As We Were – 29.4.21

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This week in AS WE WERE Iain Thornber looks at some of the personalities who have helped shape the Highlands.


1. Mrs Lucretia Cameron-Head of Inverailort (1917-1994) OBE DL; a much loved laird throughout the Highlands for her Christian kindness with an ability to lead and persuade people by example. Tall and striking with her tartan suits and black choker; a gentle voice and a sense of fun she, together with her husband, Francis, started the Glenfinnan Highland Gathering in 1946.


2. The Very Rev George MacLeod of Fiunary (1895-1991) with pilgrims of all denominations gathered on Iona on the 1st Sunday in June 1963 to celebrate the landing of St Columba 1400 year earlier.
George Macleod, who later became Lord Macleod of Fiunary, was a Scottish soldier and clergyman; he was one of the best known, most influential and unconventional Church of Scotland ministers of the 20th century. He was the founder of the Iona Community in 1938 in Glasgow and on the island of Iona which was, and still is, an ecumenical community of men and women from all walks of life and different traditions within Christianity.
From a dockland parish in Govan, he took unemployed skilled craftsmen and young trainee clergy to Iona to rebuild the monastic quarters of the mediaeval abbey. George Macleod was the last of a long line of ministers who gave more than 550 years service to the Church which produced no less than six Moderators of the General Assembly, seven doctors of divinity, two Deans of the Chapel Royal, two Deans of the Order of the Thistle and four Royal Chaplains.


3. Sir Donald Cameron of Lochiel KT (1910-2004) Chief of Clan Cameron and Lord Lieutenant of Inverness-shire at the 1993 Glenfinnan Gathering.


4. Duncan MacCowan, Toberonochy, Island of Luing. A much respected gentleman and a fine type of Highlander – staunch in his religion and staunch in his friendship, with a great love for his native island.

Margaret, Duchess of Argyll 1912-1993, wife of Ian Douglas Campbell, 11th Duke of Argyll.

5. Margaret Duchess of Argyll (1912-1993). Wife of Ian Douglas Campbell, 11th Duke of Argyll.

6. Brigadier Stewart of Achnacone, Appin was a most distinguished and highly decorated soldier. He was commissioned into the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders in February 1914 and was the first British officer to land in France at the start of WW1. He was awarded the Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Order and served with distinction in WW2 when he led the 2nd Battalion of his regiment in India and Malaysia. Retiring from the army in 1947, when his father died, Brigadier Stewart took over the family estate and along with his wife Ursula Fletcher, restored Achnacone into what ‘big houses’ should surely be, but too rarely are – the living heart of the local community and a source of inspiration and excellence. Keenly interested in Scotland and their locality, the Stewarts were active in many charities and local organisations. Their life was proof that the Highland estate system can work to the benefit of the community, particularly if the laird is selfless, competent and resident.


7. Neil Shaw (1881-1962) Born in Duntroon; brought up on Jura. Gaelic orator, writer, bard and piper. General Secretary and organiser of An Comunn Gaidhealach.