On several occasions over the last two years, as the working group continued to meet with the NTS and EKOS, the FoG committee could not fail to see similarities with the BREXIT process.
Should we stay? (with the NTS) or Should we go? (form a Community Trust)
This remains the main issue concerning Geilston because the NTS would like to hand ownership of Geilston to a Community Trust and the FoG would like the NTS to continue owning and managing Geilston Gardens as Miss Hendry intended with support from the Friends of Geilston.
No definitive recommendation was made by EKOS who carried out the economic assessment mainly because the issue of governance remains unresolved.
However, an in depth study was made of 4 scenarios A, B, C and D and these were analysed looking closely at their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats as well as the risks involved. Options B and C were subdivided as can be seen below.
The Board will be considering five options:
- Scenario A – Sale of full site and buildings
- Scenario B1 – Sale of house/walled garden and retention of part of estate for community use
- Scenario B2 – Sale of house and retention of walled garden/most of estate
- Scenario C1 – Retention of site and full restoration of house with grant/loan funding
- Scenario C2 – Retention of site and partial restoration of house with grant/loan funding
- Scenario D – Enabling Development to support restoration of house, plus grant/loan funding
The FoG appreciated being fully involved in the economic assessment which is an unbiased report taking into account the ideas put forward by the Friends and included in the documents “How to Grow Geilston” and “How to Save Geilston.” https://friendsofgeilston.org/documents/
It is likely that the solution will be a combination of the options and the great benefit of the EKOS study is that it provides information that can be used to look beyond the stated problems, to identify elements of options set out in the report that, when combined, offer:
The best financial return
The highest chance of funding
The widest support from the NTS, its members, stakeholders and the community
In trying to find a way forward, the FoG have suggested an incremental approach where we might look to establish a Geilston Trust which might take responsibility for restoration of part of the house (e.g. the bungalow) which could be used for community activities if the rest of the house was restored for holiday lets funded by an appeal, NTS own funds and grants.
The FoG working group have a meeting with Simon Skinner on the 24th of September to discuss the EKOS report and Geilston will form part of the agenda at the next NTS Board of Trustees meeting in October.
If you would like to show your support for Geilston then please join us at the NTS, AGM which this year is at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow on Saturday the 21st of September,
10:15 – Morning Coffee, 11am – Annual General Meeting, 1pm – Lunch
You don’t need to register to attend but if you want to book lunch you must register by the 13th of September using the form in the Summer issue of the NTS magazine or online at nts.org.uk/agm
Three members of the FoG committee will be attending so please come and introduce yourselves – Allison Hillis, Veronica Davis and Chris Moore. We will be standing at the top of the Concert Hall steps (Buchanan Street entrance) with the Friends of Geilston Banner from 10am – 10:30 am.
Stronger Links between Hill House and Geilston
There is an increased realisation that linking Hill House with Geilston makes a visit to either property more appealing, makes a stronger case for Geilston’s retention and saves money. With this in mind, Richard Williams (NTS West Area Manager) has combined staff management at the two properties with the Visitor Services Manager based at Hill House but managing visitor services at both properties and Alison Farrell the Head Gardener based at Geilston but managing both gardens.
An NTS Marketing Campaign has been launched specifically for Geilston with a special offer of a 50% discount to paying visitors at Hill House on a ticket entry to Geilston.
A video of Geilston Gardens has been produced and is now on the NTS website and facebook page and we have added it to our FoG website and facebook page.
Posters advertising Geilston are now on display at Arduaine, Crarae, Hill House and other Glasgow properties.
There is a special offer of a visit to Geilston on the tourism site “Itison”
Special adverts and a competition will be going into the Helensburgh Advertiser and Dumbarton Reporter.
There will be local radio adverts encouraging visits to Geilston.
Other encouraging signs are that new members recruited at Geilston are a healthy 124 (Geilston receives £39 for every new membership) and paying visitor numbers are up but NTS member visits are down on this time last year. Perhaps the bad spell of weather put members off visiting Geilston but we would encourage you to continue coming to the garden. THE NUMBERS REALLY MATTER. Produce from the kitchen garden is still available, the borders are stunning and the mini wildflower maze is full of cornflowers in stunning blues and pinks.
(Chairperson Friends of Geilston)