This years commemoration fell on the very day that William was murdered by Longshanks seven hundred and three years ago. It was fitting that this years event was also the best turnout I've seen in many years. To see so many patriots in various tartans, mothers holding babies,passers by joining in, old and young alike marched to give thanks to Sir William Wallace of Elderslie.
As usual the procession left from Ludovic Square in Johnstone and marched the mile or so to the monument at Elderslie. I have to thank the onlookers who took photo's, waved and generally joined in with the atmosphere, really nice vibe about the place. The weather was kind to us once again and the rain stayed off until all the speakers had their say, somebody up there must be a fan of William's.
Before the speeches, "Auld" Eddie McNeill laid the wreath on behalf of the Wallace Society, wish I had half his energy!!
This years event was led by Wallace Society Convener David R. Ross who thanked us all for our attendance and introduced us to our first speaker Gordon Aitken. Gordon is one of the guys who was instrumental in getting the cairn that stands in Callander park in Falkirk commemorating the Scots who gave their lives for Scotland in 1298.
Gordon told us of what Wallace meant to him and reflected on his time in London on the 700th anniversary of his death and how so many patriots went down to London to bring him home. If any of you have seen the film of that event you'll know that everyone filed by the coffin and put something in the coffin, Gordon had put in a poem that he'd written about Wallace's life, I say a poem but it read like a short novel, a more heartfelt piece of work you'd find hard to match.
Gordon if you read this, I'd love a copy of it sir. Gordon finished with a song he'd penned called "Stand Wi' Wallace" which once again was a fitting tribute to the great man.
Speaking of great men, next up was Ted "better than Elvis" Christopher, Ted told us of a story that's all to common in Scotland, the fact that he was never told about his history at school, despite the fact that he lived so near many of Scotland's landmarks, Bannockburn, Stirling castle etc. He really captured the mood of the crowd with his speech and rightly received a rapturous round of applause.
David brought the event to a close with a wee speech about how Wallace would have been so proud of us all if he'd been standing before us today, I've heard David talk so many times but this time it was very much from the heart and I could feel the lump in my throat getting bigger, some wonderful words to end a very poignant day.
After a wee look round the village hall and browsing through all the stalls it was time for the evening event. First up of course it was Ted Christopher who does what he does best, getting the place rocking, never ever disappointed when I see Ted, he does exactly what it says on the tin!!
Sometimes even Ted needs a wee rest and a few of the crowd got up on stage and gave us a wee tune or two, Gordon Aitken, Kate Smith and a couple of lads on the pipes and drums, sorry I don't remember your names guys but the ale was starting to do it's job!!! What a great thing to do, I hope it catches on 'cause there's a lot of talent in our wee band of patriots, of course I can't mention wee Rab doing his dirk dance, I only watch him now to see if he finally cuts off one of his ears!!! Seriously though, it's a sight to behold. Saor Patrol gave an enthusiastic performance before Ted brought the evening to a close. Cannae wait 'till next year.
Many thanks to everyone for coming along and making the day what it should be...........special.
By George Boyle