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Serial entrepreneur supports QMU students to bring agricultural heritage museum to life at East Lothian steading  

Posted: 10th July 2023

A serial entrepreneur is harnessing the talents of Queen Margaret University digital creators and performers to breathe new life into an impressive historic steading development in East Lothian. For the third year in a row, Scottish tech entrepreneur, George Mackintosh, is providing an award programme which will see QMU students help Papple Steading transform into an impressive agricultural heritage centre which celebrates the rich history of the agricultural revolution. 


Papple Steading is thought to be one of Britain’s finest historic model farms of the Agricultural Improvement Movement, designed and built in the mid 19th century. Once part of the Whittinghame Estate, whose Laird was AJ Balfour, the British Prime Minister between 1902 and 1905, the farm fell into disrepair with the buildings unused for decades.  


Under George’s leadership and vision, the ambitious plans look to develop an agricultural heritage centre, heritage reference library, cafe, shop and auditorium, as well as an artist’s studio, meeting rooms and private dining areas. The fully completed first phase of the project included the restoration and conversion of the original farmhouse and outbuildings into self-catering accommodation. This has recently been recognised by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland as winners of the 2023 RIAS Awards. 


With a passion for all things tech, George is harnessing the talents of filmmakers, media experts and creatives at Queen Margaret University to showcase the Papple Steading offering in new and exciting ways. The aim is to use creativity, filmmaking, storytelling and drama performance through digital means to captivate and entertain new and diverse audiences, encouraging them to learn about Scotland’s rich agricultural past.   


Now in its third year, the Papple Media Prize @ QMU, funded by Papple Steading, offers students at QMU a creative brief with the opportunity to choose from themes focused around global agricultural development and food production. Earlier this month, shortlisted groups of QMU students and recent alumni pitched their creative concepts to a panel of experts, as part of the competition.  

Dr Lesley-Ann Dickson, Associate Head of the Media, Communication and Performing Arts Division at QMU, said: “I absolutely love being part of our Papple Steading Prize panel. The opportunity to see how our students take a brief, bring it to life and add their own creative twist, is really special. The prize has grown from strength to strength over the past three years and I have to say that the standard this year is our best yet – long may it continue.” 

“This prize is a perfect example of the importance of partnership working at QMU. George and Verity at Papple Steading continue to offer an incredible opportunity to our students, whilst also benefitting from the creative talent here at QMU. It really is a win-win all round.” 

This year’s winners are current PhD students Funke Adetutu and Kenny Glenaan who will receive £4,500 to progress their creative project.    

The group will create a documentary style piece which explores the trials and tribulations of East Lothian’s migrant workers over the years. ‘Heroes of Toil’ will be an exploratory documentary film that focuses on the experiences of migrant workers on East Lothian farms. The group will look to elicit stories that have never been told before, and that paint a new picture of the East Lothian countryside we all know and love. 

George Mackintosh, Director at Papple Steading, said: “The judges for the 2023 Papple Media Prize @ QMU enjoyed four powerful and creative pitches by the teams shortlisted for this year’s prize – a commission to produce a short film. Jack Kibble-White of the BBC and Dr Lesley-Ann Dickson of QMU applied great academic and practical experience to the process and review…and we were all most impressed by the originality, energy and team potency of each group.  

“The winning group hit the subject nail on the head and the judges had great confidence in their ability to deliver. Well done shortlisters…and well done QMU!” 

The winners will bring their concepts to life this summer, with their final pieces of digital being ready by October.   

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