In the last few months I’ve been immersed in the local heritage of Moray and Caithness, piecing together as much information as I can on a variety of topics … from early architecture to industry, wartime efforts and the great movers and shakers of the times. I’ve had a remarkable journey but none of this would have been possible without the assistance I’ve been so readily given by a small army of people who give of their time to ensure that this heritage is preserved for future generations.
Elgin Museum was my first port of call when starting to dig into the rich history of Moray. I’ve been warmly welcomed there on several occasions to look into the archives, and I always leave there with renewed vigour on my historical quest. As one of the oldest independent museums in Scotland, it contains a wealth of artefacts, books, photographs and memorabilia, displayed in an imaginative and aesthetical way throughout the museum’s fine interior. For those of you who haven’t yet visited, it’s well worth stepping back in time and place within the museum’s walls – there’s something there for every age group to enjoy … elginmuseum.org.uk
Fochabers Heritage Centre is another place which fills me with awe every time I step through the doors of the former Pringle Church on Fochabers High Street. I’ve been a regular visitor there for years and the dedication and enthusiasm of the volunteers never ceases to make me smile. Of course, I like to choose my visiting time for a very good reason – when I know the kettle will be on! A Tuesday morning brings many of the volunteers together to chat about their programme of events and they’re never short of home bakes … another great incentive to pop along and see them all. Their sterling efforts were recently recognised when they received the Queens Award for Volunteering – a much cherished accolade for them all – and well deserved … fochabers-heritage.co.uk
Gairland’s business connections in Caithness have given me the opportunity to delve into new territory … with some intriguing findings already. Once again, I’ve reached out to the people who have the best local knowledge … volunteers at heritage centres. I’ve only visited the area a few times, mainly to admire the spectacular coastline and the wildlife, but after starting on this heritage journey, I’m determined to go back. My sole intention this time will be to meet the volunteers who have helped me understand so much more about this part of Scotland … Halkirk Heritage & Vintage Motor Society – wickheritage.org
Reading books and online research offer us facts to base our learning on – speaking to people brings these facts to life and feeds the imagination. The volunteers I’ve had the pleasure of working with in recent times have certainly given me lots to work with and plenty of food for thought.
This article is by way of a shout out to all of those who’ve helped me so far. There’s too many to mention by name, but I do want to give special thanks to one person whose passion for heritage has been shared by many of us. Jenny Main, author of several interesting books on Elgin and Moray, has been a great inspiration to me in my ongoing research.
I recently read the following in a local community newsletter … ‘the benefits to volunteering … provides a sense of community, helps you meet new friends, increases your social skills, brings fun to your life, improves self-esteem, gets you out of your comfort zone.’
“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” … never a truer word was said! I salute you all!