My wife and I moved to Blairgowrie 40 years ago to share a house with friends, where we fostered teenagers in need and lived ‘The Good Life,’ raising veg and various animals - as well as our own children! After teaching English and Guidance at Harris Academy in Dundee, I retired in 2010. For a time, the commuting was a good break between the kids at school and the kids at home! I started looking out for a way to give something back to the community that had provided such a fine home and social life for Morag and me, and schooling and stability for our children as they grew.
A Christmas Lights article in the Blairie tempted me to contact Dick Robertson a few years back (I wish someone would phone me now!). I turned up as asked early one snowy Sunday morning and mucked in with the merry crew, loading and lifting the shapes, then later helping Santa round the town in his sleigh, and finally getting the lights down and safely stored in our Container in Tayside Contracts yard. It was good fun, healthy exercise, a brilliant bunch of helpers, and the Christmas lights clearly brought a sense of community to the good folk of Blairgowrie and Rattray. No politics involved, no in-fighting!
So I went back. I was very impressed to find that Councillors Shiers and Ellis regularly attended the committee meetings and fought our corner in Perth! And that’s how I ended up a couple of years later as Chairman. Our official title is the Blairgowrie and Rattray Illuminations Committee, a group of 10 regulars who have met every month this year, more often than usual due to the non-arrival and now the arrival of the new Allan Street lights. We (and others) check the lights twice a year, refurbish them where possible, order replacements, liaise with P&K, businesses and flats to ensure power to them, erect them; organise the Switch-on day event, and Santa’s week-long sleigh collection around the streets, other money-raising activities, and grant applications. And we take the lights down, store them - and prepare for another year. So it’s almost all operated and funded by the people of Blairgowrie and Rattray.
We’ve lost 2 key players from our Committee over the last 2 years, but we’ve gained a couple of active Rattray stalwarts. I sorely wish that we could find one or two others to help Margaret, our hard-pressed secretary-treasurer-minutes secretary, please phone 874776!
I’m also involved with BRAN, clearing the paths and tracks around our area; and I deliver The Hub too. And other things that are less community-oriented. It’s all good fun, a good way to meet new people who are equally - usually more - interested in doing their bit for Blairgowrie and Rattray.
Spare us a thought when you wander beneath our Christmas glow next month.