Our Jubilee challenge
Year of "even more talent"
Snaps from ten years ago
A Dunning farewell
The Dupplin Cross soon after arriving
LETTERS FROM NEAR AND FAR
Sheila Long, Auchterarder: (Writing about the January newsletter) Congratulations on a superb issue.
Don Hepburn, Toronto, Ontario: I have been reading the latest DPHS publication. It becomes better with each issue. Many people must put in a lot of effort to produce it but I think the editor must be the guiding light that gives it the professional touch.
I've mixed feelings on the Dupplin Cross question. It had an excellent place of exposure to many international visitors in the Chambers Street Museum. I saw it there a couple of years ago. The old church in Dunning cannot offer such scope but I suppose I should leave that decision for the people in Scotland who look after it.
Mary McLuckie, Balloch: Visiting St. Serf's this spring, I liked the way the cross stood out. It was illuminated in a lovely warm light, and the old arch framed it beautifully. I think the cross is better displayed in St. Serf's than it was in the Edinburgh museum.
Ken Murdoch, Methven: Your Dunning Parish Historical Society publication is astonishing and I am delighted by your inclusion of the book on "Gask Near Perth". You have been very kind to support the book in the way you have.
Please convey my appreciation to the Committee and the Society members - and full marks for all you are doing for the community.
Eileen Curwell, Australia (through webmaster Simon Warren)
I'm researching my roots and have come up with a puzzle for you. My grandmother was Catherine Penny Cunningham (Mrs. David Cunningham) nee Flockhart who died in 1922 aged 40 and who is buried in Dunning. I believe she was living in Church Wynd with her mother Margaret Penny when she got married in 1910. Catherine's adoptive father was Peter F. Flockhart, handloom weaver who was deceased by 1910.
This is almost certainly the Peter Flockhart in 'Crossroads and Characters' who "was born in 1819 and died in 1908 having lived all his life in Dunning".
Puzzle: Why did Peter adopt Catherine, and who was her real father?
"Scottish symbol re-sited in Strathearn"
by Felicity Martin
A year of even more talent!
I gather that it is customary for the chairman to give a review of the year - highlights, memorable events, and new developments. So here goes . . .
For me, five things stand out during the last year:
These are my personal highlights. The problem with highlights is that one can give the impression that the rest are lowlights. this is certainly not the case. We have enjoyed a wonderful mixture of travel and meetings at home. Talking of travel, there has been an unintentional trains theme this year - we've travelled on trains (at Almondbank), visited train stations (St. Pancras) and seen movies of trains in Strathearn.
In contrast we've seen more of Dunning's wildlife, and thanks to Henry Hoey's drawings, there are examples of our wildlife in rooms across the land in our calendar. David Halliday's huskies added a novel touch to our last AGM (what was it about not appearing with children or animals?)
We're learnt more about our own village and valley - about weavers from Dunning and Strathearn, three towers (Dunblane, Muthill and Dunning) and the fascinating tale of how the Dupplin Cross came to Dunning. And of course, four village 'worthies' gave us an insight into life in Dunning in pre-war days. That was our annual walk! And we got as far as Japan in our members' night.
Do you remember the visit to Stanley Mills? There we met Chris McGregor from Historic Scotland who was responsible for fitting the Cross into St. Serf's and whom we will see again later this year. Which again is a link to my next point. This may be the AGM, but there is plenty more to come. For example, in October we'll be holding a promise auction. What can you offer - baking? Microlight flight?
...See the talent in this village? It is amazing and it is so impressive the way in which it is made available. May I thank on your behalf the large number of people who make this society the quality show that it is. People like Alf Marshall who redesigned our notepaper and Catherine Duncan who makes the posters. In particular, I would like to thank Brian Boag, George McLean and Jim Smith who are retiring from the committee, for all the hard work they have put in over the years. Can I finally thank the other members of the committee for their contribution and their forbearance with me as their chairman, and you the members of the society for supporting the events. I look forward to another year of talent.
