Jess Smith’s HOTT Film Wins Coveted Folk Society Award

Congratulations to Jess Smith and all the team at Heart of The Traveller (HOTT), whose film ‘A Sense of Identity’ won the ‘Non Print Media award’ at the Folklore Society awards, held in London on Wednesday 7 November 2018, where it was praised for its range, depth, and enlightening approach.

‘A Sense of Identity’ premiered at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in June 2017, to great acclaim and has toured extensively throughout Scotland, most recently performed at Aberdeen’s Elphinstone Institute on Thursday 8 November, with much celebration at being crowned the winner of this prestigious award.

What began as a cause to get national monument status for the heart of stones at Hell’s Glen junction in Argyll has morphed into cultural development, with HOTT demonstrating that travellers are part of the fabric of Scotland, and the film highlights their place in the country and shows there is more to their culture than ballads and legends.

Jess Smith states:

Throughout the campaign/petition I was amazed by the drum beating of the Travelling people from across the world to have this sacred place protected.

I had many a sleepless night wondering if this wonderful support would be willing to speak about their culture. Some of us had become solid mates and collectively, we decided to send out feelers. Luckily, the response was positive.

There was enough Travellers and those with connections to the culture willing to take part in a film. We had no knowledge of how to go about this task, so thanks to Ailsa Clark (InspirAlba) from Campbeltown and Jackie Fulton for walking us through those initial steps. We also had funding from Awards for All, so we formed HOTT.

Travellers did the rest, sitting through my interviews with husband Dave yielding the camera, which was great fun and totally unrehearsed, allowing for natural recordings. We wanted to do it right and honour the stars who invited us into their homes with warm hospitality, making certain they were portrayed at ease with the experience.

There are so many to people to thank.

Firstly, the stars of the film – Gavin and Isabella Macgregor, John Mulholland, John Macdonald Macarthur, Pat Hutchison, Mary Thomson, Samantha and Lucinda Donaldson, Patsy Whyte, Bob and William Knight and David Pullar.

Sessions2 for their editing skills on the film, and Kinghorn Creative for their creative design for the accompanying exhibition to the film. Article 12 contributed to funding, as well as various friends who helped us tremendously; without them it would have been hard going.

Michelle Melville transcribed over 8 hours of dialogue, which is a mammoth task, and Michael Russell MSP for Argyll and Bute opened many doors. Thanks also to Donald Smith at the TRACS and the staff of the Scottish Storytelling Centre for providing the first venue to launch the film.

HOTT’s aim is to highlight all Scottish Traveller culture, which is a strongly diverse culture and interwoven with the very fabric of Scotland through story and music.

Find out more about what HOTT do at