Dame Seona Reid: what I've learned at HLF

Dame Seona Reid talks to a woman at an event
Dame Seona Reid
After eight years, our Scotland trustee Dame Seona Reid is stepping down from her roles with us. Here she lets us in on the high points - and difficult moments - of her time at HLF.

What has been your favourite part of the role?

I can honestly say that I have loved every minute. It is hard work and time consuming – you have to be prepared to read a lot and spend a lot of time in meetings – but its rewards are many. I not only chair a group of clever and committed committee members but also have the privilege of travelling the country meeting the inspiring people who represent Scotland’s outstanding heritage.

What does the word “heritage” now mean to you?

I still find it exciting that HLF does not define heritage and leaves that to the applicant. This means that we support enormously varied projects, both large and small. At one meeting you may be considering a strategy for parks, at the next, for a major art gallery development or a restoration of peatland.

What do you think you’ve learned personally?

I have learnt so much about sectors I knew less about like natural heritage, archives and libraries and the intangible heritage of a wide range of different ethnic and cultural groups, and this is true for all trustees. What you also gain over time is an extremely well-honed ability to ask the right questions and to tease out the likely success factors for heritage projects.

What have you found challenging about the role?

Through National Lottery funding, HLF enables important, exciting, inspiring things to happen and being part of that is incredibly rewarding. There are times, however, when difficult decisions inevitably have to be made and applications rejected. Those can be hard knowing just how much time, energy and passion have been invested in developing a project and submitting a proposal which is rejected.

What could the new trustee look forward to?

I have had the pleasure of working with Lucy Casot, head of HLF Scotland, and the highly professional team and have felt immensely supported and impressed by them. There is a real sense of common purpose and collaborative working.

Eight years/eight places – what are your eight favourite HLF projects in Scotland?

Could I pick some favourite stand-out projects?

  • Canal College which is training hard-to-reach young people in the practical skills of canal restoration
  • RSPB’s Peatlands project restoring blanket bog in the Flow country
  • a number of wonderful projects in Stornoway on the Island of Lewis
  • the UK's first Gaelic museum and archive, Museum nan Eilean
  • a project to restore Lews Castle and Lews Castle Park
  • all of the community heritage projects funded by join Lottery fund Celebrate to mark the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
  • the Riverside Museum in Glasgow
  • and of course the new V&A in Dundee

Interested in becoming our next Scotland trustee? Find more information on our Board and committee opportunities page.