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Burns’ historic farmhouse launches recruitment drive

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By Fiona Reid
Burns’ historic farmhouse launches recruitment drive

JUST a few days ago we were all singing Auld Lang Syne to bring in the new year. And now lovers of the song, which is an anthem for friendship, are being asked to lend a hand to help the place where it was written.

Ellisland Farm, near Dumfries, is where the poet Robert Burns wrote what many consider to be his most famous piece.

It was his first marital home with Jean Armour and now the site’s trustees have launched a campaign to help restore it.

The “Auld Lang Syne Campaign” seeks to recruit members to the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust which took over the site at the height of the pandemic and is currently battling to safeguard the buildings and collection of items belonging to Burns and Jean.

The trust believes the sentiments of the song – which is sung around the world at New Year – most famously in New York’s Times Square – is particularly fitting now, when so many friends and family are apart.

Ellisland has changed little since Robert Burns’s time. It is known as “the poet’s choice” because Burns picked it on the basis of its beautiful river views, despite the unproductive land. Visitors can walk the same riverside paths where the poet wrote many of his most famous works.

The campaign will kick off officially on 22 January at a virtual concert featuring internationally celebrated singer Emily Smith, who is a trustee, supported by Ellisland’s youth ambassador Rose Byers. Burns’s Clubs who are members of the “Ellisland 1788 Circle” will contribute to the event. And the campaign and membership drive will run throughout the coming year, culminating in Hogmanay 2021.

Chair of the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust Joan McAlpine MSP said: “Millions of people sing Auld Lang Syne with gusto all year round,

although saying goodbye to 2020 was particularly sweet.

“Most who sing it know little of the origins of the song or the beautiful place which inspired it. Now Ellisland is in need of a little love and friendship itself – so we want people, in the words of the

song, to “gie a haun” to the farm and museum.

“The homestead requires significant investment to deal with dampness and structural issues. We also want to sensitively restore and repurpose the outhouses, courtyard and barn and make the wonderful walks more accessible. Then more people can come and fall in love with Ellisland, just as Rab and Jean did.”

For information call Joan McAlpine on 07879116435, or email [email protected], or trust secretary Professor Gerry Carruthers, who is also director of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at Glasgow University, on 07809 758061.

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