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Words of praise for Elgin writer at new social housing

By Lorna Thompson

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THE daughter of a celebrated writer brought up in an Elgin slum has officially opened a new social housing development named in honour of her mother.

Avril Wilbourne, the daughter of Elgin poet Jessie Kesson, opened Hanover (Scotland) Housing Association’s Kesson Court development today, joined by staff, residents and local dignitaries.

Kesson Court replaces a previous Hanover development on the site. In June this year the much-praised new build swept the board at the Saltire Housing Awards – earning the Saltire Housing Design Award, CIOB Building Award and the Saltire Medal.

The decision to name the housing after Jessie Kesson was taken after a public naming competition and was selected because of its reflection of the local area and Hanover's vision to create a welcoming place for people to live.

Ms Wilbourne said: "My mother loved Elgin and the rest of Moray so it is a pleasure to be here to celebrate the opening of Kesson Court.

"I know she would have been thrilled that her work had such an impact on local people to the extent that the community wanted her to be remembered in this way.

"I am sure the new residents at Kesson Court will enjoy living in their homes here and look forward to visiting again in the future."

Jessie Kesson.
Jessie Kesson.

At the heart of Kesson Court is a communal garden, a focus of outdoor activity and social interaction among residents and staff.

Helen Murdoch, chief executive of Hanover, said: "We are delighted today to be opening Kesson Court, the latest of a number of new developments we have opened in Moray recently. We are particularly pleased to have Avril with us to help us celebrate today. Her mother was a very well-known local poet so we are delighted local people chose to name this development after her."

Moray SNP MSP Richard Lochhead attended the opening and said: "Kesson Court is an impressive development that provides modern and innovative housing for its residents and is certain to be enjoyed by those who both live and work there. This impressive new housing development will provide residents with the opportunity to live active lives and will help boost their physical and mental health.

"Jessie Kesson was a much-loved poet and writer by people in Moray and it is fitting that such a welcoming development has been named after her. It was a pleasure to join her daughter, Avril, at the opening of Kesson Court and I hope the residents enjoy their new homes."

The White Bird Passes author Kesson (1916-94) lived in Elgin up until the age of eight. As well as writing novels, she also penned more than 100 plays for radio over 45 years. In 2009 Moniack Mhor, Scotland's Creative Writing Centre, established the Jessie Kesson Fellowship in honour of her life and work.

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