Context 169 - September 2021

28 C O N T E X T 1 6 9 : S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 1 CHERYL ROBERTS Aberdeenshire and the North East of Scotland Preservation Trust With the North East of Scotland Preservation Trust relying on Aberdeenshire Council to provide operational support, there are benefits to both organisations. As pressures on the public purse increase and the competition for funding tightens, it is becoming increasingly important for organisa- tions to draw on their strengths to bring projects forward which protect our heritage. Unlike city heritage trusts, which often benefit from annual funding grants from central government, the North East of Scotland Preservation Trust (NESPT) is reliant on Aberdeenshire Council to provide that operational support. Aberdeenshire covers a vast geographical area, spreading to the Moray coast in the north, out west to Braemar and the Cairngorm National Park, and south to the boundaries of Angus. Coupled with the rurality of the region, this presents huge challenges for the organisations. The NESPT, which holds charitable status and operates as a company limited by guarantee, has roots back to 1985. It was founded through an initiative by Grampian Regional Council and the Scottish Civic Trust. It operated on a revolving-fund basis, with the proceeds gener- ated by one project being used to form the work- ing capital for the next. When working with the Banff Preservation Trust (a trust set up wholly for the benefit of Banff ’s historic buildings) they renovated a number of houses in the north of Aberdeenshire. Around 1999 Marcus Humphries (the now chairman) was appointed to the council of management by Aberdeenshire Council and awarded a £3,000 annual grant with the aim of protecting Aberdeenshire’s archi- tectural heritage. Now the North East of Scotland Preservation Trust has a full time project manager in the form of Paul Higson. Although appointed by the trust, he is hosted by Aberdeenshire Council, which currently meets 50 per cent of the costs associated with that role. The NESPT has long wished to be a financially viable organisation with an original model of taking on properties and raising funding to cover the costs of the development. But as funding streams have become more stringent and opportunities more complex, the model of turning over residential dwellings has had to adapt and change. The trust also undertakes private consultancy work for community groups as a means of independ- ent income. Aberdeenshire Council has had a strategic focus on heritage-led regeneration. This has presented unique project opportunities for the Tullich Church after consolidation: following a harsh winter the ruins had started to collapse.