St Kilda Club Board Member Biographies
Meet our team of volunteers who actively manage and care for St Kilda.
Outside of St Kilda, I am a Chartered Accountant, married to wife Linda and daughters Nicky & Fiona.
I was aware from early 1950’s that Grandpa Ferguson had come from an island in the West – further out from his manse on Seil where we, as young children, spent a lot of holiday time. St Kilda was a fact of life in our family but it was really “no big deal”, other than visits from the St Kildans over the years for family catch up and craic. I later became aware of NTS work parties as an opportunity for a visit to St Kilda, but couldn’t justify to myself two weeks away from my young family with my limited holiday days from business.
In 1980 for the 50th Anniversary of the evacuation, there was a commemoration non-landing cruise, Saturday evening until Monday morning – bring your own sleeping bags and find a floor! We got ashore for 30 mins and I was hooked. After this I then went on my first Work Party with a great leader, Joe Keppie, and I was even more hooked after two weeks on Hiort. In the 80’s and 90’s I was leader of 9 St Kilda Work Parties and made many good friends throughout the world whose friendship continues today. I visited on various other occasions as guide, and once by helicopter as a guest of NTS for service in Kirk.
I joined the Committee of St Kilda Club in 1983 as work party leader and must have had too much to say for myself at that time in support, promotion and management of the Club that I find myself now very much honoured to be its President, following on from George Thomson and his eminent predecessors.
I visited Hiort in May 2019 for first time in 20 years on a special day trip with my wife and daughters. I am glad to have been able to contribute to maintaining the ethos, history, culture and built archaeology of my ancestors.
I first visited St Kilda as a work party member in 1989. An “interesting” journey which took 5 days and culminated in an eventual arrival on an army landing craft. I have been a club member since then and have, over the years, led 8 work parties to St Kilda. Over the years I have served on the Committee/Board in various guises, looking after the reunion for several years and was chair for 10 years before becoming a vice-president of the Club in 2018. I now edit the St Kilda Mail with Colin Govier, with our first “attempt” being published in 2019 – to critical acclaim! Our second Mail as joint editors is well under way.
Outside St Kilda, I have run my own financial services company in Norfolk for the past 16 years, which I find very rewarding. In my spare time I love travel, the more far flung the better.
Secretary and Treasurer
In a previous life I was a Company Secretary for a small group of companies in the Timber Industry. Over the last 25 years I have volunteered for some nine charities as Trustee, Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and also as a Governor for two schools, as well as being a member and supporter of many charitable bodies.
My current active commitments are just one school and the St Kilda Club. As a serial holiday taker in the Western Isles for the last 35 years, I took an increasing interest from a distance in the St Kilda archipelago and after a few unsuccessful attempts to visit finally made it in 2002. I’m a past Work Party leader and have been a member of the Club Board for all bar one year since 2004 and Secretary / Treasurer from 2009, I’ve been very privileged to contribute to Club & the NTS.
National Trust for Scotland Representative
I first travelled to St Kilda in 2002 as the newly appointed St Kilda Archaeologist for the National Trust for Scotland. I spent the next three summers there working with the Work Parties and recording and monitoring the buildings and their condition. In the winter months I wrote up reports and worked on projects such as cataloguing the large collection of St Kilda photographs owned by the Trust. In 2005 I changed roles and became the Manager for the NTS properties in the Western Isles, that include St Kilda and Mingulay, Pabbay and Berneray.
My current role is to oversee all aspects of St Kilda including wildlife monitoring and research; building repair and maintenance; visitor management and biosecurity in order to ensure St Kilda remains a very special place. I work closely with our management partners in Historic Environment Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Ministry of Defence.
I have represented the Trust on the Board of the St Kilda Club since 2005.
When I left full-time work as a Manager/Trainer with the Careers Service, I started a new chapter in my life by studying and working in Archaeology. I was getting experience through the National Trust for Scotland Thistle Camps when I saw there were opportunities for archaeological work parties on St Kilda. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in getting a place on one of the archaeological work parties but was asked if I would be interested in a cancellation place on a conservation one. I said yes, and that’s when it begun.
I loved it so much I wanted to go back but knowing how oversubscribed the work parties where I volunteered to go back as a cook. The next six years I spent at least two weeks but generally a month on St Kilda. I loved it.
I joined the St Kilda Club and wanted to contribute. I had been trained as a Librarian before switching to Career Guidance so the post of Archivist really appealed. I was lucky enough to obtain the post.
Despite having worked on the Scottish Mainland all my adult life, I still regard myself an island girl at heart, having been born and brought up on the Isle of Bute. It was there, at the local Primary School, that I first learnt of the St Kilda Mailboat and this alternative form of communication, used by those remote islanders, fascinated me. I have been fascinated by the place ever since.
Thirty years later, in 1996, as member of an NTS Archaeology Work Party, I made it out to that other island to see it for myself. Being fortunate enough to have been on six Work Parties over the years, I am now well and truly hooked.
As a St Kilda Club Board Member, I am currently involved in the Reunion Sub-Committee as ticket convenor and look forward to meeting up with Club members at our Annual Reunion.
Now based in Ayrshire, I have recently retired after 39 years as a School Librarian and am looking forward to having more time for walking, enjoying Scottish Trad Music and visiting more Scottish Islands. Along the way I will continue to raise awareness of the outstanding beauty, cultural and natural history of the St Kilda Islands and, in doing so, promote their conservation and protection.
In 2017, after retiring from 33 years of teaching, I was delighted to be able to finally reach St Kilda as a National Trust volunteer working mainly in the shop. After St Kilda, my favourite place to be is in front of the family cottage with my three collies, looking out to sea with a gin and tonic in hand.
At that time, we knew many of the military and civilian workers who spent weeks and months on Hiort in the course of their St Kilda posting and, in that way, in my own time, St Kilda has always had a part to play in the life of our own community in Uist.
There is almost forty years since I first visited St Kilda, and over that time, I have visited the archipelago two or three times annually.
I now try to give something back to the island to promote and preserve such an important part of our cultural and social history and I hope that my contribution to the aims and objectives of the St Kilda Club will play its own part in achieving that outcome.
I oversee the Club Mailings to the Membership – the papers for the AGM and Reunion and the St Kilda Mail. I also compiled the 2017 Members’ Questionnaire, collating and interpreting the responses.
I am also a Volunteer Guide at the Georgian House in Edinburgh, managed by the National Trust for Scotland.
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Landing craft – the only way to travel! John and the rest of 5004 Airfield Squadron arrived on St Kilda on Landing Craft Tank (LCT) – the winds around the islands made flying in too risky.Travel on, and operation of, a Landing Craft Tank comes, however, with its own...
We are very privileged to be able to share the story of Senior Aircraftman (SAC) John Martin Abbott and his time on St Kilda. John’s family has shared some of his photos and experiences from that time and we will be serialising them on our blog for all to enjoy. John...
Lost But Not Forgotten is a short film about a man out of place in the modern world, struggling to hold on to memories of a home he lost long ago. Drawing from the incredible history of St Kilda, this short film serves as a...