SOWW Newsletters




NEWSLETTERS
SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE OCTOBER 2014 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots,

We are proud to announce our Bell O' The Brae Poetry competition winners, Blairdardie Primary School, with this wonderful piece.

I am Scotland’s guardian, though my body has been broken my spirit will raise again to the sound of ‘freedom’!

A big thank you to all the judges, Charlie Robertson, Bill & Val Pollock (SOWW), Dr Fiona Watson (Historian), Alan Bissett (Writer), Sandra White (MSP) and David O’Hara (Actor).

The children invited me along to their school to show me their work on William Wallace where I was treatedto a fantastic fashion show with weapons and dress of the era that the children had made themselves. I was extremely impressed with their knowledge and the work they had put in and had a tremendous day.

A big well done to their Teacher Erica Hughes whose enthusiasm and teaching skills so obviously shone through with the knowledge the children were able to demonstrate.

I was very pleased and honoured to present them with their certificate and Wallace coin for winning the competition. Personally I can’t wait to see their poem on the monument when it's built, more on that later.

On a personal note the kids have helped me get re-motivated as I have been really down since the referendum result but the fight still goes on. I'm sure Wallace faced many hardships in his life and many owere put in his way, he never gave up and neither shall we.

It's almost that time of year where we have the Society’s AGM which will once again be a poignant one as Duncan will no longer be our convenor or as we called him ‘ THE BOSS’, but he'll always be the boss in our eyes, we miss him, I miss him.

I still miss our calls on a Friday and Saturday and being able to run things past my friend.

On more of a positive note the Young Lions are up to 420 likes on their Facebook page which is brilliant and a great deal of thanks go to Abbey and Charli Stewart for their work on this and I know Duncan would have been proud of them as he loved the idea of getting the youngsters involved.  

We have been very lucky this year with many of our youngter members coming to the fore. My own two daughters, Stephanie Reilly,  Kyle Christopher all made their maiden speeches.

The Society, I believe is in good hands and the future is looking bright which is good news as some of us are not getting any younger...

It’s also great news to hear that Duncan’s partner Jean would like to take a more active role within the Society which I am really happy about.

Please note our AGM is on MONDAY the 17th of November this year due to the Scotland v England game on the 18th which a lot of the Society members are going to.

Look forward to a successful AGM and hope to see as many of our members their as possible

Yours Aye, for Scotland

Gary Stewart, Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE OCTOBER 2014 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots,

Well what a month, Wallace day was certainly going to be an emotional one this year with the sad passing of our convenor and friend Duncan Fenton.

I can’t say that I wasparticularly looking forward to it but all in all, I have to say, it was a tremendous success, and I would like to thank everyone for their help in making it another successful event once again.

We took a lot of flak online for asking people not to take Yes flags on the march. I would like to clear this up, the march was NOT political (we as a Society are apolitical) and if the police had deemed it to be political which we had not requested permission for, then they could have stopped the march.

Anybody who was at the night event or listened to the speeches will know exactly what the mood of the day and night regarding the referendum was and if that didn’t work then the big YES banner in the hall may well have given it away

Still on the topic of Wallace day the David R Ross award which is given to our member of the year was won by Ted Christopher this year, who if I gave the reasons why he won it, I would be here all day.

A much deserved award and knowing Ted as I do, he will be honoured winning an award in the name of his best friend and will treasurer and look after the award the same way as every previous winner has undoubtedly done.

We then had the Stirling Bridge commemoration run by our friend and member of the year, Ted Christopher. Once again this event was a tremendous success with our own George Boyle making a speech on behalf of the Society and Teds son Kylie making his own maiden speech which was about our late convenor Duncan which had a few of us in tears.

I missed Stirling Bridge as I had not been well for about 3 to 4 weeks but the reports that came back was that everyone had a great time and that the evening event was a wonderful success also.

I can’t talk about September and not mention the referendum and the result which I believe will hinder a lot of what the Society tries to do.

Sitting up till 4.30am with my daughter Abbey the tears came easily to both our eyes as we realised we had lost which was very hard to take. I felt like we had failed the youth of Scotland.

I am sure Wallace was in tough times and had set backs but he never stopped fighting and seeing the determination of people in the 45, we won’t and can't stop now  

For me the result was about our Freedom, Our Kids future and our three patriot friends Davie, Duncan and Lachlan who had campaigned all their life for a YES victory and to me a victory would have been like a bit of closure of their life’s work, if that makes sense.

On a personal note could I say a big thank you to George Boyle for his help and support since the passing of Duncan Fenton as its been a tough time for us all

On a more positive note and some good news, David R Ross’s daughter gave birth to a wee baby Boy on 11th September 2014 (Anniversary of Wallace’s victory at Stirling Bridge) and has named him after his Grandad  David

Our best wishes go to Kimberley and James

Yours Aye, for Scotland

Gary Stewart, Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE JULY 2014 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots,

Well that’s the Commonwealth games finished and I have to say as a Glaswegian, I am so proud how Glasgow ran the games and also how this has had a massive effect on Scotland’s image on the world stage.

I must also say a big well done to all the athlete’s on their success and maybe it’s my age but I remember the 1979 devolution referendum and remember how Scotland felt after the Argentina 1978 fiasco and still believe that had an effect on the vote one year later.

Here’s hoping the commonwealth games and its success has a more positive mind set for the people of Scotland come September

Since last month we tried a new a new set up at our monthly meetings with not just the committee talking about what we have done but basically getting everyone who attends to join in and have a brain storming session which worked tremendously well, If you wish to get involved in this new set up then look forward to seeing you at the next meeting.

We have had 2 commemorations this month, Falkirk and also Robroyston and for both days the good old Scottish weather could not dampen spirits.

A big thank you to Gordon Aitken for his work in the Falkirk event and also the new group the battle of Falkirk Commemoration Group who took over the running of the night event

I would like discuss something regarding both events which gives me spirit for the future and know it was something Duncan was very positive about is getting youth involved into our commemorations, We have went one step further and have got youth involved in making speeches at these events and a big well done go to my daughter Abbey Stewart and also another young patriot Stephanie Reilly who made their debuts and trust me they will not be one offs as both speeches were outstanding.

There is also another couple of young patriots in Kyle Christopher and also Charli Stewart who will be looking to make their debuts next year.

We have Wallace day this month and although always a tremendous event each year it will be sadness this year with Duncan’s passing but I am positive the Committee will make sure the day goes well in Duncan’s memory.

To finish Off I would like to say a big thank you to everyone for their kind words and support in this difficult time for the Society but you have my word I will do everything in my power to see the Society go from strength to strength.

Yours Aye, for Scotland

Gary Stewart, Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE JUNE 2014 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots,

It’s been a hard few months for the Society with the sad passing and funeral of our Convenor Duncan Fenton.

As a mark of respect Duncan will remain our convenor until our AGM in November.

Our thoughts are of course with Jean and his family and friends at this very sad time.

After David R Ross' untimely passing the Society could have fallen apart had it not been for Duncan's superb leadership.

Under his guidance we went from strength to strength, the highlight being the return of the Safe Conduct letter.

Duncan not only gave us the strength we needed to go forward but his leadership, knowledge and drive pushed us all forward to achieve more than we thought we were capable of, for a lot of us it's not just this we will miss the most, but his friendship, and as I said at Duncan's funeral I will miss our hourly chats on a Saturday afternoon.

George Boyle is now getting used to loving those chats now LOL.

We also had Bannockburn to get through and this was shaping up to be a financial disaster for the Society but George Boyle took the bull by the horns and rescued the night event and hats are well and truly off to him as with everything else that was going on could not have been easy.

Bannockburn was a tremendous success and a wonderful day and night was had by all.

Duncan’s partner Jean laid the Society wreath in Honour of Duncan, Irene Clarke and myself had the honour of scattering some of Duncan’s ashes at the tree which stands in the shadow of Stirling Brig’ which the Society planted and George Boyle read out the speech that Duncan had written for the day.

With regards to Bannockburn it would be remiss of me to not give due credit to our dear friend Ted Christopher who organised a whole week of events in the Stirling area after Stirling Council cancelled the Homecoming due to lack of funds, funny how funding was found for Armed Forces Day, Stirling Council should holding their heads in shame.

As happened with the passing of Davie the Society required people to step up to the plate and be counted we require this even more with the passing of our great friend Duncan.

I am sure Duncan is up there with Davie and Lachlan enjoying his well-earned rest from all the work that he did not only for the Society but for his beloved Scotland as well.

RIP my friend, until we meet again. 

Yours Aye, for Scotland

Gary Stewart, Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE MARCH 2014 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots,

A lot has been in the news recently about The UK government’s decision to “celebrate” the beginning of the First World War.
 
This shameful attempt to create a jingoistic, tub-thumping return to the days of the Empire, seems to have had minimal impact so far.
 
As much as anyone, I recognise the contribution made by our forefathers, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in fighting for their country. 

My own grandfather made it through that war.

But the question has to be asked, for whom?

A bunch of wealthy aristocrats who fell out amongst themselves, and then abused their positions of power to send millions of innocent victims to their death to prove a point?
 
Of course, the reason for this brazen attempt to tug at the heartstrings of the long-suffering public in the belief that no-one would disagree what the armed forces were used for, is, to put it simply, to overshadow forthcoming events in Scotland in 2014.
 
The Commonwealth Games, The Ryder Cup, the 700th Anniversary of Bannockburn & of course the Independence Referendum. The pathetic attempt to divert attention from these events is as transparent as it is typical.
 
An obvious one is the granting of a march by the Armed Forces in Bannockburn on the SAME DAY as the 700th Commemoration march.

Surely this would be more appropriately held on Armistice Day, in November, or VE Day.  The very fact that it is being held on the same day is an obvious statement to attempt to dilute the crowd at Bannockburn.  
 
The people of Scotland are beginning to see the hype coming from the UK government, who see their cash cow disappearing rapidly.  Their gravy train is coming off the rails.  Ordinary folk are sick of reading stories in the press of  illegally inflated expense accounts for MP’s, while we are using foodbanks!!
 
Scotland WILL rise again & she WILL flourish.
YOU have a chance to make it so.

Yours for Scotland,  

Duncan Fenton    

Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE FEBRUARY 2014 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots,

“All men die – not all men really live”.  One of the best lines from “Braveheart”. A great epitaph that appeals to me.
 
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my family, friends, members of the Society & all who know me through Facebook, for the overwhelming support that I received during my hospital stay recently.  So many cards & messages of encouragement made me realise how precious life is.  And how important friendship is.

It felt good to be back, sitting in at the meeting in February.  Thanks to Gary who did a sterling job in my absence & continues to do a lot behind the scenes, as does George.

The way I see things now is, put the illness to the back of my mind, & get on with what we do best.  We have many events to organise, people to get on board with projects & generally continue to promote the SOWW & what it stands for; furthering the name & ideals of Sir William Wallace both at home & abroad.

Yours for Scotland,  

Duncan Fenton    

Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE JANUARY 2014 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots,
 
As you are probably now aware, I was in hospital with a serious illness requiring surgery, so missed the January meeting.  Thank you for the many cards & messages of support from you all.

Thanks also to Gary for doing an excellent job in my absence.

I will continue to get stronger over the coming months, but for now I can keep in touch via the computer.

This year will be another very busy one for the Society, as we have increased the number of events, commemorations & school visits, Gala Days, etc. 

The most important date in the calendar is undoubtedly the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.  It promises to be a day full of excitement & historic importance, but will be tinged with the sad knowledge that our friends, Davie Ross & Lachlan McCann will not be able to stand with us, having received a higher calling.
 
So, plenty to keep us busy in the months ahead.  Secure in the knowledge that we have a very good team, all capable of delivering a high standard of work, I am confident to take a back seat for now, knowing full well that everything that has to be done, will be done.
 
A wee message for veteran member Archie Miller, who has also undergone extensive surgery,  “Come back stronger, my friend, you are needed as much as ever”.
 
2014, being a very important year in Scotland’s history, I would like to see as many of you at our events, to show the public what we do.  The eyes of the world will be on Bannockburn in June.  Let’s give them something to see & to talk about.

Yours for Scotland,  

Duncan Fenton    

Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE NOVEMBER 2013 NEWSLETTER

Dear patriots,

Well, this year seems to have gone by at great speed.  Participation in many events throughout has kept our members very busy.

I’d like to thank my fellow members for re-electing me as convenor. I will continue to do all I can to keep the memory of Sir William Wallace at the forefront of the minds of the public, not just in Scotland, but all over the world. Recently, I was asked to be interviewed on camera for the Travel Channel. I headed towards the location at Chillingham Castle, in Northumberland, & arrived early on a windswept day, accompanied by incessant heavy rain & flooding. Thank goodness we were inside.

I just managed to cross a ford about two feet high, with the water rushing past at an alarming rate.  I waited until a land rover went through first to gauge the depth of it.

Once inside, the crew miked me up & went through what they expected me to do.
We filmed in the Edward room, where the English king based his operations against Wallace prior to the battle of Falkirk.  A very atmospheric place where you could still sense Edward’s simmering anger emanating from the very stones.

I kept thinking, Big Davie Ross would have been in his element here, but initially I found it a little daunting.
We filmed from 10.30 till 12.30  re-doing a few sequences to suit different camera angles.  At first a little nervous, the film crew soon put me at ease, & I really enjoyed the experience.  It was good to be able to put Wallace’s side of the argument to an audience where he is normally portrayed as a rebel & an outlaw.  I didn’t have the chance to stand by Wallace in 1305, so I stood by him today. I had a weird feeling that I was here to defend his reputation.

I hope I did him justice.

As there will be no meeting as usual in December, I would like to wish all our members a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

2014 will be a memorable year, of that I’m sure.  I hope to see many of you at our forthcoming events.

