Probus members hear Olympic facts

WHEN Montrose Probus Club met last Tuesday there was a change from the published programme and members gave a big welcome to the seasoned raconteur Jim Brown, Fettercairn.

Mr Brown gave many and varied insights into a number of his life’s experiences, and he touched on many topics as he shared reminiscences.

He unwrapped a mysterious parcel which he had brought along with him and which was intriguing members.

It turned out to be an Olympic Torch.

Jim was one of the 8,000 torch-bearers who carried the Olympic Flame on its journey throughout the British Isles.

It was interesting to learn that the torch is made of an aluminium alloy and is roughly triangular.

The three sides stand for respect; friendship and excellence; and also sport, education and culture – all ideas which are fostered by the concept of the Olympics.

The 8,000 torch-bearers carried the torches for a total of 8,000 miles and, fittingly enough, each torch is studded with 8,000 perforations.

Jim carried the torch in Montrose, and he explained that some other bearers who were chosen in other venues were blind, or wheelchair bound.

Many were chosen because of their huge will to overcome hardships, or because of their great desire to help others.

Wherever the torch went there was a back-up team of 400 including representatives from SAS, bomb squad, Metropolitan Police and local Police.

Members were intrigued to be told in the passing that in the 1912 Olympics held in Copenhagen, a young man called Walter Kinnear, who came from Laurencekirk, but had actually been born in Montrose, won a Gold Medal for rowing.

Jim is currently president of the Scottish Highland Games Association and gave some very interesting anecdotes about Games he had attended in Scotland and elsewhere.

They are now held in such diverse countries as Iceland, Japan and Nigeria.

The Scottish Government sees these games as a great tourist potential and grants are now forthcoming.

It was apparently the first sporting association in the UK to introduce drug testing, and it costs £300 to test each athlete.

Jim is a great Burns devotee and is equally keen to promote an interest in the works and life of Lewis Grassic Gibbon who lived in Arbuthnott and wrote the hauntingly beautiful Scot’s Quair; the Trilogy which comprises ‘Sunset Song’, ‘Cloud Howe’ and ‘Grey Granite’.

He said that a new film is being produced of ‘Sunset Song’, which depicts the rural community life in The Mearns, prior to and during the First World War.

Members look forward to seeing this.