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Castle of Mey changes will open up ‘new opportunities’

CHANGES are being made at the Castle of Mey which are expected to create “new opportunities” for a facility which attracts 25,000 visitors a year.

From January 2019, the newly created Prince’s Foundation, which brings together several of HRH Prince Charles’s charities, will become the sole corporate trustee.

The move “secures the long-term future of the trust” which was set up by the late Queen Mother in 1996.

The changes have to be ratified by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. Lord Thurso and Ashe Windham, who have been trustees for 22 years, will step down from their roles.

A spokeswoman for the Prince’s Foundation said: “All current staff will retain their jobs and it is hoped that new opportunities can be created by the development of the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust in the future.”

Asked what the advantages would be of the new set-up, she replied: “The Prince’s Foundation offers strength in depth with a highly skilled staff of around 300 who are based all around the UK, including a permanent director-level presence in the north of Scotland. The Prince’s Foundation will offer a physical presence and assistance in Caithness whenever necessary and will work to further create community links and partnerships that benefit the trust.”

On the loss of the present trustees, she said: “Lord Thurso and Ashe Windham are conscious that they have been trustees... since the Queen Mother asked them to take on their roles at the trust’s inception in June 1996. In terms of charity corporate governance, it could be argued that they have served past their normal retirement dates.”

Sir Ian Grant, who has been a trustee since August 2010, is also to retire.

Mr Windham said the foundation will “build on our considerable achievements over the past two decades”.

He said: “HRH Prince Charles’s tremendous support for the trust and for Caithness has been immensely helpful in developing its work both in preserving the Queen Mother’s legacy and in creating a major tourist attraction. Appointing his foundation as trustee cements the bond with Caithness and secures the long-term future of the trust.”

Robert Lovie, director of outreach for the Prince’s Foundation, said: “The Prince of Wales is delighted to be more closely involved in extending the legacy of his grandmother, the Queen Mother, and is committed, through the involvement of his charity, to ensuring that the trust can build on its already substantial achievements.

“As the sole trustee, the Prince’s Foundation will become a driving force, helping to preserve employment, boost tourism and sustain a business to oversee the maintenance and development of the Castle of Mey and Longoe Farm.”

The castle was opened to visitors in August 2002 and has developed into a major tourist attraction. A new animal centre was opened in 2017, while work is under way to create visitor accommodation and conference facilities in the old granary.

Mr Windham will be appointed a trustee of the Prince’s Foundation to oversee the transition to the new governance structure. Major Malcolm Macrae will continue as the agricultural advisor.

The castle was built between 1566 and 1572 and was bought by the Queen Mother in 1952. She used it regularly until her death at the age of 101 in 2002.

 

Source - John O'Groat Journal