Yours for Scotland,  

Duncan Fenton    

Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE SEPTEMBER 2013 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots,

William Wallace spent his whole adult life trying to wrest Scotland from the mailed grip of the English aggressor, and as we know, paid the ultimate price of Edward I’s wrath.

All my adult life, I have wanted the same thing as Wallace. To see my country free. A chance for our country to thrive in its own right.
Some of the mainstream press & media continue to portray this as a bad thing.

There is nothing wrong with wanting the best for your country, at the very least, the same CHANCE as every other free country on this earth.

So it was a great experience to be a part of the march for Scotland’s Independence in Edinburgh recently.
We live in exciting times & I am grateful to have the chance to play a part, however small, to help deliver that freedom.

When I was asked 30 years ago, if I thought I would see an independent Scotland in my lifetime, my reply was that it was extremely unlikely.  When I was asked the same question 20 years ago, I thought  - just maybe.  When I was asked 10 years ago, I thought it was inevitable.  Today, I am sure Scotland’s freedom is just around the corner.  We stand on the edge of a new dawn, & we will be lucky enough to witness it. 

It is sad that there will be some that won’t be here to see it, such as  the campaigners from many years ago, to our friends Davie Ross & Lachlan McCann. But the groundwork they put in over the years has been the force for the final push over the line.

The positive spirit which pervaded the whole day of the rally reinforced my belief that the best people to make decisions regarding Scotland’s future – are Scots, not some out-of-touch English politicians in far-off  Westminster.

As we approach the finish line, I am now convinced that we will finally see what Wallace fought & gave his life for – Scotland’s freedom.

Yours for Scotland,  

Duncan Fenton    

Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE AUGUST 2013 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots,

William Wallace spent his whole adult life trying to wrest Scotland from the mailed grip of the English aggressor, and as we know, paid the ultimate price of Edward I’s wrath.

All my adult life, I have wanted the same thing as Wallace. To see my country free. A chance for our country to thrive in its own right.
Some of the mainstream press & media continue to portray this as a bad thing.

There is nothing wrong with wanting the best for your country, at the very least, the same CHANCE as every other free country on this earth.

So it was a great experience to be a part of the march for Scotland’s Independence in Edinburgh recently.

We live in exciting times & I am grateful to have the chance to play a part, however small, to help deliver that freedom.

When I was asked 30 years ago, if I thought I would see an independent Scotland in my lifetime, my reply was that it was extremely unlikely.  When I was asked the same question 20 years ago, I thought  - just maybe. 

When I was asked 10 years ago, I thought it was inevitable.  Today, I am sure Scotland’s freedom is just around the corner.  We stand on the edge of a new dawn, & we will be lucky enough to witness it.  It is sad that there will be some that won’t be here to see it, such as  the campaigners from many years ago, to our friends Davie Ross & Lachlan McCann. But the groundwork they put in over the years has been the force for the final push over the line.

The positive spirit which pervaded the whole day of the rally reinforced my belief that the best people to make decisions regarding Scotland’s future – are Scots, not some out-of-touch English politicians in far-off  Westminster.

As we approach the finish line, I am now convinced that we will finally see what Wallace fought & gave his life for – Scotland’s freedom.

Yours for Scotland,  

Duncan Fenton    

Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE JULY 2013 NEWSLETTER

Hold the front page!  Wallace Day a success yet again.

Seriously though folks, a great big thank you to what turned out to be a very special day.

Worth a a mention are the Tulliallan Pipes & Drums, our march stewards, wreath layer & speakers. All of whom did a great job for the Society.

Back at the hall, the entertainment was fantastic. Although Albannach had called off due to Donnie’s illness (and we wish him a speedy recovery), Ted Christopher, Frank Boyd, George Thom & Kate Smith combined in such a fashion that they had all played together for years.

Skiltron were the perfect complement to the evening, with their driving beat getting everyone up on their feet.  When they played a specially written song from their new album, called “On the Trail of David Ross”, commemorating the Big Warmer, the audience really appreciated it.

Thanks to Lily, Marion & her crew, manning the tea room throughout the day, our hard-working bar staff, including new recruit, Abbey Stewart, the door staff, & all office bearers & members for helping out where needed.

Thanks to Ziggy for manning the merchandise stall, which did really well. All those who donated raffle prizes & drink for the bar, gratefully received.

Special thanks to Archie for decking out the monument & surrounding area, prior to the commemoration, & taking it all down again.

Every single person played their part & made it a day to remember.

I thank you all & hope to see you all again next year.

It will be 2014.

It will be bigger & better, with hopefully a brighter future.

Yours for Scotland,  

Duncan Fenton    

Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 
 
SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE JUNE 2013 NEWSLETTER

Dear patriots,

It’s not very often that the monthly newsletter deals with the same subject twice in a row.

But exceptional circumstances prevail.  Last Wednesday, we lost one of our dearest friends, Lachlan McCann.  Lachlan had been battling a terrible disease, in the only way he knew, like the true warrior he was.
The last month or so we spent with him, he was still the same as we had always known him to be.  Never complaining, always upbeat, he continued to impress & inspire us with his strength & bravery in adversity.  Knowing what he had to face, his courage was truly remarkable.

Inevitably, this unforgiving illness overtook him, & suddenly, our world was instantly poorer by his passing.

At his request, Society members attended his funeral clad in our tartan. 

As his saltire-draped coffin appeared, borne in a motorcycle& sidecar hearse, we took a deep breath.

We carried him with a heavy heart as Ken Shirra led the service in his local church.

After many heartfelt words from some of our members, Amber paid tribute to the man she loved.  A very touching & emotional moment.

As we laid Lachlan to rest, to the accompaniment of two pipers, we were engulfed by our own private thoughts of this dear & loyal friend, whom we had lost.

From a purely personal point of view, I know it was difficult for me, and as I looked around, I knew I wasn’t the only one to be profoundly affected.

Ted Christopher then said a few well-chosen words & sang “We Are”, which has a very poignant meaning for all of us.

Afterwards, at the tea, we swapped stories & anecdotes of Lachlan & the time we spent with him.  There was laughter & tears as we remembered this gentle, humble man who touched all of our lives.

God bless, Lachlan.  Take it easy, Buddy.  You’ve done your bit.

We’ll take it from here.

Yours for Scotland,  and Lachlan

Duncan Fenton    

Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 
 
SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE APRIL 2013 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots, 

I hope wherever you are reading this, the weather is better than back here in Scotland.  Torrential rain, freezing cold gales, hail & snowstorms, & that was only in the morning! And in May! We haven’t heard much in the media recently from the scientists who were banging on about global warming.  Maybe they’re all hiding indoors from the elements.
Thanks to all who braved the unseasonal weather at the recent Loudoun Hill Commemoration.  Again we were subjected to the wrath of Mother Nature in all her fury & had to cut the speeches short, re-convening in the local pub, where we continued.  Entertainment was ably provided by Ted Christopher & Fiery Jack, which contributed to a great day & evening.

 It takes more than a wee bit rain to dampen the spirit of the Scots. 

Many thanks to William & Anne for all their organisation. 

A fortnight earlier, at ASDA in Ardrossan, our members had much better luck with the weather.  On a beautiful, warm sunny day, we teamed up with the Ardrossan Castle Heritage Society, who are highlighting to the public, the poor state of the castle, so that more can be done to preserve it. 

After a photoshoot for the local press & answering questions for shoppers, we took a climb up to the castle for some more photos.  We were fortunate enough to be allowed access through the locked gate & into the ruins of the castle itself.  As I stood there, for the first time in 45 years, the time just rolled back & I was a wee boy again.  It made my day. 

Our friend Petra was over on another of her flying visits, & we accompanied her to Renton, & the home of the Strathleven Artizans, where we spent another pleasant few hours.

Yours for Scotland,  

Duncan Fenton    
Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE MARCH 2013 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots, 

We had been asked to attend the culmination of a project by the pupils of Shawlands Primary School.  By luck, a couple of weeks before, Gary had met David O’Hara, who played Stephen of Ireland in Braveheart.  So he asked David if he was available & would like to come along. 

So, George, Gary & myself arrived at the school & David was already there.  It was a real pleasure to meet him.  A real down-to-earth guy who was genuinely pleased to be there.  We showed him our copy of the Wallace Letter, which had been presented to us by the National Archives of Scotland last January, which received a “Wow!” in response.

We also took along Gerald’s shield, which proved a great hit with teachers & pupils alike. 

After meeting the staff, we were shown into the main hall.  The school had been divided into houses, with their name being that of a Scottish icon.   Represented were Burns, Andy Murray, Charles Rennie Mackintosh & so on.  We were there obviously for Wallace House. 

We were then treated to some musical numbers by the children, including violins, recorders & the whole choir singing “Caledonia”.  It was very well done, the pupils having been working on the project for nearly a year. 

Then, one by one, the banners, each around 12 feet long & 5 feet wide, were unfurled from the banisters above, dropping into the main hall.

Each house’s representative said a few words; Andy Murray was playing overseas, but had sent a letter, which was read out. 

I then said a few words to the children, thanking them for their outstanding work.

David O’Hara was introduced, the kids knowing him from the Harry Potter movies. 

After the children filed back to their classes, we were invited back up to the staff room to chat with some of the teachers. 

I can’t thank David enough for attending this event with us.  It made our day, never mind the kids’. 

We have also been invited to a Gala Day in Barmulloch in June, so it seems we are about to get pretty busy this year.

Yours for Scotland,  

Duncan Fenton    
Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE FEBRUARY 2013 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots, 

Although many of the things we do are directly related to William Wallace, our membership is also very interested in other aspects of Scottish history.This September sees the 500th anniversary of the ill-fated Battle of Flodden, in which King James IV was killed, along with many nobles & knights of the realm, the “Flowers of Scotland”.

Myself & Gary thought that this would be an appropriate time to request a loan of the possessions taken from King James, to go on display in museums on both sides of the border.  These are his sword, dagger & the turquoise ring, gifted to him by Queen Anne of France.  They are currently held in the College of Arms, London.

After we had a meeting in parliament, the College of Arms was approached, & they are amenable to allowing these items to be loaned for display. 

We’ll keep you posted on developments. 

I was phoned recently by two different journalists for input on the story that the Kirk o’ the Forest in Selkirk, where Wallace was knighted, is in a bad state of repair. 

I emphasised that these places are so important in the teaching of Scotland’s history, to put flesh on the bones of dry history books, & to see & experience the very places where important events in our nation’s history took place. 

It seems that nobody is willing to take responsibility for its repair & upkeep, because of the cost.  In my opinion, money should not be a factor in preserving something as important as this.  Sadly, I’ve come across this before with the fight to save Wallace’s Well.

Thanks to Mark Entwistle & Neil Poorans for running their respective articles. 

Hopefully, now that both of these stories are in the public eye, something positive will come of it.  I would like to stress how vital it is for the public to keep an eye on our historic sites & report anything that needs attention at the earliest opportunity. 

We did not inherit this beautiful country from our fathers – we have only borrowed it from our children.  Let’s ensure that we maintain our built heritage & battle sites for future generations for their education & enjoyment.

Yours for Scotland,  

Duncan Fenton    
Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE JANUARY 2013 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots, 

Well, here we go into another year. 

Firstly, I’d like to thank my fellow members for re-electing me to the position of Convenor of the Society.  I have always felt it an honour to be a member of the SOWW, to be elected Convenor is a privilege, which I hope I can fulfil to the best of my ability. And may I wish all my fellow office bearers & committee members all the best for the coming year. 

There is so much to do, so many projects to continue with.
Our Centenary Year was as good as it possibly could have been. 

The Wallace Letter’s return, the launch of our registered tartan & the many good friendships forged & contacts made, proved to be a huge success. 

Thanks to the sterling efforts of Jean & Archie Millar, who managed to secure a venue & a caterer at short notice for our annual dinner, we had a ball, with Ted Christopher on sparkling form. 

We now have so many members actively promoting the Society that I’m sure we can build on the success of last year. Many thanks to all who gave of their time, skills, money & effort to ensure that success. 

With only a year & a half to go now until the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn,  preparations continue to ensure that this will be as much of a success, & as memorable as, the 700th Wallace anniversary, back in 2005. 

Although strictly not a Wallace-related event, I’m sure many of our members will be attending the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden in September.

All in all, much to plan for & to look forward to. I hope to see many of you at some of the forthcoming events. 

On a positive note, in the last few decades, the commemoration of Scotland’s history & heritage has increased greatly, as has the awareness of this amongst the general public.  I am increasingly impressed by the knowledge of the folk whom I meet on my travels through Scotland.

 As one of the “old-schoolers”, who had to trawl libraries for information on our nation’s history,  I envy today’s generation, who can access much more information through the medium of the internet.  This can only be a good thing & encourage people to learn as much as they can, to become better informed on our past. The more we are aware of our past, the better we can plan for our future. 

So, let’s get on with it.   

Yours for Scotland,  

Duncan Fenton    
Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE NOVEMBER 2012 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots,

Well, it has been quite a busy year in our Centenary.

A very big thank you to all those who worked hard all year to make this, in my opinion, one of the most successful years in the history of the Society.

With the Wallace Letter’s return, the new SOWW tartan, the Wallace coins, several visits to the Scottish Parliament & various meetings with the authorities regarding current & future projects, we have been kept very busy indeed. 
Not to mention the many events that we attended throughout the year. 

Some members, including myself, attended the St. Andrews day march in Bathgate, organised by George Thom.  A decent turnout, we marched through the town & a bus was laid on for marchers, back to the Highlander Hotel, in Armadale.
George & myself gave speeches, among others. Fiery Jack were on form as usual.

Thanks to Jean & Archie, we have found a new venue for our annual Wallace Xmas night out.  They managed, at very short notice, to book Elderslie Wallace Bowling Club, and also to find a caterer to supply a buffet at very good prices.

