THE man in charge of the next Year of Homecoming has quit just ten months after being unveiled in the post.
Tom Chambers, who had been lured from the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo to the flagship initiative, is leaving in January to work on the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
His departure has left the 12-month event, planned to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and the Glasgow Games, without anyone in charge.
He has resigned just weeks after it emerged that a huge clan gathering being planned as the centrepiece of the second Year of Homecoming had been scrapped in Stirling.
The move, ordered by Stirling Council amid fears over the soaring cost of the event, left clan chiefs in the United States and Canada furious.
Mr Chambers is thought to have had just two dedicated staff working with him on the Scottish Government’s £5.5 million project.
He was one of the most senior staff working at EventScotland, the Scottish Government agency which had been tasked with organising the next Homecoming with VisitScotland.
His profile on the EventScotland website states that he had overall responsibility for managing the work of the Homecoming team and “ensuring the delivery of aims and objectives”.
His job was advertised this week by EventScotland and VisitScotland, which had already been recruiting for a Homecoming manager for the project.
The first year of Homecoming, held in 2009, was dogged by problems with its senior staff. Its director and PR director – Alison McRae and Jo Wedlock – both departed in the run-up to the event, which had to be taken over by VisitScotland and EventScotland, while a new PR director, Richard Saville-Smith, took the agencies to a tribunal after being ousted from his post. He lost his case, despite claiming that the pressure of work triggered a breakdown.
Marie Christie, who was brought in to take the helm of the 2009 Homecoming as project director, is still working at EventScotland as international events director.
A spokeswoman for VisitScotland initially said Mr Chambers had left to work as a senior operations director at the Commonwealth Games, describing it as “a plum job”.
However, a spokeswoman for Glasgow 2014 confirmed that his position would actually be general manager, sports operations.
VisitScotland’s spokeswoman said: “Tom has simply gone to another job.
“There is a large team working on the project and the working on Homecoming will continue as normal until a new director is appointed.”
Neither EventScotland nor VisitScotland was able to say what Mr Chambers’ salary was as Homecoming director.
Glasgow 2014 also refused to divulge the salary attached to his new post.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “A large team of VisitScotland/EventScotland staff are already working up marketing, communications and events activity for Homecoming, and plans remain on track for a launch of the events programme in April.
“Tom will make an excellent addition to the Glasgow 2014 team. The recruitment process for a replacement has begun.”