The Scottish Network of the Institute of Translation & Interpreting

Discovering ScotNet

I joined ScotNet not long after launching my freelance career in 1997. I had just left a job as an in-house translator with United Distillers plc (now Diageo) and had my second son. In fact, I had established my business when he was weeks old in the misguided belief I could get started right away.

Of course, reality fell short of expectations, so one afternoon I pushed his pram (with great difficulty) through the doors of the Business Gateway offices in Milngavie to ask for advice. The advisor didn’t really know much about translation or interpreting, but she gave me the ScotNet directory they’d just received in the post, suggesting I might have more use for it than them.

And indeed I did. I contacted the then- Convenor Judy Norwell and, an exchange of emails later, I was a ScotNet member. I don’t remember much about the early days, except perhaps the first event I attended, which was a translation workshop in Perth. I also remember an event about Neuro-Linguistic Programming, held in a very remote house belonging to Alessandra Gori-MacKenzie’s family (I thankfully missed the ghost stories by the fire after going to bed early with a headache!).

At some point in the early 2000s, I attended an AGM in Edinburgh and found myself agreeing to become Events Coordinator West, with Alessandra Gori-MacKenzie taking on the duties for the East.

I was involved in organising many events over the years, mainly the AGM and Christmas lunch, which were held in various venues until we discovered The Pipers’ Tryst and The Piping Centre. However, my fondest memories are of the legendary ScotNet summer workshops.

Alison (far left), helped organise the 2004 joint workshop with the Media, Arts & Tourism network held in Balloch on the shores of Loch Lomond

With work and a young family to juggle, these were as much an escape for me-time and hilarity as they were learning experiences. Two particular instances spring to mind: - A house-share I organised in Aviemore with Ute Penny, Peggy Strachan and Jackie Jones, where we talked and laughed into the wee small hours; and - The journey to the Skye workshop. Anne Hoey and I decided to go in my car and share the driving. It took us over 11 hours (I think we set the record for a journey from Glasgow), not helped by stopping off in Luss for lunch and a lengthy break, only to discover we’d only driven 29 miles. Due to a change of computer a while back, I lost a lot of my ScotNet information, but I do know I have also learnt so much at the different workshops over the years and made many firm friends.

The ITI had a much lower profile when I embarked on my career, so the journey could have been so difficult if I hadn’t struggled through the door of Business Gateway that afternoon in 1997. If I encounter a fellow Scottish, or Scottish-based, translator – in person or online – the first thing I do is recommend they join ScotNet. Here’s to another happy and successful 30 years!

Alison at Vittoria’s in Edinburgh in 2009

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