Although not as busy as previous years, due to the last-minute nature of the booking, we had a ball, with Ted Christopher on form as usual, & an impromptu piece of “Strictly Come Dancing” from Gary & Tom.  Guys, you were a hoot!

Finally, I’d like to say what an honour it has been for me, to serve as Convenor of the Society, & hope I have managed to fulfil the trust in those who voted for me.  Thank you.

I wish all our members a Merry Christmas & very Happy New Year.

I hope to see you at many of our events next year.

Yours for Scotland,

Duncan Fenton      
Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE OCTOBER 2012 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots, 

It’s been a quiet October, after all the busy months we have had throughout this year. 

All we have left to do this year is the St. Andrews Day March on 24th November in Bathgate, & our Annual Wallace Society Xmas Dinner. Looking forward to both. 

Our Annual General Meeting will take place on Tuesday 20th November, when all office bearers will step down & elections will take place for the vacant posts. 

William Ballantyne has suggested we film the proceedings & put it on our website. An excellent idea. 

This will give members, who for reasons of distance cannot attend meetings, a chance to see what goes on. 

I’d like to say what an honour it has been for me, to serve as Convenor of the Society, & hope I have managed to fulfil the trust in those who voted for me. Thank you. 

A special mention for our Fundraising Coordinator in the US, Randy Dedrickson. He has made an outstanding contribution to the SOWW this year, both in monetary terms & in raising the profile of the Society abroad. We need more of his type. 

A very big well done & thank you to all our other office bearers & members, who have made our Centenary Year a very special one. Everyone has been just fantastic.

Yours for Scotland, 

Duncan Fenton Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE SEPTEMBER 2012 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots, 

Several members attended the March for Independence in Edinburgh recently.

It was an honour to be able to speak at the same event as the likes of Alex Salmond, Margo MacDonald, Dennis Canavan & many others. 

Dougie MacLean singing Caledonia made my day. 

On a more sombre note.  I think it is absolutely disgusting that (Call me Dave) Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, has decided that his government will spend £50 million to commemorate the START of World War I.  Yes, that’s right, the START! 

To most other observers, it would be fitting to have a commemoration for the cessation of hostilities in 2018.  To honour the men & women who gave their lives fighting in that hellish conflict is only right & proper.  Celebrating the beginning of the war, in which the aristocracy of Europe used the common man to settle their petty disputes, is abhorrent.  What must the relatives of those who suffered be thinking, when next to nothing was spent on them when they were alive, but he is willing to spend £50 million of our money in these cash-strapped times. 

I hope most people will see this charade for what it is, a crass, heavy-handed attempt to hoodwink the public into thinking that Scotland is better off as part of Britain.  He is trying to prolong the Team GB/Olympimania/Jubilee jingoistic rhetoric that we have all been subjected to this year. 

I, for one, am heartily sick of it, & I hope it backfires on him. 

Yours for Scotland, 

Duncan Fenton Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE AUGUST 2012 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots, 

Well, the commemorations have come thick & fast.  We had Robroyston, Wallace Day & Stirling Bridge in quick succession. 

And, in the same month, three visits to the Scottish Parliament.  Phew! 

Robroyston was as good as it always is, with Glen Wood writing a speech, but not feeling confident enough as yet, to deliver it.  I was pleased to voice it for him. 

Wallace Day was just hectic from start to finish, which for me was 1.50 am.

Ted had a prior engagement, but Fiery Jack were superb & Albannach were fantastic as well.  The knockout punch was from Argentina-based Skiltron, who had originally asked to play a couple of acoustic numbers, but which turned into a full-blown mini gig! 

Congratulations to George Boyle, on receiving the David R. Ross Memorial Quaich, well deserved indeed.  What I didn’t expect was to be presented by a quaich to commemorate the SOWW Centenary.  To say I was taken by surprise would be an understatement!  Thanks to my fellow committee members for this honour.  As promised, I will hand it back in a hundred years for the next recipient! 

Then Stirling Brig, organised by Ted Christopher.  We proudly marched from the castle esplanade, accompanied by Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop.  Arriving at the tree, we heard some great speeches & a couple of songs from Ted. 

Then, over to the Rugby club for a great night’s entertainment supplied by Schiehallion & Ted & his Bannockburn Band. 

It’s been a hectic but very enjoyable Centenary Year for the Society. 

Yours for Scotland, 

Duncan Fenton Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE JULY 2012 NEWSLETTER

Dear patriots, 

Many thanks are in order to our members for doing their bit for the Society. Thanks to Gerald Thorpe, who made 2 fantastic Wallace shields & gifted them to the Society, & lately, he has just finished a superb banner for us.

Thanks to Ken Shirra, of the Knights Templar, who donated CD Rom copies of the text of Blind Harry’s Wallace, for sale at Wallace Day. 

Thanks to Eric Johnson, for sending money from WUSA memberships. Thanks to Randy Dedrickson, our fundraising officer in the US, for sending money he had raised.  

Thanks to Robroyston Community Centre for printing the leaflet highlighting the Wallace Memorial Cross & Wallace’s Well.  I was given a box of 6000, which was distributed among members to put into libraries, information centres, etc. 

Thanks to Andy for making my sporran & to Tom for making me a walking stick depicting the Wallace Letter. 

Thanks to all the committee for their long hours of hard work that the public don’t see & contributions made by members which ensure the smooth running of the Society 

Every month when I send the newsletter out, I get quite a few bounce back as undeliverable.  I used to take note of these & try to re-send it in the few days ahead.

It’s not so much an issue now, as people can read it on the website or Facebook. 

But  I would like to ask if you have changed your e-mail address, please contact us with your new details. 

Well, the Wallace Letter is now home in Scotland.  Myself & Gary were invited to the Scottish Parliament for the opening of the exhibition, at which the Lubeck Letter was also on show. 

The following day, around 150 people turned up outside the building as we gave a very personal thank you to all involved in the campaign.  With Albannach & Ted Christopher setting the mood by providing the music, we had fine speeches from Gary, Jim Singer, Mark Hirst & Ted. 

A fantastic day which will be remembered for ever. 

4 days later, the Society’s committee members were again invited to the civic reception, where we met the MSP’s, historians, academics & curators.

Another great evening & a highlight in the history of the Society. 

Yours for Scotland, 

Duncan Fenton Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE JUNE 2012 NEWSLETTER

Dear patriots, 

Andy Murray did his best at Wimbledon in the Mens’ Final, but it just wasn’t enough to beat one the best tennis players the world has ever seen. 

Many people I spoke to were annoyed at the BBC’s commentators & the newsreaders who were on air prior to the match. 
I know we have come to expect reporting biased in favour of “British” & all things English, but this was on a different scale. 

Much mileage was made out of Murray being the first British player to reach the final for 76 years, but not one mentioned that this was a first for a Scot.

Before the match started, we were treated to snippets of commentaries from years gone by.   Geoff Hurst’s goal in 1966, Jonny Wilkinson’s drop kick to win the Rugby, were the first of many.  English victories – nothing whatsoever to do with Scotland. 

The mindset of the BBC seems to be, keep overloading the audience with tales of how great England & Britain are, & we’ll roll over & just accept it.  I think it will have the opposite effect. 

After Murray lost, some of the comments in the English press were shameful, notably the Daily Mail.  Comments from readers on their webpage were over the top, some downright racist in content. 

The next sporting event that Scots are supposed to benefit from, if we are to listen to what we are told, is the London Olympics.  Apathy is such that 90% of tickets for Hampden Football Stadium are left unsold.  So the Olympic committee have decided to give them away free to schoolchildren & youth groups.  Common sense at last, even although their reasoning is more to do with not looking like failures. 

Scotland is slowly gaining more coverage in the world’s media, one instance is that of the First Minister, Alex Salmond, being invited to the USA for the Premiere of the Scots based cartoon, “Brave”. 

Once Scotland gains more control of its own affairs, we can maybe then repaint the picture that the London-based media gives to the rest of the world. 

As I write, the Society of William Wallace Centenary Tartan is being woven on Bute, & will be ready soon.  I’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to Christine, for all her hard work in designing the tartan & getting the project off the ground.  Hopefully, the plaids that we will be wearing will be around in another hundred years, when we are gone.  Thus, the SOWW will continue. 

Yours for Scotland, 

Duncan Fenton Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE MAY 2012 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots, 

As Scots, we have become used to having “Britishness” forced upon us over the years, but as the Olympics & the Queen’s diamond jubilee approach, it has become a frenzy. 

The latest dictat to come from London is that we will not be allowed to fly our own national flag, the saltire, at Hampden while the football matches are being played there.  This can only be perceived as a downright insult. As a proud Scot, my saltire flies all year round & will continue to do so. I hope yours does too. 

As if that wasn’t enough, reports are coming in about giving police powers to order the removal of any anti-

Olympic posters or banners that people may display in their windows. That is verging on the Orwellian. 

Added to that is the decision to place fire beacons on selected sites across the UK for the diamond jubilee celebrations.  Sounds inoffensive enough until you learn that at least 2 of the sites in Scotland, Loudoun Hill in Ayrshire & the hill occupied by the huge Wallace statue in Dryburgh, have important connections to our history. 

It seems that by superimposing “Britishness” on our historical sites, we will be somehow brainwashed into accepting it all. I expect it will have the opposite effect. 

I have nothing against the Olympics as such, although the original idea of amateur athletes doing their best for their country has become lost, as professionals now take part.  The quest for countries’ governments to outdo each other in the medal stakes has taken preference to the whole concept of the games. 

To add insult to injury, obscene amounts of money have been diverted from deserving causes in Scotland to finance London’s whims. 

Good luck to any Scot who has aimed for this for the last four years, but I hope that any Scottish athlete who wins a medal has the courage to display a saltire around their shoulders, rather than the flag of the imperialist British state. 

Yours for Scotland, 

Duncan Fenton  Convenor, Society of William Wallace
 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE APRIL 2012 NEWSLETTER

Dear patriots, 

At the recent fundraiser for the SOWW in Bannockburn, Charlie Allan of the Clanranald Trust was viciously attacked upon arrival at the venue, as his group, Saor Patrol prepared to play for the evening. He spent the rest of the evening being treated in hospital. 

The fundraiser itself was a great success, with Ted Christopher playing a double set, as Saor Patrol were unable to play following Charlie’s injury.

Thanks to Tom Chalmers for donating his hand crafted walking stick, depicting Oor Wullie, which was auctioned for £150.  Also thanks to Barry Donnan, whose gift of a Clanranald tartan plaid raised £198. 

There were many donations which were raffled, & thanks to all who helped. 

Big thank you to our new friend Gerald Thorpe, who presented the Society with a Wallace shield he had made, a great piece of work. This will grace future commemorations. 

As time is marching on, can I ask anyone who is definitely coming to Bannockburn in 2014, & requires a room at the King Robert Hotel, to confirm by contacting myself or the website, if they have not already done so.  We do not require any deposit at this time, but we need to get an idea of numbers. 

George has been contacted by our American friends who are asking if any members would like to spend a week in the USA & attend the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in September.  Again, if any member fancies this, please contact us.

Big thank you to our new friend Gerald Thorpe, who presented the Society with a Wallace shield he had made, a great piece of work. This will grace future commemorations. 

As time is marching on, can I ask anyone who is definitely coming to Bannockburn in 2014, & requires a room at the King Robert Hotel, to confirm by contacting myself or the website, if they have not already done so.  We do not require any deposit at this time, but we need to get an idea of numbers. 

George has been contacted by our American friends who are asking if any members would like to spend a week in the USA & attend the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in September.  Again, if any member fancies this, please contact us.

This is from Christine McLeod regarding our proposed Society tartan. 

Tartan News
I met Ken MacDonald of Houston Menswear in Paisley on the 13th of April. Things are going well.  I’ve chosen the shades for the tartan and very happy with them…weathered, muted shades that still glow.   

I suggest that Duncan and /or Gary/George meet with Ken on Friday 20th to take a look at yarn. This means that you can decide what weight and finish you want by yourself, whether it’s light, heavy, fine or tweed. 

Ken will advise on the rest. 

I suggested 1st July being completion date.

Going to see it being woven and/or collecting it from Bute as a wee event is possible.

Tartan Update
George went into see Ken and after consulting with committee and members it was decided we'd go for a tweed finish 13 ounce fabric, Christine will confirm colour samples instore.

Yours for Scotland, 

Duncan Fenton  Convenor, Society of William Wallace
 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE DECEMBER 2011 NEWSLETTER

Dear patriots, 

I’d like to wish all our members a Happy & Prosperous New Year. 

The Annual Wallace Xmas dinner, held in the Wallace Tavern, enjoyed its biggest ever attendance, with staff having to find more & more space for folk as they continued to come in. 

Many thanks to the staff for doing a fantastic job, & supplying the raffle tickets, which I forgot to bring! 

Ted Christopher & Fiery Jack entertained us all evening & were superb.  Thanks guys.  Thanks also to all those who donated great raffle prizes. 

As we enter a new year, our centenary year, the Society continues to grow, & it seems our reputation continues to grow with it.  With our membership numbering just under 400 strong, our Facebook Page just topped the 4000 mark last week. 

As usual, on the 2nd January, we gathered at the Robroyston Monument to pay tribute to our late friend, Davie Ross.  Irene laid some flowers, & with a wee dram, we saluted his memory, then members took turns to say a few words about their personal recollections of Davie.

A poignant occasion, but not without the humour that Davie was noted for. 

So, onward & upward.  A new year beckons, fresh challenges await us, & if the past year is anything to go by, I’m sure we shall be equal to the tasks ahead.

Yours for Scotland, 

Duncan Fenton  Convenor, Society of William Wallace
 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE OCTOBER 2011 NEWSLETTER

Dear patriots, 

Once again, the year has seemed to fly by at breakneck speed. No sooner had we finished preparations for one commemoration, another one was upon us. 

Hard work for all involved, but bringing satisfaction with it. 

