Jared is ready for castle challenge
‘The potential here is mind-boggling,’ says new boss
The new man in charge at Brodick Castle says he wants the fortress back where it belongs as the focal tourist attraction on the island.
Jared Bowers, who took over as operations manager at the castle last month, knows he has a lot of work to do after some troubled times at the castle which saw 21 redundancies, some of them voluntary, earlier this year.
However, he says, he wants to reconnect with the residents of the island who, may perhaps, have lost some faith in the National Trust for Scotland stewardship of the island’s most important historical building.
The castle has been closed for two years undergoing a £1.5 million refit designed to safeguard the structure and its worldclass collections of art and artefacts from the threat of fire. It is still on schedule to open for Easter 2019.
Most of the fire prevention works have been completed and the castle staff have moved in to temporary offices upstairs in the castle and the former office space will house the extended range of artefacts on display when the castle reopens.
Jared, who is 35, had only ever been to Arran once before four years ago when he brought his new basset hound puppy Fred t0 the island and fell in love with it.
He could see the island from his last place of work Kelburn Castle, just outside, Largs where he has lived and worked for the last six and half years.
He said: ‘Brodick is a fantastic property and I have wanted to work for the NTS for a long time and jumped at the opportunity when the position came up. It is an iconic property, not just on Arran, but in the whole of the west of Scotland.’
Details of the new displays are still at the planning stage but he said they will be very different from the static displays of the past. ‘We will be using the latest technology and there will be much more story-telling and a hands-on approach to get everyone more involved. We want the castle to be alive with energy,’ he added.
When we met Jared has just chaired his first department head meeting and said there was a real sense of purpose about the team in ‘improving the visitor experience’.
‘We have to rely on the gardens and grounds, the adventure playground and all the other events going on outside to bring the people in, but there is not getting away from the fact that without the castle visitor numbers are down, but we have to ensure that visitor service standards are being met,’ he said.
Jared is keen on using the castle and grounds for staging events, which was a big part of his work at Kelburn using history and heritage as the starting point. He is already planning a couple of events for the autumn and around Halloween before the castle gardens close for the winter. ‘Then it will be all about getting ready for next spring,’ he added.
He said that fact that Kelburn Castle is privately owned made it ‘very different’ to the work ahead for him on Arran, but he said: ‘The potential here is mind-boggling. For me it is really exciting and I am so much looking forward to the challenge.
‘I want the community come back and get engaged again with the place again. There have unfortunately been decisions taken, including the round of redundancies, which have perhaps alienated some people but I want to build a relationship with the community. ‘I expect big things face me, but it is going to be amazing.’
At the moment Jared is still living at Kelburn Castle but is on Arran five days a week. He says he would consider moving to the island but not to the castle or a property in the grounds . ‘You can get too close to something and I think it is better to see it with fresh eyes every day,’ he added.
Orginally from Virginia, Jared has worked in sustainable tourism for more than 14 years. During this time, he has held varied positions in tourism management, consultancy and academia which have enabled him to live and work in 12 countries across the globe.
He has worked with a mixture of local and international stakeholder groups and specialises in nature-based, cultural-heritage and adventure tourism. He has a PhD, in sustainable tourism in Guyana, from Newcastle University (UK) and a MSc in Ecotourism, with Distinction, from Edinburgh Napier University.
The new man in charge, Jared Bowers, in the walled garden of Brodick Castle.