A Letter from the Chairman

Adapted from the Letter in Standfast Magazine Issue MK50 - December 2017
Dear Fellow Members
Fiona & our new Parade Marshal
Fiona & our new Parade Marshal 

It has been a lovely year for Grants, the Waitt Exhibition at Grantown Museum was a triumph; the Journey Planner website is finally up and running and our previous Chairman, Sir Patrick, married Lady Helen in July at Monymusk.  The outside paintwork at Duthil has been done thanks to the Chief and Chris Grant the Chef who looks after us too well at our annual dinner dance.  However, sadly we have also lost some good friends among whom are C. David Grant of the USA and our Vice Chairman’s beloved wife, Shirley.

Standfast Magazine
We are always looking for ways to make sure that we run the Society as cost effectively as possible and we have noticed that the cost of postage for the magazine is growing every time as the cost of ‘snail mail’ increases.  At the AGM we discussed sending the magazine by email or link to those who are willing to accept it in that form.  The vote was overwhelmingly in favour, so that is what we have decided to do.

Feedback for Journey Planner
We have had excellent feedback (from the USA particularly) by emails and visitors in person about the Journey Planner, so we are pleased that it is working.  It was particularly good to see Sue and Barry Hately all the long way from Australia who came to join our festivities and gave us lots of helpful ideas.

Grantown Museum
Grantown Museum are getting more and more Grant visitors who come in enquiring about family history. They hoped to be able to set up a special research room there, but have not had the time to do this yet - but it will happen.  I also have not had the time to put into practice the light hearted designs for Grant mugs, done by David Hawson, who designed the very successful ones we have in Monymusk Post Office, but we will get there. 

I Richard Waitt Exhibition
I would particularly like to congratulate Bill Sadler of Grantown, who came up with the idea for the exhibition; Dan Cottam and Helen Avenell and the rest of the Museum for making it happen and Guy Macpherson-Grant of Ballindalloch for so brilliantly wheedling his contacts to get some very important pictures there.  The Conference in September was also very special; the speakers were all experts in their fields and it was fascinating to hear them.

40th Anniversary gifts presented to Dr Bill Grant
40th Anniversary gifts presentation

40th Anniversary of the US Clan Grant Society
We were keen to congratulate the US Society on this anniversary, so we devised some gifts to commemorate this auspicious occasion.  The Chief suggested that it would be nice to send them a Quaich in return for the one that C David Grant presented to us in 2005; this is the one that we use to give the Toast to the Games Chieftain at our annual Games.  Accordingly, Judy found us a nice one, dear Charlie (the Hun) Grant made us a smart oak plinth for it, Sir Patrick’s Dalvey firm made the plaque to go on the plinth and Graeme Mackenzie, Chairman of the Association of Highland Clans and Societies presented it to Dr Bill Grant, President Clan Grant USA at Stone Mountain Games.  Charlie also made a lovely album of special Grant photos which we sent along with a copy of the Richard Waitt exhibition catalogue.  Congratulations to our friends across the pond!

Plans for Duthil
We were most grateful this year for a donation of £1000 from the USA Society towards the improvements for Duthil. Rather than concentrating on short term measures, I discussed at the AGM the idea of working up a plan to see if we could get some more funds in order to make it more accessible to visitors and in the long term to relieve the Chief of the burden of looking after it; this was agreed. I am starting by meeting Dan Cottam of the Grantown Museum to get ideas about what we need to provide. It is clear to me that there is a growing interest in clan tourism and a desire to have places to visit.  Furthermore there are lots of firms now in Scotland that specialise in offering tours for specific groups.

New Sign at Duthil Clan Centre
New Sign at Duthil Clan Centre 

We are in a fortunate position compared to many other clans as we have good links with Grantown Museum.  Not only that, but Karen Blessington and Dave Garman from the USA, are restoring the site of the old Grantown Station to be a Highland Heritage and Cultural Centre with a cafe and it will be a valued and added attraction to the area. (Look up their website for more information on this exciting project).  If we can make Duthil a more accessible part of this, it will help in the long run to keep the Society up and running.   I have the assistance of the Duthil Trust Council, ably managed by Adrian as well as offers of help from some useful local sources. With any luck by the next issue, I will be able to update you on progress.

International in 2020
No pressure!  The Chief is keen for another International in 2020, so it could be a good showcase for a refurbished Duthil and with any luck a massive use of the Journey Planner – Sir Patrick suggested that we get some help with planning this – so watch this space.

Association of Highland Clans and Societies
Links with them are strong and growing and it is good to be able to have the expertise and ideas from other clans.  Once again many thanks to the Chief and Olga who got us involved originally. 

The AHCS decided this year that they would make their Annual Outing to Duthil and the Grantown Museum in October, so the Chief and I made them welcome there.  Your hearts should glow with pride at the lovely compliments they made about Duthil, which was most encouraging, so a big thanks to the Chief and Judy and all of you who have contributed to make the place so special.  They gave us a very generous donation of £100 for Duthil too.

New Parade Marshal and Council Member
Paul, who had kindly stepped in to fill Chic`s shoes as Parade Marshal for the games march, was unable to come north this summer, so Judy suggested that I asked our good friend Tim, who is Factor at Ballindalloch, to step into the breach, as he had once unwisely told me of parades that he had organised in a previous role in South Uist.  Tim did a wonderful job, and we were (I am told) much smarter this year.  I also asked Tim if he would agree to join the Council of the Society, as he lives locally and has a great deal of experience in applying for funding for various projects.  In 2017, for example, he helped to arrange the World Angus Forum, about a famous Scottish breed of cattle, usually known as Aberdeen Angus cattle.  He is also backed by Guy Macpherson-Grant of Ballindalloch (his boss!) who was instrumental in getting the funding for the Waitt Exhibition.  Tim and the AGM agreed to this and I am sure he will be a big help.

Membership Numbers Up
Joan, our Membership Secretary, reports that membership figures are up (180 at the moment) and said that the use of Paypal on the website has been very helpful and hopes more people will use it. Many thanks for all her hard work over the years, as she will gradually be stepping down from her role and we have agreed that Kim will take this over as there is a good and clear system up and working at the moment.

Spring Meeting
Judy has been able to book Grange-over-Sands in Cumbria again for March 2018. She looked into other venues but the cost was prohibitive.  Please note that she would be very grateful if another person could take on the role of arranging the Spring Meeting as she does such a lot already.

Dress Code
In the ‘Any Other Business Section’ of the AGM we discussed the idea that some people are put off coming to the evening ‘do’ after the Games because they do not have evening clothes to hand – travelling by air from a long way away for example.  We do want as many of you who want to join us to come – it is good fun and we agreed at the AGM that the famous ‘smart casual’ would also be just as good. 

Best wishes to you all.

Fiona Grant