Sir Mark Jones, Chair of The Pilgrim Trust, visits the Hall of Clestrain

Our President Andrew Appleby ( in yellow ) explains various features of the Hall to Sir Mark Jones

In somewhat blustery weather last weekend, we had a very welcome visit from Sir Mark Jones, Chairman of The Pilgrim Trust and his wife, Camilla Toulmin, who ventured up from Edinburgh to find out more about the Society’s plans for the Hall of Clestrain. He brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge and we are delighted that they wanted to meet with the Society’s trustees and project manager.

Sir Mark has extensive experience of trusts and the museums sector as Curator of Medals at the British Museum, Director of the National Museums of Scotland, Director of the V&A and Master of St Cross College, Oxford. Sir Mark has written on the history of the medal, fakes and forgeries, collecting and museums, and restitution. As well as his role with The Pilgrim Trust, Sir Mark is currently Chair of the National Trust for Scotland, Hospitalfield and the Grimsthorpe and Drummond Trust and a trustee of Tullie House Museum, the Artists Rooms Foundation and the Sarikhani Art Foundation.

Sir Mark and his wife Camilla with some of the Trustees and officers of the John Rae Society

It was a wonderful experience for us to show Sir Mark around the Hall and hear his thoughts and insights about the past layout and use of the internal and external spaces. After the tour, a small group of trustees met the couple in the shelter of the portacabin, and Sir Mark and Camilla looked over our plans for the development as well as some of the supporting archive exhibits sourced, discussed the potential future use of the of the buildings and surrounding area and provided valuable feedback.

Andrew and Sir Mark

The Pilgrim Trust is an independent grant-making trust. They support the urgent and future needs of the UK. Each year they give approximately £3 million to charities and other public bodies that work on preserving the UK’s heritage or catalysing social change. Their Preservation and Scholarship fund, to which the John Rae Society has made an application, aims to preserve the fabric of historically important buildings and to conserve significant collections and artefacts. They want present and future generations to enjoy the rich and diverse heritage found throughout the UK and are primarily interested in projects where their funds will make a significant impact. Demand for grants far exceeds supply, so even if a project falls within their current priorities, it does not mean that it will receive funding.

With this in mind, we are extremely fortunate to be able to explain our project on a face-to-face basis, something that has not been possible over the last year or so, and we are grateful for that opportunity.

Sandra Deans
Project Manager for the Hall of Clestrain Development