Joanna Lumley launches book fest appeal

Joanna Lumley in the garden with "fairies"
Joanna Lumley in the garden with "fairies"

A £100,000 appeal for vital restoration work at the house and garden which inspired J M Barrie’s Peter Pan will be launched by Joanna Lumley at the Wigtown Book Festival.

The Windows Appeal is vital to make sure the beautiful Moat Brae House, in Dumfries, is wind and watertight – paving the way for the next stage in its transformation into an international centre for children’s literature.

Joanna, who is patron of the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust, will launch the fundraising drive while at the festival where she will speak about her life and her memoir Absolutely during a sell-out appearance this Saturday, September 28.

Explaining the importance of the project, and of the Windows Appeal, Joanna said: “I love children and children’s literature. The idea that this old and beautiful house can be saved and become a children’s literature centre for Scotland, welcoming in children from all over the UK and the world, is just brilliant. When I heard about it, it was just like Tinker Bell had gone ‘ping’ on my head with her wand – it seemed such a wonderful idea.”

The trust is offering specific sponsorship opportunities including for Peter Pan’s Window – the one from which Peter, Wendy, Michael, John and Tinker Bell were said to have first flown to their adventures in Neverland.

The trust saved Moat Brae House and Garden just days before the building was due to be demolished in 2009 and has been developing a vision for its future. The house itself will become an international visitor centre – with an attic room recreated as a 19th century children’s nursery like the one in the story. The garden and woods will be brought to life as Neverland – a place where children can play and dream of being part of that magical tale.

Adrian Turpin, Wigtown Book Festival director, said: “Joanna Lumley’s connection to Dumfries and Galloway is a wonderful story in itself, and we’re delighted to be welcoming her into the Wigtown Book Festival.

“Our 10-day packed programme of talks and activities is about books and much more – from foraging on the Solway saltmarsh to walking in the steps of The Wicker Man – it invites visitors to embrace Galloway’s great heritage and outdoors.

“J M Barrie’s inspiration for Peter Pan is an exciting and universal slice of such heritage, and we hope the public responds generously to the restoration of Moat Brae House.”