Monday, 22 November 2010

Hugh Grant to front fundraising campaign for Scottish museum

From The Daily Express:

Hugh Grant will this week front a campaign to raise funds for a famous Scottish museum and help preserve 300 years of military history.

The Hollywood star is to make a public appeal for the Highlanders’ Museum, which holds one of the largest armed forces collections in Britain but is in desperate need of a £3million renovation.

Refurbishment of the site, at Fort George, near Inverness, was approved before the economic downturn and only the design stage of the project has been completed.

Now Mr Grant – dubbed the “son of the regiment” because of his Scottish father and grandfather’s military ties to the area – will make a plea for donors to come forward.

His public appeal will be made at the former Lieutenant Governor’s house at Fort George on Thursday.

The plans include better display cabinets, refurbished rooms, study facilities for family historians, students,
researchers and pupils, and an improved air and lighting system.

Museum chairman, Major General Seymour Monro, told the Sunday Express that staff and curators are “confident” they will be able to raise the money and complete the two-year project on time.

He said: “What we are trying to do is to improve the conservation and care, accessibility and understanding of our history.

“I know times are tight but we are confident we will be successful in our efforts. On November 25 we are launching an appeal for funds publicly and our guest of honour is Hugh Grant, the son of the regiment through his father and grandfather."

"He has agreed to come and launch the appeal and we are delighted about his support.”

In a statement ahead of his visit, Mr Grant said: “The Highlanders’ Museum is very important to me and my family and I fully support the Heritage Appeal, which will ensure that the heritage of our famous Highland Regiments is preserved and properly displayed.”

Fort George dates back to the 18th century and the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden that crushed the Jacobite Rising. Its role was to act as a base for Government troops in the Highlands and defend Inverness from invasion.
Nearly 300 years on, it has become the property of Historic Scotland but remains a training base for the Army while attracting some 70,000 visitors a year to the regimental museum.

Part of the renovation drive is to increase visitor numbers to more than 100,000 to provide a “self-sustained” attraction.

The museum, which was created in the Fifties, contains about 20,000 artifacts, 10,000 documents and photographs, and it is home to more than 5,000 gallantry awards and campaign medals, including 16 Victoria Crosses, from former soldiers and their families.

Also among the valuable memorabilia is a set of Colours carried at the Battle of Waterloo, King Edward VIII’s  regimental  uniform plus silver and personal artifacts carried by soldiers since 1778.

But the three-storey museum has become outdated and too small, paving way for the renovation project.

Last week it unveiled its own whisky, dubbed Cuidich’n Righ – Gaelic for “Help the King” – with the help of Gordon & MacPhail, and proceeds from the limited edition single malt will be donated to the redevelopment.

Maj Gen Monro added: “It is an important project because it is not only the past that we preserve but also the memory of the soldiers who have served in Scotland’s Highland Regiments.”

The Highlanders Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland incorporates the Seaforth Highlanders, The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders and the Queen’s Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons), Lovaut Scouts plus The Gordon Highlanders, who have their own museum in Aberdeen.

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