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Battle Trustees' Report for 2011: great progress, much frustration ...

Battle Trustees’ Report for 2011 - as approved at the Members' AGM November 29th

The year has been dominated by the outstanding success of the Battle of Prestonpans 1745 Tapestry stitched for the Trust in 2009/ 2010. By year end more than 100,000 visitors will have seen it and the feedback through the Visitors’ Book, in writing and verbally has been overwhelming. It is now quite clear that the Tapestry is able to elevate the Trust’s activities to a level of public awareness and support which re-enactments, school visits, a dynamic website, lobbying, historical novels and analyses together could not achieve. Furthermore, our embroidered artwork of the Prince’s campaign has involved female audiences we have never been able to reach before.

It is most pleasing to report that during the year more than £60,000 has been donated to the [Restricted] Appeal Fund for the Tapestry’s permanent home. Embroiderers across the nation have arranged local events in support as well as providing endless support at exhibitions. Dorie Wilkie has led a tireless team of stitchers who have maintained the artwork as it has travelled.

Such has been the Tapestry’s success that at times we have wondered whether our sole goal had become to create a permanent home for it at Prestongrange Heritage Museum. Of course that is not the case. As a Trust we are committed to ensuring the battlefield is conserved and its message is told out aloud in the history of Scotland and as a heritage attraction that can assist the continuing socioeconomic regeneration of the local community. To this end, there were during the 12 months reported here other most significant initiatives

Andrew Hillhouse, a local artist from Cockenzie, has created for the Battle Trust four outstanding canvases of the Cockenzie House Surrender, Gardiner and the Jenkinson Sisters at Tranent Manse, The Camerons' Charge on the Redcoat Cannons and The Riggonhead Defile. Kate Hunter has added a unique portrait of Sir John Cope to her earlier painting of Prince Charles Edward. With the support of our Heritage Lottery Grant three key Interpretation Boards were also placed at Tranent, Seton Collegiate and the Waggonway.

As an Executive Trustee, Arran Johnston has worked throughout the year as manager of the Tapestry Tour Programme, but more than that as Chairman of the Alan Breck Regiment of Prestonpans Volunteers to provide strength and leadership for the re-enactments in September but also to offer re-enactments elsewhere in Scotland. The September re-enactments in Cuthill Park this year were the biggest and finest thus far stretching across Saturday and Sunday. More still, Arran Johnston has taken responsibility for the Trust’s warehouse of books and merchandise at Cockenzie, dubbed Johnnie Cope’s Baggage Train.

2012 requires that the Trustees maintain the momentum of the Prospectus to the Nation lodged at Holyrood in December 2010. To this end, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Fiona Hyslop MSP, who has already accepted the Trust’s invitation to visit, is expected in the Spring. A three/ five year plan is being formulated that not only maintains momentum but also brings the campaign‘s overall goals to completion.

Negotiations continue with East Lothian Council concerning maintenance of extant battlefield interpretations and the future patterns of development at Prestongrange; and with Historic Scotland concerning the Listed Buildings at Prestongrange and the need for solid national support for the Trust’s campaign. There have been inevitable and extremely frustrating delays in concluding Heads of Agreement with East Lothian Council at the site despite the well established acceptance that co-locating at Prestongrange has most substantial economic advantages. If such delays continue into the New Year the Trustees realise they will have no option but to open discussions with putative locations both within the town area and outwith. But the Trustees, like the Prince in 1745, remain positive. All political parties will be invited to indicate their support for the Trust’s activities and ambitions in the run up to the Council elections in May 2012. 2012 will also see the 3rd Biennial National Symposium on Battlefields convened in The Pans by Trustees Herbert Coutts and Kristine Cunningham.

Donations over and above those Restricted for the Tapestry’s Permanent Home continued as shown in the accounts, for which all Members will be truly grateful. Central expenditures are not high because services are normally provided by volunteers, but provision has to be made for the unavoidable logistical costs of the annual re-enactments and warehousing.

Finally, the Trustees wish to record here their continuing appreciation and admiration for the hundreds and hundreds of people across the nation and beyond who have ‘volunteered’ towards the achievement of the Trust’s espoused goals.

N.B. As a Scottish charity [SC 037447] the statutory accounts of the Trust, which were approved at the AGM, are available to all members the public. Anyone wishing to receive a copy should write enclosing a cheque for £25 payable to The Battle Trust 1745, being the agreed administrative charge, to The Secretary to The Battle Trust, Sylvia Burgess, The Prestoungrange Gothenburg, 227 High Street, Prestonpans, EH32 9BE. They will also appear online at Companies House in due course.


Published Date: December 7th 2011


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