Assembling for the march off

Wallace Day, Scotland's premier day to celebrate the life of one of the world's most famous freedom fighters. In the actual village where he was born. You would think it would be massive, embraced by the people of the village of Elderslie and the surrounding area.

Sadly not the case.

Our society have been organising this commemoration for a number of years, revitalised by David R Ross, but sadly gone down hill since those days. We have tried to work out why and it's been surmised it could be down to the numerous other events drawing people away, either on the day or during previous and the following weekends. As usual, we gathered in Ludovic Square in Johnstone before our march. The weather was pretty near perfect for a leisurely march through the streets of Johnstone to the Wallace monument at Elderslie. A generous estimate would be around 100 to 150 marchers taking part, led by a complement of pipers and drummers from The 3rd Barrhead and District Pipeband, and we thank them for stepping in late in the day.

As we arrived at the monument, it was obvious there were almost as many people there waiting for us. George Boyle led the proceedings, inviting school teacher Jemma Tipping from Kings Park Secondary, Kings Park, South Glasgow, up to address those gathered. Originally from Newcastle, Scottish history had been as new to her on arrival in Scotland as it was to many of us who were never actually taught it at school. As we listened it was heartening to know that the understanding of why we were there was being described to us by a person educating our children, having just learned much of it herself. A new beginning, we may hope. The gathered crowd thoroughly appreciated everything Jemma had to say.

Next up was Chris Law, MP for Dundee West, and wasn't he proud of the connections Wallace had with the city he represents in Westminster? The place Wallace received most of his education and famously where he initially appears in the history books, killing his first man that we know of (just an English governor's son, nobody important) and then later leading an attack on the English Garrison in Dundee Castle before teaming up with Sir Andrew de Moray at Stirling Brig - and going back to finish the job afterwards.

We were then entertained by a group of re-enactors called Britannia XIV, they came last year also, giving us a pretty contained display in the village hall as the weather had forced us indoors. This year we were outside in the sunshine, and they were all over the place, limbs and blood everywhere - I jest. But it was a full on bash the other person's head in. Brilliant, well done guys. (No one died, just went to the hospital).

Ted Christopher and Gordon Aitken led us in 'Scots Wha Hae'. George brought the commemoration to an end by inviting those gathered who had flowers, to proceed to the monument. Sherry Fowler Byrd laid the wreath on behalf of the Society. This was followed by a minute's silence, ended with the pipers lament.

We had one final extravaganza for those gathered. Clann an Drumma gave us a masterclass in Scottish Tribal drumming. The place was bouncing and those gathered were enthralled. We hope this will be our traditional finale for future commemorations, ending what turned out to be a fantastic Wallace Day Commemoration. As those gathered eventually left, some went home and some, not enough, followed us along to Elderslie village hall - where we have our usual Hoolie, entertained this year by Ted Christopher and Clann an Drumma.

On this special evening we present our highest award of the year to the person voted for by the committee, who has done most to help the Society achieve its aims. This year, the David R Ross award went to Elspeth King (Historian and long-time Curator of the Smith Museum in Stirling, formerly of the People's Palace in Glasgow), for the years of help and support she has given the Society, most deserving in her retirement year. There was also a presentation of a copy of the Wallace Letter to Patrick Herman from Liechtenstein.

One other award was presented to Michael Balahura, who attends almost every commemoration and the events we are involved in, taking and handing photos out to anyone he has taken photos of. A very generous and attentive commitment to the Society, he received a certificate of appreciation.

Our auction of oil paintings by Patricia Hovey and a beautiful felt picture by Tracey McCracken Palmer raised a hefty sum, helping us go forward to commemorate and educate. That was it, a great time was had by all who attended, we were yet again a bit disappointed though that the hall was very much less than half full. This part of the day is under review.
George Kempik

George and Gary ready for the off
And off we go
Gary and Chris Law with the replica Wallace swordsxx
Onward and upward
The banner at the Monument
Pipe band at the Monument
Preparing for the speeches
George Boyle opens proceedings
Jemma Tipping makes her speech
Chris Law addresses the crowd
Listening to Chris's speech
Brittania XIV demonstrate medieval combat techniques
The use of the dirk
Ted sings 'Scots Wha Hae'
Sherry lays the Society wreath
Gary lays white roses
Society of Sir John de Graeme lays their tribute
Wreaths at the Monument
The piper plays the lament
Clann an Drumma perform
Clann an Drumma
Our friends from Liechtenstein with our medieval contingent
Patrick Herman speaks at Elderslie Hall
With his copy of the Wallace Letter
Presentation to our photographer friend Michael Balahura
The hall was not as full as in the past
Clann an Drumma play
The party's almost over.

Thanks to all contributors for the photos - too many to mention!

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