September 2020 (Vol. 44, Number 03)
The Banner Says…
Remembering Valerie Cairney
It is with great sadness that I am writing some of the hardest lines of my life, as I slowly come to terms with the fact that the founder and four decade publisher and editor of the Scottish Banner, my mother, Valerie Cairney has sadly and unexpectedly passed away.
I know many readers have enjoyed her content over many years or met her at numerous Scottish events around the world. Though the Scottish Banner has morphed and changed over time in what we offer, our look and our writers, Valerie’s footprint is across each and every page still today.
Valerie’s love for this publication and its readers and supporters was infinite. When she, along with my father Jim, came up with the idea of a Scottish publication back in the 1970’s it really was a way for her to take on a job that suited her demands of being a mother to three children, and in many ways the Banner became her fourth offspring.
My mother would often say she would never have had the life she did if it was not for the Scottish Banner and she loved every minute of it.
She met so many people through her career from celebrities to royalty, but it really was the readers she loved to meet and hear from most. For my mother, the relationship with
the readers was so special and it was very much a two-way street, she loved them and so many loved her. Our readership became extended family to her and she got to know so
many incredible people and I have no doubt had she not been so busy with running the Banner she would have had a very busy life keeping up with all the special people she met along the way.
People’s positive feedback about our content made all those long hard hours of work so
worth it to her. Valerie especially loved attending Highland Games across the world and connecting with people and enjoying the spectacle of Scottish culture.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many people whether it has been in person, on the phone or by email have simply asked me “Are you the son?” I am of course so very proud
to be one of her boys and it just happens to be I was the one to follow her in her footsteps and take a leap of faith and join the Banner many years ago and make a life out of being
part of the amazing international Scottish community. Sometimes to my absolute embarrassment, at the time, she talked of me in her articles, those articles I now treasure and have read a few over recently with a big smile, one of the few smiles I have just now, but with each word her love and support came through.
It may be quite rare for a mother and son to work the way we did, but we did form an incredible partnership in both our professional and personal lives. We may have not
always seen a page the same way, we did however learn from each other and she always said whilst the Scottish Banner is very rewarding it is also a challenging job and if I ever
wanted out she understood.
There are few people who understand the challenges of running a business like the Scottish Banner like Val did, at each press time you may feel you can take a breather but in fact the next issue is only a few short weeks away from printing again, there can be a heavy travel schedule as you attend events (either across the country or the world), and of course all the hard work that is not always seen by others. To this day I have known few people that have worked as hard as my mother did for all those years to keep the Scottish Banner not only going, but going from strength to strength for so many decades.
I was of course honoured when she asked me to take over as editor, a job she said I was made for. For me it was all part of my bigger job and that was being her son.
Valerie really was the Scottish Banner, and it was her, her legacy is across each issue still produced today. Since my mother retired four years ago, I have felt simply as the conduit to her vision and passion which never went away.
We often discussed so much in each issue, ideas about future issues and our combined hope for the future of the business. I know she was so proud of what she achieved with the Banner and was probably just as surprised as the rest of us it carried her through her life.
My mother also made it very clear to me on numerous occasions how proud she was that the Banner continues still today. This publication is not just our family business, but it is her legacy to both the international Scottish community and to me. I know my mother will rest better knowing how many her work touched and connected across the world.
Valerie passed away in Florida just before this edition went to press. I can already hear her telling me to “get the issue out on time, the readers expect it”. She always wanted to know when each issue got off safely to press and as we call it “putting the issue to bed”, well now Val too has “gone to bed” and leaves her family not only with a great sense of loss, but one of pride and respect.
My mother broke many glass ceilings with the Scottish Banner and her other business ventures, and became an international entrepreneur, a passionate supporter of the global Scottish community and a friend to many. To me she was so much more, my business partner, my friend, my hero, my mentor and most importantly my mother, who can
never be replaced.
Now my family and I will come to terms with the finality of this surreal loss, made even more difficult in a Covid world, and remember one incredible lady who gave so much to
so many, and one I was simply not yet ready to say goodbye to.
Rest in peace Mum and thank you for everything you have done xoxo
Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us
Covid-19 is having a major impact on many of our regular advertisers, with events being cancelled and businesses suffering. The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.