About Birkhill House

At Birkhill House CIC


At Birkhill House CIC is a newly established animal assisted activity/therapy venture in the Scottish Borders, which will also offer an array of modern and traditional crafting opportunities. The focus at Birkhill House is on wellness and mindfulness – taking a moment out to be compassionate and nurture the creative side in all of us.  

Where possible, funds generated from workshops will subsidise therapy activities for those who need it most, very much in keeping with a community interest model.  

Set on nine acres of beautiful land about 30 miles south of Edinburgh city centre, the workshops take place in newly renovated stables dating back to the early 1800s. With a rich farming and equine history, the property is now a busy small-holding, whose residents include Huacaya alpacas, Castlemilk Moorit sheep, pygmy & Golden Guernsey goats, a breeding cattery for beautiful domestic Ragdoll cats, a gaggle of small dogs, a plethora of hens and a friendly pair of peacocks.

About Lara Armitage

Originally from the Boston area, Lara has always nurtured her creative side – from theatrical costume & set piece construction to silk screening, glass-blowing to origami. A lifelong crafter and art enthusiast, Lara has run children’s crafting sessions since 2009 and has led instructional sessions for primary schools, WRI groups and Scouting sections along the way. She also created an upcycle crafting programme with a focus on sustainability for the first year Occupational Therapy students at Queen Margaret University in 2014 and led workshops there in 2015 and 2016 as part of their curriculum.

Lara came over from the US in 1994 and has lived in Scotland ever since. She shares her hobbies and passions with her husband Andy, a vet, and their two children, Lucius & Sylvie. 

Full PVG Disclosure

Practitioner of Tellington TTouch and Camelid Dynamics techniques


Masters degree in English Literature, University of Edinburgh

Diploma in Small Business Management, Stevenson College

Diploma in Animal Assisted Therapy, British School of Yoga, Devon

Introduction to Counselling Skills, Scottish Borders College

Committee member and Rescue & Rehome Liaison, The British Ragdoll Cat Club

Community Director, Bird Gardens Scotland


‘I am a collector. I curate the things that seem to want a second life and try to use them in innovative ways. Origami is one of my passions and I always have paper near to hand. My workshop hosts overflowing bowls of cranes awaiting flight, files full of maps and old music sheets yearning to be rediscovered and objects in need of new lives. I marry my love of crafting to my love of cats. Sitting in my workshop, which adjoins the cattery spaces, working away on my latest project provides a lovely way to sit and bond with all my animals. It keeps me sane.’ 

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animal therapies

Animal assisted activities

Did you know that cat owners enjoy a 30% reduction in risk of heart attack? Or that watching fish circle a tank lowers blood pressure? And that stroking a dog boosts the immune system and spurs spikes of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that most anti-depressants attempt to increase, and beta endorphins, natural pain killers in the human body?

Reading with ragdolls

Archeological records suggest that humans have kept cats as pets for about 9,500 years. This is because of their steadfast love and attentiveness, both qualities that make them ideal reading partners.

Our cosy corner and lovely pedigree Ragdoll cats are always up for story time.

crafting jars


Therapeutic benefit from crafting is undeniable. Counterbalancing our chaotic life patterns and increasingly screen-based existences, crafting keeps your hands and mind busy, enables you to ground yourself in the present moment and helps to produce beautiful, meaningful objects that induce joy and pride.

Come and take part!


Birkhill House

Earlston TD4 6AR

email & phone


07779 339 653