Scottish Connection

Karen Gilmour; Kirriemuir, Scotland
April, 2007

Many of you will be wondering just how three churches, and some individuals, in a small town in Scotland have become involved in supporting OSA. To shed some light on this, I must give you a little personal background information. It is almost enough to say that my husband, John Gilmour, is the brother of Ruth Campos, co-founder of OSA, because those of you who know Ruth, know that she is Scottish. I, on the other hand, am Canadian by birth, although since marrying John, have lived in a little rural town called Kirriemuir, in the county of Angus (think beef) in Scotland.

Kirriemuir’s claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Sir James Barrie, creator of Peter Pan and writer of many other plays and novels, a fact which comes as a great shock to many Walt Disney fans! There are others who place more importance on the fact that Bon Scott, leader of AC/DC, was also born in Kirriemuir. The population of “greater” Kirriemuir is around 6000. When we first came here in the early 1970s, the town had the highest number of residents over the age of 70 in Britain. That has changed considerably as people who work in nearby cities, of which Dundee is the closest, live here in relative tranquility and commute to work, and the number of young families has increased greatly.

Until I left Canada, I attended the Anglican Church, in which I was confirmed. John, on the other hand, was brought up as a member of the Free Church of Scotland. When we had children, it seemed important to attend one church as a family, as there was no Free Church in Kirrie, and as most Scots are members of the Church of Scotland, we chose to worship in one of the two Church of Scotland congregations, called The Old Parish Church. After our children left home to make their own adult lives, I felt that it was an appropriate time to rejoin my own church and began attending the Scottish Episcopal Church, as the Anglican Church is known in Scotland, of St. Mary’s.

When each of our churches learned about our volunteer work with OSA, they had us give presentations during a service and to various groups. Word spread, and rural women’s groups had us visit to speak and show our slides and DVD. Everyone was touched by the work of the mission, and we began to receive donations for OSA from the churches, groups and from individuals, as well as procedes from coffee mornings, songs of praise services and other fundraising activities. It is, however, from the third church, St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland, which neither of us attends, that the most amazing support has come. It is linked with the small rural congregation called Oathlaw Tannadice, and had no foreign mission at the time of the formation of OSA. The imagination of its members was well and truly caught by the tremendous work which Ruth and Luis had initiated and they chose to make it their nominated foreign mission, holding various fundraising events such as a Burns’ Supper, coffee mornings and an Italian night of food, wine and song, to raise funds for OSA. Meanwhile, they began collecting their old glasses and we were able to send over 300 pairs to Peru for the people of Collique. All of this in the course of a Little over a year by a church with a total roll of 600 members (400 in St. Andrew’s and 200 in Oathlaw Tannadice)!

So there you have it – the unlikely linking of this small Scottish town with the shanty town of Collique and the work of OSA. John and I are looking forward to our next trip to Peru with the group, many of whom we now consider good friends and some newer volunteers who we shall be meeting for the first time. Oh, and as a postscript, our own dentist from Kirriemuir has now “signed up for life” (his words) to do a mission trip to Collique every year too!
Karen Gilmour