Tracing your #ScotsSpirit

NOT many people are able to say that they can give others a ‘sense of who they are’, but this is exactly what tour guide and genealogist Ian Walker does for a living.

Dumfriesshire-born Ian stars in the latest Spirit of Scotland online film from VisitScotland in which he lifts the lid on the magic and “yearning” that attracts visitors from around the world to Scotland to trace their roots.
Since he established his company, Borders Journeys, in 2011 after a career in the civil service, Ian has welcomed visitors from around the world including the USA, Canada, Hong Kong and Malta, to Scotland to discover more about their ancestors.

In the film, Ian (51) talks about visitors ‘coming home to Scotland’ and allowing them to ‘walk in the footsteps of their ancestors.’ The story starts at ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh and takes viewers to St Bride’s Kirk in the grounds of Blair Castle in Pitlochry and to the historic battle site at Culloden.

Ian was born in Dumfriesshire and grew up on his family’s farm near Lockerbie. His mother’s family was from the Yarrow Valley in Selkirkshire and growing up, he was inspired by the stories his grandparents would regale him with, stories that he now passes on to his visitors.

Ian said: “For most people what draws them back to Scotland to trace their ancestors is a yearning to come home.

“For many visitors their ancestors are brought to life when they learn about the people, places and traditions connected with them. I love sharing my homeland’s stories and histories with visitors and it is a privilege to tell the real local stories that my parents and grandparents told me.

“I was delighted to take part in the Spirit of Scotland campaign and have the opportunity to share my passion and knowledge not just for Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders, but Scotland as a whole.
“I am fortunate to have turned my long-held dream into a reality and am now able to offer visitors an insight into their ancestors and a sense of who they are. I hope that by taking part in this film, I am able to inspire others to follow their ScotSpirit and take that journey home.”

Doug Wilson, VisitScotland Regional Director said: “I am delighted that Ian was chosen to star in this latest film. Ian was inspired by the stories he heard from his family growing up in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway. Each region across Scotland – not just the South of Scotland – has its own myths, stories and legends which people like Ian are determined to keep alive and pass on to generations and visitors for years to come.

“Through VisitScotland’s Spirit of Scotland global campaign and #ScotSpirit social movement we aim to raise the profile and reputation of the region as an outstanding place to visit, and to invest, live and work in.
“Ancestral tourism is an industry worth £101million to the Scottish economy and 2017 as the Year of History, Heritage and Archaelogy is the ideal opportunity to delve into the past and discover more of Scotland’s fascinating stories at some of the fantastic events taking place across the country.”

Ian’s film is the latest in a series of online short documentaries produced as part of the £4.25million Spirit of Scotland campaign which launched in February 2016.
The films – which have attracted more than 65million views – aim to capture the spirit of Scotland through the eyes of those that live and work here and include a piper in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the train driver of the Jacobite Steam Train and a scallop diver in Skye.

The global campaign is built on extensive research which shows that people think Scotland has unique spirit – whether it’s the magic of the landscapes or the warmth of the people. Everyone who has shared their #ScotSpirit will become part of a special social movement.