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Introduction Founding OAT A Message from Colin Renfrew HADAS Greetings Time Team Scorradale House

Founding OAT
Cameron Taylor

I met Daphne for the first time when, as Chief Executive of the Tourist Board, I was invited to a Heritage Society meeting to discuss tourism and heritage issues. She was clear, focused, passionate and absolutely certain that Orkney's archaeology wasn't being given the recognition it deserved. She was, as usual, right.

At about the same time, the tourist board commissioned a major tourism survey, so when Daphne convened her 'think tank' meetings I was able to come armed with the facts and figures that confirmed our instincts. Not only was archaeology of considerable interest to visitors, it was also a very real motivator for them. It attracted significant numbers of people to come to Orkney. In other words, it had an economic value.

I remember the 'think tank' discussions being enormously satisfying. There was a sense, engendered by Daphne's conviction, that there was a job to be done in putting archaeology firmly on the policy making map. It needed champions and Daphne was the most persuasive of champions. And she knew just who to lobby, and how to do it.

Hugh Halcro Johnston may not remember the incident, but I realised just how successful the lobbying had been on the day that he took me to one side during a meeting and said (I paraphrase) 'You know, archaeology is very important and the Tourist Board should be doing more about it'. Exactly.

Under Daphne's leadership the think tank became, in effect, a steering group as the idea of an archaeological trust took shape. In due course the idea became reality and the Orkney Archaeological Trust (OAT) came into existence. A small group of trustees, with Daphne at the helm, met regularly to keep the momentum going. Daphne was always clear that OAT was a means to an end and not an end in itself. It had to DO things.

In a flurry of activity it drew in partner organisations, took over day to day responsibility for the county archaeologist, Julie Gibson. It created a 'Friends' organisation, mounted a very effective PR campaign in support of Orkney's archaeology, worked actively to secure Orkney's nomination for World Heritage Status, negotiated service level agreements with the council and Orkney College and supported the development of the archaeology degree. OAT also laid the groundwork for an archaeological institute.

Key to OAT's success was Daphne's extraordinary ability to keep events and people moving in the right direction and to do so in the most charming but persistent way. I won't name the individual or the organisation concerned but I remember speaking to one victim of Daphne's persuasive powers who told me that he'd come to Orkney determined to say 'no' but found it quite impossible to do so.

Daphne's retirement does not mean the end of OAT's determination to succeed, of course, and the current trustees have a shared vision and passion which will serve the Trust well. But it has lost a very special chairman who won so much respect and affection. Perhaps the greatest tribute we can all pay Daphne is to press ahead and, at long last, establish the sort of archaeological institute that will make her proud.

Cameron Taylor
25 February 2004

 
 
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