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16 Jul 2019

From the edge of the world: part 7

Written by Sue Loughran
A man holds out before him a newly created mailboat, standing on the pier at St Kilda.
Hello! I’m Sue, the ranger on St Kilda. I’m writing a blog to share what it’s like to work on these incredible islands. This week, I talk about a moment of reflection amid an incredibly busy work schedule.

We held a memorial in the church, in which we remembered the ten young men who lost their lives on 7 June 1944 (the day after D-Day) when their aircraft crashed on Gleann Mor during a training flight. Radio contact was lost from their aircraft after 11pm. 75 years later, as the low cloud hung around Conachair (just as it must have done on that night), Craig read out their names and told us what was known about their mission. The newly refurbished bell from the wreck of the Janet Cowan was tolled at 11pm in remembrance. Whilst the men were buried at sea, some parts of the aircraft still remain at the crash site, providing a poignant memorial on the mountainside.

A view of a stone wall and hut from inside the church. It looks through a large window. Lit tealights flicker on the window sill.
A view from the church on St Kilda

This event took place in the middle of a work party changeover. This year, there have been three work parties, lasting 10 days each, led respectively by Graham, Dave and Stef, and supported by the cooks Mona and Ali. Our eyes grew wide at the fine array of food that was created, and we were generously invited for meals with each party.

A group of people sit around a wooden table in a house, chatting. There are mugs and biscuits on the table.
A work party enjoying a tea break

Craig took the lead in overseeing the work organisation, resulting in cleit turf roof and wall repairs, the production of a beautiful postcard-writing bench for the shop, repainted cottage roofs, a beach clean, a sprucing-up of the church, school and museum, ditch clearing and many more small but necessary maintenance jobs! The workshop stores have been re-catalogued, and of course the traditional mail boats were constructed. One group successfully created a ship without the use of any plastics … we hope this becomes a new tradition.

Not only did we work hard in the day, but we also challenged the groups to perform and sing their original songs for our very own ‘Kildavision Song Contest’ … with exceptional results! Definitely no ‘nil points’ on the night!

A lot of fun was had, and everybody’s hard work has been greatly appreciated by us all. Thank you for coming and volunteering your time and expertise – we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

A group of people sit around the edge of a motorised dinghy as they head out to sea. Several of them are waving at the camera.
A work party bids farewell.
From the edge of the world

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A group of people standing on the jetty on Hirta, St Kilda >