On Saturday 2 November, 30 people gathered at the Centre. First there were the formalities: news of hard work, modest achievements, stable finances and exciting plans for the future. Anne Baxter reported on the year past:
RoMHC became a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) on 25 June 2019 - this change of status being confirmed by OSCR - the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. The Centre can continue to operate as it has always done: you can read our new constitution and are welcome to a copy. The main difference is in auditing our finances. We are no longer obliged to use accountants and submit a return to Companies House. This will save us £800 a year and has already saved us £500 in computer software. We owe a great deal to our Treasurer Roger Harvey for keeping all our finances in order. We achieved this as a team effort – and it was an effort! Thanks to everyone.
We now have an employee, Kirsty Lord, to help with our administration, and she is a welcome addition to our team.
Our web site is flourishing, thanks to Margaret Matthew, and with Kirsty’s input we will now be able to sell our publications world-wide – indeed a package was sent off to Australia just the other day.
We have had great support and input from the Archivist of Argyll Estates, Alison Diamond, and from Live Argyll Archives in Lochgilphead. Live Argyll has school records and minutes of Parish Council meetings from Argyll And Bute. We had two workshops from ‘Written in the Landscape’ – to help us become aware of the resources that are available to the public, legal records, court proceedings, maps, correspondence. The second workshop helped us with information about preserving our photographs and paper materials. We also learned about the Data Protection Act, which does affect our records – particularly the school register which was on public display. Due to ‘the right to be forgotten’ the Centre cannot share any personal information, such as date of birth, within the last 100 years. We can hold these records, peruse them, and give basic information to those who seek it.
The Duck Race on Easter Sunday was another great community success, thanks to Christine MacCallum and her daughter Fiona. All the ducks came safely home, and are resting in readiness for next year!
Tom Aitcheson, sometime of Kintra and a great supporter of the Centre, gave a talk at Creich in September on old maps of Mull. He gave the Centre laminated copies of these (on display at the AGM). On the same evening the film ‘The Fisherman’s Daughter' was shown, starring Mark Jardine, Euphie Wood, Maimie Brunton and the late Cathy Adam, followed by the 1940s classic ‘I know where I’m going’.
We continue to respond to requests from all over the world for genealogy, and can help not only with access to our records, but by directing people to sites relevant to their family story. Visitor numbers have remained steady, helped by our banner and signs, but also by the clearing of the excess vegetation last year, to give a clear view of the Centre from the road. Great thanks to Neil Crosbie, Nigel Burgess and everyone else for such a huge task. From day to day, we take on different tasks – Jan the newsletter and displays, Jenny Membership and Sue all the paperwork for the AGM. This year we have welcomed Judy Gibson from Erraid as a new trustee. We couldn’t keep the Centre open for you and all the visitors without your support
and that of our volunteers.
For the future, with the support of South West Mull and Iona, Morven and Helen, we are in process of applying for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project is called Researching our 20th Century and we plan to employ someone part-time over three years to carry this out. We could then make more use of our photograph archive, and also collect facts and memories of the 20th Century. We are looking for support for this project – and hope we will have yours.
Whales and Gaels
Then our invited guest, Siobhan Moran of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, spoke about its work and about the long history of Hebridean communities’ involvement with the cetacians in the surrounding ocean. This relationship goes back to the days of Columba and other seafaring saints. It has been expressed in legend and song, in awe and fear, in hunting and killing – for food and oil – and today in whale-watching and serious study.
Here’s one example of what we learned from a long and fascinating illustrated talk: ‘killer whales’ are not whales, but belong to the same family as dolphins. ‘Orca’ isn’t a very accurate term either, since it is a corruption of a Greek word that means ‘a kind of whale’. But the Gaelic name ‘mada-chuain’ means ‘sea-wolf’ and this is a very accurate description of the ferocity of these mammals when they hunt in packs.
Afterwards Nigel Burgess sang Siobhan part of a Gaelic song about whales. This serenade was one way of thanking Siobhan for her very interesting presentation about the work of HWDT in the context of local tradition.