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42SUMMER 2012PEOPLE?Conservation is a team effort - but the spotlighttends to shine on the team unevenly. If you lead anarchaeological dig or mastermind a wildlifeprotection programme, everyone wants to shakeyour hand. The interview requests come in and theplaudits flow - quite rightly. But once a fortnight, at Hill of TarvitMansionhouse, a group of enthusiasts meet to makean equally vital contribution to the Trust's work.Many members know nothing about the textileconservation volunteers, yet they play a key role inprotecting treasured furniture and artefacts atproperties all over the country. Their work is distinctfrom that of accredited textile conservatorscommissioned by the Trust - but is no less valuable.The six women, led by supervisor Alison Docherty,

WWW.NTS.ORG.UK43?form a well established group. Joan Cairns, with 28years' service, is the veteran of the team; UrsulaDoherty, who started two years ago, is the mostrecent recruit. Their colleagues are Anne Halford-MacLeod, Margaret May, Ann Miller and ChristeenAnderson. All of them are Trust members of longstanding, and have a keen interest in sewing as wellas a wealth of experience and a commitment to theTrust's objectives. Their various skills and strengthscomplement each other well.Alison says: "They are all very dedicated andextremely skilled. As well as that, what you reallyneed in a conservation volunteer is a willingness tolisten to what's to be done, and everyone in thegroup has that. We do a variety of work, and becauseof that I can give people the kind of work that'sright for them."The women have taken part in high-profileprojects, such as helping to arrest deterioration ofthe magnificent 17th-century Flemish tapestries atFalkland Palace. Much of the time, though, theymeet the Trust's everyday conservation needs, forexample making protective covers for chairs anddisplay cases. At Falkland, for many visitors the tapestries areamong the highlights. Bought by Lord Ninian in1906, they run the length of the gallery along whichmonarchs and their courtiers once walked on theirway from the royal apartments to the chapel. "Working with the group is a chance to be useful - to do something that has always been a hobby and know that it is making a difference"Ursula DohertyThe volunteers havecarried out vital workon Falkland Palace'sFlemish tapestries,opposite. Previouspages: supervisorAlison Docherty, front,with volunteers, fromleft, Joan Cairns,Christeen Anderson,Ann Miller, UrsulaDoherty, MargaretMay and AnneHalford-MacLeod Right: work in progressin the Tapestry Gallery.Following pages: thevolunteers at Hill ofTarvit Mansionhouse,making covers for theCulzean State Bed;Hugh Sharp's bedroomat Hill of Tarvit, wherethe chair and bed curtains are examplesof the group's work