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Culture Minister Sends Greetings and Encouragement to the Battle Trust ...

Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop's visit frustrated by impending election... but very supportive just the same

It's sometimes difficult to comprehend, but since the Battle Trust's foundation in 2006 our nation's culture has been watched over by four successive Ministers in the Scottish Government. And each in their turn has been a willing supporter of what the Battle Trust and of course the Arts Festival from which it spun out is aspiring to achieve in the community. All the first three accepted our invitation and visited us in the Pans.

The first Minister was Labour's Patricia Ferguson followed in succession by three SNP Ministers Linda Fabiani, Mike Russell and most recently Fiona Hyslop.

Mike Russell committed the Scottish Government in formal support

Mike Russell's visit to the Battle Trust led to the nomination of Historic Scotland's then Chief Inspector Malcolm Cooper as 'our Pans' Contactman' in government. Several fruitful discussions took place and a substantial evaluation of the viability of the Trust's ambitious campaign as outlined by Max Gaunt at RGA was commissioned. Historic Scotland had some doubts about the Prince's continuing appeal, but then came the Prestonpans Tapestry ....

Transformative Impact of the Prestonpans Tapestry

The impact of the creation of the Tapestry in Prestonpans has been totally transformative. Just about everyone in Edinburgh's government and political circles has now heard of its existence. It stands witness to the determination hereabouts. Thousands have been to view it across the Highlands, East Coast and in Edinburgh. Just about everyone has been 'blown away' and all echo Alexander MacCall-Smith's public verdict that it is indeed a definitive work of community art. It's a monumental credit to designer/ artist Andrew Crummy and to the 200+ stitchers who created it in nine months.

Our fourth Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop has also accepted the Trust's invitation to come and see it all for herself, and importantly to discuss the Trust's much wider agenda than just finding a permanent home for the Tapestry! We're about conserving and interpreting the battlefield itself as well as the battle per se. But the dissolution of Parliament in six weeks time and the May elections has now precluded the upcoming visit by this Minister.

However, she has said considerably more than just: Sorry, can't come after all! The Minister most particularly asked us to make contact with Martin Fairley, Head of Investment with Historic Scotland, to explore how our campaign can continue forward, how our Petition to Holyrood might be yet better advanced. And so we shall in the coming weeks. Historic Scotland has invested heavily in recent years at Culloden and at Bannockburn. We are asking that Prestonpans now comes top of the list for investment.

In her response to our Petition at Holyrood, the CEO of Historic Scotland, Ruth Parsons, has already suggested they are prepared to evaluate how the Listed structures at the Heritage Museum might be restored. They are supportive of our plans for the BathHouse. So at the Trust we are optimistic we still have momentum as we enter our sixth year of campaigning.

Hope and Ambition characterised the Prince, as they do the Trust.

Published Date: February 18th 2011

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