Replacing a lost veteran’s badge

In March 2023, Kilmarnock branch was contacted by former RAF airman and East Ayrshire Council worker John McKissock, as his father’s veteran’s badge had been lost following his passing in February 2023. John asked for help in getting a replacement, which the branch was more than happy to do.  

This spring, in the wonderful surroundings of Kilmarnock’s Dean Castle, the branch presented John with his father’s replacement badge. John’s father was a former soldier with the Royal Scots Fusiliers who saw action during the Malayan conflict of the 1950s. The Kilmarnock branch were delighted to ensure that this veteran was remembered.                                          

A day with bagpipes

Branch Secretary Gary Dolan organised a branch visit to the McCallum Bagpipes factory. The factory owner, Stuart McCallum, is a proud Kilmarnock man who has built a very successful business that supplies kilts, bagpipes and accessories all around the world. He is also a supporter of the branch. 

The tour of the factory was very informative. Members saw bagpipes being made and tailors expertly manufacturing kilts, as well as the finished items. 

Re-dedicating the war memorial

On 24 March, the branch attended the rededication of the former Kilmarnock Academy World War I Memorial, which honours the masters and former pupils who died during the war. The ceremony was held 100 years to the day of its original installation. 

The bravery of the men from this school who fell is highlighted by the fact that three Distinguished Conduct Medals, one Military Medal and one Military Cross were awarded to them. 

The ceremony was very well attended, with perhaps the most poignant moment coming during the Last Post: the hall fell silent, as the standard and King’s Colours were lowered. 

Many thanks go to Fiona McKenzie from Centre Stage, which now cares for the memorial, for inviting the branch. Members look forward to attending many other ceremonies in this great location. 

 Making music 

Charity group Ah was Gonnie held a workshop with the branch to craft a song personal to members. Through a discussion around music, the origin of songs, quotes and memories, they made the song ‘Radio Silence’. It was mostly derived from member Pat Smith’s recollection of a pilot’s conversation being cut short. 

If other branches are interested in similar workshops, contact the Kilmarnock branch through their Facebook page. 

HMS Dasher parade

On 26 March, the branch took part in the 80th HMS Dasher Anniversary parade in Ardrossan, having been invited to attend with their Standard by the Saltcoats, Ardrossan & Stevenston branch. The former Navy members from Kilmarnock branch were delighted to be in attendance and were joined by East Ayrshire Council Provost Jim Todd, also a Navy veteran. 

Off to the football

On 1 April, the branch went on an organised visit to Kilmarnock Football Club. The visit started at the Kilmarnock Memorial Garden, which is dedicated to players who died during their service. Club Historian Ray Montgomerie led a very informative speech about each name on the memorial. 

The branch went on to visit the grounds and murals around the park and stood on the edge of the pitch. After a few refreshments in the Park Hotel it was on to the match, Kilmarnock v Hearts. Most of those attending were happy when Kilmarnock won, although member Johnnie Russel is originally from Penicuik and is a Hearts supporter. 

Thanks go to Kilmarnock Football Club for their hospitality.