John Rae Birthday Events

21 September 2022

Join us to celebrate John Rae’s 209th birthday
We are planning two public events to mark the 209th birthday of Orphir-born Arctic Explorer John Rae on Friday September 30th.

Graveside Dedication at Noon

You are invited to join us at St Magnus Cathedral Graveyard where a piper will lead celebrants from the gates up to John Rae’s burial place where John Rae expert Bryce Wilson will give an address, and a small libation of Highland Park whisky will be poured on John Rae’s grave to honour his memory.

Charity Auction at Skaill House

Collectors of whisky, original art and books and others interested in supporting the society are invited to a birthday auction celebration at Skaill House from 7pm. The evening begins with a smoked salmon and fizz reception before the official draw of the John Rae Big Birthday Raffle for which more than 2000 tickets have been sold over the last few months. Raffle prizes include a weekend stay for two at Skaill House, a bottle of the now sold-out special edition Highland Park John Rae Whisky, and items by local artists and craftspeople including jewellery from Malcolm Appleby and Sheila Fleet and artworks by Ingrid Grieve and Jeanne Bouza Rose. Raffle tickets will be on sale until 7.40pm.
After the excitement of the draw, with wine and whisky tastings of Highland Park whisky, Orkney’s expert auctioneer John Copland will call a fundraising auction with lots including signed specialist books, original artworks, and a rare special edition Highland Park Whisky.

Money raised will go towards the restoration of Clestrain Hall, the now derelict Grade A listed family home of John Rae, and to create an International Arctic Visitor Centre on the site.

As we mark the 209th anniversary of the birth of one of Orkney’s most famous sons, who displayed remarkable courage and resilience in the face of Arctic adversity on his explorations, we extend a warm welcome to his fellow Orcadians to join us to remember him at his graveside and in the evening to celebrate with appropriate fanfare and fizz that will raise vital funds to create a fitting legacy to John Rae’s achievements.

Our aim is to welcome the world to Orkney to celebrate John Rae’s pioneering work in the Arctic at his restored home and centre where we can work in partnership to grow and share an understanding of the Arctic through education, research, knowledge transfer and cultural awareness.

President of John Rae Society, Andrew Appleby

The public are requested to turn up at St Magnus Graveyard for noon on September 30th
The Auction will be held at 7pm in Skaill House, and is free to attend