Published: 12/11/2017 06:54 - Updated: 10/11/2017 11:46

Look into life at Aberlour Orphanage

THE 50th anniversary of the closure of a major Speyside institution is being commemorated within its spiritual home.

A permanent display on Aberlour Orphanage and its school will be officially unveiled today at St Margaret’s Church in Aberlour.

The church was built in 1875 to provide a chapel for the children and staff of the once bustling orphanage.

After its demolition, only a clock tower and the church are left to remind thousands of ‘mitherless bairns’ of their childhood on Speyside.

Between 1875 and the late 1960s, the orphanage was home to 6850 children.

The end came half-a-century ago in 1967 when the pattern of care for children in need altered in line with changing national welfare policies.

The Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, Clare Russell, will unveil the display following a Remembrance Service.

During the Act of Remembrance, Mrs Russell will read the individual names of each of the orphans who lost their lives serving their country during the first and second world wars. They are remembered on a war memorial at St Margaret’s.

Lester Borley, who is a member of St Margaret’s and has been involved in bringing the project to fruition, said: "The choice of pictures in the two panels tries to convey not only the impressive scale of the orphanage but also the tremendous variety of activities."

Former orphans shared information to help ensure the storyboards accurately represented a snapshot of life at their former home and school.

Among images are those of children working on the institution’s farm, the annual Jupp Jumble Sale, children on their summer holidays in Hopeman and the school’s hockey and rugby teams.

Lessons, sports day and the choir also feature as well as an image of the orphanage’s Christmas pantomime.

The panels are also being installed at Speyside High School, which was developed on the footprint of the vast buildings of the former orphanage.

Smaller versions of the display will be on show in both the Elgin and Aberlour libraries as well as in the Visitor Centre in Aberlour’s Old Station Building, the Still Life Gallery and the Dowans Hotel.

A set will further be displayed in the headquarters of Walkers Shortbread, and the Elgin Museum is developing a showcase exhibition.

The project was initiated by the Vestry of St Margaret’s Church, but Mr Borley stressed it is very much a community project which has been part-sponsored by the Community Association, making use of the Paul’s Hill Windfarm Fund for Community Benefit.

In addition, Walkers Shortbread, Aberlour Distillery and Glenfarclas Distillery have sponsored the initiative.

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