The Reception

17 December 2014

We were ushered up to the noisy, excited, throng overlooking Horse Guards Parade. I plugged in my computer and emailed what pictures I had to be shown in Orkney. Alistair,  after a while tapped his glass and welcomed everyone and thanked the many who had contributed to the splendid occasion. He made special thanks to Jennifer Wrigley for playing her moving piece, ‘Air to Dr. John Rae.’ 

A Rae family tree was brought out.  

An ancient newspaper cutting referring to John Rae’s expedition team was revealed.

Sandy and Hilda
Harvey Johnston was called upon to read out his newly composed poem Rae in the Abbey

Then I was asked to say a few words. I thanked our board of Trustees for their immense support during the whole planning operation to the events, and wished them every success in the concurrent happenings in Orkney. I also had the honour of bestowing Honourable Life Memberships to Hugh and Erica Halcro-Johnston for tireless works connected to The Hall of Clestrain. Another duo of Life Memberships was bestowed on Sandy and Hilda Firth. I think it came as quite a surprise to them. I explained that it was his cleaning of John Rae’s grave over the years, which became one of the inspirations to form JRS. Ray Mears and his wife Ruth were there. It was for me to proudly announce that Ray had agreed to be our third Patron.

A great cheer resounded, and I thought this the right moment to introduce the Orkney Cog that David Reid had organized. He emailed the recipe to James A. Stewart, Alistair’s parliamentary researcher, who made no bad job of it. A final presentation was to Alistair himself of a wee cog and a miniature of Highland Park, which he and I justly shared. I did not forget, whilst all this was going on, to ask Harvey Johnston to read out his newly composed poem to John Rae. This he did movingly to the sipping of Cog.


Many fascinating introductions were made during the passing of the Cog. Facts were swapped and new friends made whilst the cog was refilled and passed again and again.
Thanking everyone concerned for a very happy occasion.

Andrew Appleby.