On Thursday 18th February 2016, the SBT held its AGM on George Street in Edinburgh. The meeting was well-supported by trustees, members, and affiliated organisations.
Arran Johnston, Trust director, presented the following report:
DIRECTOR’S 1st REPORT TO THE MEMBERS OF THE
SCOTTISH BATTLEFIELDS TRUST - 2015-16
'At the conclusion of 2015 there is much for the Trust to look back upon with great satisfaction. Our greatest achievement in the last year is of course that Scotland now has an independent advocate for its battlefield heritage, and that the dream conjured at the 4th National Biennial Prestonpans Symposium in October 2014 was made reality. From its official registration at the opening of the year to its formal designation as a Scottish charity, the Trust has achieved its key early administrative goals.
'Once established, it was essential that the Trust acted to raise awareness of its existence and its goals. The establishment of a new and ever growing website was a key step, and its launch was supported by a press release which – thanks largely to the support of photogenic volunteer re-enactors – received Scotland-wide coverage.
'Our social media presence has continued to grow also, with around 1600 followers on Facebook and 168 on Twitter. There is still much work to be done in converting more of this interest into memberships, but the first year has certainly been encouraging in terms of the levels of support we have received at this very early stage of the Trust’s life.
'Particularly important for the Trust’s long term effectiveness is its relationship with other battlefield interest groups. We have maintained support and contact therefore with parties involved in the conservation campaign at Culloden 1746, and have welcomed the Battle of Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust, Bothwell Historical Society, The Antonine Guard Roman Research Society, and the 1745 Association as affiliated organisations. The Trust has endeavoured to be visible at major commemoration events in Scotland – including Culloden, Killiecrankie, Pinkie Cleugh, Prestonpans, Sheriffmuir and Falkirk – and had an information stall at the Towton anniversary event in England and at a civil war event at Luss on Loch Lomond.
'Since before the Trust was even formed we have been in close dialogue with the existing Battlefields Trust (UK), with whom a strong working relationship is forming. The Battlefields Trust was kind enough to promote our Trust by offering space for a Scottish report in their own members’ magazine throughout 2015. Now they have agreed a deal with which allows all our members to receive the magazine, which will always now contain at least one page of Scottish news and one full illustrated article on a Scottish battlefield or issue. This is a great boon to our members, providing for 2016 forwards a tangible membership benefit to attract new support.
'Increasing awareness of the Trust has gone hand-in-hand with an increasing level of activity in relation to battlefield promotion and activity. The Trust has been writing both privately and in the press in support of battlefields facing challenges, and by the end of 2015 was being consulted for our views without prompting. This marks the first step on the road to our key long-term goal of becoming a statutory consultee for planning applications on battlefield sites, and is testament to how far we have come in a short time.
'Looking ahead to our second year, the diary is filled with exciting opportunities to take our work to new levels. We are planning to host events commemorating both the first and seconds battles of Dunbar (1296 and 1650), have received a great response to news of our first ever Wargames Show coming in February, and are looking forward to our first year running the Scottish Battlefields Symposium. The theme for the latter will be Civil Conflict in Scotland, and it is planned for Perth in October 2016. These events will be key to further raising the Trust’s profile and prestige, and will provide a level of visible activity to complement the less high-profile work of research and consultation.
'We are also exploring a number of ideas to get us involved with schools, including the creation of downloadable battlefield “passports” for children, trials of which we hope will be available in the Spring. We must also strive to increase the membership base, through continuing our existing social media promotion and suitable marketing of our higher-profile activities.
'In conclusion, I feel the trustees and members of the Scottish Battlefields Trust can feel not only proud to have been involved in a successful inaugural year promoting a worthy cause, but also confident that our work can continue, building from a strong base. The Trust’s principal mission for 2016, as it should ever be, is to endeavour to further build its reputation as a responsible, serious-minded organisation which strives towards a positive future for Scotland’s battlefield heritage, in which our battlefields are relevant, engaging, and secure.'