Who the Friends are
The Friends of Hugh Miller has members spread right across Britain and a few overseas. We represent a wide range of interests in the arts and sciences whose professions mirror Miller’s own careers, as well as many enthusiasts whom he has inspired.
Member Frieda Gostwick, and our present Secretary, Martin Gostwick, were, as successive property managers, primarily responsible for the creation of Miller House as a Registered Museum in 2004, and subsequently for the establishment of Miller's Yard: Garden of Wonders behind the house in 2008, as well as Lydia Garden behind the Birthplace Cottage (see Museum and Gardens page).
Perhaps most important amongst us are no less than 23 descendants of Hugh and Lydia Miller, spanning three generations. Our founder members were the couple’s great great grand-daughter, the late Mrs Marian McKenzie Johnston, and her husband Henry. Marian was among our first three patrons, succeeded on her death by her daughter, Stephanie Kulesza. Great great grand-daughter, Sue Busby, is our Treasurer, and three times great grand-daughter, Janey Clarke,has been one of our most active volunteers. Joining in their wake have been relatives living all over Scotland and England, and as far afield as Ireland, France, America, Hong Kong, and Australia. These connections give the Museum, and its Friends, many living links with the Millers, and such vital continuity.
Henry McKenzie Johnston’s greatest service to the Museum was the donation to the National Trust for Scotland of £600,000 in 2010, established as the Middleton Fund, named after his late wife’s family. This fund is ring-fenced solely for the Trust's use in the management and staffing of the Miller properties, but not for buildings maintenance. This has enabled the Trust to restore the post of a full-time property manager and employ a core of paid staff, opening the Museum five hours a day, seven days a week throughout the summer season. (Left, Henry McKenzie Johnston)
Thus, the existence of The Friends, and the descendants' immense support as members, played a direct role in rescuing the Museum from drastic reductions in staffing and opening which the Trust felt compelled to make when it ran into dire financial difficulties in 2009.
Among our ranks are university professors and doctors, historians, ministers of various churches, writers of fiction and non-fiction, fine artists and craftspeople. It’s probably not surprising that the largest contingent are the geologists who champion their predecessor’s work.
The charity is headed by two patrons: Mrs Stephanie Kulesza, three times great grand-daughter; and The Hon John Nightingale of Cromarty.
(Left, Stephanie Kulesza.
We are run by an annually elected management committee, currently with seven members. The chairman is Mr Bob Davidson, secretary Mr Martin Gostwick, and treasurer, Mrs Sue Busby. The rest of the committee is composed of Dr Lillemor Jernqvist, Mr Gavin Berkenheger, Mrs Lara Reid and Mr Jim Macintosh. Mr Henry McKenzie Johnston is our honorary vice-chairman. There is one vacancy.
Please click on the following link to read our Constitution, which sets out our operating aims and purposes as recognised by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).