Dunfermline Press

Seven-year campaign pays off for peacocks

- By Ally McRoberts amcroberts@dunfermlin­epress. co.uk

IT’S been a seven-year campaign but Christmas has come early for Suzi Ross with the confirmati­on that the peacocks will get the Freedom of Dunfermlin­e.

She heads the volunteers who look after the city’s iconic birds and, after discoverin­g they didn’t have the official title, has been pushing hard for recognitio­n of Pittencrie­ff Park’s most famous residents.

The City of Dunfermlin­e area committee agreed a motion on Tuesday and Fife Council will ratify the decision on December 7, with an official presentati­on ceremony to follow.

Suzi, from the Peacocks in Pittencrie­ff Park group, told the Press: “We’ve all been smiling so much our cheeks are sore!

“It means everything to me and all the volunteers.

“I’ve been fighting for this for the last seven years, since I first started looking after the peacocks.

“Everyone kept saying the birds have got the Freedom of Dunfermlin­e but I wasn’t sure and so we spent hours and hours in the library going through all these council papers.

“There was nothing to say they had it – there is a constituti­on from 1907 that says there must be a peacock in the park at all times – but the Carnegie Dunfermlin­e Trust didn’t have anything either.”

The council said it was too early to say if the award will be a certificat­e, plaque or even giant key but committee convener Cllr James Calder said: “This is the first time we’ll present a city award so it’s really important we set a good precedent. It should be something special.”

Suzi added: “We’re ecstatic that they’ll get freedom of the city as the birds are iconic to Dunfermlin­e and this gives them their rightful recognitio­n.

“They do get around, the Seven Kings, the City

Hotel and the Glen Tavern, I’m usually in one of those pubs to get the birds back out!

“They’re so funny. The more you spend time with them, the more you see they’ve all got their own individual personalit­y – it’s great to be working with them.”

Cllr Derek Glen tabled the motion and said that the birds were first introduced to Dunfermlin­e by Henry Beveridge in 1905 following a trip to India.

One of the first members of the Carnegie Dunfermlin­e Trust, he brought them to the park which had been gifted to the town by Andrew Carnegie only three years earlier.

Cllr Glen added: “More recently we saw the outpouring of sentiment – both anger and charity – after the attack on two of the peacocks last year.

“And the huge sum of money raised in response to the attack on Malcolm and Louis. This shows us their value to the people of Dunfermlin­e.

“Suzi Ross and the Peacocks in Pittencrie­ff Park group have done a sterling job through some very trying times to keep the peacocks safe and well.”

He said the idea to grant the freedom of the city to the peacocks was first put forward by Central Dunfermlin­e Community Council, after city status was confirmed last summer, and received popular support.

Cllr Glen said this included backing from the Friends of Pittencrie­ff Park, MP Douglas Chapman – “who promoted the idea in the Dunfermlin­e Press” – and Provost Jim Leishman.

He added: “This may seem frivolous as we’re more than a decade into austerity and our residents now face a second winter, not just of discontent, but worse, with a cost of living crisis and the prospect of energy bills rising.

“But as councillor­s, we also need to both recognise and demonstrat­e the value of city status – this is one small way in which we can help to get that ball rolling.”

Cllr Calder seconded the motion and said: “The peacocks have been a beloved symbol of our city for almost 120 years now.

“This is the first time we’ve looked to utilise our new powers as an area committee to recommend that the freedom of the city be granted and I think the birds will be a worthy recipient.”

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 ?? ?? A photo of the peacocks resting on the city’s rooftops. Image: Bob
A photo of the peacocks resting on the city’s rooftops. Image: Bob Smart

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