A brief introduction to The Friends
Martin Gostwick founded The Friends of Hugh Miller charity in 2006. Martin and his wife Frieda were successively property managers of Hugh Miller Museum, and were primarily responsible for the creation of Miller House as a Registered Museum, added to the Birthplace Cottage, in 2004. They subsequently established 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). Both Martin and Frieda have shown immense, unwaning enthusiasm for sharing Hugh's legacy throughout the years, and have long been involved in the Friends. Sadly, Martin died in the summer of 2021; Frieda survives him and continues to be a passionate supporter of The Friends.
Among our current members are many descendants of Hugh and Lydia Miller, spanning three generations. Our founder members were the couple’s great great grand-daughter, the late Marian McKenzie Johnston, and her husband Henry. Marian was among our first three patrons, succeeded on her death by her daughter, Stephanie Kulesza. Hugh Miller's great great grand-daughter Sue Rider 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
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. This has enabled the Trust to restore the post of a full-time property manager and employ a core of paid staff. The Museum is currently open from Wed-Sun, April to October.
We mourn the passing of Henry, greatest benefactor of both the Museum and The Friends, at the age of 99 in October 2020.
John Nightingale is a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. His family have lived in Cromarty House since the mid-1960s. As chairman of the Cromarty Arts Trust he organised many of the events connected with Hugh Miller’s bicentenary celebrations in 2002, including commissioning the Emigration Stone on Cromarty Links.
We are run by an annually elected management committee, which currently has eight members. The Chairman is palaeontologist Bob Davidson, MBE, the Editor and Interim Secretary is freelance science writer and poet, Lara Reid. Treasurer is Miller's great great grand-daughter Sue Rider Busby. Our patron, Stephanie Kulesza, has recently taken on the role of Membership Secretary. Gold prospector Gavin Berkenheger is our Events Organiser. Ordinary committee members include poet and maker Jim Mackintosh, and Sidney Dantuma Johnston and John Armstrong, who are both palaeontologists.