As presented by Jack Birrell at the 2019 AGM.
The Group had been experiencing great successes, partly due to an increase in membership. Following installation of brown tourist signs, enabled by a generous anonymous donor, visitor numbers have soared. Releasing funds hitherto held as restricted allowed major improvements to the visitor attraction, resulting in improved tourist satisfaction.
Former PW Walter Klinker’s family brought over from Berlin a book of pen and ink drawings with poetry and a wooden suitcase made in the camp, which they generously donated to us. We are in process of having the book translated to help us understand the theatrical and vaudeville activities practised within the camp in 1945. Captain Makins’ daughters brought their cartoon painting book and a number of artefacts that they were donating, while solving puzzles about the camp for us. Ernst Krebs (the only surviving PW) was interviewed at his home and visited the camp twice, meeting Capt. Makins family.
Publicity has increased with TV and press coverage although an STV programme caused upset to descendants of some prisoners.
Historical research is progressing with David Robertson visiting National Archives on our behalf, finding de-nazification and other reports there. We are collecting stories which develop our understanding of the camp’s history.
Tours took place every Sunday during the visitor season. We developed a 40 page training manual for tour guides providing everything they need to know. Training and recruiting is now a much easier yet far more thorough process. Free Hands on History tours with audience participation are given to schools and response from schools, staff and children is very positive.
We introduced entry fees for visitors, enabling them to tour the camp with a map, reading about it on new storyboards. An online discount voucher scheme attracted additional customers and we intend to participate in further schemes.
Our current aims are to exploit the potential from visitor attraction, preserve historical artefacts, develop a catering facility and shop, improve toilet facilities and provide identification for guides and staff, all of which will enable us to achieve higher Visit Scotland Star Rating.
Our long term Vision is to see the camp operating for 100 years. The Dream is to have museum huts for WW2 & MOD phases and for village history, while keeping other huts rented out to thriving local businesses. Our Mission is to develop the museum, add to storyboards, enlarge guide numbers, develop publications, carry out further research, increase visitor numbers & employ local staff.
We are offering free tours to local tourist business personnel to encourage them to recommend the camp to visitors. These can be booked via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To help us progress with all of this we welcome more tour guides, meet and greet staff, and researchers. So please get in touch if you are able to assist.