The Unicorn Preservation Society was formed in 1968 and is charged with the conservation and preservation of HMS Unicorn as a Museum and Heritage Asset. The Society is a registered charity in Scotland, registration number SC002771 and is constituted as a Company Limited by Guarantee, registration number SC046145.
We have ambitious plans to secure HMS Unicorn's future by dry-docking her close to her current location.
Vision and Mission
Our mission is to deliver a world class museum experience, work continuously to safeguard the future of HMS Unicorn, and care for our collections while making them accessible to all.
Our vision is to inspire those who visit and work with us, offering lifelong learning and engagement opportunities for our local communities and beyond.
Our Board of Trustees comprises:
Emma Jane Wells - Chair
I am a museum and heritage professional, and have worked with a wide range of organisations throughout my career. I am a Falkland Islander by birth and so have an interest in maritime heritage. I joined Unicorn's Board to provide museum and collections-specific advice and support. I have 3 young children, so have little time left of my own! We have ponies at home and I also enjoy reading and keeping fit.
James Toal - Chair of Project Board
I am a Fifer with over 40 years’ experience in Customer Service, Sales and Marketing. On retiring as a Director of Marley Eternit, UK’s largest manufacturer of roofing products, I volunteered with The Prince’s Trust as a business mentor for young entrepreneurs and served as a Trustee with two Learning Disability charities. I was invited to become involved with the Society in 2019. My favourite pastimes are fly fishing, photography, old cars and motor racing; mostly now superseded by playing with my 2-year-old granddaughter.
My career in museums began as a volunteer at Edinburgh's Museum of Childhood, and I have since had roles at Tyne and Wear Museums, Museums Galleries Scotland, and Culture Perth and Kinross, among others. I am currently Museums & Galleries Edinburgh's Curatorial & Engagement Manager, and President of the Museums Association.
I am Professor of English Literature at the University of Glasgow, where I teach twentieth-century writing. My current research project, "Ocean Modern", is about literature and ships. I applied to be a trustee in 2021, and I am also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. I have many personal connnections with the west coast of the UK (Bristol, Cornwall, Liverpool, Penarth, and Glasgow), and at the weekend I enjoy seaside walks.
I started James Keiller Estates in 1980, focussing on commercial, residential and leisure property development. Part of the largely Dundee-based portfolio was sold off in late 2018. I have recently purchased Scotia Homes in Ellon with a partner to help build a strong family business. I was delighted to join UPS 2 years ago. I am an Honorary Fellow of Dundee University and also a trustee of Dundee Heritage Trust.
Through my work with cultural, charitable and higher education organisations I am experienced in promoting participation in built heritage and specialise in digital events and experiences, interpretation and communications. I joined the Unicorn's Board to provide support and guidance on digital engagement and accessibility as the ship sails into a new exciting chapter. In my spare time you can find me hiking, visiting a farmer's market or trawling the beach for sea pottery and glass.
I am a Chartered Structural Engineer and my entire working life has revolved around the existing and historic built environment. My day job is Technical Director of Conservation with a firm of Consulting Engineers, David Narro Associates. A long-held fascination with naval history and architecture led me to hunt down Unicorn in 2004 en route to a sailing tour of Scapa Flow. Visiting the ship from time to time, and regular contact, led to me being invited to join the Board of Trustees in 2015.
In addition to our Trustees, others with governance roles attend our Board meetings:
Lord Dalhousie - President
I served in the Coldstream Guards for more than 10-years before having a 25-year career as an investment banker. Since then, I have been heavily involved in running Dalhousie Estates, our family-run business engaged in farming, property letting, forestry and field sports. I have a unique, lifelong link to HMS Unicorn in that my father helped to save the ship in 1968. I am now helping to preserve the ship in a sustainable environment for future generations. Dalhousie Estates, my wife, three children and six grandchildren keep me busy. But, when not working, I enjoy country sports, gardening and history.
Dr Tom Mitchell for CGPM Consulting LLP - Company Secretary
My background is as a Chartered Accountant and working in international offices of major accounting firms and in financial services. For the past decade, I have managed a firm of Chartered Accountants that specialises in working with charities improving governance, finance, risk and people matters. I sit on the ICAS charities technical panel and act as a trustee for three charities. I was first engaged by the Society for a governance review in 2014. When not working, I love to read, garden and delve into modern history.
