Jared is ready for cas­tle chal­lenge

‘The po­ten­tial here is mind-bog­gling,’ says new boss

The Arran Banner - - News - Hugh Boag edi­tor@ar­ran­ban­ner.co.uk

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.

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The new man in charge, Jared Bow­ers, in the walled gar­den of Brod­ick Cas­tle.

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