A project to safeguard Scottish artist and designer Tim Stead’s home for the benefit of the nation has been saved thanks to a combined pledge of £300,000 from a pair of north-east donors.
Mr Stead, who died in the year 2000, is renowned across the country for his breath-taking wooden creations.
These include the Papal Chair he made of elm for the visit of Pope John Paul II to Scotland in 1982, and the fittings at the Memorial Chapel in the Kirk of St Nicholas, or Mither Kirk, in Aberdeen.
His home near Lauder in the Scottish Borders, known as The Steading, was completely refurbished by him prior to his death, and features furniture, fittings, and artwork he created from local wood.
In 2015, the Tim Stead Trust was established and it has since been pursuing its goal of transforming the A-listed property into a place that celebrates everything the late creative stood for.
But last month it seemed the dream may not be realised after funding proposals were dismissed by the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
However, just as the trust was preparing to potentially wind up and preserve what it could of Mr Stead’s work the chairwoman Nichola Fletcher received a massive pledge from a north-east donor of £50,000 – followed soon after by a phone call who had read about the situation, and pledged a further £250,000.
And with two additional pledges of £10,000 recently, the trust’s ambition of securing the property for the benefit of everyone in Scotland has become much more feasible.
Ms Fletcher said: “All of these donations have been within two weeks, it’s just incredible.
“We’ve got a really fantastic programme that we would like to put into effect.
“It will take a couple of years to get it up and running, but we have loads of people wanting to work with us on it.
“What we’re trying to do is turn the property into a national centre for wood culture, everything you could think of to do with wood, ranging from commercial forestry to courses showing the public how to make dove-tail joints.
“There’s a lot of opportunities for education and the other main element is the creative side of things.
“We already know that artists, musicians, writers, poets and creatives are all really inspired when they visit The Steading, so we want to make it a hub for lofty intellectual stuff, right down to activities for local children who at the moment benefit from the community woodland that Tim set up just down the road.
“It would really be nice to have children back in there again.”
The group needs to secure £450,000 to purchase the property by February, otherwise it will be placed on the open market.
She added: “We’re feeling hopeful now. Two or three weeks ago we were thinking as a trust that we’d have to just wind up and use what funds we’ve got for something worthwhile to do with Tim and that would be the end of that.
“But now, it really feels like we can actually pull this off. It’s just down to the question of exciting people and helping them understand they can make a project that’s really worthwhile actually happen.
“We’ve got a fairly short time to get this in, but with gift aid every donation gets a bit bigger, and a little bit further down the road we’re looking to start a crowdfunder.
“Everyone who wishes to donate is most welcome to do so and they can through the website.”
Find out more on the Tim Stead Trust website.