I have been contacted by a representative of a company who are making a series of radio programmes for BBC Radio. 

He asked if he could interview some members & record one of our commemorations.

I told him that out commemorations are over for this year, but have given him a list of events & dates for next year. We will keep in touch. 

Our next meeting will be our AGM, on 18th Nov, & I’d like to thank all of our office bearers for their unstinting work over the past year.  Not only the office bearers, but the many who work behind the scenes to ensure the smooth running of the Society. 

In the past few years, the reputation of the Society has grown considerably. Where, in the past, organisations would go ahead with projects without consulting us in an advisory capacity, & later we would have to point out errors. This was also true of press articles. Now we are being approached before an article is written, or as in the case of the information boards at Robroyston, Dennis from the council has let us look over the proposed wording of the text to check it, and make any suggestions for change. 

We have instigated a new annual commemoration at Loudoun Hill, with our friends, the Strathleven Artizans. We are also involved in a few proposed building projects.

The success of the campaign to secure the return of the Wallace Safe Conduct Letter is another worthy achievement for the Society, & big thanks to Gary for sticking with this. 

Our heightened profile is down to the excellent input from everyone at the Society. As I said at Davie Ross’s funeral, “What doesn’t break us makes us stronger”.  And that has proved to be indeed the case. I’m sure Big Davie would be pleased at the direction the Society is taking. 

I foresee exciting times ahead. I hope to see you at our AGM on Tuesday 15th November.

Yours for Scotland, 

Duncan Fenton  Convenor, Society of William Wallace
 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE SEPTEMBER 2011 NEWSLETTER

Dear patriots. 

On the afternoon of 1st October, friends of the late Davie Ross got together beneath the commemorative tree in Stirling to install a memorial plaque to our dear friend.
Crafted by Strathleven Artizan, Arthur Murdoch, Gordon Aitken had set it in place.

Placed alongside it were stones selected from Elderslie, Lanark, Loudoun Hill, Robroyston & the Abbey Craig.

Thus was represented the main places which had a Wallace connection, & which ourselves & Davie had visited often, following in the footsteps of Wallace.

Gordon spoke about how Davie had inspired him, right from the very beginning, then asked each of us in turn to say a few words about how we came to know him.
Floral tributes were then laid at the base of the tree.
It was a very emotional experience for us all.

Rounded off by a few musical numbers from the guys, it was a fitting tribute to the Big Warmer.

Some of us then went to Cambuskenneth Abbey, where we laid a white rose & a small saltire on the flat stones supposedly marking the burial place of Wallace’s arm.
I have been doing this for the last 12 years.

The very dreich day & constant rain couldn’t dampen our spirits.
Thanks to Kate & Mike, Bill & Val, George, Arthur, Frank, Ted, Malcolm, Stout Duncan, & of course, Gordon for organising it.
 

Many thanks to all members who have paid their annual subscription.  If you haven’t done so, please download & print the form HERE  or use the Paypal link. 

A big well done to Andy Middleton for receiving this year’s David R. Ross Memorial Quaich for all his upgrade work at the Wallace Memorial Cross in Robroyston. 

Gary Stewart sent the following e-mail of thanks to those involved in securing the return of the Wallace Letter. 

I won’t include the full e-mail addresses to respect the recipients’ privacy. 

Alan Reid, Nick Brand, George Boyle, Konstantina Ritsou, Ian Harrison, Paula Murray, Mark Hirst, Christine Grahame, the First Minister, Fiona Hyslop, Dr. Fiona Watson, Catherine Dowe, Duncan Fenton. 

To everyone involved in this, thank you so much for all your help and effort. This has been a massive success for everyone who has done their bit.

A wee bit of history has been changed and sure the big Warmer will be chuffed to bits, just a shame he will not be here to see what he started, finished with this fantastic result for Scotland. 

Yours Aye

Gary Stewart

Vice convenor of the Society of William Wallace



I hope to see you at our AGM on Tuesday 15th November.

Alba Gu Brath 

Yours for Scotland,

Duncan Fenton Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE JULY 2011 NEWSLETTER

Thanks to all who attended the recent commemorations at Falkirk & Robroyston. 

Can I remind members that the annual subscription fee is now due.  You can pay via Paypal on our website, or download & print out the membership form & post it to us, or pay on the day if you’re attending Wallace Day on 20th August.

Any members who have recently joined can ignore this request & pay the following August.

Thank you very much for continuing to support the Society, & by doing so, help us keep Wallace’s memory in the public eye.Thanks to all who attended the recent commemorations at Falkirk & Robroyston.

Can I remind members that the annual subscription fee is now due.  You can pay via Paypal on our website, or download & print out the membership form & post it to us, or pay on the day if you’re attending Wallace Day on 20th August.

Any members who have recently joined can ignore this request & pay the following August.

Thank you very much for continuing to support the Society, & by doing so, help us keep Wallace’s memory in the public eye. 

If anyone has anything they would like to donate for our raffle, bar or tearoom, it would be much appreciated.

Due to rising costs, the committee has reluctantly decided to raise the entry price for the evening’s entertainment to £15.  But for three of Scotland’s premier acts, Ted (better than Elvis) Christopher, Albannach & Scocha, I think this represents great value for money. I hope to see many of you there. 

Irene continues to liase with the owners of the King Robert the Bruce Hotel in Bannockburn, who have taken our block booking for the whole hotel for the 700th anniversary commemoration in 2014. 

Prices will be held at just under £100 per person for bed & breakfast.

As the Ryder Cup will also be held that year, accommodation will be scarce. 

We feel it is only right to give members of SOWW first chance of booking, so if anyone wants to book, please contact me & I will compile a list of names.  No money is required at this stage.  Maybe deposits will required in 18 months or so time, but we’ll keep everyone posted.  We just want to get an idea of numbers. 

It promises to be an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The Scottish people will once again get the chance to show our pride in our heroes, as we did at Wallace’s commemoration in London in 2005. 

Eternal thanks to Big Davie for giving me the opportunity to experience the most emotionally-charged day of my life.

Alba Gu Brath 

Yours for Scotland,

Duncan Fenton Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE JUNE 2011 NEWSLETTER

It has been brought to my attention recently that someone has been posting comments of a racist nature on the Facebook pages of some of our members. The Society of William Wallace does not condone & will not tolerate this kind of behaviour.

As stated in our constitution, we embrace any & all, regardless of colour creed, nationality or political persuasion. 

In my personal opinion, the Society has grown & matured (we are nearly 100 years old!) into an organisation that I am proud to be a part of. 

Any attempt to sully its good reputation will be fiercely resisted. 

On a brighter note, I recently attended Renton Gala Day, at which our friends, the Strathleven Artizans, played a large part in organising.

One of the best ways of teaching the young generation of our history & heritage is through face to face contact like this. 

Our own Society’s commemorations at Robroyston & Elderslie loom ever closer, with just about all arrangements in place. I would like to appeal for donations to our raffle, bottles, etc. 

We have a cracking line up this year for Wallace Day’s evening entertainment, with Ted (better than Elvis) Christopher, Albannach & Scocha. £15 payable at the door for 3 of Scotland’s best acts represents great value for money. Please come along & mix with old friends & make new ones. I look forward to seeing you.

Alba Gu Brath 

Yours for Scotland,

Duncan Fenton Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE MAY 2011 NEWSLETTER

Dear fellow patriots, 

Time marches relentlessly on, as someone once said, & it seems to be flying by just now.

The Annual Commemoration of  Andrew de Moray’s Flag Raising on the Black Isle went well, with myself & Irene & our partners attending.

Once again I handed over the new saltire on behalf of the Society.We enjoyed a ceilidh that evening with old friends. 

George, Gary & Andy once again attended the Robroyston School Fun Day, displaying weaponry & armour. 

Reports & photos of both these events can be found on our website. 

The Society is becoming more & more involved in other events, not strictly Wallace-related, but worthwhile nevertheless.  We are also liasing well with other groups & organisations, forging new friendships which are proving fruitful. 

All in all, I think the Society is doing well, with quite a few projects ongoing & some earmarked for the near future. 

This is down to many hands helping out, & I thank you all for this. 

So, if the sun finally comes out this year, I hope it will shine with favour on the Society!

Alba Gu Brath 

Yours for Scotland,

Duncan Fenton Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE APRIL 2011 NEWSLETTER

This is proving to be a very interesting year to be a Scot.

I spoke at the recent commemoration of the Declaration of Arbroath, & it was the biggest turn out I have seen for a long while. 

I also attended the first anniversary of the opening of the Robert the Bruce Heritage Centre in Renton, run by our friends, The Strathleven Artizans. They also enjoyed a good support. 

On the 7th May we held the first joint commemoration by the Society Of William Wallace & the Artizans at Loudoun Hill to remember the battles fought there by both Wallace & Bruce. Again, a good turn out saw a wreath laid on behalf of the fallen, to the accompaniment

of a lone piper & speeches by Councillor Bobby McDill, George Boyle, Duncan Thomson & Sarah Crome. Thanks to all who attended, especially from far flung parts, even Greece! Thanks Dina! It was great to see you again.

Special mention to Willie Ballantyne, who gave voice to the idea in the first place.

I think it went well for a first time event, hopefully to become a fixture in our calendar. 

Coming up we have the Andrew de Moray Flag Raising ceremony on the Black Isle & the Robroyston Fun Day, unfortunately on the same day, but duties will be shared by willing members. Thanks to all our volunteers. 

The elections have come & gone, with the only party who are interested in Scotland’s weal, proving that they are capable of running the country, and being endorsed by the public, reflected in their share of the vote. Interesting times ahead! 

On a personal note, I would like to thank everyone who has rallied to help with the running of the Society. Years ago I had a wee inkling of how much the late Davie Ross did for the Society of William Wallace. Now I’m beginning to appreciate the extent of it.

Things are just so time-consuming, with making phone calls, contacting & meeting various people & organisations, replying to e-mails, queries & so on, on a daily basis.

I now know there is a lot to be done, but we seem to be doing very well, with new ideas being put forward all the time, & members offering to help out with various tasks. When I was elected Convenor at the AGM in November, I knew this was no easy job, but thanks to all of you, it has been a pleasure to work alongside you all. 

William Wallace inspired Davie Ross, Davie Ross inspired me, and so the good work of the Society will go on. 

Alba Gu Brath 

Yours for Scotland,

Duncan Fenton Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE MARCH 2011 NEWSLETTER

Before David R. Ross made his 450 mile Walk for Wallace, from Robroyston to London, he started an e-petition to campaign for the return of the Wallace Safe Conduct Letter, & to raise awareness that this important document lay in a drawer at Kew.

Now the National Archives have agreed to return the letter on a 2 year loan period, starting next year.  After this negotiations will be made to keep the letter in Scotland permanently.

The decision to repatriate this document to its homeland is a huge victory for all those who worked on this campaign over the years, none more so than Davie Ross, & Gary Stewart, Vice Convenor of the Society of William Wallace.

When Davie died last year, Gary pledged to keep the momentum going & keep this in the public eye.

There are very few tangible links with Wallace left to us, & this is one of the most important.  This is a letter he carried on his person & would have looked at from time to time.

On behalf of the Society, I would like to thank the many people who helped with this campaign.  All the patriots who set up the e-petition & the Facebook page, the politicians & their secretaries, the esteemed academics, & all those who wrote to their MSP’s or the press & everyone who signed the petition.

Now, thanks to the efforts of all involved, many Scots will be able to look upon this document just as Wallace did.

You have all shown we have the power to change things.

Yours for Scotland,

Duncan Fenton Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE FEBRUARY 2011 NEWSLETTER

Several of our members attended the official launch of our great friend David R. Ross’s last book, Women In Scotland, at the Abbot's House in Dunfermline.

Dr. Fiona Watson gave a talk on the background of the book & her travels with Davie to historic sites.

Davie’s daughter Kimberley was on hand to sign copies of the book.

George, Gary & myself were asked to say a few words to the audience about our relationship with Davie, including some anecdotes of our escapades together. 

This is the gist of what I said. “This is a bitter-sweet day for Davie Ross’s family & friends.

We are so pleased to see his latest book on the shelves, but so saddened knowing it will be his last. I know this subject was close to Davie’s heart. 

Davie Ross wrote in a style that ordinary folk could identify with. We often talked about the fact that people would pick up an academic history book, but when the going got too heavy, they would put it down again. 

Davie’s books are the perfect introduction for anyone showing an interest in Scottish history. His style of writing brought the subject to life, and brought it to a whole new audience. Once they got a taste of it, readers were eager to learn more, and so then persevered with the heavy, academic stuff. 

Davie Ross did more than any other modern historian to bring Scotland’s history to Scotland’s people, and through the legacy of his books, will continue to inspire many generations to come.” 

Yours for Scotland,

Duncan Fenton Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE DECEMBER 2010 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots, I’d like to thank our members for electing me as Convenor of the Society at the AGM.

I hope to repay your faith in me to continue to take the Society forward & steer a straight course as our friend, the late Davie Ross, did so well. 

It has been almost a year since he was taken from us, but sometimes it seems as if it were only yesterday. 

I’m very pleased that Gary Stewart was elected Vice Convenor, a well-deserved appointment, since Gary has worked his tartan hose off this year for the Society. The addition of Committee Members, Gordon Aitken, William Ballantyne & Andy Middleton reflect the sterling work they have also put in this year.

Welcome aboard, guys.  I’m sure your input over the coming year will be invaluable. 

Quite a few Society members attended the recent St. Andrews Day Rally in Edinburgh.  On a bitterly cold evening that prevented some patriots from getting to the venue because they were snowbound, we marched proudly down the Royal Mile to the Scottish Parliament building.  Outside, Ted Christopher & myself said a few words to the assembled crowd.

From there we made our way to Leith & the evening’s entertainment, supplied by Albannach, Ted Christopher & Fiery Jack.  All were superb. 

