As Selkirk pays tribute to the Shirra at tomorrow’s Scott’s Selkirk, a plea has gone out for volunteers to showcase the writer’s home.
Around £12million has been spent on restoring and upgrading facilities at Abbotsford House, where Sir Walter lived, died and did much of his writing. He travelled regularly to Abbotsford to dispense justice in Selkirk as the local sheriff.
The Abbotsford Trust is now boosting its team of volunteer stewards to ensure tourists and locals get the best from their visit.
More than 60,000 have called at Abbotsford this year enjoying the house, its grounds and the purpose-built visitor centre.
Retired GP Malcolm Morrison from Bowden started volunteering at Abbotsford 18 months ago when the historic house was still closed to the public – hosting exterior tours of Abbotsford’s architecture and gardens, and now volunteers as a guide and room steward three days a week.
Malcolm said: “I’ve always been fascinated by literature, architecture and history but before I came here, I didn’t know much about Scott or Abbotsford.
“After I began volunteering, I started reading some of Scott’s works and have become absorbed by them. He was a wonderful writer and it’s great to be able to promote both his fascinating home and his writings to visitors from all over the world.
“In the past few weeks I’ve been speaking to visitors from over 20 different countries, including France, Germany, Norway and Russia. It’s great to be involved.”
People can volunteer for a half day or full day a week, or more if they are able. Full training is given and each volunteer receives free entry to a full programme of cultural events.
Abbotsford curator Matthew Withey said: “Abbotsford is run by a charitable trust which has a very small team of full-time staff and this means we rely on volunteers to help us deliver a top-class service for visitors.
“Our volunteers have been crucial to the success of the Abbotsford project so far and will be vital to its future.
“As well as contributing to a Borders success story, our volunteers will also have the chance to meet people from all over the world and, on a more personal level, to make new friends that share their interests.”
He added: “Our volunteers tell us that it’s an extremely rewarding experience and we hope to encourage more people to become involved.”
Anyone wishing to find out more about volunteering at Abbotsford can call Mr Withey on 01896 752043 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org