The weekend of events to mark John Rae’s 205th birthday began with an open day at the Hall of Clestrain on Saturday 29th September, made especially momentous by the fact that we have now raised enough money to pay off the balance on the Hall! The day was windy and cold, but we had a good number of visitors who braved the weather to come and see what we have planned for John Rae’s birthplace.
In the evening we were treated to an opportunity to view the wonderful exhibition, Barbara Rae: The Northwest Passage, at the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness, in the company of the artist herself.
The celebrations continued on Sunday 30th September with a service in St Magnus Cathedral where John Rae was remembered. This was followed, not only by the usual graveside ceremony, but also a Gala evening at the new Orkney Distillery in Kirkwall, where the gin, Kirkjuvagr, is created. There was a talk by local historian, Tom Muir, and a rendition of Air for John Rae on the fiddle with guitar accompaniment, by the Wrigley sisters, Jennifer and Hazel. The evening ended with an auction of items which raised an amazing £1517!
With the help of our amazingly generous supporters we have reached the final amount to complete the purchase of the Hall of Clestrain three years ahead of our deadline! A special mention must go the Scottish lady in Canada, who gave us £40,000 last year, and also to Bill Miller, from America, who, at the Gala, donated £9,500 to the John Rae Society.
Please don’t stop sending in donations, as we now have to first wind- and water-tight the Hall so that it is stabilised for the next stage of our project to create a visitor and events centre to celebrate John Rae and his remarkable legacy.
Link to Video of Piper https://youtu.be/T4Sk1WndwSY