With Kimberley Ross present, we also launched Davie Ross’s last book, “Scotland’s Women”.  I introduced Gavin MacDougall, his publisher, who said a few words on the background of the book.

Andy Middleton then handed over a cheque to Kimberley for £1800 for the Bannockburn 2014 Fund.  This was over £1300 raised at the David R. Ross Tribute Night in March, & the Society of William Wallace made up the difference as a contribution. 

This year has been a very difficult one, which had the worst of all possible starts, but commendably, everyone has rallied round, & we have managed to achieve quite a lot. 

From the tributes to Davie Ross, at Robroyston & Stirling, the progress made on the campaign for return of the Wallace Safe Conduct Letter,  & progress made on getting monuments raised at Stirling & Glasgow, we have not done too badly. 

I would personally like to thank everyone who did their bit & helped the Society through a tough period.  Even all the little things that people don’t think are as important.  The old adage, “Mony a mickle maks a muckle”, is so true in this case. 

I look forward to seeing many of you at the Annual Wallace Dinner on 17th Dec. 

Yours for Scotland,

Duncan Fenton Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE SEPTEMBER 2010 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots, Once again, the commemoration of the Battle of Stirling Bridge was a resounding success. This event just goes from strength to strength, thanks to our very own wandering minstrel, Ted Christopher.

Ted did a great job organising the march, policing & securing the services of Gaberlunzie, Scocha & his own Bannockburn Band for the evening entertainment.

The march was a stirring sight as it left the esplanade at Stirling Castle, with the many saltires & banners flying high.

The David R. Ross memorial banner provided much interest from spectators, this being only its second outing since Wallace Day. 

At the memorial tree, Ted welcomed everyone with a great speech, followed by a few words from myself. I then invited Gordon Aitken to comment on the great work he had done upgrading the area surrounding the tree. He in turn paid tribute to the Strathleven Artisans, who provided the recumbent statue of Wallace, & the tribute plaque to Davie Ross, which Davie’s daughter, Kimberley, unveiled.

George Boyle gave the final speech of the day, after which we returned to the evening venue, to a terrific night’s entertainment. Scocha were a revelation, playing traditional stuff mixed with their own compositions. They had the place jumping. 

I must mention that Big George & myself are starting to have the same ideas simultaneously of late (I don’t know whether to be worried or not!)

We thought it would be great to ask them to play at next year’s Wallace Day, so I approached the guys as they came off stage & asked them.

They seemed agreeable & gave me their contact details. 

A big thank you to all who have paid their annual subscription & the generous donations. 

If you haven’t done so, please download the membership form from our website or use the Paypal option.

It is you who help to keep Wallace’s memory alive.

Also, thanks to all our new members for joining the Society.

Yours for Scotland,

Duncan Fenton Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE AUGUST 2010 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots, Our Commemorative Events seem to have come & gone so quickly.

Falkirk was very well attended this year  & Wallace Day was a huge success too. Thanks to all who gave their time, money & donations to both. 

With everyone in the Society helping out, we are becoming a more efficient organisation.

Thanks to all who have paid their annual subs, your support is much appreciated.

A big thank you to Gordon Aitken, who transformed the area surrounding the tree at Stirling Bridge, & allowed me to put one of the stones in place.

Thanks also to the Strathleven Artisans, who created & donated the Wallace plaque, & the tribute plaque to Davie Ross.

Kimberley, Davie’s daughter, unveiled the plaque during the ceremony.

At Wallace Day, I was approached by Emilio Souto, from the group, Skiltron. He gave me their latest CD & asked me to listen, then send him my opinion of it. Their music is a blend of heavy rock with bagpipes. All of their songs & lyrics have a Scottish flavour. I was very impressed by their professionalism. You can find them  here.

Our friends at Authentic Grass have asked to help sell their merchandise through the Society. They create a Perspex plaque, containing a patch of grass from the site, accompanied by photos & text explaining the historical connection. Their website is still under construction, but you can find it here.

We will include photos of what’s available on our website soon.

It has been a hectic time since the beginning of the year, but has been very rewarding, too. Much has been achieved, but much has still to be done.

Work still goes on for the return of the Letter of Safe Conduct from London, & planning for the proposed memorial to the Battle of the Bell O’ the Brae in Glasgow.

Yours for Scotland,

Duncan Fenton: Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace.
 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE JULY 2010 NEWSLETTER

Greetings, fellow patriots. The commemorations at Bannockburn & Falkirk were very well attended this year.

I sent a letter of thanks to Scott MacMaster, at the Bannockburn Heritage Centre, for inviting the Society, along with various other groups, to set up marquees to showcase our merchandise & answer questions from the public on things historical.

Gordon Aitken & Grant Williamson again did a great job organising the Falkirk event.

Robroyston was a great success this year, with the largest turnout I have ever seen for this event. The commemoration was dedicated to the memory of Davie Ross, & after Andy Middleton laid the wreath for Wallace, he unveiled the memorial plaque to Davie that he had made. Davie’s daughter, Kimberley, laid a floral tribute on the plaque.

Thanks are due to Jon Gallagher, who distributed hundreds of leaflets locally, advertising it, & a trail of Saltires, put up by AMD, left at strategic points to guide the public to the monument. Thanks also to Alex Scullion, who played the pipes prior to the commemoration, which set the mood.

We heard a great speech by Sandra White MSP who got the crowd going, & a fantastic speech by William Ballantyne, which was his first for the Society, was outstanding. It certainly won’t be his last!

Thanks to Malcolm MacNeill, who donated the contents of his collecting tin, which sits on his bar in Dunoon.  It raised a healthy £54.

With everyone now pitching in to help, we are headed in the right direction.

Roll on Wallace Day!

This year will be a real mixture of emotions, the first without our dear friend, Davie. But there are plans to make this day a wee bit special as a tribute to him.

We have been contacted by Authentic Grass, who specialise in creating a gift which is a sample of grass cutting from sporting venues & historical sites, which is encapsulated in a perspex frame, accompanied by a photo of the site.

They have approached us to sell their products through our website. Available at the moment are, Robroyston, Stirling Bridge & Elderslie. More details & pics will be posted up on the website soon. Thanks to the owners, James Masterton & Stephen MacDougal, for gifting the Society a print of Wallace, this is 8’ long by 4’ wide, on canvas. I intend to use it as a backdrop on stage at Wallace Day.

Looking forward to seeing old friends & making new ones at Elderslie

Yours for Scotland,

Duncan Fenton: Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace.
 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE APRIL 2010 NEWSLETTER

Historically, Scots have a reputation for fighting amongst themselves. But the time is coming near when we will have to pull together.
It is time that all our historical societies put aside their petty differences to concentrate on Scotland’s future. After all, that is what we purport to have as our primary objective.
I have witnessed first-hand, dissentions & arguments between members of groups over the pros & cons of one thing or another. Whether it be Jacobitism or Covenanters, whether the Stewart monarchy were nationalistic or self-serving, & so on.

I have heard folk who should know better expound much energy on these arguments without seeing the opposing point of view. This blinkered attitude helps no-one. It only serves the Anglocentric media & gives them ammunition to have a go at “Those Scots squabbling amongst themselves again.”

Instead of this divisive attitude, we should be focussing on the objective we all hold close to our heart – freedom for Scotland as a sovereign nation.

To my mind, all of our history is important. It shouldn’t matter if we find some things distasteful or in opposition to our beliefs. It is all worth recording for our children. We have to show them the rich tapestry of the events that shaped Scotland, & that means all the threads have woven in. We cannot exclude selected parts of our history just because we don’t agree with them. Hopefully, this will promote a better understanding of our nation’s past, & guide us towards a better future. In the words of the late, great Nigel Tranter “You have to know where you have come from – in order to know where you are going.”

I have spent decades stravaiging our beautiful countryside taking thousands of photos of the tangible links of our history & heritage. Whether it be chapels or churches, Iron Age forts or Pictish symbol stones, religious wells or Covenanters’ graves, they are all part of our past, they are all part of who we are & how we have evolved, & as such, deserve to be documented.

We have not inherited this beautiful country of ours from our forefathers – we have only borrowed it from our children. 

We owe it to them, & we owe it to the generations of Scots who fought & died for Scotland, to preserve our built heritage, our battlefields, every site at which Scots made a stand against tyranny & shed their blood. That is what makes us proud of who we are. We must pass that pride on to the next generation, or all the sacrifices that have gone before, will have been in vain.

Yours for Scotland,

Duncan Fenton: Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace.
 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE MARCH 2010 NEWSLETTER

Dear patriots,

On Saturday, 13th March, a group of members went to the Wallace Memorial Cross at Robroyston to install a new plaque as a tribute to our late Convenor, David R. Ross.

This was supplied by member Andy Middleton at his own expense, and a fine piece of work it is too.

The existing slabs were moved to accommodate the memorial, and broken slabs were replaced.  Special thanks to Jimmy Watson from Huntershill, who had arrived in the morning and rebuilt the collapsed wall surrounding the monument.  He had also spread more stone chips behind the monument and cut back all the weeds and generally tidied up the whole area.  When we left, the site looked better than it has for years. Well done to all involved.

Glasgow City Council, Historic Scotland and all the property developers who have cashed in on the Wallace connection to sell their houses, have done practically nothing to keep the monument and surrounding area in good order, far less promote it.

It seems that it is still the same today as it was in Wallace’s time, when the ordinary people put their shoulder to the wheel, while the landowners looked on.

As long as we have willing hands, the work will go on.  I wonder if the council or Historic Scotland will have the bare-faced cheek to complain about the work which we have done.  If so, they will have me to deal with.

Andy gave a speech to dedicate Davie’s plaque, and cracked open a bottle of malt, which he poured into a silver quaich.  We all drank a toast to the Big Man, and poured some over the plaque.  It was quite an emotional moment.

The tribute night for Davie Ross held in Edinburgh on Sunday 14th March was a huge success.  Present were Shona, and Davie’s daughter, Kimberley.

Christine Graham MSP announced the launch of the new petition calling for the return of the Wallace Safe Conduct letter.

Terrific entertainment by our own Ted Christopher & Albannach giving performances for free, with both of them going down a storm.  Also, member Gordon Aitken gave us a few of his own compositions, and member Martin Mitchell regaled our American visitors, who were on a tour with Celtic Force, with an action-packed rendition of Tam o’ Shanter.  Ziggy did a roaring trade with the merchandise.

After an excellent buffet, we had a raffle, and then auctioned some items donated by members.  After a few heartfelt words from Duncan, followed by Gary Stewart and Donovan Murray from Celtic Force, Albannach took the stage and had the audience stomping and jumping about, especially Thomas!

A great big thank you to all who helped make this night a great success.

Respectfully yours, 

Duncan Fenton: Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace.
 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE JANUARY 2010 NEWSLETTER

Dear Members, 

As you know, our late Convenor, David R. Ross, used to pen a newsletter, which was attached & sent out with the monthly minutes of each meeting of the Society.

Let me say that no-one will be able to do all the tasks that David did.  I just thought I should write this newsletter as a tribute to David as a one-off. 

No one person could possibly do all the things that David seemed to juggle effortlessly.  What we can do, is share the workload that he carried on his broad shoulders. 

He will be sadly missed, but fondly remembered.  We have so many cherished memories.  So many moving encounters; so many daft, madcap episodes in our lifetime together.  It is still difficult to accept that he won’t be here any more, but he would have been the first to urge us to “just to get on with it.”

We will miss a dear friend, but Scotland will miss one of her greatest champions.  His stance resembled that of Willam Wallace, in the fact that, in matters pertaining to the wellbeing of Scotland, he was unbending.  There was no grey area, it was either black or white.  You were either for Scotland or not. 

When his many friends met at the crematorium, well over an hour before the appointed time, we hugged & exchanged tales & anecdotes of the Big Man.  And there were plenty of them.  It was an important part of the grieving process.  Everyone had the same thoughts of Davie.  He did so much for so many people, & was always there with a helping hand & a ready smile. 

Our friend, Ted Christopher, did a magnificent job at the funeral. Although emotionally very difficult, Ted managed to find just the right words to convey  what we were all thinking.  When he sang three of the most important songs in Davie’s life, he managed to do so admirably. A testament to his sheer professionalism.

When he sang “Scot’s Whe Hae”, I swear I could hear the Big Man’s voice shouting, “Gi’e it laldy, Ted”, as I’d heard him often do before.

As mourners began to file out of the crematorium, the strains of the Bay City Rollers, “Shang-A-Lang” were heard softly through the PA system.

I could feel him smiling over my shoulder, that big broad grin that we had come to know & love. 

We have been through a lot together.  And facing a new year without Davie Ross will be an enormous struggle for everyone.  Davie spoke not only for our Society, but for many other societies & organisations, at many events throughout the year.  Everyone will just have to move up a gear.

Whatever doesn’t break us makes us stronger, & we will move forward, hand in hand, to take whatever life decides to throw at us.  As Davie often said, “We Scots are a resilient lot!” 

David had planned to tour with Albannach and over forty American Albannach fans in March this year to show them the sites and explore our wonderful country's history with them, alas it was not to be but everyone on the tour agreed that it should go ahead and be dedicated in David's honour.

Our American friends would very much like to meet up with like minded people, especially those who knew David and have arranged an evenings entertainment with the wonderful Ted Christopher and Albannach at the Three Sisters in Edinburgh's Cowgate. Apologies for it being on a Sunday but it was all arranged at very short notice. This night will be in memory of David and donations will be gratefully accepted with all monies going to Bannockburn 2014 and the Wallace Coffin fund.

The evenings entertainment will be free as the bands have waived their fee so hopefully we can raise a serious amount of cash for this most worthiest of causes!

