The Standing Stones Trust
Tourism and Charity in the Isle of Lewis

Image Credit: Grant Hugh Jones
Image Credit: Grant Hugh Jones
Image Credit: Kenny Lam
Image Credit: Kenny Lam

Director / Trustee Opportunities at Calanais

Director / Trustee opportunities at Calanais

 

Urras nan Tursachan (The Standing Stones Trust)

 

A unique opportunity has arisen to join the Board of Urras nan Tursachan (UnT), who own and operate the visitor centre at the world-famous Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

Ambitious plans are in place to develop a new, world-class visitor centre by 2025. This will not only improve visitors’ experience and understanding of the Stones within their broader prehistoric context; it will also contribute to the wider Outer Hebrides Tourism plans for destination development projects to underpin growth in the sector, and it will enhance its support for the local community. Moreover, plans are underway to create an Outer Hebrides Heritage Fund using profits from the operation of the redeveloped Calanais Visitor Centre, helping UnT to support activities that conserve, educate, promote and develop the historic environment assets of the Outer Hebrides.

As the most popular visitor attraction in the Outer Hebrides, Calanais welcomes 150000 visitors pa. The Trust, through the visitor centre and through its wider charitable activities, has a long track record of supporting both visitors and the local communities.

As part of its succession plans the Board is looking to appoint new members to provide strategic direction and support in the execution of the development plans, and to guide the operations team in the smooth day-to-day running of the visitor centre (which falls under the remit of the wholly-owned subsidiary of UnT, Tursachan Trading).

An induction pack will be provided, together with support and guidance around the roles and responsibilities of being a director / trustee.

Key responsibilities

We are looking for applicants with either of the following skills and expertise:

Community

  • Represent our local communities on the board, and ensure that Calanais gives the maximum benefit to our communities
  • Be an ambassador for Calanais in our local communities, sharing and communicating the role and activities of the Trust

Applicants should ideally live in Calanais or adjacent areas, ideally be able to converse in Gaelic and may be called on to act as media spokesperson for the trust

Capital Projects

  • Support the board in the execution of the Calanais 2025 development project
  • Contribute expertise in one or more of building design, construction planning and project management

It is envisaged that this Director / Trustee will become the Chair of the Project Delivery Board for the Calanais 2025 project

Applicants should ideally live in Lewis, but applicants from other areas will be considered

Whether you are an experienced director / trustee or looking to make the first step into this arena, if you feel you have some of the skills and attributes listed, we would love to have a conversation with you.

 Length of term/Remuneration

The appointments are for 3 years. The role is not remunerated but will give the successful applicant the opportunity to shape, influence and deliver one of the most significant tourism infrastructure projects in the Highlands and Islands.

Like many small community organisations, our directors / trustees are expected to be hands on and commit around 10 hours/month attending Board meetings plus pre-meeting preparation, and other meetings or inputs as required. They are also expected to lead initiatives that support the delivery of the board’s plans

Applicants will be expected to comply with our code of conduct for directors / trustees

 Details

Closing date – 31st August 2022

For a further discussion, e-mail Ian Fordham, Chair, at ian@calanais.org

If interested, send a brief CV and letter to ian@calanais.org

 

The Standing Stones Trust (Urras nan Tursachan) is an independent not for profit charitable trust based in the northwest of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Formed in 1994, this registered Scottish charity has operated the Calanais Visitor Centre for over 28 years, bringing valuable tourism to the local community and delivering consistent growth in visitor numbers, turnover and profitability. Working in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland, the Trust has added £1.5m to the North Lewis economy since opening.

Preserving a Precious Heritage

​From the internationally famous stone circles of Calanais to Dun Bharpa on Barra, we have a unique Neolithic landscape and an archaeological record of unquestionable international significance to preserve. We believe that our Neolithic past is important and should be better understood, managed and valued before being passed to future generations.

A Tourism Charity in the Isle of Lewis

The Trust believes that the best way for this ancient and iconic Neolithic site to continue to have a positive impact in the Outer Hebrides and beyond is to deliver value in the present. We work with the community to promote and manage research and education, allowing us to preserve the fabric of this sacred and atmospheric site.

Development and Tourism Combine

Community ownership combines with tourism, encouraging visitors to come to the Western Isles and discover the stunning beauty of Calanais and the local landscape. We invite our visitors to enjoy this unique site, to unlock the narratives within it and to be transformed by its archaeology, mystery and heritage. This focus on tourism supports employment, raises awareness and creates opportunities for the people that live in our community.

How Does the Trust
Invest Resources?

The Trust ensures that all income is allocated to projects that are of lasting benefit to the stones and the community in which they stand. Projects are only funded if they:

 

  • Support the exploration, research and management of the Neolithic landscape of the Outer Hebrides
  • Ensure that this landscape and its heritage makes a significant and sustainable contribution to the economy of our islands
  • Champion the value of the Hebridean Neolithic, not only because of its historic importance, but because of the positive difference it makes to people’s lives
If you’d like to support us or want more information about our ongoing work liaising with monuments of interest on the west coast of Scotland, click here.

Meet the Team

DJ MacLeod

DJ MacLeod

Communications and Engagement Executive

It’s my job to reach out to individuals and groups in the community and help them to explore and share the benefits of their local heritage site. I’m looking forward to creating more heritage projects for everyone in this unique island community to enjoy.

The post has been principally funded by a grant from Historic Environment Scotland

Donalda Williams

Donalda Williams

General Manager

I am originally from the island and never thought I would return, but the role as GM at Calanais enticed me back home. My professional career has been quite diverse, specializing in catering, hospitality and visitor attractions. Most recently I have worked with the Wildlife Trust and National Trust driving commercialism in the heritage and conservation sectors. I love the magic and history of the Stones and am delighted to be leading the team taking the Centre into a new and exciting future.

