Annabelle Guthrie volunteered at Moat Brae National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling in Dumfries

I FOUND out about the opportunity to volunteer at Moat Brae National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling in Dumfries through social media. Moat Brae was the childhood playground of JM Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, and the place where he first found Neverland.

It seemed like the perfect work experience opportunity for me as I am going to study primary education at university in September. As someone who has just embarked on a four-year journey to become a primary teacher, Moat Brae was the perfect place to volunteer before leaving for university.

Being able to take a walk around Moat Brae House or the adjoining and magical Neverland Discovery Garden and see children using their imagination through play is wonderful. When you stand on the ground floor underneath the cupola and listen, you can hear children and adults alike having a fantastic time, enjoying all the little things hidden away that make Moat Brae the magical place it is.

The National:

I volunteered to see the joy that the tiny touches can make to a families visit, to see the smile of a child when they see something amazing. As a volunteer, taking a walk around the house and looking into the reading room and seeing families together enjoying a story, or seeing visitors reminisce about books they read when they were younger highlights the importance of this centre in modern life, as a place and a magical world where storytelling and reading are an integral part of growing up.

The reason why I wanted to get involved with volunteering at Moat Brae was because it sounded like it would relate to my future career as a primary teacher, as there would be children visiting the house with their families, and it would help to improve my confidence in certain areas that I would need to use as an educator. For example, there was daily storytelling and I am able to assist with leading story time, which was something I never thought I would be able to do.

Moat Brae has given me some fantastic opportunities through volunteering with them. Not only was I on hand to help visitors through the house and answer any questions they had, but I was also able to help with school group visits and leading activities with them. To have been offered such fantastic work experience is something that I am incredibly grateful for.

When you walk into Moat Brae, you feel the magic and excitement, in the same way as you do when you open a book for the first time. Visiting Moat Brae is about making your own story during your time visiting, and even though my story has started during my time at school, Moat Brae has led me to start my next chapter at university in the best way possible.

If you are interested in volunteering at Moat Brae, email For more information see