Hugh Smith’s let­ter from Is­lay

The Oban Times - - News - Hugh Smith, 4 Flora Street, Bow­more, Is­lay PA43 7JX. Tel: 01496 810 658

Dis­til­leries’ path com­mended

MEM­BERS of the Is­lay Com­mu­nity Ac­cess Group have a spring in their step af­ter be­ing awarded the Trans­port Scot­land highly com­mended ac­co­lade mark­ing the in­no­va­tion and suc­cess of the Three Dis­til­leries’ Path which links Port Ellen with Ard­beg Dis­tillery.

The award-win­ning path pro­vides a traf­fic-free and well- sur­faced walk­ing and cycling pro­vi­sion be­tween the vil­lages and bor­ders some of the most sceni­cally pleas­ing ar­eas on the is­land’s east coast.

The pre­sen­ta­tion, hosted by co­me­dian and broad­caster Fred Ma­cAulay, was held in Glas­gow and at­tended by Garry Ma­cLean and Pat McGrann, cur­rent chair­man of the ac­cess group. The chair­man said that he was de­lighted to re­ceive the award and was highly en­cour­aged by the in­creas­ing use of the fa­cil­ity by both pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists. He also praised the group mem­bers who had punched well above their weight to se­cure this pro­vi­sion and gave ful­some credit to plan­ner and sur­veyor Iain Hen­der­son for his pro­fes­sional as­sis­tance.

Cath Craw­ford

WE WERE all sad­dened to learn of the death on June 21 of Bow­more res­i­dent Cath Craw­ford who was well known in Gaelic singing cir­cles and where High­land choral voices were raised in uni­son. She was 86 years of age and died at the Royal Alexan­dra Hos­pi­tal in Paisley fol­low­ing ma­jor surgery from which she ap­peared to be mak­ing a good re­cov­ery.

Cath was born in Au­gust 1929 and brought up in Cly­de­bank to Is­lay par­ents whose roots were firmly em­bed­ded in the Cone­spie district of the Rhinns. As a teenager, she joined the Cly­de­bank Gaelic Choir which was then un­der the di­rec­tion of con­duc­tor Tom Craw­ford, a young school­teacher who also had a strong Argyll back­ground through his fam­ily con­nec­tions with Dunoon.

Among the oc­taves, amore blos­somed and Cath and Tom were mar­ried in 1953. A year later they moved to Is­lay when Tom be­came head­mas­ter of the then Bow­more ju­nior se­condary school.

The mu­si­cal and choral ac­tiv­i­ties con­tin­ued fol­low­ing their move to the is­land, with Tom tak­ing over the ba­ton for the Bow­more se­nior Gaelic choir and Cath as­sist­ing with the ju­nior cho­ris­ters.

The Craw­fords’ joy was com­plete when daugh­ter El­iz­a­beth, their only child, ar­rived on the scene in 1964.

Cath was in­volved in a num­ber of lo­cal and na­tional char­i­ties. She was school sec­re­tary for a num­ber of years and was ac­tive in the Girl Guides, even­tu­ally be­ing ap­pointed as the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s district com­mis­sioner. She and Tom, a fine lyric tenor, were also the mov­ing force be­hind the lo­cal Mòd for a num­ber of years in the 1960s.

Sadly, Tom died in 1978 and Cath con­tin­ued to live on her own in her home at the Glebe in Bow­more. There she con­tin­ued to train and tu­tor both ju­nior and se­nior com­peti­tors for both the lo­cal and na­tional Mòds, events at which she was a reg­u­lar at­ten­der and sup­porter. She cer­tainly kept her pupils’ noses to the grind­stone and would take no pris­on­ers. And all this was done as a labour of love and she looked for no per­sonal gain but de­lighted in her pupils’ suc­cesses.

De­spite ad­vanc­ing years and in­creas­ing frailty, she re­mained feisty and de­ter­mined, en­joyed lunch­ing with friends, was a reg­u­lar pres­ence on the lo­cal ceilidh scene and was still driv­ing be­fore her fi­nal ill­ness struck.

Her fu­neral ser­vice, at­tended by close on 200 mourn­ers, was held at the Round Church on July 1 and she was in­terred along­side Tom in the Bow­more ceme­tery.

She leaves daugh­ter El­iz­a­beth, son-in-law Mal­colm and her beloved grand- daugh­ters Ali­son and Clare. On July 8 Ali­son mar­ried fi­ancé Jamie O’Neill at Dum­fries and we can be as­sured that Cath was there in spirit.

Condolences go to all who mourn Cath’s pass­ing and es­pe­cially to those who knew her best and love her most.

Cath Craw­ford was the mov­ing force be­hind the lo­cal Mòd.

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