Robert Burns Ellisland Trust

Job Title: Chair
Location: Robert Burns Ellisland Trust, Dumfries & Galloway
Time Commitment: Quarterly meetings
Contact Details:
Closing date: 2023-12-31


The Chair provides leadership to the Board and Executive Team, harnessing and directing the Trustees’ efforts in support of the Ellisland’s wide-ranging conservation, learning and engagement activities. This is a crucial time for the Trust as we prepare for a significant capital redevelopment of the site of Ellisland Farm. Our new Chair will help us to develop the Ellisland Farm’s future strategy, navigating the opportunities and challenges of the coming years and building upon our previous track record of success. They will be a strategic thinker, a creative communicator and have an unwavering commitment to the heritage of Robert Burns and his wife Jean Armour, in a spirit of equality, diversity and inclusion. A key focus for the Chair over the next five to eight years will be fundraising and the completion of the capital redevelopment and development of our new Business Plan for 2O23 and beyond. We will also be recruiting for additional Trustees during the course of 2023 and the Chair will lead on this exciting chance to expand our skillset and representation at Board level.

Key Responsibilities

Strategic Leadership and Advocacy

  • Develop the strategic direction for the Trust in conjunction with the Trust’s senior officers and ensure the execution of the strategy by the Executive Team.
  • Actively support an efficient and visible fundraising function at Board level, enabling Trustees to understand, support and contribute to fundraising to enable to the organisation to execute its ambitions.
  • Set high level direction for and manage the performance of the Trust’s senior officers.
  • Assist in and, where appropriate, lead the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust’s positioning and reputation management, representing the Trust at functions both internal and external, within Scotland and nationally throughout the UK.
  • Engage with tourism and economic development appropriate to the international importance of Ellisland Farm.
  • Oversee relations with funding bodies and key national bodies. Board Management and Governance.
  • Lead the Board of Trustees, ensuring that Trustees fulfil their responsibilities for governance of the Trust, meeting legal and constitutional requirements.
  • Chair general and extraordinary Board meetings, away days and sub-committee as appropriate.
  • Work to ensure strengthening of Board membership and support the recruitment of new Board members in line with our skills audit and contribute to induction of new Trustees.
  • Take principal responsibility for Corporate Governance ensuring that an appropriate organisational, process and control environment is established.
  • Maintain a full understanding of the Trust’s operations and the sectors in which it operates together with the Trustees, oversee the Trust’s revenue funding agreements and outcomes associated with these.
  • Appoint sub committees for specific areas of the Trust’s work, with the approval of the Board and delegate functions as necessary.


  • Provide support to the Trust’s senior officers and review and monitor their performance and delivery on the Trust’s strategic objectives as set out in business plans.
  • Knowledge, Skills and Experience.
  • Demonstrate active interest in the heritage of Robert Burns and Jean Armour and of the local area around Ellisland.
  • Understand opportunities and challenges facing the UK cultural and tourism sectors and the social, cultural and financial context within which the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust operates.
  • Preferably have experience of major capital redevelopment project
  • Have experience in setting and reviewing strategic direction and achievement
  • Commit to giving the time to prepare for and lead board meetings, and attend sub-committee meetings where appropriate
  • Have a working knowledge of governance and management and understanding of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of Trustees.
  • Understand financial data, approval of annual accounts and maintenance of financial solvency, whether in commercial, public or not-for-profit sectors, and be able to monitor the financial performance of the Trust.
  • Preferably have experience as a Board member of a charity or similar organisation.
  • Be committed to the Trust’s vision, mission and values.
  • Demonstrate good, independent judgement, political impartiality and the ability to think creatively in the context of the organisation and external environment.
  • Balance tact and diplomacy with willingness to challenge and constructively criticise.
  • Be strongly committed to equality, diversity and inclusion.

The Chair will be expected to:

  • Champion the work of the Trust, helping to raise our profile at all levels.
  • Ensure proper and effective governance of Robert Burns Ellisland Trust, guiding its strategic direction in line with our charitable purpose.
  • Actively support the team in fundraising efforts, proudly searching and advocating for philanthropic and commercial support of the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust to existing and prospective funders.
  • Use any specific skills, knowledge or experience they have to help the Board reach sound decisions.
  • Monitor the internal and external risks facing the Trust and ensure measures are in place to mitigate risk wherever possible.


Trustees have an active role in managing and helping fundraise for the work of the Trust.

They will be expected to:

  • Offer firm strategic direction to the organisation.
  • Set overall policy.
  • Define goals.
  • Set targets.
  • Evaluate performance against agreed targets to safeguard the good name,
    and values of the organisation.
  • Ensure the financial stability and efficient administration of the organisation.
  • Protect and manage the property of the trust.
  • Ensure appropriate investment of the Trust’s funds.
  • Appoint any officers and monitor their performance.
  • In general, comply with all trustee fiduciary duties under charity law.

They will also need to demonstrate:

  • Preparedness to be involved directly in management supervision and
    fundraising for the Trust.
  • Business acumen.
  • A strong sense of accountability.
  • Ability to think strategically.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Board level experience of the private or public sector is also desirable.
  • Knowledge of and passion for Dumfries and Galloway.

The trust is specifically looking for trustees with some of the following skills and experience:

  • Fundraising
  • Project management
  • Business development
  • Tourism and economic development
  • Local and/or national government
  • Accountancy
  • Working with trusts and foundations
  • Working with individual giving
  • Cultural heritage
  • Marketing and communications specific to the cultural sector
  • Education and community development
  • Charity governance
  • Legal issues
  • Human resources

Additional information

Number of meetings per annum/time commitment: Quarterly meetings of 1 hour plus a 2 hour AGM

Daytime or evening meetings:      Evening

Closing date for applications:       31 December 2023

Contact details or web link for applicants to find out more: