A £100,000 appeal has been launched today to save the cottage where Robert Burns was born. As the world prepares to mark Burns Night tonight, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has said it urgently needs the cash to protect the property, in Alloway, Ayrshire, before it is damaged beyond repair.

It says centuries of Scottish winters have taken their toll, with the roof, walls and chimney in desperate need of specialist attention.

Burns’s father, William Burness, built the cottage in 1757 and the Bard was born there 260 years ago today. His friends hosted the first Burns Supper in the cottage five years after his death.

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The building has been in the care of the NTS since 2008. It says it is seeking the help of Burns lovers to ensure the cottage remains an inspiring place to visit.

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum operations manager Caroline Smith said: “At the back of the house, the traditional thatched roof has developed significant tears and has worn away. Towards the front, moss is also beginning to grow, collecting rainwater and rotting the thatch underneath.

“The north-west gable is starting to crack, letting the wind and rain in and damaging the interior plasterwork.”

The trust says that by giving £15, donors can help fix the north-west wall; £35 will help restore a patch of thatch; and £60 will limewash a section of the walls.

Smith continued: “Plans are in place to repair the wall at the end of the cottage, cracks along the walls and windows will be filled, the roof re-thatched, and the outer walls re-limewashed, weatherproofing the cottage and protecting it for the future.

“Everything we do at the museum is for the love of Scotland. We are all hugely passionate about the life of Burns and sharing the stories of his life and work but we are asking for help to protect the legacy of Ayrshire’s most famous son.”

People can donate by visiting the website nts.org.uk/donate.