Helen Pickles appointed to drive shinty’s role in compassionate communities

Donnie Grant, Helen Pickles, John MacKenzie

In an innovative partnership, Highland Folk Museum (HFM) and Badenoch Shinty Memories Group (BSMG), have created an 18-month full-time post to support the work of the two organisations in what is recognised as a compassionate community stretching from Kincraig to Laggan and Dalwhinnie. Helen Pickles has now been appointed as Project Officer for the Shinty Memories and Cultural project based at HFM.  

Helen, a first-class Honours graduate, formerly worked on the documentation and research of the vernacular organics collection at the Highland Folk Museum before moving to V&A Dundee as a Collections Assistant.  Helen has already started her main tasks of cataloguing and developing the HFM collection of shinty memorabilia and the programme of events for which Badenoch Shinty Memories Group received funding from the Life Changes Trust (LCT), which is supported by the National Lottery Community Fund, and also Tulloch Homes.  

Shinty Memory Groups have evolved from the Sports Heritage Scotland (SHS)  initiative, involving shinty’s governing body, the Camanachd Association, Alzheimer Scotland and five other sports. The sports' archives and other resources – including links with sports such as curling

and golf - are being used to help people with dementia and people living with other mental health issues such as depression, remoteness and loneliness. Shinty Memories materials  and resources will and help people improve their recall, communication skills, self-esteem and confidence.  

BSMG and HFM will now develop activities which will support people in the local area. At the heart of this will be the delivery of Shinty Memories planned activities.   

John MacKenzie MBE (Scotland and Newtonmore), Sports Heritage Scotland's Shinty Ambassador, and Chair of the Badenoch Group has welcomed Helen’s appointment.  He said: “We were greatly impressed by the range and quality of applications for the post and Helen was the outstanding candidate, coming through a challenging selection process.  Helen has the added advantage of having worked at HFM previously and is very familiar with the communities she will be working with, beyond her duties within HFM, building what we believe will be an outstanding shinty archive.”  

BSMG aims to provide the highest quality reminiscence experience to some of the Highlands' smallest and most scattered and remote communities. Its work is being delivered through the rich heritage and culture of shinty which has been a key element of the community in Badenoch for hundreds of years.  It is the social cement which unites communities, whilst at the same time offering a healthy degree of rivalry.  The approach is to develop shinty-related activities to promote inclusion and engagement, particularly amongst those living with dementia, but also for those disadvantaged in other ways such as isolation.   

Shinty Memory Groups are currently operating in, or are at the planning stage in Badenoch, Ballachulish, Caberfeidh, Cowal, Lovat, Beauly, Lochaber, Oban, Taynuilt, Glasgow, Kinlochshiel and Lochcarron. Others are expected to join the network in due course.  

For further information on BSMG and Shinty Memories, please contact Hugh Dan MacLennan on 0751 528 7040 or

Badenoch Shinty Memories Group’s work is supported with funding from the Life Changes Trust.  The Trust is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.  

The Life Changes Trust was established by The National Lottery Community Fund in April 2013 with an endowment of £50 million to support transformational improvement in the quality of life, well-being, empowerment and inclusion of two key groups in Scotland: people affected by dementia and care experienced young people.     

For further information about the Trust, see

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