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Friday December 7 2018

Looking Back: Princess Margaret at Eventide Home

A story from December 1958 about a royal visit to one of the Church of Scotland's Eventide Homes for the elderly - with a bonus Hollywood anecdote.

IN the course of her recent visit to open the Glen Finglas Water Scheme in the Trossachs Princess Margaret called at Blair House, the Church of Scotland Eventide Home overlooking Loch Achray, and met the residents.

One of these, the oldest member of the household, Mr. Donald MacLaren (seen above) is ninety-eight – hard of hearing and with poor sight now, but very alert . . . and a great storyteller. The Princess was specially interested in his recent birthday.

Dr. Lewis L. L. Cameron, Director of the Church of Scotland’s Social Service, was in attendance; and the Superintendent and Matron, Mr. and Mrs. T. H. Hardie, were presented. The Rev. M. A. MacCorquodale, minister of St. Kessog’s, Callander, which now incorporates the old parish of the Trossachs, made a gift of a St. Martin Cross of Iona marble on behalf of the congregation.

“How lovely,” exclaimed the Princess, “I was at Iona last year.”

The minister took leave of her with the blessing in Gaelic: “God be with you.”

The Royal visitor was delighted with the Home and signed the visitors’ book before leaving.

Blair House was opened in 1955 and has accommodation for twenty people, including a Sick Room. The residents take a great interest in the Trossachs church; and the Woman’s Guild branch meets in the house.

Being situated in a district so much frequented by visitors to Scotland, the Home receives many unexpected callers. While scenes for the John Buchan film “The Thirty-Nine Steps” were being shot near the loch, Kenneth More, the star in the film, paid a lengthy visit with Taina Elg and invited as many residents as can travel (and staff) to come to Glasgow when the film is screened for a day at his expense.

“It is wonderful,” he said on leaving, “to come into such a world of reality after living as we have been doing in a land of make-believe.”

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