as well.

iii) As part of the LDN contract, Karen is liaising with Campbell & Co. staff, through Skype and email, to ensure that the displays and galleries envisaged will work within the architects’ plans. She is working on a finite list of objects and measurements in order for them to prepare the tender to commission display cases. Volunteers are contributing to the process for the prehistory, natural history, geology and three wars galleries.

iv) Michael O’Donnell, the new HC LEADER officer, is progressing the form filling for our application which will be considered by the local panel on 28 November. This is a highly significant decision in our requesting full “permission to start” from HLF.

v) Various funders are requiring updates on our progress, which Pauline is providing. We await decisions from HES and William Grant. Further applications have been made to a range of funders who support culture in the broadest sense, without result to date. However, an application made to the Trusthouse Foundation last February has just resulted in a cheque for £1000 towards the project.

vi) The ‘Outlander’ crowd funding appeal raised about £2,800 before costs. Other donations came through separately as a result of the publicity. Taking into account all available information from the past four years, the community fund-raising to date now totals just over £160,000.


10. World War I Commemoration Project

Pauline explained briefly the three strands planned to recognise the centenary of the end of the First World War which, we have heard recently, has been approved for an HLF grant. Dorothy is heading up the group, including U3A members, researching local history, 1918-1920, which will culminate in an exhibition to be held in the Museum and then, we anticipate, at Inverewe and Inverasdale Community Centre.  Liz is working closely with two primary schools already and this will be extended to the other primary schools, the adult Skills and Learning Group and, we hope, with the High School. The third strand involves the digitisation of outline details from the invaluable Heroes of Gairloch Parish so that those researching family history can see what is available. We would welcome more people to become involved with the project, which should culminate in a community event in November 2019.


11. Any Other Business

i) Janet Maclean has written to confirm that Karen has now been qualified for more than five years so no longer needs a museum mentor for MGS purposes. Pauline will write, on behalf of the Board, to express our gratitude for her support and expertise over the past four years, particularly during the re-accreditation process.

ii) To show our appreciation of the efforts of all those who, over the many years, have helped the museum to achieve the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, a commemorative Christmas Card will be sent to as many as we can identify, as planned by Margie Russell.

iii) Vincent agreed to distribute posters in the Poolewe area.

iv) Jeremy requested that the issue of permission for photography in the museum be reviewed at the next meeting. Karen was asked to prepare new guidelines.


12. Date of next meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for 15 January 2018 starting at 7.15 pm.


There being no other business, the meeting ended at 9.05 pm.













Curator's Report 20th November 2017



Building and Grounds


The fence between the museum car park and Derek Roxburgh’s land has still not been put up but Donald Macintosh has been in contact with Roxy.


There is now a geocache on the museum grounds, which was set up as part of Highland Archaeology Fortnight.


There do not appear to be any problems with the premises at present.




Total admissions for 2017 season numbered 6881, which was an increase of 8% on last year.  Whilst it is encouraging that we have maintained an upward trajectory for the past five years, this year’s increase is nowhere near the 40% that other attractions such as Inverewe and the Beinn Eighe visitor centre are reporting.




The object accessions backlog has been dealt with over the past couple of weeks but there is still a very significant archive accessions backlog and this continues to grow.  I have tried to set time aside to deal with this over the next few weeks.


Duncan Ross is continuing valuable work inputting the archive catalogue onto Adlib, and making good progress.


Fran and Anne have been working on the collection since we closed at the end of October.  They have moved all the fragile objects from display into storage.  They have cleaned any area of concern in the displays and are monitoring the pest traps.  They have now started making padded hangers for the textiles collection.


Rachael Thomas unfortunately confirmed this week that she will not be able to undertake conservation work for us over the winter.  It will therefore be necessary to find another conservator to undertake the work that is being funded by the Radcliffe Trust.


Training and Networking


I continue to work and study at home on Thursdays and have assignments pending in Gaelic Language and Crofting.  The topics covered by the course have been very useful.


Katie and I made a visit to the West Highland Museum in Fort William to learn more about their collection, the challenges they are facing and their embryonic redevelopment project.


Exhibitions, events and outreach


Three of our five exhibition slots are filled for next year (see schedule below).  I would like to discuss whether we limit ourselves to four exhibitions next year, scheduling the WWI exhibition (that Dorothy, Pauline and Liz are working on) to commence in early September and run until we decide to close, which may need to be before the end of October, depending on when we need to start dismantling our displays to move them to the new building.  Ideally we would not have to put together a local history exhibition next year, as I imagine we will be very busy working on the new displays.