Respectfully yours, 

Duncan Fenton: Vice Convenor, Society of William Wallace.
 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE DECEMBER 2009 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots,

I recently took part in a launch for a new book on Wallace entitled “Le Cri de la Liberte”. As you can see from the title, this is a book in French about the story of our great Scottish patriot. The lady author is one Beatrice Balti, who had come over from Toulouse to do a double event, firstly in Edinburgh, then in Glasgow.

It was a delight to be able to participate, and I have no doubt that Beatrice feels a real passion for her subject. She must have been bitten by the Scottish bug, as she told me her next book will be about R. L. Stevenson.

The evening was a much a learning process for me, as there was much information passed during the course of the evening, and I learned much regarding Joan of Arc for instance, that was previously unknown to me. Joan of course, had her Scottish Guard, and was familiar with the marching tune “Hey Tuttie Tattie”, an ancient Scots’ air from the time of Wallace that Robert Burns later wrote words for, and we know it today as “Scots Wha Hae”.

And of course, Joan and William have much in common with their fight for liberty from English domination, and in the manner of their hideous deaths. A little known fact is that a Scottish army crossed to France to take part in the campaign led by Joan, and heavily defeated the English at the Battle of Bauge.

I would love to be able to comment further on Beatrice’s book, but I have to confess my French is not up to scratch, my grasp being no more than what I learned at school! Strangely, I also own a work in French on Robert the Bruce, which of course has details of Wallace’s campaigns too. This work is entitled “De Normandie au de trone de Ecosse” by Claude Pithois. This book was a gift from some of the French members of the Society. I wish this book were available in English, as I have never seen a work of such depth. There are many photos of objects that were previously unknown to me, along with photographs of charters, and the most extra-ordinarily detailed family tree of the forebears and descendents of Bruce as an end piece.

There have been some committee changes in the Society at the AGM, and I’m sure you will be appraised of these within the minutes.

George Boyle, our new treasurer, myself, and Ziggy our merchandise officer, went to the bank in Johnstone to change over the accounts to the new signatories. Ziggy had just taken delivery of new enamel Society badges, which I was very impressed with. These will be available for the cost of £2 plus P&P.

It just remains for me to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Guid Hogmanay, and we can all look forward to the changes predicted for Scotland in the coming year.

I remain, yours for Scotland,

David R. Ross, Convenor.
 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE NOVEMBER 2009 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots,

While on a recent talking tour of the USA, my daughter Kimberley joined me for a few days, and as we had a drive up I-95, the main east coast route, I knew that we would pass through Baltimore. I had visited the Wallace Statue there before, but I thought it right I should return and grab a few photos, and it meant she could get a look at it at the same time.

The statue stands in Druid Hill Park in the city, and is a “copy “ of the one that graces the side of the National Wallace monument atop the Abbey Craig near Stirling. Its site is beautiful. Well, as beautiful as you can get in a city park. It overlooks the loch in the park, which has a large fountain as a centrepiece.

Wallace stands, sword aloft, leaning on his shield and clad in chain mail. William Wallace Spence, a Scot who had made his fortune in the city, commissioned it. It was unveiled on St. Andrews Day, November 30th 1893. I was particularly impressed by the metal plaque on the back of the large stone plinth that bears a passage from the Declaration of Arbroath. It seems William Wallace Spence had the strong blood of a patriot running through his veins. He wanted to gift something to his adopted city that spoke of the land of his birth, and William Wallace, his namesake and patriot hero, was exactly what was needed.

To see pictures of this statue, CLICK HERE

George Boyle, our Webmaster, adds to the site all the time, so keep an eye on things, especially for details of forthcoming events. When you get to the home page, click on “Wallace Connections” to find the statue photos. George is putting together a photo library on there, and some of you may be able to help.

Please remember the Society dinner is on the evening of Friday 4th of December. Entertainment by Ted Christopher. I’ll send you final prices soon. It will be held in the Wallace Tavern in Elderslie, and we will try for a 7 o’ clock start to make the most of the evening. It is a wee change to have the event on a Friday night, but hopefully it does mean that folk can make “more” of a night of it, not having work the next day. People have been contacting us to make reservations, so I ask you all to let us know to give a rough idea of numbers. No problem with paying on the night, but we don’t want too many turning up.


Remember the next meeting is the AGM, usual location, Elderslie Village Hall, 7.30 for 8.

I remain, yours for Scotland,

David R. Ross, Convenor.

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE SEPTEMBER 2009 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots,

This has surely got to have been the wettest August on record here, with the rain seemingly incessant. Luckily it stopped a couple of times, both occasions at the right time for Wallace commemorations.

Robroyston went well, and it is an event our vice-convenor has made his own, Duncan having a particular interest in this place and its history. There are so many stories of upgrades to the Wallace capture site, but there is still very little set in stone (except for the plaque on the monument!)

I thoroughly enjoyed Wallace Day at Elderslie this year; in fact I think the evening event was fantastic. There was a real feeling of spirit in the hall, and everyone seemed to have an exceptionally good time. Its folk themselves who create this of course. A lot of work put in by people to make sure it ran well, and you all know whom you are. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thanks to Malcolm and Ted for their speeches, and to special guest Ken Shirra from the Knights Templar. And a special thank you to Leonna who supplied some amazing raffle prizes, like the cake with the figure of Wallace upon it, and a whole hamper of homemade goodies.

Interesting the amount of nationalities on show too. A girl from Russia in a (space age) medieval dress, three parties of Americans (Donna Johnston from Florida laid the wreath) some ladies from Canada, and I believe there was an Argentinean in the hall too!

I thought both Ted and Albannach played out of their skins. And I hope Wallace was suitably commemorated.

Came home from speaking at the Stonehaven Wallace Day just yesterday. It was a delight to sit in the sun on the cliff tops, the bike parked up, and looking out at that view of blue sky, blue clouds, seals in the water, and the castle a dramatic focus to it all. The event has been allowed to slip a little, but a local couple, Graeme and Lesley, are determined to get it back on track.

There was no march from the town this year, but they hope that next year will see its return. The evening event was packed, with Gaberlunzie supplying the entertainment.

The annual Christmas night out is in place, with a meal at the Wallace Tavern in Elderslie. The date is Friday the 4th of December, with Ted providing the entertainment, and details will follow, but please write it into your diaries.

I remain, yours for Scotland,

David R. Ross, Convenor.

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE NEWSLETTER MAY 2009

Dear Patriots,

On the way up to the Culloden commemoration this year, I made a point of going by Deeside, a bit out of the way though it is, to meet up with member Jim Singer, and we made our way out to Potarch on the south bank of the River Dee, just across from the better known Kincardine O’ Neil on the north bank.

Donald Dinnie was born at nearby Birse, and Potarch has a Dinnie connection.

Don’t know who Dinnie was?

Born in 1837, he lived till 1916. He was regarded as the greatest athlete of the nineteenth century, and won everything he ever entered. In this day and age he would probably be the greatest Olympian ever. He seemed to excel at every sport, and touring America at the height of his fame he beat every wrestler who dared to try their luck against him. His feats of strength were legendary.

The thing is, even if you have never heard of Dinnie, I’m sure you are familiar with his image!

When he “invented” the soft drink Irn Bru in the 1800’s, Mr Barr was looking for the proper image to promote his drink. He chose Donald Dinnie, and when I was a kid there was a picture of an athlete in singlet and shorts wearing a blue scarf on the labels of the bottles. Dinnie himself.

Today there is a stylised image of an athlete on the side of the cans, but of course this is just the modern take on Dinnie.

We pulled up at the Potarch Hotel, and outside the hotel beside the porch, there are a pair of granite boulders. Each has an iron ring attached. They were used by workmen repairing the bridge over the Dee beside the hotel in the 19th century to steady their scaffolding. Together they weigh 775 pounds! Dinnie, happy to show bystanders his incredible natural strength, lifted one in each hand and walked the width of the bridge.

You’ve got to have a try of course, so with both hands I gripped one of the rings and lifted with all my might. I’m no stranger to weight lifting, and though I had one teetering and almost off the ground, there was no way I could have lifted one, never mind walked with it!

Jim did better, actually raising one a little, and daylight appeared under it, but the experience left us in no doubt that Dinnie was a superman! To raise the two and walk with them!
And in case you think it is a bit silly to leave two historic boulders unattended outside a hotel, the fact remains that no one can actually lift the things! And even if you got them in a car they would probably go through the floor!

So why am I writing about Donald Dinnie in a Society of William Wallace newsletter you may ask? The reason is that during Donald’s lifetime many of the Wallace statues we know and love so well today were raised. Sculptors needed a big man with an astonishing physique to pose for such statues, and the fact that the “sitter” was a Scot and understood the legacy of Wallace was a bonus.
So Donald would get dressed in period clothing and “be” Wallace for the artists involved.
Certainly Donald posed for the large statue of Wallace at Ballarat in Australia, and very impressive it is.

So from Wallace to Irn Bru, both intrinsically Scottish icons in their own way, there is that connection that runs through our history, that rears itself again and again. In this case it is a giant of a man who has legendary status in athletic circles, Donald Dinnie.

I received a communication from member Grant Williamson. Grant and Gordon Aitken were responsible for the whole idea of the new memorial cairn to Wallace in Falkirk. He has asked if the Society would help take on the responsibility for the commemorations held at the cairn each year. This will be discussed at the next meeting, or if any members have a view on this, they may contact the Society to make their views known.

The email I received from Grant runs as follows:

“The Falkirk cairn was built and dedicated almost 2 years ago. We have had two parades/commemorations, the attendance having increased from the first year. The organisers of the event are myself, Gordon and Ken Shirra (the Falkirk cairn committee - for council purposes).

The events we now consider established and feel that it should be run under the auspices and constitution of the Society of William Wallace. (The event will still be organised by the same few and whoever else would like to get involved). By running the event under the banner of the Society - we feel this will have a greater appeal/impact when advertising and soliciting funds. At the same time it will be another feather in the cap of the Society and send out a positive message of involvement that the Society is creating awareness of our culture.

Each year we have had a member of the society speaking,

2007 John Patterson and Duncan Fenton

2008 your good self and Gordon Aitken

2009 George Boyle and possibly me.

We hope that this will continue.
 
Gordon and myself joined the Society and through this attended the Wallace event in London, where we had the idea for the cairn.

While gaining funds to build the cairn - with the exception of the Falkirk council common good fund, and our sponsored run, the Society donated the largest amount into the funds, and therefore the Society played a huge part in the idea, funding and latterly the construction of the cairn, as it was through close links with other patriots that we gained the know how and management to construct the cairn.

Grant.


I look forward to seeing some of you at the next meeting at Elderslie Village Hall, on Tuesday 19 May at 8PM.


I remain, yours for Scotland,

David R. Ross, convenor.

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE NEWSLETTER    APRIL 2009

Dear Patriots,

 I had a meeting with Councillor MacKay at the City

Chambers in Glasgow to discuss the possibility of erecting a plaque or a monument of some sort near Cathedral Square, to commemorate Wallace’s fight in Glasgow known as the “Bell o’ the Brae”.

The only place this fight is mentioned is in Blind Harry’s work on Wallace, and it is not collaborated in any other source. That does not mean that it did not happen of course, but it means that any wording would have to be carefully thought over, to avoid controversy, as I can imagine Unionists having a field day attacking such a scheme.

The safest way to do it is to use phrases like “Tradition states that near this spot….” So that no one is making hard and fast claims to anything.

It would be nice to have even a small plaque to Wallace in Glasgow, as there is a dearth of monuments to anything regarding Scotland’s history in most of our major cities.

Think of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. There are no statues of any of the Stewart kings, even though they were the longest running dynasty in European history. How many have statues of Robert the Bruce for instance? Aberdeen has its fine Wallace statue, but that is about it, and we have Wallace and Bruce flanking the doorway to Edinburgh Castle, but there is nothing to depict our history in our city squares. Glasgow’s George Square is full of statues of “Britons”- Walter Scott included. No MacBeth, Kenneth MacAlpin, Alexander I, II or III, or Mary, Queen of Scots. There is a statue of Bonnie Prince Charlie that I know of, a very good one, with him mounted on horseback looking every bit the prince-but it’s in the centre of Derby!

Rant over. But it would be nice to have a little something to Wallace in Glasgow. We could always link something together with Robroyston to have a Glasgow related day.

And just in case you were wondering where the Bell o’ the Brae was sited, its that rise in the High Street heading towards the cathedral just after you have crossed George Street. But Cathedral Square would probably be the most appropriate site due to the fact that it’s a touristy area, for any sort of memorial.

Worth pursuing at any rate. And thanks to my mate John Toner for suggesting the idea in the first place!

I remain, yours for Scotland,

David R. Ross, convenor.

 

WALLACE SOCIETY NEWSLETTER MARCH 2009

Dear Patriots,

Firstly, I would like to thank Duncan Fenton for his sterling work in chairing meetings while I have been away on a speaking tour.

I see that “Braveheart” is soon to be released on Blue-Ray. (An even more expensive way to watch DVD’s!) This format tends to have a lot of extras, and it will be interesting to see what it comes with on this format. It will of course promote the story of Wallace that little bit further.

Glasgow City Council seems quite amenable to erecting a new memorial of some sort to Wallace in the High Street area. This is all at a very early stage, and no real detail has been put in place as yet.

Blind Harry tells us of Wallace’s victory over an English force in Glasgow’s High Street, at a fight that became known as the “Bell ‘o the Brae”. Blind Harry is the only source for this fight, and there is no mention of it in English accounts for instance, but that does not mean that it did not happen.

Anything put in place would have to take this into account of course, and be worded accordingly, with something like “tradition states” as part of the wording, so that it does not become a target for Unionists to cast doubts on its validity.

As things progress, members will be kept appraised of details. It would be nice to have a plaque or similar to Wallace in Glasgow itself, and it would be a focal point for a future commemoration, or something that we could tie in with the commemoration at not too distant Robroyston.