- Raymond Young
Elected to the DPHS committee at the 2002 AGM were Chair Raymond Young, Vice-Chair and Treasurer Mike Barwick, Secretary David Halliday, Ted Dorsett, Peter Duncan, Liz Fletcher, Alf Marshall, Elspeth Pentland, Ian Philip, Lorne Wallace, Simon Warren, Jean Young and new members Mike Graham and James Murray.
Happy birthday to us!
The Dunning Parish Historical Society was started in mid 1992. Which means, though it's hard to believe, that we are now ten years old!
As our 2002-3 committee members plan the next year, they'll have appropriate celebrations and projects in mind. Already underway are:
On the next pages, we hark back to one of the Society's first projects: colour snapshots of villagers, taken in 1992-3, copies of which we sold as a fund-raiser. Flip the page, and perhaps you'll recognise events or people from a decade ago.
Dunning Images from Ten years Past
Where Were You
Here are responses
Alan Kindness: When I left Auchterarder J.S. School in December 1951 I decided to join the merchant navy and see the world. In 1952 I travelled to Norfolk to enrol as a student in the Prince of Wales Sea Training School on a course lasting some 4 months.
Various duties and skills were learned, one of which was to undertake a spell normally of a week's duration as a 'side boy' (naval jargon for 'receptionist'). The duties were in the main: to hoist the Red Ensign at 8 am (sunrise) and lower it again at 6 pm (sunset). In between times the logbook had to be maintained, recording such things as visitors and telephone calls, and the ship's bell had to be rung every half hour. It was the one and only time one worked in full dress uniform.
It was a cardinal sin to look idle and it was therefore necessary to look busy. I used the time to write letters home to my mother, to Dougie Philp's wife Nan (Nan was a land girl at Broadleys when we arrived there in 1943 and I immediately adopted her as my 'big sister') and also to Will Edment's daughter Mary!!
It so happened that I was 'side boy' on the 6th February 1952. I recall being summoned to the commander's office and being ordered to "muster the hands to the flag", no reason being given at that time.
With all hands mustered, the commander then informed us that the king had died, and ordered that the flag be lowered to half mast.
It was then my duty to lower the flag, whilst the chief petty officer sounded the bosun's pipe. I seem to recall that it was a dull, dreich day which added to the sombre occasion.
We all thought that we would be allowed the rest of the day off as a mark of respect - no such luck and it was soon back to our various duties. We didn't even have a day off at the funeral.
I have mused from time to time that the 'side boy' duty served no useful purpose whatsoever when I eventually went seagoing in June 1952. But it did stand me in good stead when I joined General Accident in 1958 after being invalided out of the merchant navy viz always appearing to be busy, writing longwinded letters and watching the clock. The saying "it's an ill wind . . . " etc. etc. somehow springs to mind!
- Alan W. Kindness, Perth
Liz Fletcher: I was nine years old when King George VI died, and I had just undergone the most traumatic experience of my young life.
Food and I were always the best of friends so when I returned from a birthday party complaining of stomach pains, my mother immediately accused me of "making a pig of myself" and despite my denials I was offered no sympathy as I lay writhing in bed.
By the next evening, however, she began to suspect that something really was wrong and telephoned the doctor asking him to call in on his way to the surgery the following morning.
At almost midnight our doctor arrived saying that he couldn't sleep till he saw me as he knew how seldom my mother called him out. He examined me and almost immediately asked for the telephone and I remember him shouting down the phone that it was extremely urgent that an ambulance come immediately. I was much more relieved than scared on hearing this as it proved I really was ill and was not guilty of overeating as charged.
Everything then happened very quickly. I recall the ambulance, bells ringing, painful examinations, being rushed on a trolley into a theatre with an enormous round bluish light shining down on me. My appendix was removed and the surgeon told my worried parents that a delay of only a few hours could have proved fatal.
The next two weeks were spent in the children's ward and I vividly recall the young infant in the cot next to my bed who had overturned a pot of soup on himself. His shoulder, arm and side were all burned and I was fascinated by the 'bits' of vegetables which had stuck to his skin and children being children we curiously examined and identified the lumps as carrots, turnip etc. etc.!
