THE regimental association of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers has launched a recruitment drive for a new army of volunteers to help out at its museum in Berwick Barracks.
The association no longer receives direct funding from the the Ministry of Defence so, from now on, is fully reliant on volunteer support if it is to maintain its historic link with the town.
With an estimated one in ten Berwickers directly related to the KOSB, volunteer secretary Ed Swales is convinced there must be people out there willing to help out.
“Although the museum itself will remain funded by the MoD for another 20 years or so, we haven’t got any paid staff any more so we need as much help as possible,” said Mr Swales.
“We don’t just want to leave the museum as it is and see it just fizzle out when the MoD finally withdraws its funding. We’d love to do something similar to the Gordons of the Highlanders who admittedly have had a bit of a head start on us but now have something like 190 volunteers.
“We don’t expect to recruit that sort of number immediately, but if we could get 20 or 30 we could work towards keeping the museum open all year round.”
There are plans to form a Friends of the KOSB Museum, similar to the voluntary group that has supported the neighbouring Berwick Museum over the years.
Mr Swales has been in talks with English Heritage to try and persuade it to open its front gates all year round to help the KOSB museum attract more visitors.
“At the moment a lot of potential visitors walk away when they see the front gates closed, as they are now for the winter season,” he said. “We’d like to see the gates kept open and then visitors pay an admission to whichever part of the barracks they want to see. English Heritage say they’re open to that idea so we’ll see what happens.
“We think there is tremendous interest from the public in what we have to offer here. The success of the recent food festival when 550 people came to the museum shows what can be achieved.”
Earlier this year, Mr Swales successfully led a campaign to have the KOSB colours returned to Berwick as their final resting place. That will happen at Minden Day on August 1 when Mr Swales hopes the KOSB will be at the centrepiece of a civic week-style Berwick festival. There are also hopes of revitalising the Berwick Tattoo to coincide with the occasion, although discussions on this are at an early stage.
“I’m really keen to ensure our barracks plays a big part in Berwick’s future,” said Mr Swales.
Berwick has historically been the home of the KOSB since the regiment, first created in 1689, assumed that title in 1805. They were based here permanently from 1881 to 1964. They became part of the Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2006.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer can find out more at www.berwick4borderers.org.uk.