It was with great sadness that we at the Islands Book Trust learned of the death of Christina J. Morrison, whose memoir Yesterday’s Child we are due to publish next month. Christina was a determined, courageous lady with a great love of life and a talented writer who was very much looking forward to seeing her first book in print. Our sympathies go to her family and friends in Inverness, Skye and Lewis.
Christina, the middle child in a family of ten, was brought up in Innes Street, Inverness, in the 1930s. It was a happy and lively household; her father was a Pipe Major of the British Legion, her brothers were pipers and Christina and her sisters were dancers.
Christina joined the Auxiliary Training Corps just before the outbreak of World War II. Once war was declared, Christina was instructed to go to London, where she discovered that she would be working for Intelligence Services at Whitehall, decoding top secret messages for the government. Christina frequently deciphered messages headed ‘For Mr Churchill’s Eyes Only’ some of which related to events which, in hindsight, proved to be of great historical significance.
Christina’s tales of her adventures in wartime London (including meeting Winston Churchill in his pyjamas!) are a fascinating first-hand account of a by-gone era, retold with modesty and humour.
ISBN is 978-1-907443-68-8
Illustrations – approx. 24 B&W images
On sale – February 2016
1. This has been another successful year for the Book Trust, although financial challenges remain. During the financial year ending March 2015, the Trust delivered a further very full programme of events and publications on island themes.
2. Our big event was a three day conference in Colonsay in June 2014, held in conjunction with the Colonsay and Oransay Heritage Trust and Edinburgh University on the subject, ‘Donald Mackinnon’s Island’. With speakers such as Ronald Black and Donald William Stewart, the conference was well attended by the local community.
3. In addition we held a second conference later in June 2014, a three day event held in Gortahork, Co. Donegal, in conjunction with the Colmcille Initiative. The conference was entitled ‘The Development of Slí Cholmcille/Slighe Chaluim Chille – Heritage,Community and Tourism’ . Speakers included Màire Herbert, Brian Lacey and Aidan O’Hara. A book, entitled ‘In Search of Colmcille’, based on these conference proceedings and those of the previous year in Orinsay was published in June 2015.
5. We also organised and delivered talks in Lewis, Harris, Uist, Benbecula, Barra and Skye. We held the annual Angus Macleod Memorial Lecture in October 2014 in South Lochs, Lewis, which was given by Maggie Cunningham; and organised visits to several offshore islands in the Outer Hebrides, Skye and Co. Donegal, with related walks and talks in Gaelic and English.
6. We published a number of well received books during the year, including ‘The Secret Island’, the proceedings of the 2013 conference in Tiree, ‘Two Hundred Years of Farming in Sutherland’ by Reay DG Clarke,’Dolina – An Island Girl’s Journey’ by Dolina Maclennan and ‘Portree – Origins and History’ by Ella Liley.
7. The Book Trust is continuing with the management role in relation to the Hebridean Connections project which was renewed in April 2015 and which runs to March 2016. The management fee which we receive for this work is helping to bridge the gap between projected income and expenditure.
8. This year has been a time of change for the Trust. As a result of the financial analysis work undertaken over the past year by John Groom we ended our contracts with Seol Ltd in January 2015 and with Booksource in March 2015, and are now concentrating on marketing and distributing our publications in-house. We also undertook cost cutting measures which included surrendering the leases of our storage unit in Habost and our office in Ravenspoint, moving both storage and office facilities to new premises in Laxay. In addition we reduced considerably the amount of stock we carry.
9. In April 2015 we were successful in being awarded funding by the Muaitheabhal Community Windfarm Trust for a project which began in May 2015. The project will run for two years and will employ two part-time members of staff.
10. As ever we still face a challenge in covering our costs. Although we have secured funding for two years fundraising is ongoing and I would ask members to continue to do their best to support the Trust and to recruit new members.
11. I should like to close by thanking all those who have contributed so much to the development of the Book Trust over past year, particularly John Randall who is now stepping down as a Trustee, and who will be much missed by us all.
An illustrated talk with John Love featuring stunning images from umpteen expedition cruises taking by John over the last seven years, round the UK and Ireland. Including many islands, some gardens, lighthouses, boats and wildlife, a few mainland ports and numerous historic sites.
Tickets can be purchased at the door, members discount available.
This year’s prestigious Angus Macleod Memorial Lecture will take place at the Old School, Balallan, at 7.30pm on Thursday 22nd October. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.
The lecture will be given this year by John Norgrove of Uig, Lewis, on the subject ‘Afghanistan, and how it changed our family’.