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26 Jun 2020

Scottish celebrities rally for the National Trust for Scotland

Head and shoulders shot of actor Brian Cox with his arms folded.
Actor Brian Cox is supporting the Save Our Scotland campaign
Scottish celebrities living across the world are offering their support for our Save Our Scotland fundraising appeal.

Stars including Good Morning Britain presenter Lorraine Kelly, actor Brian Cox and STV weather presenter Sean Batty have all pledged their support to help raise awareness of the appeal.

Lockdown measures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic have created a £28 million shortfall in our income for 2020. This means that only a fraction of our places will be able to open in 2020/21, either due to lack of resources or because they cannot be adequately adapted to ongoing social distancing restrictions.

The impact of these losses means that we’re having to take urgent action to save costs and raise cash. This includes an SOS to all those who love Scotland’s heritage – an emergency fundraising appeal to raise at least £2.5 million.

Celebrities from the world of TV and film have shared what they love most about their favourite National Trust for Scotland places.

Lorraine Kelly on St Kilda

Lorraine Kelly stands on a hillside overlooking Village Bay on St Kilda.
Lorraine Kelly standing on a hillside overlooking Village Bay.

One of the most incredible places I’ve ever visited is St Kilda. I’ve been twice and both times the weather was perfect and the crossing wasn’t too rough. The scenery is utterly spectacular – full of ghosts yet so hauntingly beautiful. I remember sailing across from Harris. It was lovely just sitting on the top of the hill looking down at Village Bay and all of the original houses there, which are being so lovingly restored by the Trust.

I’ve been fortunate to have visited a lot of the Trust’s properties – Unst & Yell, Fair Isle, Glencoe and the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre to name a few. But there’s always somewhere new to explore. Personally, I really hope to visit Canna and Falkland Palace one day. Both are on my wish list.

Thanks to the National Trust for Scotland, our treasures and our culture can be preserved and cared for, but they need our help and support and that’s why I’m supporting their Save our Scotland fundraising appeal.

We all need to play our part, so our children and grandchildren can grow up remembering the same things we did.

Brian Cox on Culloden and Glencoe

Culloden Battlefield with a rainbow forming over the top of the memorial cairn.
Culloden Battlefield

Culloden is one of my favourite places in Scotland – it’s just astonishing. I remember Tilda Swinton and Mark Cousins once presented a special screening of the movie Culloden at the actual site of the Jacobite battle. Viewers’ reactions were incredible – they could feel the horror and the history.

My wife Nicole loves spending time in Scotland. A few years ago we were driving to Lochinver; it was very early in the morning and dawn was just breaking. She shouted to me to stop the car – she flung open the door and threw herself to the ground. She told me: ‘the land just speaks’. I know what she means – our history and heritage shine through no matter what part of the country you are in.

Glencoe is another of my favourite spots; it’s frankly unbeatable. But despite great beauty, it’s a haunting place. Its dark history along with spectacular scenery makes it larger than life. In the 1990s I filmed Braveheart and Rob Roy back to back and had the privilege of being based in the heart of Glencoe for a long period. Every day felt special because I was enveloped by such stunning surroundings.

I’m a proud member of the National Trust for Scotland. As its name suggests, the organisation puts the nation in trust – protecting our country’s heritage. If lockdown has taught us anything, it’s how precious our land is and we take it for granted at our peril. We must continue to support and honour the Trust’s vital work to ensure this country’s natural and built heritage flourishes for years to come.

Sean Batty on Brodick Castle

Sean Batty stands on the grass in front of Brodick Castle on a sunny day.
Sean Batty at Brodick Castle

I visited Brodick Castle on Arran as part of my Sean’s Scotland programme last year and instantly fell in love with the place. It has beautifully kept gardens, almost tropical looking, and you should look out for all the hidden silver art installations, which glisten if you’re lucky enough to be there when the sun shines. One thing that really blew me away was the Bavarian summerhouse, which is like nothing you’ll ever have seen before. Most of the inside is made up of pine cones and as you look around in awe, you can just imagine all the work that went into making this, and also the other three that used to be in the grounds.

The castle has an amazing history, and while you’re there you really feel transported back to a place of time of lavish Victorian luxury and leisure. While wandering the vast rooms, I could really imagine myself living that life, and I’m sure I’d have been very comfortable.

The recent works that have taken place at Brodick Castle have made this a perfect place to spend a whole day exploring the castle, gardens, playing in the newly created arcade room, looking out for red squirrels, and topping it off with the great gift shop, where I ended up spending a lot of time!

The Trust has worked tirelessly to make this a great place for people to visit for generations to come. But the Trust itself is a charity, and we know charities have been badly impacted by the current pandemic with a major drop in income. This puts properties they own, like Brodick Castle, at risk.

Andrea McLean on Ben Lomond

A view looking south from the summit of Ben Lomond along a narrow ridge path towards a neighbouring peak. Loch Lomond can be seen in the distance, in the top right.
The summit of Ben Lomond

As a child I remember rolling our eggs down Ben Lomond at Easter time. It was so much fun and one of my happiest childhood memories. My granny would hard boil some eggs, then we would paint them (we didn’t use the bought chocolate eggs), and it was a race to see whose egg got to the bottom first.

Did you know that Ben Lomond is Scotland’s most southerly Munro and it’s one of the country’s most popular hill walks? Thanks to the hard work of Trust staff, the hill is cared for and protected, the pathways are maintained and the local ecosystem and wildlife are preserved. Without the Trust, who knows what would happen to the conservation of the area. We just assume they will always be there, but we need to make sure they’re there for our future generations and that’s why it’s vital we support the work of the National Trust for Scotland.

Neil Oliver on Glencoe

A winding road through a glen with mountains on either side, under a stormy sky.

Now we’re starting to see an ease in lockdown restrictions, as well as reuniting with family and friends, we will surely want to revisit those places that are dear to us; those places that have been put beyond reach by the necessity to stay at home. Some of those places – wild landscapes, gardens, battlefields and historic buildings that help tell the story of who we are – are cared for by the National Trust for Scotland.

One of my favourite places in the care of the Trust is Glencoe. As an archaeologist, my interest is strongest where the story is longest. That Glencoe is a work not of humankind but of nature is enough to put a person in his or her place. Added to that, the fact the glen has seen human life come and go for thousands upon thousands of years is also humbling. Coe is a word so old it is pre-Gaelic. It’s a place that has a story stretching beyond our reach. All we can do is be humbled by it, and grateful it is ours to see.

If the Trust is to have the means to keep national treasures like Glencoe safe then we must not forget them. If the Trust itself is to survive, to continue in its role of conserving the places we have cherished, enabling public enjoyment of them, then it is vital to spare a thought for them as well. In the history of the National Trust for Scotland, the support of members and donors has never been more vital than today. The time to care, and if possible to show that care, is now.

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