Our latest edition of ‘A Day in the Life’ features our Learning Officer, Ally Beckett!
What’s the first thing you did when you arrived this morning?
The first thing I do in the morning, a little predictably, is check my emails and make a cup of coffee… or maybe two! I then double check what’s in store for the day. At this time of year we have lots of school groups in, but we may also have family events, craft activities or guided Cottage tours to do throughout the year.
Give me a brief description of your day.
In the busy January – March period we’ll have up to 4 school groups in a day, so looking after them takes up the majority of the Learning Team’s time. We have a really exciting learning programme for all ages, and doing different workshops every day keeps the variety there for us as deliverers. My favourite is the workshop which involves teaching the class to make butter in the 18th century way – the kids love it even if they do make a horrendous mess!
I also help with planning events and family activities like Burns Night and Easter. One event we’ve recently added to our repertoire is the Burns Heid Inn, recreating the period when Burns Cottage was run as a pub in the 19th Century. I love organising this event, and I am looking forward to it happening again in May.
What’s your favourite thing about the job?
My absolute favourite thing is delivering the school workshops… you can always rely on children to say the funniest and most random things, and the sense of satisfaction you get when you realise a class of 30 kids have gone away at the end of the day inspired by Robert Burns is a real boost. I also love chatting to our visitors and hearing their stories. Some people come in with connections to Burns and his family, or have travelled from halfway across the world just to come and see the Cottage. It makes you realise that you can sometimes take working here for granted!
Above all, I love the variety that each day in this job brings. One day I can be dressing nursery children up as wee tim’rous beasties and showing them around the museum, and the next I can be working with a local care home to deliver a project with them. I love being able to engage with so many different people in so many different ways
What’s the funniest/weirdest thing that happened working at RBBM so far?
As the Learning Officer, you can often find me dressed up in 18th Century clothing for one reason or another… once this involved wandering up and down Ayr High Street in the character of Kate from Tam o’ Shanter, looking for my drunkard of a husband. Another time, we did a Halloween photoshoot for the Trust’s magazine which involved dressing up in scary make-up and haunting the Cottage. Unfortunately due to deadlines, we had to do this on a bright sunny day in July, much to the surprise and amusement of our visitors that day!