The Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust has appointed its first Centre Director in preparation for opening Moat Brae in late 2018. Sue Hughes has taken up this important post and will lead the team of staff and volunteers in launching and running Scotland’s National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling at Moat Brae, Dumfries.
Sue Hughes is a fellow of the Museums Associations and has over twenty five years’ experience working in the museum and heritage sector. She has moved from Warrington in North West England to lead the team at Moat Brae and brings an impressive wealth of experience from her previous roles as Director of Macclesfield Museums, Director of Cheshire West Museums and Manager at Knowsley Museum Service.
Sue joins the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust as the restoration of the Georgian house is well under way and progress in landscaping its Neverland Discovery Garden reaches an exciting stage. This week, contractor Balfour Beatty has begun installing the Jolly Roger pirate ship which will form one of the main play features in the garden. Work is also progressing on the extensions which will house the education suite, shop, visitor services and cafe.
The Trust’s vision for Moat Brae to be a place which promotes and encourages imagination, creativity and play, is inspired by its recognition as The Birthplace of Peter Pan. Dramatist, JM Barrie found inspiration for his legendary story from the pirate games he played in the ‘enchanted land’ at Moat Brae with friends as a child in the 1870’s.
The Trust is restoring the house, which it saved from demolition in 2009 and visitors will soon be welcomed in to explore its history and heritage as well as enjoying activities and fun events inspired by children’s stories. The period rooms on the ground floor will be layered with interpretation to tell the stories of JM Barrie’s childhood ‘escapades’ as well as highlighting its architecture and heritage as a significant building in Dumfries. The basement, first floor and attic will be lightly themed around the story of Peter Pan and will include ‘The Home Under the Ground’ and ‘The Darling Children’s Nursery’, as well as providing exciting activity and exhibition spaces celebrating children’s stories from across time and cultures.
Dame Barbara Kelly, Chairman, said: “We are delighted to have been able to appoint such an experienced and capable pair of hands to run Moat Brae and this is an important milestone for the Trust. We have been very impressed by Sue’s wide-ranging experience.
“Our special project at Moat Brae has the potential to make a significant impact on cultural tourism in Scotland and to contribute to the economic prospects of Dumfries and Galloway. Thanks to almost nine years of hard work by our Trustees, staff, volunteers, funders, donors and many supporters, we have reached this exciting stage and are able to welcome Sue Hughes to lead the operational team towards opening.
“Sue’s role as Centre Director is now pivotal in bringing all our plans to reality and establishing Moat Brae as an international visitor attraction which we hope will welcome more than 45,000 visitors in its first year contributing £1.3 million to the local economy.”
Sue Hughes, Centre Director, said: “I’m thrilled to be joining the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust at this exciting time in its development. I hope I can bring a breadth of operational experience to the project, along with creative flair, to ensure that we offer a diverse and imaginative programme to inspire our visitors, with the same spirit of fun and discovery which J M Barrie once found in this ‘enchanted land’.”
Moat Brae will open with a series of launch events beginning with ‘Dreams for the Future’ in November as part of Scotland’s Year of Young People and culminating Spring 2019 when the Neverland Discovery Garden will burst in to bloom.