Joanna Lumley visited Moat Brae in Dumfries on Friday to see the restoration work on the house where Peter Pan began.
The actor and author is Patron of the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust (PPMBT) and has helped raise £5.8 million to restore the beautiful Georgian house and garden which opens next spring as the new National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling.
As part of her visit, she also attended the launch of the Dreams for the Future Festival, a pre-opening festival giving a foretaste of what Moat Brae will offer and is part of Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018. It features a series of events from 24 November to 2 December.
During her visit Joanna met young people including some who are helping organise the festival and who are members of Moat Brae’s young people’s group, the JMB Creatives. She became the first person to use the brightly coloured Storytelling Chair, and read Peter Panto the young people.
Moat Brae is where the teenage JM Barrie and his friends played the games that inspired Peter Pan and his ideas for Neverland.
On Saturday night Joanna was due to be guest of honour at a festival event called Staged- an evening of drama, music and dance at Dumfries Academy, where JM Barrie went to school from 1873-8.
Joanna said: ‘It’s wonderful to see the way Moat Brae is being brought back to life and given a new future that will make it a place of fun and inspiration to generations of children and young people. And it’s really exciting for me to be able to see the impact Moat Brae is having, even before it opens, by creating this festival where young people are able to develop and use their talents.’
Dame Barbara Kelly, Moat Brae’s PPMBT Chairman, said: ‘The house is an important part of our cultural and literary history and our dream of turning it into the new National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling is on the verge of coming true.
‘We are delighted to have Joanna here to see all that’s been achieved and to have her as a guest of honour at the festival launch. Dreams for the Future offers a glimpse of our plans for the years ahead and the way we want children and young people to be at the heart of everything we do.’
Staged productions included:
· Barrie’s Legacy, a play by the Dumfries Academy drama club that was set up by Barrie and his friends.
· Another short play called The Reunion by 16-26 year olds with additional needs (who are part of the Dumfries Arts Awards Programme).
· The first fully staged production since the 1870s of Barrie’s first play, Bandelero the Bandit, which was presented by The Theatre Royal Junior Guild of Players.
· The world premier of music by young composer Patrick Dupuy called Peter Pan Moat Brae performed by Dumfries and Galloway Schools Ensemble with a dance performance by Dumfries School of Dance.
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s director of events, said: ‘We are delighted to be supporting Dreams for the Future as part of the celebrations for Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018.
‘It is great to see young people already playing such a central role in the pre-opening events at the future National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling, Moat Brae is set to be a fantastic new international visitor attraction for Dumfries and Galloway, and indeed Scotland.’
Dreams for the Future takes place from 24 November to 2 December is supported by the Year of Young People 2018 event fund, managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
· To book for any of the Dreams for the Future events online go to http://www.dgboxoffice.co.uk or can pop into the Midesteeple Box Office, and for further information see the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust website at https://www.peterpanmoatbrae.org.