At 3.30 p.m. as the Abbey was closing to the public, the invited guests began to gather at The Great West Door and at 4 p.m. the Service of Dedication commenced in the Chapel of St John the Evangelist.
Seeing familiar Orkney faces, people from foreign lands: descendants from members of Sir John Franklin’s expedition, others connected to McClintock’s search, writers, geographers, historians, personalities, such as Ray Mears… people with a passion for our Dr. John Rae… all gathered to pay their huge respects in this small, memorial-crowded, chapel.
The Dean cordially welcomed the congregation to the Abbey and Reverend Fraser Macnaughton, minister of St. Magnus Cathedral read Isaiah 58: 9-14.
The Flower Lady with our Floral Tributes
With expert help, Marjory of Soft Pink Flowers, Stromness, found a brilliant florist near to Westminster. We had a wreath of subtly coloured roses intermixed with white and light yellow heather sprigs, and most important of all… thistles! The flowers were a lovely selection of English garden blooms.
Before the unveiling. We promised not to photograph the hidden Rae stone.
Author of Fatal Passage and one of our patrons read a reflection, which echoed Fraser’s piece in sentiment and 19th Century Arctic experiences. It was both moving and appropriate.
Dean of Westminster offering thanks and wishes for reconciliation & Reverend Fraser McNaughton with his biblical reading.
Order of Service – link here for pdf
A wreath of beautifully chosen English country garden flowers was then laid by Mary Davey, and a simple, yet delightful bouquet was placed by Jane Hamilton; great, great nieces of Dr John Rae.
To be part of all this was such an honour. The whole service was immensely moving. Seeing familiar Orkney faces, people from foreign lands: Descendants from members of Sir John Franklin’s expedition, others connected to Mclintock’s search, writers, geographers, historians, personalities, such as Ray Mears… People with a passion for our Dr. John Rae… All gathered to pay their huge respects in this small, memorial crowded, Chapel.
Evensong was another wonder. Sigrid and I sat next to the Choir, whose singing resounded through the Abbey. This was a great moment for us all to reflect on what we had just experienced.
Jennifer Wrigley then played on her fiddle her Air for Dr John Rae.
This was greatly appreciated by all. The assembly felt it was such a moving piece and thoroughly fitting for the service as her playing filled the Abbey with an Orkney rhythm. We are all very grateful to Jennifer for making the trip to London to do this. Her recital was followed by prayers and a blessing.
The unveiled stone and our flowers
I also say that we must heartily thank Paddy Casey of Casey Construction for his generous effort and gift of the actual block of red sandstone! Completely unbeknown to us, he’d quarried it from the Head of Holland, where much of the Cathedral’s red sandstone came from. Several efforts and various blocks finally achieved a brilliant result, carved so caringly by an Abbey Mason.
The time came to make our ways to Dover House and the reception. This was quite an amusing experience, as many, including myself did not know the way. Follow Alistair, I called out. Plenty enough of the party didn’t hear that. Then I spotted Liam Mcarthur. “Follow him,” I called. Some did.
Then Neil Kermode came to the rescue. “Andrew, I know the way,” he reported. “You and I can wait here on this tiny Traffic Island. We will attract everyone’s attention and get them to catch up. We can then guide them and ensure they arrive.” The plan worked!