Our staff team are always pleased to welcome you on board:
Matthew Bellhouse Moran - Museum Director
Originally from Salford, I’ve worked in museums across the UK since 2013. I'm currently a trustee of Museums Galleries Scotland and a Museums Association Rep. Before joining HMS Unicorn I spent 5 years with the Scottish Maritime Museum as a curator. Outside of work I can be found nosing around Scotland’s industrial heritage or fixing broken radios, not necessarily at the same time.
Caroline Taylor - Volunteering Learning and Engagement Officer
I started my museum career at the Signal Tower museum in Arbroath, before moving to the Lighthouse Museum in Fraserburgh. After a spell working for Montrose Museum and Angus Alive, I’m excited to work at a museum with a connection to the sea again and in my favourite city, Dundee. In my spare time I’m a proud member of the St Margaret’s Guild.
David Livingstone - Operations Officer
Originally from Aberdeen, this is my first foray into museum work. However, having always loved history, studying it through school and university, coupled with a love of the sea and a good exhibition to visit, I am excited and privileged to be working on this amazing ship and awesome team. Outside of work I enjoy fencing, sailing, running, hiking and music.
Becca Logan - Fundraising Consultant
I wear many hats, and am kept very busy juggling a freelance fundraising portfolio, chasing kids up hills or escaping onto the water for a sail. 20-odd yrs leadership experience across cultural, heritage, environmental, youth, education and enterprise initiatives across Scotland stand me in good stead to help the team tackle Unicorn’s exceptional and exciting challenges!
Garry Coppin - Maintenance Officer
My background is in IT infrastructure project management and working as an IT solutions architect for a global IT sales company, based around London and the south east. More recently I have been involved in support work for adults with additional needs. I first got involved with the Unicorn around 2012 as a volunteer whilst out of work following a visit to the ship. My favourite pasttime? It has to be baking bread.
Neil De Swart - Exhibitions Intern
My background is in Computer games development with a focus on real time graphics rendering techniques. I had the pleasure of being introduced to the Unicorn through volunteering creating a 3D game, and then learnt about opportunities to work with the museum’s collection to create digital exhibitions. My hobbies including playing Dungeons and Dragons and training for a triathlon which will be at some point in the distant, distant future (and will hopefully stay there).
Bethany McDonald - Visitor Services Assistant
Born and raised in Dundee, I am proud to be working at HMS Unicorn as it is part of a wonderful piece of history which my home town has to offer. I started with Unicorn through the Kickstart employment scheme after which I was offered a post. In my spare time I am studying for a criminology degree - when I don’t have my head in a book I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, going for walks and exploring new places.
Anthony Walker - Visitor Services Assistant
I'm Dundee born and have worked in customer services for over 25 years. I was introduced to HMS Unicorn as a volunteer through a volunteering organisation and I’m now a member of staff. In my Spare time I am studying a open university degree and dabbling in photography.
Charlotte Douglas - Project Officer (Save Haven)
Charlotte's role is to support the Project Board and Unicorn staff in planning and development of Project Safe Haven, to relocate the ship to the East Graving Dock and develop a new museum for Unicorn. Charlotte's post is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
In addition to our staff team you may also see a number of our volunteers on board at any time.
HMS Unicorn is a rare survivor and is equivalent to the most historically important Grade 1 or A listed building. Our plans to preserve the ship can be found here in our strategic plan which sets out our way forward.
Currently there are three primary risks that the Society is focussed on:
- Over time ships experience stress along their hull, causing the centre to bend upwards or downwards. HMS Unicorn is bending upwards;
- Rainwater damage. The saltwater in which Unicorn sits helps preserve her exposed timber. Rainwater is acidic in nature and corrodes the exposed wood. This is the reason that Unicorn was roofed when built. It is rainwater that damages the outer skin of the hull and if we don't repair leaks the the inner skin of timber too;
- Time. Even with the relative protection of saltwater, the hull of a wooden ship deteriorates over time and requires high levels of maintenance and repair.
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