St Kilda Club Board Member Biographies

Meet our team of volunteers who actively manage and care for St Kilda.

Alasdair MacEachen

Alasdair MacEachen

Acting President

Growing up in Benbecula in the early days of the development of the Rocket Range, I have always been aware of the presence of another distant landfall fifty miles to the west of my home in Aird.

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 over 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.

Colin Govier

Colin Govier

Vice President and Joint Editor of St Kilda Mail

Colin is a retired architect and lives in Edinburgh. After visiting St Kilda as a work party member in the 1990s he developed an interest in St Kilda and joined the St Kilda Club. He took on the role of Secretary and Treasurer in 1997 and served in this capacity for 13 years. He now continues to be on the committee as a Trustee and a Vice-President. In addition, he is a joint editor of the St Kilda Mail and is on the Reunion Sub-Committee, which arranges the Club’s annual reunion.

Colin is also a Director of The St Kilda Shop.

Julie Hunt

Julie Hunt

Chairman

I first visited St Kilda as part of a work party in 2002, after my parents bought home Tom Steel’s ‘Life and Death on St Kilda’ from a holiday on the Isle of Skye. It was a 14-hour boat ride from Oban on the Poplar Diver, and I did wonder what I had let myself in for! I joined the St Kilda Club in 2002, and became a board member 11 years later in 2013, I introduced social media and was involved with re-vamping the website, and have played a part in introducing online membership. I was honoured to be asked to become Chairman in March 2018, and am excited to be a part of the Club as it continues to grow.

In my spare time I enjoy reading, and love to travel, the more far flung the better.

Pauline Smith

Pauline Smith

Treasurer

As an impressionable young teenager and inveterate reader I borrowed a book from my local library entitled St Kilda and other Hebridean Outliers. The story of St Kilda’s people gripped me and memories of the book stayed with me. But it wasn’t until I retired from a career in water resources management that I got the opportunity to visit the islands as a member of an NTS work party in 2016.

That was a wonderful experience, and a privilege to finally visit and contribute to the islands that had entranced me in my youth. So I joined the club, and seeing the request for a new Treasurer I took on the role in 2021 and am pleased to be able to support the work of the club in this way.

From my home in Peterborough I love visiting Scotland in my campervan, as well as travels further afield. Another connection with St Kilda is the Soay sheep since I spin and weave wool too, as one of my indoor hobbies. We even have a flock of Soays at Flag Fen archaeological site in Peterborough!

Keith and Jane Anderson

Keith and Jane Anderson

Membership Secretaries

In the late 1980s we met on an island but not the one you’re thinking about. 3 years later we married and Jane emigrated 4,000 miles from Michigan to Musselburgh and Keith emigrated 6 miles from Leith.

More than 20 years before it became fashionable we were working from home in our small flat providing professional membership and IT services to another of Scotland’s leading conservation charities and then retired in 2016. After a few years of elderly parent care we then bought a house round the corner,  just after the first lockdown and spent a year of repair, renovating and extending before we finally moved in. People our age don’t usually upsize but it’s been worth it.

Once we had time to relax we found ourselves pining for spreadsheets and envelope stuffing so when the membership vacancy came along we decided to go for it. Keith had been a sleeping member of the Club since 1983 and decided it was time to come out of the woodwork and do something useful (we hope).

Susan Bain

Susan Bain

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, NatureScot, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Ministry of Defence.

I have represented the Trust on the Board of the St Kilda Club since 2005. 

Christine McPherson

Christine McPherson

Archivist

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.

David Ackroyd

David Ackroyd

Board Member

Born in Nottingham I lived and worked in the East Midlands, Cheshire, Sheffield and Norfolk, working within the railway industry then mainly in building and timber merchanting, including some self employed work. My mother originated from Angus; as a child I was influenced towards spending much of my spare and holiday time in Scotland – fortunately! I have been heavily committed to charity work for the last 45 years. I moved to Morecambe Bay in 2021.

In 2002 I applied for my first NTS Work Party and have had 20 years membership with the St Kilda Club including 13 years as Treasurer and Secretary. My many trips to St Kilda have been as a work party member, leader, day tripper and as a volunteer. I am passionate about the environment and biodiversity and am privileged to contribute to the Club and the NTS.

Fiona Black

Fiona Black

Board Member

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.

Emma Bothamley

Emma Bothamley

Board Member

I first became aware of St Kilda in 2008 while getting ready for a photography trip to the Outer Hebrides. I was determined to visit but it took me two failed attempts and 11 years until I was finally successful. In 2019 I made it out to St Kilda as part of an organised photography trip. We had special permission to stay on the island, staying in the restored village houses. We had five days and four nights to explore. I fell in love with the islands; the history, the landscape, the wildlife and of course the Soay sheep!

On my return I joined the St Kilda Club and then joined the club’s Board in 2020. I help with the club’s social media as well as organising the club’s annual photography competition.

I’m a mum-of-one and keen photographer. Born in Edinburgh, I’ve lived in Dundee and Long Island (New York), went to university in Aberdeen and now live with my husband and son in Peterborough. By coincidence I live very close to our Treasurer, Pauline, and we often meet at Flag Fen Archaeology Park on the outskirts of Peterborough where we visit their very own flock of Soay sheep.

Juli-Marie Ferguson

Juli-Marie Ferguson

Board Member

I started to become aware of my St Kilda connection through stories and photos of my ancestors being shared around the table at family gatherings as a child. I was enthralled by the tales of their lives on the islands, the place that could be the Edge of the World, the historically important, wild and unique land that lays far out to sea.

Keen to connect with my personal heritage and learn more about the rich landscape of the islands, I made the first breathtaking visit in June 2022. I joined the St Kilda Club immediately upon my return, and now look to help promote and preserve St Kilda’s cultural and natural heritage for now and the future.

Outside of St Kilda, I was born in sunny Edinburgh and spent my early years in Saudi Arabia. I now live in the Chiltern Hills with my partner and our dogs. I bring with me over 20 years experience in graphic design and communications

Laura MacNeil

Laura MacNeil

Board Member

I first visited St Kilda in 1999 as part of a National Trust Work Party. I had become fascinated by the islands after studying them for a history project and my experience on the work party cemented that fascination and was the start of my longstanding interest in St Kilda.

I live in Edinburgh, although originally from outside Inverness and with family on Skye and Barra. I have always had an affinity with islands and wild places. I worked in tourism for 15 years, delivering tours of the Highlands and Islands before retraining as a Librarian. In 2016/17 I spent an austral summer on the Antarctic Peninsula as part of a team running the museum, Post Office and shop at Port Lockroy. I now work for a University Digital Library in Edinburgh.

I enjoy participating in the St Kilda Club Book Group and joined the Board in 2023.

Donald Paterson

Donald Paterson

Joint Editor of St Kilda Mail

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.

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Club news

Remembering the Evacuation of St Kilda

Remembering the Evacuation of St Kilda

On 29th August 2020 the St Kilda Club hosted an online event to commemorate the evacuation of St Kilda in 1930. The event was in association with the National Trust for Scotland and was a celebration of St Kildan life and its legacy. There were a range of musicians...

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