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Education is the answer
Having read the recent letters in the Banner about the Beckford Collection and its links to slavery, I feel inclined to add to and widen the debate.
I must state at the outset so that there is no room for misinterpretation, slavery in all its forms, is as abhorrent as it is repugnant. No right-minded person in this day and age could think otherwise. However, we cannot judge people in the past by the standards and mores of today any more than we can turn back the clock to right the wrongs. People centuries ago, didn’t think they were doing anything wrong, either legally or morally. A hard concept, I know, for us to swallow today. What we can do and must do is learn from the past, educate ourselves and have a proper, wide ranging debate about the slave trade, including the involvement of other nations and West Africans themselves, who were also culpable in this diabolical trade.
The answer is not to remove, destroy, pull down, erase etc. Indeed, if that were taken to its logical conclusion we would probably have to physically remove most city centres, including Glasgow. Also let’s face it, that ‘dirty money’ has probably benefited a lot of us indirectly not least because of the funding of some of our civic institutions by wealthy, philanthropic Victorians, some of whom would have inherited wealth gained on the backs of others. I could go on, but I hope you get my point.
The answer must be to educate in the wider context of inhumanity and injustice perpetrated by some on their fellow human beings. Historically ordinary vulnerable people have always suffered injustice and harshness by their ‘masters’ but some still found the humanity to support their fellow men and oppose slavery even at great cost to themselves – look up Lancashire Cotton Famine and its links to the American Civil War. There is always good and bad in all levels of society.
Wealth is still being made by the unscrupulous on the backs of ordinary people. Before we start judging people in the past should we perhaps be looking at ourselves? How many of us are wearing cheap clothing made in the sweat shops of the world – some probably not a million miles away? How many of us use hand car wash places – well-known as situations for trafficked workers? How many of us clamour after cheap products and food not knowing where and how they were produced? Etc etc.
On the subject of the Beckford Collection I have to say that the NTS, in its wisdom, got rid of virtually all the regular and volunteer guides at the time of the refurbishment of the castle. Tragic – but that’s another story. These guides had a wealth of historical knowledge, in general, and a depth of knowledge about the castle in particular. I have to tell you that we often had conversations with visitors about the Beckford Collection/ wealth and its place within the Hamilton story.
To the correspondent who suggested that the collection should be sold to fund the Ranger Service, I don’t believe the answer is to sell off the ‘family silver’. I think the suggestion is short sighted and, with the greatest respect, small minded. I think the NTS proposal to get rid of a lot of Rangers is also short sighted and counterproductive, and I speak as a volunteer ranger.
Can I suggest that if anyone wants to support the Rangers Service that they could join NTS, if they are not already a member, donate to their appeal, possibly leave a legacy in their will or even join the Healthy Outdoors Team of volunteer Rangers.
In conclusion, please don’t destroy, erase, judge and divide, but educate. We should resist inhumanity and injustice wherever we find it. As my old grandma used to say, ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’.
Debt of thanks
It’s been a very busy time for the Arran Churches Together Foodbank over the last few months and as usual we’ve been overwhelmed by the support received from the Arran community.
We’ve had many one-off and regular monetary donations, including one of £1,000 from pupils at Arran High School who completed a sponsored activity. We’ve also benefited from two grants which boosted our funds. Foodbank money is managed by our treasurer, Mrs Jean Hunter, and is used by the foodbank volunteers who shop several times a week keeping supplies topped up. The volunteers collect the food donations left in the Co-op collection basket on a daily basis and use supplies to keep the vestibule shelves stocked.
Over the last four months we have continued with deliveries to people who requested them, but the majority of our customers collect what they require from the foodbank in Brodick Church vestibule. The delivery service will cease at the end of July in line with the end of shielding. Figures compared with the same period last year indicate that foodbank usage has increased by 300 per cent.
Brodick Co-op continues to offer fantastic support, from making space available for the collection basket, to adding items to the basket on behalf of customers who continue to use the home delivery service, to saving items which are almost at their date and can be frozen.
On behalf of everyone who benefits from and is involved in Arran Churches Together Foodbank, a huge debt of thanks is owed to each and every one of you who has helped in any way.
Arran Churches Together Foodbank.
Alice Homes, aged 10, sent us this poem she compiled as part of her school work during lockdown.
Arran – A place full of creepy creatures crawling around.
Arran – Bouncy beach balls blowing around and adventurous paths waiting to be found.
Arran – A field with long, windy grass with hungry hares hidden around.
Arran – A nice warm bubbly bath, splashing all around.
Arran – A caremelised orange sunset skips slowly down around Kilbrannan Sound.