Exhibition Dates 2018


Exhibition 1:  Monday 2nd April – Saturday 19th May

Exhibition Title TBC by Clare Yarrington http://www.clareyarrington.com/

No Preview


Exhibition 2: Saturday 26th May – Saturday 7th July

Exhibition Title TBC by Artist TBC

Preview: Friday 25th May 7.30pm


Exhibition 3: Saturday 14th July – Saturday 1st September

Exhibition Title TBC by Joy Grindrod http://www.joygrindrod.co.uk/

Preview: Friday 13th July 7.30pm


Exhibition 4:  Saturday 8th September –  Saturday 31st September

Exhibition Title TBC by Artist TBC

Preview: Friday 7th September 7.30pm


Redesign of Displays


I am managing to spend more time on this since the museum closed and since Katie has taken on much of the outreach and events work.  The lighthouse, prehistory, wartime and geology galleries have all made reasonable progress.




The broadband speed which we receive in the office is just about adequate, but falls well below what is now available in the village.  Now that Katie and I are both working with the internet, it can be slow to complete tasks.  I have contacted our current providers but they cannot give us a faster service.  BT can give us fibre broadband, which would cost around £40 per month including unlimited broadband at a speed ten times what we currently have, and unlimited UK phone calls.  This is less than we are currently paying.  I would like to explore switching, even though it would only be for 12 months.


The computer I am working on is more than five years old it has been in the office since I arrived.  The hard disk is almost full, and I am having to store documents on a portable hard drive, which then has to be separately backed up.  I think it is time to replace the computer.



Karen Thompson (Curator)




Learning and Interpretation Officer Report


Loan Box Scheme

In keeping with the Activity Plan:


Local Schools

Have tried to get in contact with local schools to discuss what loan box topics would benefit teaching – possibility to go into schools on in-set days as teachers are very busy at the moment.


1/2 teacher, Emily Ross from Bualnaluib School delighted to come in to talk to me about what topics they would like to see.


I will hopefully be visiting Alison Boyle at the Highland Museum of Childhood on the 20th November. Their museum is currently developing its loan box scheme. They also receive a lot of visits from local schools. It will be beneficial to learn from Alison.


Also been in contact with Alison Parfitt from Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. She and other members of staff are keen to pass on knowledge they have gained. Their museum has a huge range of loan boxes on offer. Will hopefully be visiting with them soon.


Local Care Homes

Currently working with Mags Matheson, the new Activity Coordinator at Isle View, to trial out a reminiscence box at the beginning of December.


Been in touch with Myra Macdonald at Strathburn House. She is also very keen to have a more active relationship with the museum. She will be discussing with the residents what topics would interest them and providing me with feedback at a later date.




Bronze Age Pottery Sessions

As I started, I supported Pat Gulliver during the kids’ pottery sessions. These were extremely popular and everyone involved thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Many parents were disappointed they could not join in – this is something I will take into consideration with future activities and events. The finished pots have since been returned to the children.


Winter Lectures

I have managed to secure a talk for January with Mandy Rush and Corey Jones. They will be telling us about their adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail earlier this year. I have been in contact with David Alston and Graeme Mackenzie. David recently attended the Ullapool Book Festival and his current research centres on the involvement of Highland Scots in the slave plantations of the Caribbean. Graeme has recently come back to Scotland having done a lecture series in the US. He is the Chairman of the Association of Highland Clans & Societies and specialises in the history of Clans in the Highlands. Both have expressed an interest to come and speak for us – waiting to hear back.


Possibility of local archaeologist, John Wood talking for us – to be confirmed at a later date.


Festival of Museums 2018

Currently in the process of refining my funding application to NMS for Festival of Museums. I am hoping to hold an arty ‘how to’ event for FOM 2018 that is specifically catered towards local families.

I hope to use this event as a trial for future events we develop in keeping with the Activity Plan.

More to be added on that at a later point.


Collections Online



I have been looking further into using eHive as a way to make parts of our collection more accessible to the public on the web. My current thinking is to use themes of objects that we will be seeing in the new museum e.g. ‘A Walk Through Time’. This will be looked into further.




Christmas Tree Competition

I am finishing up decorations for the Tree Competition at the GALE. My theme is ‘Thank you’ and I have made hanging decorations of all the logos of the funds that have helped us work towards our new museum goal. The tinsel is chains of people which symbolise the community. The star at the top of the tree will feature a cartoon drawing of the new museum and at the bottom will be a pot with a cartoon drawing of our current museum. Trees go up for voting on the 24th November with the winner announced on the 16th December. I will be taking and posting photos.


Social Media

Facebook is our main source of communication on social media. I hope to increase our followers on Twitter and Instagram. We currently do not use these platforms much at all, except during the crowdfunding period. Looking to improve this.



Katie Pilcher






Gairloch Heritage Museum :   Achtercairn • Gairloch • Ross-shire • IV21 2BP • UK

Curator : Dr. Karen Buchanan (Thompson)

tel : 01445 712287

email : info@gairlochheritagemuseum.org

Gairloch Heritage Museum is operated by Gairloch & District Heritage Company Ltd

 which is run by volunteers and is a registered charity no. SC010249