THE new chief executive says the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust will help the town to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.

And Gillian Taylor, who started her new job on June 1, is hopeful the Outwith Festival they’ve backed from day one will return bigger and better than ever.

The former Fife Council area manager for Dunfermline leads a trust that has up to £150,000 a year to give away to good causes who are striving to make the town a better place.

She said: “Supporting local organisations and charities is very important, particularly during and after this pandemic.

“We’ve provided a lot of emergency funding already, such as money for a fridge freezer for a food pantry, electric bikes to deliver food and for hand sanitiser, but I feel very strongly that the trust has a role to play in the recovery and building Dunfermline again.”

She’s expecting to work with Delivering Dunfermline, the former BID company that has struggled to find funding, after supporting them in her council role.

Gillian said: “We need all the partners we can to help with the recovery and it’s important to have the town centre involved in everything we do as well. Delivering Dunfermline staff are furloughed at the moment but I’m expecting to work with them.

“We’re also one of the funders of the Outwith Festival, which has been a huge success, and although it won’t be happening this year I’m very much hoping it’ll be up and running next year.”

The trust runs the award-winning Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum that re-opens next month, and she leads the Carnegie Hero Fund UK Trust too.

Gillian said: “I’d like to see clubs, organisations and charities being helped to start up again, to make sure there’s lots to do and enjoy and that people don’t have to travel outwith Dunfermline.

“A lot of elderly people have been cooped up for a long time, there is loneliness and isolation and as a trust we can do a lot to help and support people through that too.

“It’s going to be the year of the staycation so it will be good to have the museum open again and get more visitors back into Dunfermline.

“Although the museum’s been shut the staff have been amazing with fun activities online and education boxes around the town to give kids something to do.”

The Carnegie Dunfermline Trust was set up in 1903 through a hand-written letter by Andrew Carnegie, his rags to riches tale inspires those who visit the museum while the pot of money he left to improve the lives of people in the town is still doing good work today.

There are numerous examples, it gave out around 60 grants last year and has helped everyone from schools, scout groups and bowling clubs to Fire Station Creative, Fife Cycle Speedway, Heart and Sound and Nordoff Robins.

She said: “It’s a unique gift he left and my role is very much about continuing the Andrew Carnegie legacy into the 21st century and look at how best we provide that sweetness and light in Dunfermline in a modern setting.

“I think we’ve got so much to offer; Dunfermline is very special. It has a unique history and heritage and people are very proud to come from here.

“It’s growing rapidly with a lot of new houses being built, so the more we can work together to support organisations and events, the more people will feel part of the town “Anyone new to the town may not know of Carnegie and the legacy he left so as chief executive it’s my role to raise awareness, particularly of the grant-giving side of the trust.

“The museum keeps his story alive too, that’s why it’s so important to us.”

Gillian admitted that starting a new job during a pandemic had been “challenging”, on her first day she walked into an almost empty Andrew Carnegie House, but the more “informal” introduction helped her ease into the role.

It’s also given her time to sift through the “big box of notes” left by her predecessor, Nora Rundell, who retired after 16 years at the helm.

Apart from time spent bringing up her two children and running a coffee shop in Dollar, Gillian’s career has been spent in local government for Fife, Clackmannanshire and Stirling councils, with a particular focus on community work.

She explained: “When I heard Nora was retiring I looked at the job and thought it was very similar in a lot of ways.

“I didn’t come here because I particularly wanted to leave the council, the attraction was working in the charitable sector, which I’ve never worked for before, and the benefits of working for a smaller organisation.

“It’s a mix of very local work, with the grant giving, museum and partnership initiatives in Dunfermline, and the element of honouring heroes throughout the UK and Ireland through the hero fund trust.

“There’s also a wider, global Carnegie family with institutions and organisations across the world. It’s an honour to have this job.”

Gillian said that in her last role, as the council’s area manager for Dunfermline, she worked closely with the trust on partnership projects and initiatives in Pittencrieff Park.

She added: “I think that’s made it easier as it’s given me knowledge of Dunfermline, the groups and organisations and the contacts to speak to.

“There is a lot of joint working, the Glen is owned by the trust and managed and maintained by the council, so it’s important we have that strong relationship.

“We worked together on digital tours of the park, the Play As One play park and Cycling Without Age, and there are options for doing a lot more in the park, such as an outdoor nursery.

“We’ve got a great asset on our doorstep and Carnegie was so proud to gift it to the people of Dunfermline. People love and appreciate the Glen so we have a responsibility to make sure it’s fit for purpose.”

As for Pittencrieff House, it remains closed and unused but it’s not been written off.

Gillian said: “There’s nothing happening with Pittencrieff House but it is on our radar. It’s not been used for years.

“It was partly used as a museum until the Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries opened. Between us and the council, we’ll look at the options and what we do with it. It’s a unique and historic building so we’ll want to find a purpose and use for it.”