Some of you who come from or live in the Glasgow area may remember the lioness "Sheila" in the stuffed animal section of Glasgow Museum and Art Gallery. She was shot after mauling a boy who had put his arms through the bars of her cage at Calderpark Zoo. I think the boy's name was Henry and he was in the ward at the same time as myself. His arms were so badly damaged by the lioness that they had to be amputated. The ward was the old-fashioned Nightingale style with a large fireplace in the middle, and we children who were mobile had some wonderful races in wheelchairs round the ward 'track'.
Henry, undaunted by his accident, soon learned how to maneuver his wheel chair using only his feet and legs, and won as many races as any of us with two arms, so I am sure with such spirit he would make a success of his life whatever he chose to do.
I came home with a wealth of stories with which to regale my friends but had to return to Yorkhill a few weeks later for a check-up. Having been given the all clear my mother and I were walking down the steep hill from Yorkhill hospital, when I looked across beyond the Art Gallery to Glasgow University. I noticed the flag flying from the building was only halfway up the pole. On asking why this was so, my mother explained that it meant someone important had died, probably one of the university lecturers.
We got home and put the radio on to learn that George VI had died peacefully the night before and we realised then why the flag was at half mast.
Thus I always link the death of King George with my peritonitis, the little boy burned by the soup, and "Henry" and his unfortunate experience with Sheila the Calderpark lioness.
---Elizabeth Fletcher, Dunning
Patricia Wallace: It's strange the things that stick in your mind from your childhood, isn't it? Sometimes it's selective memory. We avoid the unpleasant stuff and concentrate on the positive things, especially as they relate to us. But I have a very clear memory of something so dramatic that I always remembered it.
My mum went back to work when I went to primary school so I went to a friend's house after school. However, this particular day, my child-minder Florence brought me home to my house and there, at the unexpected time of I suppose 4 p.m., was my mother, in tears!
And she wasn't in her "work clothes" but her apron and head scarf. Had she not gone to work that day? Or had she left early? I don't remember. Anyway, there she was, all unfamiliar to me, my predictable mum.
I recall the sinking feeling asking what was wrong. Had anything happened to my pet rabbit or the family cat, or worse, my beloved grandad? But no, it was nothing so personal. She just said "The King has died".
Now I didn't really know this fellow, except through A.A. Milne's rhymes like "They're changing the guard at Buckingham Palace" etc, so it was all a bit remote for me, but she was clearly affected so I kept asking questions. Who was he? did he live near us?
She pulled herself together to answer the demands of her anxious young daughter. She told me how kindly a figure he was, how brave to be a public speaker with such a speech impediment, how he was such a wonderful father to his daughters, that he stayed in London during the war: all the reasons why there was such public sorrow.
Looking back I guess I was sad too, so as a treat we had jelly with bananas and mandarin oranges for tea, which was unheard of during the week: that was a Sunday tea item in our household.
The shock of my mother's tears and the rather puzzling reasons for them have stayed with me ever since , despite our family's ups and downs as well as so many revelations of the royal family's involvement in less appealing aspects of the Second World War.
I don't remember the funeral itself - we didn't have a TV - but I must have seen a newsreel at the cinema of a little figure in black descending the steps of the plane which brought the new queen Elizabeth home. I remember thinking how sad she must be that her dad died, and pondering how my mum didn't know him but was so upset too.
---Patricia Wallace, Dunning
Author in Search of Our Help
Angus Watson of Forgandenny is researching a book about Dunning, and asks for help from Dunning parish residents and ex-residents. He's the author of "The Ochils: Place Names, History, Traditions", some of the illustrations for which were pen and ink sketches by the late Kenny Laing of Dunning, who also helped with research for the book.
Since then Angus Watson has completed a PhD at St. Andrew's University with a thesis on place names of western Strathearn. His research included the parish of Dunning.
Dr. Watson's new book will be about the place names of Dunning and will be dedicated to the memory of Kenny Laing.
This summer Dr. Watson will be visiting farmers and other locals in Dunning Parish seeking out information such as ancient field names.
