Kinneil chair looks back on successful year

MARIA FORD – the chair of The Friends of Kinneil – looks back on a busy 2011. Click on the links to find out even more in our news archives.

I wanted to look back a little on the great year we’ve just had . . . I hope you’ll agree it was very successful.

We had our first James Watt Supper last January. This couldn’t have happened without the fantastic support of our trustees, particularly Anna and Khush, who helped with the catering. See pictures at http://bit.ly/jameswattsupper

February saw members gather at the museum to see the launch of a revamped audio visual theatre, featuring equipment bought through our fundraising. http://bit.ly/moviemagic

In March, Historic Scotland featured Kinneil House in its magazine and we launched our new Facebook pages at www.fb.com/kinneil . The Friends also started up a sub-group, headed by Peter Mole, to work with Falkirk Council on improvements to Kinneil Foreshore.

Meanwhile myself and Tom Sargent from the committee went on PQASSO training, to improve the way we do things. The same month, another committee member, Ian Shearer, met historian Adam Hart-Davis at the launch of a new James Watt exhibition in the Science Museum in London. http://bit.ly/wattexhibition

April saw our annual litter pick with friends from Bo’ness Community Council and Bonnie Bo’ness. http://bit.ly/kinneil-litter It came just in time for us to re-start open days at Kinneil House. 2011 was a bumper year, seeing more than 2000 people visit the House across six afternoons, up nearly 25 per cent on the previous year. http://bit.ly/housenumbers

The spring also saw us bid for funding: to make a film about Kinneil, to do improvements on the Foreshore, and to do a consultation project (supported by the Growing Communities Fund – www.kinneil.org.uk/deanfield ). We generated more than £9000 for the latter two, but still have to secure money to make the film. That’s a project for 2012!

May saw more freaky weather – and the cancellation of a fundraising stall at the Bo’ness Victorian Street Fair. But we weren’t quiet for long.

By June we were helping to publish a new guide book for children, called Kinneil 4 Kids. Written by youngsters at Bo’ness Public School, it was launched with a party in the school – and was well received by local people. Copies were sold via the school and through Kinneil House and Museum.

Our summer history walk in July continues to grow in popularity. Last year, more than 100 people (the best numbers yet) came out to tour Kinneil Estate and visit Kinneil House. A big thank you to Ian Scott for taking the walk and to our trustees who directed all the visiting cars! The month also saw us start work on the aforementioned consultation project, focusing in on local people in the Deanfield area – www.kinneil.org.uk/deanfield. The project continued over the autumn, and we’ll report on the consultation very soon.

August saw the annual Kinneil Heritage Day. Falkirk Community Trust are looking to refresh this. If you have ideas for future events, drop me a line: info@kinneil.org.uk – or call me. Any ideas are very welcome.

September saw our annual Big Roman Week – to promote the area’s Roman links – www.kinneil.org.uk/bigromanweek – with lots of great events at Kinneil and elsewhere. We’re hoping to make the event bigger and better in 2012.

In October we held our Annual Fundraising Dinner and raised £500. A big thank you to all the members who attended and contributed prizes. Our Halloween Kinneil House opening was also great fun and many families dressed up.

The highlight of the year for me personally was meeting the Cashier of the Bank of England at the James Watt cottage in the estate in November. Chris Salmon paid us a visit to help launch a new £50 note featuring James Watt and Matthew Boulton. http://bit.ly/zcxIMq . . . Sadly, I didn’t get free samples!

Members also went “brashing” to cut down overgrown trees on the Foreshore. It was a great day out – and made even better with free soups at the Corbie Inn nearby! A Friends request for new tarmac at the old Kinneil Pit site was also followed up by Falkirk Council. It’s now easier to park your car just off Kinneil Road. The month also saw us fundraising. Again bad weather hit us – but we were able to raise around £90 setting up a stall inside Bo’ness Library.

And so to December, when we looked back on a very successful year. As well as increased visitors to Kinneil House, we also saw increased visitors to our website – www.kinneil.org.uk/2011-in-review – many of them coming via Facebook.

Of course, none of this wouldn’t have happened without the hard work of The Friends of Kinneil committee – or Trustees to give them their “posh” name – and the support of members and partners.

A big thank you to our great committee: Adrian Mahoney who delivers our website, PR and media work; David Broughton who looks after our money; John Gillespie, our diligent secretary; Anna McKenzie, our membership secretary; Peter Mole, who chairs our Foreshore Group; Ian Shearer, who drove our James Watt work in 2011; Tom Sargent, a former GP, who inspires us and is on hand to do first aid; Angus Smith, who keeps us right on flora and fauna; Khush Murtaza, who organises the fundraising stalls at events and sales at house openings and Stuart McMartin, who gives up so much of his time to support the charity. We also have recruited a new committee member, Ross Fenwick. Welcome Ross.

Now to 2012.

MARIA FORD, Chair, The Friends of Kinneil