Saturday, 13 November 2010

Cash in the Bothy at Quality Napkins

Bothy volunteers Moya (left) and Jack Elliott (right) found a bothy
full of cash when they visited John Hall at his Quality Napkins shop
in Aberchirder’s Main Street. Mr Hall had kindly offered to put a
charity box for the bothy on his counter, and former art teacher Jack built this special miniature wooden version of the bothy as a
collection box.

In just a fortnight, the box held the magnificent total of £269. The
money was donated by visitors to the shop, who had enjoyed the free coffee and delicious home-baked scones served in the shop’s tabled area. Every month, the donations box is exchanged for one from another local charity, so if you want to help the bothy, get down to Foggie this month!

Bothy awarded Provisional Accreditation

The Salmon Bothy has taken a giant step towards becoming a four star Visit Scotland attraction, and offering an even better experience to visitors. The bothy’s museum has been awarded provisional museum accreditation by Museums Galleries Scotland, the body which acts as the voice and expert body for over 350 Scottish museums and galleries.

Sinclair Broomfield is one of the volunteers on the bothy’s accreditation group.
He explains: “Accreditation is important because it demonstrates that we offer a good experience to our visitors, and recognises the quality of care for our collections.
“Now that we are a member of Museums Galleries Scotland, it also gives us access to services and information about museum development.
“It’s great to be part of a big organisation like MGS. We can use their experience and expert advice for things like lighting and audio systems. “They can advise us on funding and we get access to grants and training.“This will help us to achieve a four star visitor attraction rating with Visit Scotland.”

Bothy director Anne McArthur (left) and accreditation group member Nessie Gray examine the new paddles which help visitors to understand the objects in the museum

The bothy is the

headquarters for the Scottish Traditional Boat festival, and is owned by the festival. Festival chairman Roger Goodyear added: “We’re absolutely delighted to achieve such a major step forward, particularly after our recent awards for the restoration of the building.“This wasn’t an easy task, and was a real team effort.” The accreditation process has been going on for the past two years, but the really intensive work started just over a year ago.

Mr Broomfield paid tribute to the accreditation team of volunteers. “We are very pleased indeed, and it is also great credit to the rest of the accreditation sub group – Leanne Watt, Moya Elliott, Nessie Gray, Roger Goodyear, Sandra Cumming, Len Murray, Hazel Broomfield and Dr Bertie.”

Mr Broomfield paid tribute to the museum’s curatorial advisor, Dr David Bertie of Aberdeenshire Council: “He and his staff have been very helpful. I am particularly pleased for Leanne, the bothy manager, currently on maternity leave, for all her hard work.”
Mr Broomfield explained the main improvements to the museum which have resulted: “All objects are now labelled, and linked to hand-held information paddles which explain what the objects are. “There are also files containing additional information for people to dip into. It is much more organised for the visitor.”

To reach the national accreditation standard, museums must meet requirements for disabled access, recording feedback from visitors, record keeping, the care of collections, security, and developing systems for recording what the museum holds, and where it comes from. Other tasks include monitoring temperature and humidity, and health and safety. Mr Broomfield said: “As is normal practice, our first accreditation is a provisional one for six months, but the list of conditions we have to meet for full accreditation is very short, and achievable.

“We have been told by MGS that our application was a very good one, and that it is unusual to have been given such a short list of conditions for full accreditation.”
Museums with full accreditation are eligible to participate in a new Quality Improvement System. Accreditation will also be seen as evidence of good practice to other funders and potential donors.

But the bothy had to fight the clock when the relevant governing body – the Museum Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) - was chopped in the latest bonfire of the quangos, announced by the Westminster government last week. And the bothy made it in the nick of time, when they were granted accreditation by the very last meeting of the Museum Libraries and Archives Council. If the bothy application had not been considered at this meeting, it would have meant having to re-write their application to a new set of standards.

Mr Broomfield explained: “If we had missed that final meeting, the rules would have changed, and it would have been much more complicated.“We are very pleased to have beaten that very important deadline. We only heard half way through the process that the MLA was going – it certainly sharpened our minds wonderfully.” The rush meant a very intense nine months work to draw together the complex application paperwork needed. The museum is housed in the three former brick-vaulted ice chambers of the 175 year old building.

Specially designed lighting adds to the atmosphere of the rooms, which still are as cool and dark as they were in the days they were used to store ice. The museum tells the story of the growth of the town on illustrated information panels, and by models, old tools and even a small sailing boat. The outer chamber describes the growth of the town and the harbours. The middle chamber describes the other industries and trade of the town, including Portsoy marble, the foundry, ropeworks, and smuggling. The innermost chamber is devoted to the salmon netting industry which was carried out from the bothy, and has two cases with superb scale models showing salmon nets rigged up. The museum also has a small shop area, selling souvenirs of the bothy and the boat festival.

The museum is open this week from Wednesday until Friday from 2-4pm, and 11.30am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. From next week, the museum goes into its winter timetable, when it is closed on weekdays, and open from 2-4pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Our newest volunteer: Fearghal Wilson Watt.

Fearghal was only three weeks old when mum Leanne took him down to the bothy for the first time to meet the volunteers. He was guest of honour at the September volunteers' meeting, which also included a baby shower for him.
Any regrets that we had lost Leanne (temporarily) as manager at the bothy while she takes her maternity leave, were instantly forgotten as soon as Fearghal appeared, accompanied by mum and dad, Matthew.
Fearghal behaved impeccably through the business meeting and all the coo-cooing which followed - although Leanne predicted that he was just resting ahead of a busy night!
Everyone wishes the family a wonderful time together, and hope to see them at the bothy as often as possible, and of course, look forward to Leanne's return to the manager's office.