When the idea of our Thank You to the Volunteers series first came about, The Stonehaven Tolbooth Museum was one of the first community groups I thought about.
The evolution of the Tolbooth is remarkable when you consider how it was almost shut down, and it would have been if it wasn’t for the community who banded together and have taken it from strength to strength.
Don’t take my word for it – here are the facts of the official footfall from the museum.
Stonehaven Tolbooth Museum 2010- 8717, 2011- 10394, 2012- 15521, 2013-17063.
Since the Tolbooth Association took over the running of the museum in 2011 the footfall has yet to be under 10,000 and is closer to breaking the 20,000 mark.
A visitor’s book is available at the entrance of the Tolbooth museum and this has been analysed for visitor’s country of origin.
During the last three years their have been people from 85 different countries.
Forty-nine per cent come from Scotland, 20 per cent from the rest of the UK, 16 per cent from Europe (the main countries being Germany, Poland, France and Spain), nine per cent from USA/Canada and five per cent from Australia/Asia.
Some of the more ‘exotic’ countries include: Egypt, Ethiopia, Burma, Cambodia, Falklands, Venezuela, Greenland and Ecuador.
I said don’t take my word for it, these facts are astounding and show what real grit and determination can do.
My volunteering at the Tolbooth went really well in my mind.
I visited the group at the end of May while on annual leave, wearing my nice red polo as to fit in with the other volunteers.
On the day we had a visit from a couple of classes at Dunnottar Primary who were shown around and I got to see the volunteers in action.
The ease in which I saw volunteers George, Andrew, Jim, Gwynne and others deal with the public and children was a classic example of why you should go visit.
They care about the Tolbooth, they care about the community and they care to see something steeped in historic value showcases to visitors.
This can be seen on their website which states: “Volunteers have altered the ethos of the museum from one of a fairly static display to one that reflects the vibrant Stonehaven community.
“We now have story telling, poetry reading, visits from a ghost, treasure trails for children – all supervised by enthusiastic local people. Currently we are the second most successful museum in Aberdeenshire (as measured by footfall) and are attracting visitors from all around the world.”
While I don’t want to spoil what you can see at the Tolbooth, the jail cell and Fireball were a particular highlight. If you look at the jail cell door have a look to see if you can spot the name Andrew Clark of Laurencekirk on the side. It’s there quite a bit and it seems he got familiar with the cell on a couple of occasions. There is also a shop in the Tolbooth were you can even pick up a Scottish Passport.
When I spoke to George this past week to see how I done he made me laugh and said: “ I am sitting in the sunshine in Istanbul preparing a REFERENCE for your future as a volunteer at the Tolbooth museum. What can I say? “You seemed to enjoy it. “You integrated with the volunteers and chatted to and mixed well with our visitors “You wore a red shirt to blend in with the volunteers. “Being a reporter you were able to convince the visitors that you knew what you were talking about. “Lastly marks out of 10 Score 9. 10 out of 10 if you volunteer on a regular basis.”
There are currently over 30 active volunteers at the Tolbooth and they are always looking for more if you can spare some time contact them via their website www.stonehaventolbooth.co.uk.
If you are local and haven’t had the chance to pop in, I couldn’t recommend it enough, did I mention it’s free?
From everyone here at the Mearns Leader and Kincardineshire Observer we want to say a big thank you to the volunteers of the Stonehaven Tolbooth Museum.