Inspiring Volunteers Award 2018 honours Natural Sciences volunteer Bill Crighton

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We were delighted recently in the Natural Sciences department to have the opportunity to nominate our longstanding volunteer, Bill Crighton for this year’s Inspiring Volunteer Award.

Longstanding volunteer, Bill Crighton, nominated for this year’s Inspiring Volunteer Award.
Longstanding volunteer, Bill Crighton, nominated for this year’s Inspiring Volunteer Award.

The honour is given to dedicated volunteers who give their time, energy and commitment to volunteering in Edinburgh, and is a joint venture organised by Edinburgh City Council, the Edinburgh Compact and Volunteer Edinburgh as part of Volunteer Week (1-7 June).

Nominated volunteers are invited to a special awards ceremony at Edinburgh City Chambers, hosted by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, to recognise the achievements their volunteering makes. Bill certainly deserves this accolade with the phenomenal support he has given the Natural Sciences department over the last two decades.

Bill Crighton at work creating images of the collection.
Bill Crighton at work creating images of the collection.

Bill joined National Museums Scotland as a volunteer in 1995, shortly after retiring as a biology teacher. Twice a week Bill makes the journey to the National Museums Collection Centre at Granton.

Originally, Bill helped us to carefully wrap and unwrap tens of thousands of mineral specimens, so they could be moved to new premises. Although this is a hugely laborious task, he did not mind and continued enthusiastically to work his way through them, even when we have had to move our collections multiple times! He does the job methodically and carefully and always with a good nature.

A species of Lekanesphaera photographed for a Scottish Natural Heritage commissioned report on saline lagoons in Uist.
A species of Lekanesphaera photographed for a Scottish Natural Heritage commissioned report on saline lagoons in Uist.

However, where Bill has really stood out is with his skill in photographing our specimens. He is an extremely talented photographer, who has excelled at each challenge we have given him. This has included photographing tiny minerals whose colours are incredibly sensitive to lighting conditions, ancient crushed up bugs in amber and live snails slithering across the view of a microscope. Bill always used his technical expertise and immense resources of patience.

Agate photographed for the current Hidden Gems: Scotland’s Agates exhibition.
Agate photographed for the current Hidden Gems: Scotland’s Agates exhibition.

His photographs have been incredible and of very high quality, especially Microphotography which have been used in books, scientific publications, galleries and exhibitions; and been especially appreciated across National Museums Scotland.

Earwig in Mexican amber photographed for the 2013 Amazing Amber exhibition and associated publication. The species was named Haplodiplatys crightoni in honour of Bill.
Earwig in Mexican amber photographed for the 2013 Amazing Amber exhibition and associated publication. The species was named Haplodiplatys crightoni in honour of Bill.

It is however his personable nature, patience and good-humour which have been such an immense asset to Natural Sciences. Bill is a true member of our team and it would certainly not be the same without him.


National Museums Scotland has over 500 volunteers making a valuable contribution to our work. Volunteers help in many of our departments and play an important role, increasing our visitors’ enjoyment and understanding of our collections. Find out more about current opportunities that are available here. 

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