An entrepreneur is harnessing the talents of Queen Margaret University’s digital creators to breathe new life into a historic steading development in East Lothian.

Scottish tech entrepreneur George Mackintosh is providing an award programme which will see students help Papple Steading transform into an agricultural heritage centre.

Papple Steading was a historic model farm of the agricultural improvement movement, designed and built in the mid 19th century. Once part of the Whittingehame Estate, whose laird was AJ Balfour, British Prime Minister between 1902 and 1905, the farm fell into disrepair, with the buildings unused for decades. 

Mr Mackintosh has led plans to develop an agricultural heritage centre – the fully completed first phase of the project included the restoration and conversion of the original farmhouse and outbuildings into self-catering accommodation. This won a Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland 2023 RIAS Award.

Mr Mackintosh is now harnessing the talents of filmmakers, media experts and creatives at Musselburgh-based QMU to showcase Papple Steading through digital means.  

Shortlisted groups of QMU students and recent alumni pitched their creative concepts to a panel of experts as part of the Papple Media Prize @ QMU.

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 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, Heroes of Toil, exploring East Lothian’s migrant workers over the years. The group will elicit stories that have never been told before, and which paint a new picture of the East Lothian countryside.

Mr Mackintosh 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.”