Adam Smith

Adam Smith

Senior Chef

Adam originally from a small town in Staffordshire, is very happy to be the senior chef in the visitor centre. Having worked in the Alton towers hospitality complex for over 7 years, he took the chance to change his life around and come to the islands to live. He thrives in the cut and thrust of kitchen life and has become a fan of island foods, especially Black Pudding. Adam finds the stones to be an inspiring location and very different from Alton Towers.

Sarah Ann Murray

Sarah Ann Murray

Team Leader

Sarah Ann is from Breasclete, and has been working in the visitor centre since she was 13. She is now team leader in the café and shop, her participative leadership style makes for a pleasant workplace and has helped as others have joined the team. Sarah Ann will soon be travelling to the mainland to attend university, but will be returning to the centre café and shop each summer and easter to work.

Café Team

Café Team

Front of House and Service

The cafe team are here to serve your needs, from breakfast, lunch to afternoon teas they deliver delicious freshly prepared meals and excellent home baking all made on site daily.
Calum is the newest member of the team, working in the background to ensure your meal is to the highest of standards. On the far right is Becky, she bakes and serves front of house, far left is Iona, who also bakes, serves up front and assists in the kitchen, centrally pictured, is Sarah Ann, the team leader who keeps things running smoothly. Missing from the picture are Peter, Cat, and Hazel who also work in the café.

Retail Team

Retail Team

Merchandising and Inventory

Lorraine and Audrey are the shop team. The shop supports local artists by selling their work, and displaying it for the customer to purchase it directly from source. . Transactions in the shop also support the research and management of the archaeological sites in the Hebrides.

The shop may appear small, but it is very well stocked with excellent local art and craft products, beautifully crafted Harris Tweed items, and wonderful Lewis chess sets.

Ian Fordham

Ian Fordham

Interim Chair

Having run a successful tourism business on the islands for thirteen years, and lead Outer Hebrides Tourism for ten years, I have enormous experience of the tourism sector and the opportunities and challenges it faces. Calanais is one of the most important tourism assets in the Outer Hebrides, and a major reason for people coming to visit and stay.

Caroline Maclennan

Caroline Maclennan

Vice Chair

I am Co-Founder and Festival Director for HebCelt, the longest running independent music festival in the Highlands and Islands. My late brother Simon Fraser was instrumental in establishing the Calanais Visitor Centre and I try to honour him by bringing people-management and organisational skills to my role, helping to build a strong volunteering and community ethic.

Graham Blair

Graham Blair

Director

I live in Aberdeenshire and am currently Head of Mortgages at Bank of Scotland. I bring my experience in project management, finance and strategy to the team, as well as a desire to protect and celebrate the history of this extraordinary location.

Lorna Eller

Lorna Eller

Director

I live just the other side of the loch from Calanais (I can see the Visitor Centre from my kitchen window). I am an accountant and accounting academic and although retired I provide accounting assistance to various local social enterprises on a voluntary basis. I am currently treasurer of Outer Hebrides Tourism – the destination management and marketing organisation for the Outer Hebrides.

Alison Sheridan

Alison Sheridan

Director

I’m a freelance archaeological consultant, having recently retired as a Principal Curator in National Museums Scotland, where I’d worked since 1987. I co-produced the report on the prehistoric pottery found at Calanais published in the Historic Environment Scotland report on Patrick Ashmore’s excavations between 1979‒88. I’m also a specialist in the period when Calanais was built and used.

Projects and Community Ownership

The Trust is central in helping Calanais play an even bigger part in the growth of tourism on the islands. As an important local employer, we aim to be a model social enterprise, adding significantly to our island economy. It is vital that the income from Calanais generates local jobs, confidence and pride of place. One way to achieve this is for the Trust to support meaningful events and projects in which our community, visitors and colleagues can be involved. For more information on upcoming events at Calanais, click here.

The Year of Coasts and Waters

One such project is ‘The Year of Coasts and Waters’. This is a community archaeology project designed to explore the past landscape around the Neolithic and later stone monument at Calanais. Led by geophysics expert Dr Richard Bates of the University of St Andrews, the goal is to work with the local community to explore non-invasive ways of investigating and surveying the Calanais landscape. You can find out more about this project and all our charity initiatives in our community section here.

Calanais 2025

This exciting and important project is central to the Trust’s ambition to dramatically enhance the visitor experience at Calanais. A significant new extension to the existing cottage will increase retail and cafe provision whilst creating a ‘shop window’ through which visitors can fully explore the site. An interpretation area will house a new and dynamic introduction to the stones, before visitors are invited to step back into the past and immerse themselves in the Neolithic period throughout the remainder of the exhibition and out onto the site itself. The final section of the exhibition will focus in on the story of the stones and will include a dramatic, immersive AV experience, complementing the visitors’ own personal encounters with the site. You can see the plans and read our posts about this exciting initiative here.

Image credit: Paul Tomkins
Image Credit: Grant Hugh Jones
Image Credit: Grant Hugh Jones
Image Credit: Grant Hugh Jones

Your Support is Vital

As we work towards the successful completion of our Calanais 2025 project, the support of our community, visitors and friends is increasingly important. If you would like to support our ongoing work, we’d be delighted to hear from you.

Explore the stones in person

Discover calanais

Experience the wonder and mystery of the Calanais Stone Circle and be transformed by this ancient and inspiring landscape.

Open Monday to Saturday

10am - 5pm

Pre-booking essential for groups.