CHAIRMAN’S REPORT – 26th September 2017
I have now served my two-year period as Chairman of the Buckie and District Fishing Heritage Centre and later I hand over the post of Chairman to Margaret.
At this time last year, I spoke of how busy my first year in office had been. This momentum has continued but above all, this has proved to be very enjoyable and rewarding.
I have particularly enjoyed working as part of a team comprising of my fellow directors, management committee members and others connected with the organisation. In years to come when remembering back to my time as Chairman, what will remain with me is that heart felt desire of everyone involved to work together for the good of the ‘Heritage’.
Together, we have achieved many good things this past year. Once again, a team of very willing volunteers met each day over the winter period to change displays so that visitors would see something different when visiting.
New photographic displays were researched and these were mounted on the wall to my right. These cover subjects like the reconstruction of Buckie’s Cluny Harbour, some of the many shows that were staged in the Fisherman’s Hall by the local operatic company back in the late 1950’s and 1960’s and some history of the local band leader, Bill Geddes.
Five excellent photographs that were taken from the tower of the North Church were also displayed showing the square and surrounding area as it was, we believe at the start of the Second World War. The quality of these photographs are excellent given how long ago they were taken.
We took the opportunity to mark the centenary of the award of the Victoria Cross to George McIntosh and the Military Cross to Spencer Fowlie. New display panels were commissioned that describe the circumstances behind these awards and of the bravery displayed by the two local men. The families of the two soldiers were invited to informally view the panels when we reopened back in the spring time.
Similar panels were also designed and printed to show the Seamen’s Memorial Chapel. This has resulted in quite a number of visitors making enquiries and visiting the Chapel. All visitors are immediately impressed by the peace, tranquillity and beauty the building offers.
The rather faded sign at the end of the path leading from Cluny Place was also replaced in time for this year’s opening. It is hoped that visitors may now find our Heritage Centre a bit easier from the main street.
Much thanks must go to a dedicated team of volunteers who undertook these tasks. My thanks go to James Calder, Adam Robertson, Eric Smith, Ron Stewart, John Fowlie Kathleen Whitham and Jim and Margaret Sutherland and for all their hard work. A woman’s hand is always required around the Heritage Centre to keep the place looking spick and span and my thanks must go to Margaret Sutherland and the lady members who always find a job that needs doing and always keep everything sparkling.
We continue to place high importance in the sharing of information. This is achieved in many ways and this year has been no different.
Our secretary continues to deal with countless emails requesting information, this mostly as a direct result of our website and Facebook pages. These range from simple enquiries to quite complex questions. My thanks must go to Allan Fraser who has assisted the secretary on several occasions with such enquiries.
Visits by organised groups continue to be in much demand. This now forms a major contribution to the overall annual visitor numbers. There is also an increasing interest from schools, some of these have been combined visits to both the Fishing Heritage Centre and the Seamen’s Memorial Chapel. Some of our members have also been interviewed by students carrying out research into the provision of local heritage.
I am grateful for the enthusiasm shown by the attendees on such occasions.
Quite recently we published a new book, ‘Portgordon – The life and Times of a Village’. Written by Professor Peter Reid some years ago, the new book contains many additional photographs depicting life the village. The book was launched on 4th August by Professor Peter Reid who was born and brought up in Portgordon. Some forty guests were present, most of whom are resident in the village. Sales of the book have been very healthy.
Like in past years, visitor numbers have remained healthy. Although the area has seen a general downturn in visitor numbers, visitors to the Heritage Centre have remained quite steady. People have visited from as far afield as New Zealand, Australia and Canada with quite a number from Europe. Many of these visitors have returned after visiting before.
We were particularly pleased to welcome Elizabeth and Peter Rowe on several occasions during their visit to Buckie in May. Mr and Mrs Rowe were anxious to obtain as much information as possible regarding their motor yacht ‘Skomer’ built by Herd and Mackenzie in the mid 1960’s. Skomer is now based in Tasmania. During one of these visits we were presented with a beautiful print of Skomer.
As in years past, we have had our three Coffee Mornings. The first in May in the North Church Hall, Findochty Town Hall in July and again in the North Church Hall earlier this month. These three coffee mornings have raised over £3000 allowing us to pay for all essentials. My special thanks must go to Kathleen Whitham and Margaret Sutherland and all other members who each time turn out to support these events.
Of very high importance to our members are our Heritage Newsletters. These are our link with our membership. Many compliments are regularly received as to the content of the newsletters. The newsletter also provides a link with Buckie for many exiles around the world. It is probably thanks to the newsletter that we enjoy the large membership that we have.
My grateful thanks must go to John Fowlie for the excellent work in producing the newsletters and hope that John will continue to do so to his usual high standard.
Our finances are in a very healthy state and I must thank Kathleen, our treasurer, for keeping a tight rein on the financial side thus ensuring we are always in the black. I also thank David Hendry for looking over our accounts prior to these being submitted to our accountants.
As always there are sad times and this past year has been no exception.
We have had our share of sad news this year. At our first Management Committee meeting of the year we remembered Peter Flett, who was a founder and honorary member and long standing member of the Management Committee and, George Coull, a life member and very popular attendee who served in the Wednesday morning squad.
At our May meeting we remembered Mrs Jim Coull, one of our long serving attendants. Jim was part of the Friday morning team from which she has been sadly missed.
And lastly at our August meeting we remembered Mrs Elsie Murray, a long serving attendee and member of the Management Committee. Elsie had been a great supporter of the Heritage Centre over the years.
To close on a happier note, I wish to thank everyone who has assisted me personally throughout this past year. I would like to wish Margaret Sutherland my congratulations as she shortly steps into my present role and I hope that Margaret will enjoy her time as chairman as much as I have. I thank again my fellow Directors, Post Holders, all Committee Members and volunteers for the support provided to me over the past two years.
I wish the Buckie and District Fishing Heritage Centre every success for the years ahead, my sincere thanks to you all.
John Addison Chairman, 26th September 2017.