This has been a very exciting year, like my first year in office a very busy and enjoyable one. Working with my fellow directors, post holders and committee members has been a privilege.
Although closed to public during the months of January, February and most of March, this proved a very busy time. Much good work was undertaken during this time.
We improved our presentation of slides by having the large display monitor fitted to the rear wall. We have a sound system fitted throughout the building. This greatly improves to whole experience for visitors and particularly those receiving a commentary about the slides. We also replaced some of the displays and artefacts to ensure there was always something new for visitors to see. The appearance of the toilet has also been improved by having the walls tiled and repainted.
Our computer expert, Bob Smith revamped our computer system and a start was made to catalogue the artefacts, records of fishing boats and photographs. Although much work was done, this is a large job that will take quite a while to complete. When finished, we should be able to find an artefact or photograph at the touch of a button.
A regular squad appeared each morning to carry out these improvements and despite some harsh weather were always there to help. My heartfelt thanks goes to these dedicated volunteers.
The enthusiasm of my fellow directors must be admired in regard to the wish to continually improve the Heritage Centre. This was clearly demonstrated when reports of the council public toilet closures were first mentioned earlier in the year. Many hours were spent in making a case to transfer the toilet block building to the Heritage Centre and also in applying for grants to have the work carried out. Although everything was going our way, unfortunately, at the last minute, we were advised that the council would not let the building go.
For the third year we have remained open to the public from late September to Christmas. This again proved to be much appreciated given the number of visits by public and groups during these autumn and winter months. I would hope that this arrangement will become the normal.
Just before Christmas we attended the Buckie Christmas Kracker event and did very well with sales of our books for Christmas presents. A good day all round and again my thanks to the team who helped man our stall.
Like past years, the last twelve months has seen visitor numbers increase. One aspect of this has been the increase in the number of visits by Church Guilds, Local Groups and most importantly, by local schools. I must single out John Addison and James Young for their work in providing slide shows and commentaries for our visiting groups, Kathleen and Margaret for their baking and tea.
Visiting groups over the last twelve months have included,
o Buckie Probus Club
o Portessie Methodist Church Guild
o Keith and District Parkinson’s Group
o Moray Historic Wheels Club
o Cullen Methodist Church Guild
o Findochty Church of Scotland
o Rathven WRI
o Bishopmill Primary School.
A visit by the Buckie 41 Club also takes place tonight.
In addition to these visits, talks have been provided to
o Elgin Friendship Group
o Portgordon Ladies Guild
o Portgordon SWRI.
We also contributed to the Moray Heritage Day held in St Giles Church, Elgin in May. Although attendance could have been better, this did provide an opportunity to promote the Heritage Centre further afield.
Over the year we have had our three Coffee Mornings, two in Buckie and one in Findochty. As is usual, these were very well supported and together raised over £2980. This income allows us to continue our work during these hard financial times.
Our membership remains stable with many of these members being spread throughout the world. On many occasions I hear of the important link with their home town that the Heritage Centre provides for many of Buckie exiles spread around the world. Always held in very high regard are the Heritage Newsletters. This is probably the reason why we have so many members from outwith the Buckie area. Much credit must go to John Fowlie for the excellent work that he provides in producing these newsletters.
We have produced a number of books. On 7th December Joe Reid’s excellent book, ‘The Might Zulu’ was launched. Sales of this book have been steady and demand for the book continues. Presently with the printers are ‘BF Motorboats’ Volumes 1 and 2. These two books follow the very successful format of BCK Motorboats published in 2012. It is hoped that these will be available for Christmas. My thanks go to both Joe Reid and John Addison for their outstanding work in producing these superb books.
Our Centre is also now recognised for the expertise that it holds in regard to the past fishing industry. This was again demonstrated over the last twelve months by approaches from film makers and authors. A lot of advice was provided and many artefacts loaned to the production team for the making of a short film about a love story between and young fisher girl and fisherman. ‘Whistle my Lad’ has received some great reviews and I look forward to seeing the film on television in the future.
In a similar manner, Australian author Amanda Curtin’s latest novel ‘Elemental’ is now available in book shops. This tells of a young girl with a secret who ran off and joined the fisher lassies as they moved around the country. Much factual information and photographs were provided to Amanda to enable her to produce the book.
We played a major part in the opening of the Fishwives Walk in July. Probably our busiest day on record as far as visitor numbers were concerned. This provided a great opportunity for local people and Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond to visit the Heritage Centre. My thanks must go to John Fowlie, Jim Farquhar and John Crawford for their work in attending meetings and in helping to produce the Fishwives Walk leaflets.
I will close now by thanking everyone who has assisted me personally throughout this past year in my role as Chairman. I would like to wish Jim, who takes over the reins shortly every, success in the role of Chairman of this thriving organisation.
Thanks to you all.
Eric Smith 26th September 2013.