By Bernie Bell
Well, not really – I’m going on about The John Rae Society again.
I’ll begin by asking – what did Michael Palin ever do for us? Admittedly he didn’t introduce drainage to Orkney – (anyone not familiar with the film ‘The Life of Brian’, will wonder what I’m on about!), but he is a keen supporter of the JRS, and its efforts to restore the Hall of Clestrain, including its dodgy outdoor drainage – gutters and down-pipes.
Thank goodness the Hall was made weather-proof before the onslaught of last winter, and that it can now sit out the lock-down, snug and dry, until work can begin again.
As a patron of the JRS, Michael Palin (I do have trouble calling people ‘sir’) agreed to sponsor The John Rae Explorer badge for the youth of Orkney.
These badges were to be presented to the John Rae Explorer Scouts: The Maureen Findlay Dancers: The pupils who created the designs for the Arctic Return Expedition: and others too, who have made their individual efforts. But, due to THAT VIRUS – this ceremony will have to be postponed for the duration, and then the Society will arrange a presentation of the badges to the young people who have shown particular interest and effort in the name of the good Doctor.
In the meantime, the JRS continues with its aim of restoring The Hall of Clestrain, John Rae’s birthplace and family home. The Society has been very successful in raising public awareness of Dr. Rae’s achievements – there are many articles about this, in The Orkney news https://theorkneynews.scot/?s=John+Rae+Society
The dedication of a commemorative stone in Westminster Abbey in 2014 was a major event: The Posthumous Freedom Of Orkney, bestowed by the Orkney Isles Council was a highlight: Being awarded a posthumous membership of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and later being voted the best Arctic surveyor were major advances. These forms of recognition mean a great deal to the Society and Orkney as a whole. Long may they continue!
To find out more about John Rae, the Hall of Clestrain, and the JRS – see if you’d like to help in any way, and maybe even join us? – you could have a look at the website www.johnraesociety.com
And to find out what the Romans did for us……