February 2019 (Vol. 42, Number 08)
The Banner Says…
Dunblane’s golden son
For many, and certainly for those in Scotland, the grip of winter is well and truly on. Those cold days and dark nights can get to you after a while, leaving many to wonder when will it end. I grew up around snow and ice and remember longing for sunshine and warmth and no month did that ring truer than February. It may be the shortest month of the year, but it often felt the worst for the winter chill.
Of course, for those on the other side of the Equator things are very different. As we go to press the Australian Open is on with days forecast close to 40°C (or 104°F) making some crave a “driech” cool Scottish winter’s day. Speaking of the Australian Open many tennis fans around the world were left saddened and shocked that Scottish tennis superstar Andy Murray admitted his body is in pain every day, and he is even struggling to put on his socks and walk the dogs-never mind play elite tennis.
Murray has certainly done Scotland proud on the world stage with a career that has seen him being a US Open champion, double Wimbledon champion, double Olympic gold medallist, 11 Grand Slam finals, a former world number one just to name a few. Murray has done so much for the sport and today is Dunblane’s most famous son. A gold post box honouring the first of Murray’s two historic Olympic triumphs takes pride of place in the High Street of the town which sits just outside of Stirling.
The Dunblane native narrowly escaped the 1996 school shooting tragedy at Dunblane Primary School. Sixteen children were murdered along with their teacher on 13 March, 1996 when a gunman broke into the gymnasium and began shooting at a class of five- and six-year-olds. The young Murray, then eight, and his brother Jamie, two years older, were in the school at the time and were on their way to the gymnasium when shots rang out. No doubt Andy’s close call with evil has left him deeply affected, and thankfully the incident is still today the only mass shooting at a UK school.
In this issue
There certainly is something about Mary at the moment, with Mary Queen of Scots on the lips of many people around the world. A new international film release has certainly put the spotlight on one of the icons of Scottish history. It is another example of just how the story of Scotland needs no script as the history of this dynamic nation is so compelling and we feature just how this latest film is helping Scotland tell her story to the world.
Planning a trip to Scotland? I would imagine a castle, distillery or taking in the amazing outdoors are in order. What about going to prison? Some may be interested to learn that Scotland has its very own prison attraction. HM Convict Prison Peterhead once housed Scotland’s most hardened inmates and now tourists can visit their cells and here the stories of both the prisoners and guards on just what it was like to live one of the North East’ most infamous places.
Resting on the steep north shore of Loch Awe sits the incredible St Conan’s Kirk. This church was built by the love of son for his mother and used his unique and creative styles of design to create a building that would most likely never today be made. Walter Campbell used granite from nearby Cruachan and the wooden beams for the roof are believed to have been taken from old wooden battleships that had recently been broken up, creating an amazing piece of architecture. Now a grant is helping St Conan’s not only continue to be a place of worship but also for weddings and events so that even more people can take in one of Scotland’s most unique buildings.
Love of Scotland
This is also a month of love with St Valentine’s Day on February 14th. I hope on the 14th you honour someone or something you love. Your family, pet or simply your love of Scotland. A land that continues to tell its tale with pride.
Andy Murray has said he hopes his tennis success has helped his home town, a town he loves, recover from the school shooting ordeal that will forever be part of his life. I am sure his success has helped and more, as Dunblane and Scotland can forever be proud of Murray who has taken the tennis world by storm, yet never forgot where he is from. Whether Andy continues to play or not he will always be Dunblane’s golden son.
Is there something about Scotland you love? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us