There are plans afoot to “tidy up” the surroundings of the boulder at Riggend, between Cumbernauld and Airdrie. Legend states that Wallace sharpened his “great two-handed claythorn” on this boulder before the battle of Falkirk in 1298.

It is nice when individuals care enough to try and make more of Wallace related sites, and this is the case here. A path is to be constructed, covering the few feet to the boulder from the nearby farm road, the surroundings tidied, and a storyboard put in place.

All these wee things help cement Wallace’s struggle for Scotland’s freedom for future generations.

I have been speaking to some of the tourist people from Nova Scotia in Canada too, and they are to take the copy of the Wallace Sword that usually resides in the Wallace Monument, on a tour to Nova Scotia in early summer to arouse interest in Wallace’s story.
It is not the original they are taking of course. There is a copy of it in the Monument too, and this is a project I would like to get involved in, helping to promote Scotland and Wallace to ex-pats.

Member George Boyle has made some great changes to the Wallace Society web site. Thanks George, it was long overdue, and thanks for your expertise and input. You can easily find the site by punching “Society of William Wallace” into your search engine. It is a start we can build on, and hopefully it will become a place where those desiring knowledge can browse and learn.

I remain, yours for Scotland,

David R. Ross, Convenor.

 

WALLACE SOCIETY NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 2008

Dear Patriots,

There have been reports in the press that there are moves afoot that a Member of the Scottish Parliament will ask for the return of the Lubeck Letter.

This was one of many letters sent out in the name of Wallace and Murray on Scotland’s behalf, after the victory at Stirling Bridge, telling European traders that Scotland’s ports were once again “open for business” after the ousting of a vicious invader. The Lubeck letter is the only one, which has survived the centuries.

Lubeck, incidentally, is a port near Hamburg, Germany, that was an important place in Wallace ‘s day. The letter still bears Wallace’s seal, and it is this seal, which allowed us to identify the name of Wallace’s father, as it bears the motto “William fillius Alan” (William son of Alan).

I can understand calls for this letter to be returned, important is it is to the history of our country, but the hard fact remains that this letter was “sent” to Lubeck, and so, I think of it as their property. If any of us received a personal letter from, say, a Hollywood star, we would think of it as something sent to us, and so therefore our property.

Lubeck has looked after this letter admirably, through everything the centuries have thrown at it, including the heavy allied bombing raids of World War II! While other Wallace documents and letters have vanished, this one has survived, due to the care that has been lavished on it.

Lubeck were good enough to loan the letter to Scotland a few years ago, and it was on display in the Museum of Scotland- I know as I travelled through to Edinburgh twice to look at it. There were other Wallace related documents on display with it too. The court ledger that was used at Wallace’s trial, and a little letter that was on Wallace’s person when he was captured. This little letter was a personal one to Wallace from the King of France, introducing him to his envoys at the Vatican. This letter has become known as the “Safe Conduct”.

Now, this “Safe Conduct” was an item given to Wallace. The English in Scotland captured it. It was a Scotsman’s possession, and was taken south like its owner, and when he was murdered, it, and the other documents that were on his person were kept in London.

It is currently in the keeping of the Public Records Office at Kew.

The other documents that were on Wallace’s person have all been lost over the centuries.

I feel it would be better if the onus on returning a Wallace document was concentrated on the Safe-Conduct. It is a Scottish possession, and should be returned to Scotland.

I am proud to say that Scotland has not been lax in returning items that are important to indigenous people. The ghost shirt of the Lakota people to name one.

Wouldn’t it be brilliant to be able to go to the Museum of Scotland as look upon a letter that was a personal possession of Wallace’s? Something that was given to him on the 7th of November 1300, and remained in his possession till his capture on 3rd of August 1305. It was something he was familiar with, something he looked upon, and something Scots should be able to look upon too in this day and age.

Kew have been approached many times regarding this matter. They get very evasive when this matter is raised. The wording on the letter is clear and it refers to William Wallace. They have even gone so far as to question whether it is the same William Wallace, why do we think it is connected etc? I get the distinct impression that they do not think we are capable of looking after such an artefact in Scotland, and it is better where it is, behind closed doors in a locked drawer in England.

They have managed to lose the other documents that were on Wallace’s person, letters that could have enlightened us to much that is unknown about the man.

I do applaud motions such as that asking for the Lubeck letter to be returned. They keep Wallace’s, and therefore, Scotland’s struggle to the fore of the public imagination. But my personal view is that the Safe-Conduct has relevance, and a very valid claim to be returned, due to the fact it is a Scottish possession.

It is the one that the pressure should be on to be returned. Lubeck, as said, have looked after their letter and have looked after it admirably.

I feel that the people in charge of our museums should be doing much more. I think they are of the feeling that they can basically turn up at Kew and ask to see such an item. They can don white gloves and look upon it, so what is the problem?

But the time has come when our museum staff should be pressurising for the return of the many thousands of documents kept elsewhere in the world that are Scottish, and as what makes us Scottish is our shared history and experiences, much of the missing “brickwork” of that should be being put back in place. 

I hope you have all had a good New Year, and I look forward to catching up with many of you at this year’s meetings and commemorations.

I remain, yours for Scotland,

David R. Ross, Convenor.

 

WALLACE SOCIETY NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 2008
Dear Patriots,

It’s been an eventual few days since the last meeting in Elderslie.

I was contacted by Society member Jim Singer (Jim has run the Aberdeen event which takes place at the Wallace statue for several years) and informed me about a plaque due to be unveiled in France.

Like Jim, I have an interest in all things, and all eras Scottish. The plaque was to mark the last resting place of Cameron of Loch Eil, who had to flee Scotland in the aftermath of Culloden. Having just come back from the States, I swithered about going, but cheap flights from Ryanair sealed the deal. Four of us flew from Prestwick to Beauvais, north of Paris. For anyone who ever wants to do a similar jaunt, four makes sense, as you can hire a car split four ways, and prices for rooms are for the room and not the amount of people, so it makes sense to pay for two twin rooms.

That’s the canny Scot part out the road now!

We headed north, almost back to the Channel, to a picturesque little town, still sporting its medieval gates and walls, by the name of Bergues. It stands just a little inland from Dunkirk. There is already a plaque to Cameron of Loch Eil in the town, on a wall marking the site of the hospital where he died in 1748. This plaque was unveiled ten years ago. The 1745 Association now wanted to mark his grave in the town’s graveyard, but this was not straightforward. The cemetery was heavily shelled during the allied advance in World War II and bodies were basically blown all over the place. They were all re-interred of course, but no one is really sure where the actual resting places are any more, as I’m sure you can imagine.

So an upright plaque was unveiled, on a cairn like edifice, with the pipes playing, and with a few words spoken, most notably by the son of the current chief of Clan Cameron. The Saltire flies above on a new flagpole, and a French brass band played a selection of Scottish airs.

The town dignitaries were all there, and were delighted that a new link had been forged with Scotland. The hospitality that we were shown was remarkable. 

We were only in France for 48 hours, so I poured over a map looking for something else that we could visit that had some Scottish link. I knew that Longshanks had exiled King John Balliol to his ancestral lands in France. Although I had a large-scale map, Bailleul near the River Somme was not marked, but I knew that it was somewhere in the region of Abbeville, near Amiens, and luckily this was on the way south to the airport. I should perhaps point out that there are something like seventeen towns or villages in France with the name Bailleul, so it is worth remembering that this one is near the Somme!

So we set off, and when we reached Abbeville I asked several people if they could direct us to Bailleul. No one had ever heard of it. Even a taxi driver who spoke perfect English had never heard of it. Eventually it was found on Sat Nav, and it turned out it was only 13 kilometres away. We were given directions. We followed the Somme upstream a few miles, and came across the place. It was tiny, only a few houses scattered round a little old church. So small, in fact, that I was not surprised that it was unknown only a few miles away. We managed, after attracting some attention wandering about in belted plaids and the like, to gain access to the church. There is not much to see inside, in fact, it was quite austere. But where was the castle where Balliol lived out his remaining years? Several enquiries with gestures and using our non-existent French (and none of the locals spoke English) and repeating words like “chateaux?” had us pointed in the direction of a large house on a hill above the town. The local landowner who lived within this more recent version, seeing our dress and garbled enquiries, suddenly said something along the lines of “Jean Bailleul, Roi Ecosse” and I snatched on this, exclaiming “oui!”

He took out some ancient maps of his property, and marked upon was the site of the ancient castle in some dense woodland. He and his wife pulled on Wellington boots, and beckoned us to follow their vehicle. Following the road back down to the village, we turned into a track where there was a statue of Christ crucified on the junction. This track led into a clearing on the edge of the thicker forest, and a path led into the trees. Just a few yards in we could see the remains of quite substantial earthworks, and on climbing atop them I was able to ascertain that this was part of the outer bailey of the place. At the far end there rose the inner keep of the castle, everything covered in quite dense foliage. Further inspection revealed there was stonework still protruding here and there. In the middle of the inner keep the well was still intact, stonework complete, and the landowner was able to inform us that this well was 20 meters deep.

We scrambled over these remains. It was quite extra-ordinary to think of the King of Scots in exile here. He lived just long enough to hear the news of Bannockburn, and I wonder what he thought of that, as his one time rival had won the victory.

But more striking to us, was the thought that there was a good chance that Wallace himself was here. He fought in the name of John Balliol, and it would seem probable that on his journeying across France, that he would have called in here to pay homage to his liege lord. So we looked out upon the landscape and tried to cast our minds back to the time of Wallace and how it must have looked to him.

The ditches surrounded the castle are still very deep, and it was relatively easy to see what the outline of this large fortification had once been. We took many photos, but there is much tree cover and pictures do not really do justice to what remains.

As we could only find one person in the area who knew where the castle remains actually were, on the way home we did discuss the feasibility of perhaps erecting a little cairn or plaque telling of the Scottish connection, with the story in French and English, and holding a ceremony to forge a link with Bailleul. 

Another couple of, I hope, interesting wee points. I went to see the film, “Stone of Destiny” at the cinema. It was brilliant, one hundred times better than I honestly expected! It stuck very well to the actual events involved in the liberation of the Stone back in 1950. It was a film from a purely Scottish perspective, and we so seldom see that, that it hit me like a breath of fresh air.

The best tip I can give you is that you should strive to see it. It made me proud, it bathed me in patriotic feeling, the music was great, the acting was great, and look out for a cameo appearance, in the style of Alfred Hitchcock, by Ian Hamilton, the man behind the events of 1950.

Fantastic! It made me feel that change was really underway, just in the fact that I had seen something created with no Scottish “cringe” and with no foreign propaganda subliminally in place. 

Finally, crossing into Scotland the other day, a new sign has been erected at Gretna, marking the border. The old one was a little brown affair, this one is massive in comparison, is in blue and white, features the Saltire as its theme, and states in large writing “Welcome to Scotland”, and has the same in Gaelic “Failte gu Alba”.

You can spot this one from an appreciable distance, and again, I hope this is part of the accelerating change taking place in our nation. 

I remain, yours for Scotland,

David R. Ross, Convenor.

 

WALLACE SOCIETY NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 2008
Dear Patriots,

Just to remind you all that Wallace Day is this Saturday, 23 August, the actual anniversary of Wallace’s murder. This is the 703rd anniversary, and I can’t believe that is three years now since the commemorations in London.

The march leaves Ludovick Square in Johnstone at 2.30, so we will be gathering there from about 2 PM on.

The march goes to the memorial at Wallace’s birthplace in Elderslie, where there will be speakers and a wreath laying. The evening event in the village hall begins at 7 PM and carries on to midnight. Ted Christopher and Saor Patrol will supply the entertainment. Entrance is £10. The café will be up and running as usual, and there will be the usual bar facilities etc.

I hope to see as many of you there as possible.

Some of you may have read in the press of the desecration of the original coffin lid of the tomb of James III at Cambuskenneth Abbey. I have been inside the abbey many, many times, and I know many of you have too, especially at prior Stirling Bridge events, but I had no idea that the original coffin lid was within, as it has never been pointed out to me, and it is certainly not signed in any way.
The tomb in the churchyard today was replaced in Victorian times, and it is on the site of the High Altar and surrounded by railings. I’m shocked that there is so little respect for our past that vandals would not balk from destroying such a precious artefact.

But it is no wonder when I see the state of our press. The Daily Record had a paragraph on the story, with an accompanying picture of James the Eighth- who was James the Third of England! Their research was so bad that they had a picture of a king three centuries after the fact! And he was James III of the wrong country!

The Herald at least, covered the story with a little more dignity.

But we have so little remaining of our tombs of Kings and Queens, that I’m really surprised that the original tomb cover was so little known. I wish I had a photo of it at least.

As to the Olympics. Is it just me, or is everyone left as cold as I am. The whole “British” aspect means nothing to me. I watch “Britons” win medals and it does not stir me in the slightest. I would honestly be as happy to watch, or happier actually, a Lithuanian winning a medal. I hate the whole phoney British thing, and hate the Union Jack thing that accompanies it.

I’m glad I am not talented enough to be a world leader in any particular sport. There is no way I could stand there with the Union Jack waving, and that dirge of an anti-Scottish tune being played with me standing to attention.

Team GB. Who thought that one up? Does the GB bit stand for Gordon Brown? It means nothing to me. I will have no interest in the Olympics until I can actually watch Scottish athletes represent their nation.

I feel completely alienated from the whole thing.

And as for Gordon Brown, I saw him interviewed in the States, and the interviewer asked him where he was born. His reply was “North Britain”.

I would never recognise him as a Scot of course, and it seems he does not either. He is British. I am a Scot, and there is world of difference. William Wallace was a Scot, there is no doubt about that, and I am proud to call myself one.

I remain, yours for Scotland,

David R. Ross, Convenor.
 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE AUGUST 2008 NEWSLETTER
Dear Patriots,

Just wanted to remind you all that this coming Saturday is the day for the commemoration of Wallace’s capture at Robroyston. The event starts at 2PM, and afterwards, anyone who wishes can go on to the Campsie Nairn, a local bar that has put a room aside for us. I hope to see many of you there.

