Trib­ute to Thom­son

Com­mem­o­ra­tion event

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - STANDARD VIEW - Sharon Lip­trott

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

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