The Project and its Impact
New Community Programme
The project’s commitment to community benefit ensures that it has maximum impact. It re-defines Braemar’s place in the wider region: no longer do visitors, schools or community groups have to come to Braemar. Through its community programme, the Castle will go out, better serving its existing audience and finding new ones. In a remote and dispersed community, only through such means can a visitor attraction fully achieve its potential. This is a transformative initiative and its results will be seen and felt in every aspect of its activities.
Conserving the Castle and its collections
Our conservation project is focused on caring for a spectacular and much-loved asset by sympathetic repair, improving visitor facilities to create a contemporary and comfortable visitor experience and presenting the fascinating collections of objects to best reveal their engaging stories. The themes of a visit encompass Clans and Culture, Rivals, Risings and Redcoats and Hunting, Hosting and Haute Couture.
Raising the Standard will entirely renew the Castle as a visitor destination by improving visitor facilities: creating a new reception which sets the context of a visit, provides new interpretation, explaining what the visitor sees in the Castle and grounds (linking them to and interpreting the Highland landscape); conserving the collections, enhancing the way in which they are described and their significance explained; improving visitor access and upgrading services throughout and providing new disabled toilets; re-harling the exterior with traditional lime-based materials; renewing windows and repairing drainage and the courtyard.
In the Castle and far beyond: new learning activities throughout the community
Raising the Standard will transform the way the Castle informs and educates its many audiences – through the year – through a programme of activities for the public, formal engagement with all levels of the education sector throughout the region and through working with charities and other partners.
Already working with primary and secondary schools, Braemar Community Limited will extend its formal engagement with primary and secondary schools throughout Aberdeenshire serving the STEM (design and technology) and heritage-related curriculum; having established a partnership with Gray’s School of Art (Aberdeen), we will work with 2nd year Textile and Fashion students, using the Castle’s strong links to fashion legend Elsa Schiaparelli as inspiration and then touring the project output in a mobile gallery to remote schools; further collaboration with Outdoor Woodland Learning School in hosting classes and workshops, offering “flexi-learning” and including provision for those with special educational needs; enhancing digital learning provision and creating online resources, particularly offering inter-generational learning opportunities and increasing remote participation, so overcoming the region’s challenges of dispersed rural communities and poor public transport.
Making an economic impact
The small and remote village of Braemar has in recent years punched well above its weight in what it has delivered for the community and Braemar Community Limited continues to think creatively and practically about what it can do to strengthen and bring resilience to its fragile economy and to create opportunity. Raising the Standard will not only deliver a 5 star visitor attraction, it will also, through the sheer ambition and scope of its plans, contribute to and sustain the long-term viability of Braemar’s growing status as a visitor destination and add to the tourism infrastructure within the region.
A revitalised Castle will strengthen the area’s infrastructure by completing a high-quality tourism corridor from Aberdeen to the Cairngorms and attracting visitors approaching from Perthshire. The result will be to deliver economic value by attracting more visitors from a wider geographical base and benefiting local businesses as well as bringing pleasure, interest and delight to thousands of visitors. Such a shift helps the area’s population too by creating and preserving jobs, supporting businesses and offering new training and volunteering opportunities. And the scope for joint marketing and collaboration with other organisations and attractions will ensure that the new momentum created, for example by the recent re-development of Fife Arms and Braemar Highland Games Centre, will be built upon to ensure long-term sustainability.
Sharing the benefits through community engagement
In developing Raising the Standard, we have been outward-looking. We know that, in remote rural areas, people and communities prosper through working together. So it is that the project will create volunteering opportunities and deliver training to develop the skills of people of all ages. And perhaps most of all the project will develop in the community and in visitors a sense of pride in our heritage, what it signifies and how it can be used for good.
Already 10% of the Braemar population act as volunteers for the Castle, but the new vision will help them derive and deliver greater benefit – as well as creating new points of access for first-time volunteers. Looking to create the broadest benefit in the area, the Castle team will support older people in isolated settings, for example by providing outreach to care homes; welcoming and integrating “new Scots” through involving the region’s refugee community; developing the existing work of mental health charities through therapeutic horticulture activities and, more generally, building and enhancing links within the community of Braemar and the surrounding area.
Promoting engagement with the natural world
As visitors move through the Castle grounds, they engage with not only with history but with the landscape, with woodland and with the kitchen garden. Whether through considering the significance of the Castle’s location (strategically positioned at the meeting point of three mountain passes) or appreciating the rich biodiversity of the area while exploring the woodland trail, Raising the Standard will make the most of the capacity of the Castle to encourage new understanding of the natural world and the sense of well-being that comes from doing so.
The Castle’s kitchen garden appears on maps going back 120 years and plans to re-instate are part of a therapeutic horticulture programme that will be part of the project’s lasting legacy. The garden is a key resource for work with partners Scottish Association for Mental Health and Outdoor Woodland Learning School with whom the team has already worked. And for all, but especially benefiting those whose mobility does not allow them to venture into the Cairngorms, the Viewfinder explains the Castle’s relationship to the surrounding landscape and significant sites such as Kindrochit Castle and the Lecht Old Military Road.
The Braemar community team maintains an engaged, outward-looking, “can-do” approach to partnership, involving education, business, healthcare and charity partners. Raising the Standard focuses on the local – and it will be transformative for the village – but it also knows it depends on the regional and that the true benefits come from seeking common interests and building partnership.
This collaborative approach recognises the wider agendas that can be served by Raising the Standard – such as those of Cairngorm National Park Authority, Aberdeenshire Council, VisitAberdeenshire or NHS Grampian. The project has been developed with a broad view and an open mind, and that has elicited in the area a clear understanding of the benefits of working together. As a result, the positive impacts of the project are wide-ranging – cultural, historic, social, health, educational and economic. The transformation therefore goes far beyond the village and establishes a new understanding of what can be achieved through local organisations working for regional benefit.
Raising the standard is gradual process. The first few pulls on the cord can be hard work. Then it slips through the fingers more easily. Sometimes from the ground, looking up, it looks like the standard is closer than it really is to the top of the flag staff.
Raising funds is like raising a flag: the job is never complete until the last pull on the halyard. So it is that we need every last act of generosity to reach our goal.
Gift Aid Donation
Gift of shares
We are very grateful to all our partners and funders who are supporting the project and its objectives.
Watch this space!
The Castle is now closed to the public as contractors start their 18 month capital works improvement programme.
Activities and events linked to these major works are scheduled for 2022 and beyond.
Keep watching this space for future information.
Closing the distance between the castle and visitors - take a tour, sign up for the events and meet the people behind the castle walls. Whether you are at home or abroad we invite you to enjoy everything we have on offer.