Most of you will be familiar with the Wallace Tavern in Elderslie, standing as it does on the Main St. The place is under new ownership, the new proprietor being Fraser Campbell, a local man who also plays rugby in Kilbarchan. I met up with Fraser and he has big plans for the place. He wants to make the pub more of a Wallace “visitor centre”, with a Wallace related theme and storyboards on the walls etc. He has plans to apply to put in a flagpole where he can fly the Saltire, and he is looking at having a Wallace mural painted on the gable end of the building.

He wishes to get involved in making Wallace Day more of a village-wide event, and he is putting on bands, and has a bouncy castle for kids and the like at the large car park at the side of the bar.
Obviously Fraser is a businessman, but he bounced some interesting ideas off me, and as the Society is very much a democracy, I want to share some of these ideas with you, so that people can debate their thoughts on these matters at forthcoming meetings.

He did suggest that there could be a large marquee erected in the pub car park in future years, where a series of events could be held in conjunction with the Society. He is also willing to allow the place to be used by the Society if the need arises. It did occur to me that it may be a fitting venue for this year’s annual dinner, and this is something to be discussed too.

The guy is obviously a patriot, and it is good to have folk on the ground, so to speak, that are interested in taking Wallace Day further. I would like to see Elderslie come on board as a unit, and celebrate its most famous son, and this may be the first step for the future.

There is only one meeting left before Wallace Day of course. It takes place on Tuesday the 19th of August. For those who cannot make the meeting, the details for this Wallace Day, the 703rd anniversary, are roughly the same as for previous years.

We gather in Ludovick Square in Johnstone at two for a two thirty set off, probably arriving at the monument in Elderslie at three. Speeches and wreath laying will take place. The evening event at the village hall will run from seven till midnight.

Tickets are ten pounds.

I have also received a copy of the new programme I have made for the History Channel in the States. It is called “Warriors” and this particular episode is about the Battle of Stirling Bridge. It runs for an hour, and I am toying with showing it at the next meeting, but that may depend on how much other business we have to get through! No matter, I’m sure you will all get to see it in the near future if we run over a bit. Or we could watch half at this meeting and half at the next!

I remain, yours for Scotland,

David R. Ross, Convenor.
 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE MAY 2008 NEWSLETTER

Dear Patriots,

I was watching a re-run of “Coast” on the TV, and took a little more than a passing interest because it was following the shore of Lewis and then round to Orkney. The girl presenter made a comment that made me think. She said, “When I’m standing on the shore of my country…”

As she is English, it made me realise that I would never think or say, if I was standing on the shore of Devon or on the Scilly Isles for example, that I was “on the shore of my country”. Different mind set perhaps, but I think very few Scots would stand on a beach in England and think of themselves as being in “their” country.

Other than that, I’ve been lucky enough to be out and about a bit in the last few weeks, taking in the history that surrounds me. Some of the Crann Tara (a Scottish cultural organisation) boys and girls had been over in Ireland to visit battlefields, especially ones with a Scottish connection, and just learn a little bit more.

Ted Christopher was flying over to Cork to “do” the entertainment for a couple of nights, and asked me if I wanted to go with him. As the flights worked out at less than a fiver (including tax!!!) I jumped at the chance. We saw some fantastic stuff, visiting the field of the battle of Knockanoss, where the Scots and Irish had fought with the English, and where Alisdair McColla the famous warrior from Colonsay, who had fought alongside the Great Montrose many times, had been slain.

We visited his tomb, and some of the locals had actually seen the body in its state of internment, and described it to me, telling me Alasdair, as tradition relates, was over seven feet tall.

But what really struck me again about Ireland, was the standard of living. No graffiti, no litter, and the standard of cars and houses looked several rungs up the ladder to what we are used to in Scotland.
This is because Ireland is an independent celtic nation of course, in charge of its own destiny. And on top of this, Ireland does not have the natural resources that we have-gas, oil etc. so it makes me think of what Scotland would be like if full nationhood were to become a reality. It worries me that people can have doubts about this, all they need to do is look at the situation in Ireland, and perhaps the reality would dawn at how much we are being held back, and that England is this huge albatross of subsidy junkies we have hanging round our neck, stripping and gobbling up our money and resources.

I had a wee jaunt down to Cumbria too, and am happy to report that re-construction work is underway on Holm Cultram, the little abbey where Robert the Bruce’s father is buried, and where the brain and entrails of Longshanks were interred. The church was burnt in a malicious fire a year or two back.

I also took a run over to Burgh-by-Sands where Longshanks breathed his last, and took a little look in St. Michael’s Church there, where Longshanks was laid out before his journey south to his tomb in Westminster Abbey.

Duncan will be chairing the next meeting, as I have duties to perform to promote my new book “James the Good, the Black Douglas.” He is one of our greatest heroes, and I hope that I have brought his story to a new generation. He was raised with his father William fighting alongside Wallace, and he took up the torch that Wallace carried and became the man of England’s nightmares, eventually seeing England recognise Scotland’s independence.

I remain, yours for Scotland,
David R. Ross, Convenor.

 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE NEWSLETTER MAY 2008.
Dear Patriots,

The campaign to try and have the only artefact that we can truly call a personal possession of Wallace’s continues.

We have the Wallace sword of course, although it has changed greatly over the centuries, a new pommel being fitted in the time of James IV for instance, but there is always going to be debate over its authenticity, although I truly believe it is, indeed, the “ghost” of Wallace’s sword.

But the letter in question was taken from Wallace, along with other documents during his capture at Robroyston. It was a personal possession that he was given by the King of France in 1300, and so he had carried it for some five years when he was taken in 1305. It was taken south to be used as evidence at his sham trial in Westminster Hall, and today it is kept at Kew, at the records office.

As interest in this letter has grown, so by comparison has the back peddling from down south. There is now dialogue denying that it really has anything to do with Wallace, or that it is some other letter that has mysteriously appeared, but just happens to bear Wallace’s name.

What I found particularly insulting was Kew saying that the letter was better where it was, as they had the facilities to look after such an artefact, thereby implying that Scotland could not. A bit rum when you consider that over the years they have managed to lose the other documents that were taken from Wallace.

The Museum of Scotland, a building housing the greatest artefacts from our history, and whose halls I love to wander, has a glaring gap in our past by having nothing on display that has any tangible connection with Wallace. The return of this document would change that.

The Sunday Post has been good enough to carry on this fight, and along with this newsletter there will be a cutting from that newspaper telling the latest episode of the story.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the next Society meeting at Elderslie Village Hall, Glenpatrick Road, Elderslie, 7.30 for 8PM, on Tuesday 20th May.

I remain, Yours for Scotland,
David R. Ross Convenor.      
 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE NEWSLETTER APRIL 2008
Dear Patriots,

I was lucky enough to be invited to the “Edinburgh Dungeon” at the side of Waverley Station in Edinburgh, to be at the unveiling of their new “Wallace” exhibit. They have done a good job describing Wallace’s last moments, and I was particularly impressed with the guy they have clad as one of Wallace’s companions who gave a moving and patriotic speech regarding Scotland’s fight for freedom.

John Smeaton was meant to open the exhibit, but had been delayed, so I happily obliged when I was asked if I would cut the ribbon.

As I have said before, it may seem strange to tell you about Wallace being used in a visitor attraction in this way, but it does at least show some kind of moot change in Scotland, as fifteen years ago, Wallace was not mentioned anywhere on a regular basis.

I parked my car on the outskirts of Edinburgh and got the bus in to the city centre. The Edinburgh Dungeon is a pricey place to visit, but I noticed that on the back of the bus ticket there was a £5 off the entrance fee offer, and it featured the story of Wallace on the bus ticket. I also saw several posters for the Edinburgh Dungeon featuring Wallace on bus stops on the route into the city.

All these wee things help of course, and keep people’s consciousness on Wallace and Scotland.
The Edinburgh Dungeon will not be to everyone’s taste, as it is more geared to tourism and I know it will not be a lot of folk’s idea of a good time, but I always want to keep you all appraised of any connection I hear of connected to the man.

It is only a five-minute walk from Waverley over to the Museum of Scotland, and that was the other destination on my journey through to the capital. It is always nice to look at the many Saltires flying from the buildings en route. There are still one or two Union flags, but in my soul I know that these are flown by those who have not woken up to the changes inherent in our nation, and that the days are numbered for that sad old flag of oppression and colonialism.

I always stop for a while and ponder at the opening exhibit on the ground floor of the museum, the Breacbannoch. That little house shaped and celtic motif embossed reliquary, which was carried before the Scots as they advanced at Bannockburn.

It is sad that there is really nothing on show that we can connect with Wallace, though there are articles from his era. I know that there is very little that has survived that has a tangible connection with Wallace, but as he is known the world over and is regarded as our National Hero, I feel that the museum should have one or two items in a case to at least recognise that he existed and ensure his place in our nation’s story.

The letter of safe conduct from the King of France for instance, that was taken from Wallace at his shameful betrayal at Robroyston, but is currently in the archives at Kew near London, should be on show in Scotland. It was a personal possession of Wallace, something that he could take from his pocket or sporran of sorts, and gaze upon, and every child growing up in Scotland should be able to gaze upon it as he did and forge that link.

And the question has to be asked, why are our museums not clamouring to have Scotland’s most treasured possessions back from the various institutions in Europe (mostly in England I have to add) where they currently languish?

Still it seems, this is down to the sorry spectre of Unionism, but I hope that the day will come when this situation is rectified.

While at the Museum of Scotland in Chambers St., it is worth visiting the exhibition currently underway on the silver of Scotland. Bit pricey to get in I thought, at six quid a pop (maybe that’s just the true Scot in me) but it was well worth the effort. Only black mark for me was that many of the pieces from the late 1600’s-early to mid 1700’s, were referred to as dating from the time of the Jacobite rebellion.

Rebellion is not a word I like to see used, uprising is a better choice. After all, Charles Edward Stewart was the direct descendent of Kenneth MacAlpin and the early Pictish kings, through Ceannmor, Bruce and James IV, and he was of course the great, great grandson of Mary, Queen of Scots. Hardly a “pretender” to the throne.

Sad that a Scottish museum refers to the ancient bloodline of Scotland as “rebels”, but that is propaganda for you.

Speaking of the silver, I thought we had lost something through the centuries, as the older, hand worked items were aesthetically far superior than our modern silver, and all done without modern tools and techniques.

I noticed that I was not only one to spot this, as a kid’s scrawl in the comments book said, “the old bits are great, the newer ones are rubbish”!

And when walking round this exhibition, please keep an eye open for the “Lanark Bell” among the sporting trophies. It was awarded as a prize for horse racing in Lanark, and parts of it may date back to the days of William the Lion. Our vice-convenor Duncan has taken a particular interest in this piece and has been doing his very best to promote it.

I remain, yours for Scotland,
David R. Ross, Convenor.
 

SOCIETY OF WILLIAM WALLACE MARCH 2008 NEWSLETTER
Dear Patriots,

I’ve been involved in several media-related Wallace projects recently, and for better or worse, I feel I should tell you all a little about them.

I played Wallace for a short film for the “Edinburgh Dungeon”, who have a new attraction being built, which features the gory murder of Wallace. I always question the rights and wrongs of these things, but at the end of the day, 20 years ago there was nothing regarding Wallace, or for that matter, any of the great folk of Scottish history at any of these places, and I suppose any publicity is good publicity.
Anyway, I sat in make up for an hour to be transformed into a dark haired warrior, and I hope that I did the man justice in the words I chose to use for his “final” speech.

John Smeaton was also present. He was dressed up in Wallace garb and did some publicity work for the “Dungeon” folk, the press taking pics of him as our national hero. John, as everyone knows, seems to be a bit of a “Brit” at heart, but I have to try and put that down to a misguided or misinformed sense of what country he actually lives in and hope that one day the light will be seen.

I was at least able to say the line (I have to admit it, it was reported in the Sun) “700 years ago Wallace said to the English, “just come tae Scotland, we’ll set about ye” and 700 years on John Smeaton said to those who would try to curtail our way of life today “just come tae Glasgow, we’ll set about ye!”

Well, I did try to forward a Scottish aspect to the scenario!

John was a decent enough guy at the end of the day. He has been catapulted into a situation not of his making where he is getting to see a bit of the world, getting awards, and documentaries are being made of his life, and I wish him the best of luck.

I’m also just starting to make a programme for the History Channel in North America, one episode for a series called “Warriors”. It will be focusing on various great fighters from history, and of course, the episode I’m working on is about Wallace.

I’ve enrolled as many people as I can who know their stuff, to try and do justice to Wallace and what he was all about as a fighting man. Member Hugh Robertson will be helping with the fighting scenes, and I’ve contacted some of our academic community to help too.

Dr. Amanda Beam is on board, and as most of you will know, Wallace fought in the name of King John Balliol, giving his fight some legitimacy, and so you may be interested to know that Amanda is to release a book on King John later in the year. It’s going to be something like 500 pages, so it seems that a king of whom we know relatively little, will be catapulted forward in our understanding.

On Society business, we are a little behind in some of our membership renewals, and the fault for this lies with me. I’ve undergone several bouts of surgery, and today sees me back in hospital for some face reconstruction work after a mishap where mine got a bit smashed. I’ve shown the surgeon a photo of Brat Pitt, but he didn’t look very hopeful.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that everything will be back on track after the next meeting, and I apologise for any delays, most of which were caused by me not being present at the last meeting and I have a backlog of renewals in a pile here, waiting to be handed in. And if you have a problem with that, the good news for me is that you might not recognise me to have a word with me about it!

I remain, yours for Scotland,
David R. Ross, Convenor.
 


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The Society of William Wallace is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Registration number SC045959