Tribute to Thomson
Descendents of one of Dumfriesshire’s famous sons have a special date on February 14.
On St Valentine’s Day they will gather at the memorial statue in Thornhill of acclaimed Victorian African explorer, Joseph Thomson, right, to mark the 160th anniversary of his birth.
Born in the village of Penpont, in relatively modest circumstances, he went on to be awarded the Royal Geographical Society Gold Medal for his remarkable work and achievements.
Descendants and supporters will gather at 2pm for a short ceremony before moving to nearby Morton Cemetery to pay their respects at his grave.
They have created The Joseph Thomson Maasai Trust which is committed to celebrating and sharing the achievements of their esteemed ancestor.
Trust secretary Peter Wright MBE said: “Several events have already taken place and more are planned which will carry forward public awareness and appreciation of his legacy.”
One particular link that they have forged is with the Maasai People in Kenya who value the respect that Joseph Thomson showed to them in his day.
The trust’s chairman, John Hastings Thomson, said: “The 160th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Thomson is without doubt a noteworthy occasion and one that should be marked in a fitting fashion.
“When we gather at his memorial statue we will think about his birth and upbringing in the valley surrounded by the hills that he grew to know and love.
“I’m sure we will wonder at all that he made of the educational opportunities that encouraged such an enquiring mind.”
He added: “We will think of the passion for exploration which he possessed so strongly from an early age.
“And we will gladly celebrate the entirely peaceful approach that he had to meeting with the native people in so many parts of the African continent, especially with the Maasai. Our appreciation of the legacy of Joseph Thomson is ever growing and we are enriched by the journey that it takes us all upon.
“It will also be exactly 60 years since I attended the centenary celebrations as a young boy when I was the youngest member of the Thomson family present.”
The explorer’s birthplace, which is run by the Joseph Thomson Group, can be visited during the summer months, within the Joseph Thomson Local Heritage Centre, Penpont.
His Royal Geographical Society Gold Medal is now on display in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.
Trust chairman John Hastings Thomson with Maasai elder Ezekiel Ole Katato as they followed in Joseph Thomson’s footsteps