Dunol­lie Links ini­tia­tive helps bring his­tory to life

The Oban Times - - Heritage -

MANY peo­ple recog­nise Dunol­lie Mu­seum, Cas­tle and Grounds to be an in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tor at­trac­tion. But did you know it is also a so­cial en­ter­prise cre­at­ing a wide range of op­por­tu­ni­ties for Oban’s com­mu­nity?

Dunol­lie Links is the so­cial im­pact pro­gramme run by the team at Dunol­lie un­der the char­ity the Mac­Dougall of Dunol­lie Preser­va­tion Trust. The pro­gramme was kick­started by the Robert­son Trust and Her­itage Lot­tery Fund in 2013, and hasn’t stopped grow­ing since.

In the past year, more than 1,200 peo­ple have ben­e­fited from tak­ing part in Dunol­lie Links ac­tiv­i­ties through learn­ing and ed­u­ca­tion, vol­un­teer­ing, so­cial in­clu­sion and per­sonal de­vel­op­ment in a com­fort­able, wel­com­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

Dunol­lie now has a team of at least 60 reg­u­lar vol­un­teers who have the op­por­tu­nity to ac­quire a va­ri­ety of her­itage skills. Through Dunol­lie Links, the team can pro­vide vol­un­teers with spe­cial cu­ra­to­rial train­ing for re­search­ing, han­dling and care of the arte­facts and archives held in the an­cient col­lec­tions at Dunol­lie, all of which have been un­earthed over the past 12 years.

Vol­un­teer weavers have suc­cess­fully re­stored a 19th- cen­tury loom and are now demon­strat­ing their skills for vis­i­tors. Tra­di­tional skills are also shared through Dunol­lie’s Threads and Yarns sewing group, whose mem­bers de­sign and cre­ate gifts in­spired by the col­lec­tions at Dunol­lie to sell in the gift shop and raise funds for Dunol­lie Links.

As part of Dunol­lie Links, two new vol­un­teer units have been cre­ated: a gar­den­ing group to re­gen­er­ate and main­tain the Vic­to­rian gar­den, as well an ex­hi­bi­tion team which is plan­ning, cre­at­ing and build­ing a new ex­hi­bi­tion of child­hood for Dunol­lie in 2018 as part of Scot­land’s Year of Young Peo­ple.

Dunol­lie also hosts her­itage-in­spired win­ter work­shops for lo­cal pri­mary schools, and last year wel­comed around 600 chil­dren.

The Oban High School Path­ways pro­gramme is a great sup­porter, and last year eight stu­dents at­tended weekly work ex­pe­ri­ence ses­sions at Dunol­lie, rang­ing from ar­chive tran­scrib­ing to vis­i­tor ser­vices.

This en­gag­ing pro­gramme of­fers mean­ing­ful ac­tiv­i­ties for clients of the lo­cal men­tal health ser­vice, which stated: ‘Dunol­lie Links pro­vides a valu­able sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment for peo­ple with men­tal health con­di­tions to be able to tai­lor vol­un­tary place­ments ac­cord­ing to their needs.’

Jane Isaac­son, sus­tain­abil­ity and de­vel­op­ment man­ager, said: ‘The skills and knowl­edge learned by participants shines through all ar­eas of the his­toric site. Dunol­lie Links meets the needs of the com­mu­nity and keeps the lo­cal her­itage alive.

‘The project is fast gain­ing recog­ni­tion as an amaz­ing cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal re­source for the peo­ple of Oban.

‘How­ever, like most sup­ported pro­grammes, fund­ing for Dunol­lie Links must come to an end. This sum­mer the char­ity has launched an eightweek cam­paign to raise enough money to run the next year of Dunol­lie Links ac­tiv­i­ties.’

Funds raised will con­trib­ute to the next three com­mu­nity pro­grammes: New Roots, a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion op­por­tu­nity to sup­port and as­sist clients with men­tal health ill­ness; ex­hi­bi­tion team will al­low vol­un­teers to be sup­ported through their project; and the 2017 win­ter schools pro­gramme will pro­vide more re­mote schools ac­cess to the fas­ci­nat­ing lo­cal her­itage Dunol­lie holds.

The team at Dunol­lie is cur­rently fundrais­ing through a Crowd­fund­ing page as well as with reg­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties for vis­i­tors to Dunol­lie. If you would like to sup­port or be­come a spon­sor of this ex­tremely valu­able pro­gramme, visit www. dunol­lie.org to find out more.

Edie, Jes­sica and Alex helped to build Bran the turf dog.

Vol­un­teer weavers were pic­tured warp­ing up Hope Mac­Dougall’s 19th- cen­tury loom.

Dunol­lie’s her­itage di­rec­tor Cather­ine Gil­lies pro­vid­ing vol­un­teers with train­ing in han­dling an­cient tex­tiles.

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