If anyone in Dunning or elsewhere has access to old maps of the area or information about any place or street names in the parish, he would appreciate hearing from them.
Dr. Angus Watson may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com or by mail at Collingwood, Forgandenny, Perthshire PH2 9HP.
Farewell to Helen Laidlaw
Too often, alas, we receive word of members who have passed away, and we can only join with their families and communities in mourning their deaths in the customary ways.
Sometimes we can do more. This spring the Society was asked to help arrange a special farewell ceremony for a far-off member. Helen Scott Laidlaw of Barrie, Ontario, was a Dunning native who moved to Edinburgh in her late teens, became the war bride of a Canadian soldier, lived in several parts of the world and eventually settled in Canada.
But her heart was in Dunning. Whenever she could, she brought her family to visit the birthplace she loved. She became a keen early member of the Historical Society and contributed to the DPHS magazine.
In May, Helen Laidlaw returned to Dunning for the last time. In a simple ceremony, her ashes were scattered in a quiet corner of the village. Her husband Bruce was too ill to make the trip, and he had asked his son Sandy to carry out his mother's last wishes.
Sandy's partner Kirsty began by reading a small poem by Helen, which her husband had found in an old notebook the day Helen passed away, and entitled St. Serf's Bell.
Across the Atlantic I've made many trips
The bell of St. Serf's rang not far away. As a brother-in-law and a niece read Rabbie Burns' "To a Wild Rose", Helen's ashes were scattered beside a single red rose. Then Sandy read a poem written by Helen's daughter Doreen to her Mum, which concluded with these lines:
The burr of your accent, the smile on your face,
Helen Laidlaw's love of Dunning was such a strong one, communicated to her sons and daughters and their children, that in Canada she leaves behind a great-grandson whose middle name is Dunning, as well as another great-grandson, just a couple of months old, whose first name is Dunning.
Catching up on events
Just a quick report on other recent Society happenings. The talk at our AGM by Mary Arthur and Ina Lawson, reminiscing about the Merrymakers, was wonderfully diverting. Then our May bus trip to the Museum of Scottish Country Life at Kittochside and the Summerlee Industrial Heritage Park at Coatbridge provided a splendid outing. Congratulations to our trip organiser Peter Duncan and events convenor Elspeth Pentland once again.
The History Now Project
In its first decade, your Society has rightly spent a major part of its information-gathering efforts in collecting and making available material about Dunning's past (graveyard records, memoirs, talks, field-walks, census records, historical exhibitions, publications, etc). That objective will still continue.
To give fresh focus to our second decade, the committee is launching a 'History Now Project', which will aim at also collecting material about Dunning's present, to inform us now and to enrich our archives for future use. Of course we're already doing some of this in those videos, lectures, newsletter articles and web-pages which deal with current events. In coming years, we'll continue by building up additional factual material about present-day Dunning.
Some of this information will come easily and naturally through choice of topics for newsletter articles and lectures, Some of it will have to be commissioned, dug out, organised, and written up, and for some of the individual efforts which will make up the overall 'History Now Project' there will be costs involved, in commissioning special magazine articles, transcribing, printing, phoning etc. So to provide funds to start the project, we're organising a fun and fund-raising night called A Promise Auction.
About the Promise Auction
Maybe you already know what a Promise Auction is about?
Well, the essence of it is that lots of people like us (and others we can persuade to help us) donate promises of services (from baby-sitting to flying lessons to meal-making to computer-teaching to...well, you decide) or promises of interesting material things like bottles of whisky or home-made sets of curling stones or a lovely warm knitted sweater.
Our Promise Auction is being held in the Village Hall on Friday, October 4, at 7:30 pm. All proceeds will go to the Society's special 'History Now Project' fund. Dunning's favourite auctioneer Iain Smith will conduct the auction, to which of course everyone is invited.
But long before that, in fact starting now, we have to build up an attractive catalogue of promised items and services.
And so, with this newsletter, we enclose a promise form for you.
Wrack your brains, let your imaginations soar, and send us a promise.
Any questions? Then please contact any member of the committee. Soon!
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