paisley from drone

A memorial to the 71 children who lost their lives in one of Scotland’s worst ever human tragedies is to be unveiled in Paisley town centre next week.

Entrance-to-Glen-Cinema

The Glen Cinema Disaster of 31 December 1929 remains known as Paisley’s Black Hogmanay – yet until now the town centre did not have a permanent memorial for the victims and survivors.

Artists Kerry Stewart and Rachel Lowther were commissioned to work with the local community on a suitable memorial as part of the 90th anniversary of the tragedy.

And their now-finished statue – entitled Rattle/ Little Mother – will be sited in the town’s Dunn Square, across the road from the site of the former cinema, in Dyer’s Wynd.

The tragedy happened when a smoking film canister caused a panic during a packed children’s matinee with more than 600 children present.

The metal gates on the main exit doors had been pulled shut, stopping it from opening, leading to a crush where 71 children died, and more than 30 were injured.

The memorial will be unveiled at a small ceremony led by Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron next Tuesday (30 November) at 1pm, joined by members of the local community.

To create the memorial, Kerry and Rachel met with community groups including the STAR Project, Paisley Community Trust, and pupils from Paisley Grammar School, with a working group formed to help drive the project.

An important part of the process was meeting with the two remaining survivors of the tragedy, and their families.

Community activist Tony Lawler – one of the organisers of the annual ceremony to mark the tragedy which takes place every Hogmanay – was a member of the working group.

He said: “It’s important the town centre has a memorial – as it’s about more than remembering the 71 who died, it’s for the survivors and their families too.

“For a long time, people didn’t really talk about the Glen Cinema – the survivors were sent away to convalesce and didn’t get the support they would have if it happened now.

“The existing memorial at Hawkhead isn’t accessible for everyone, so having one in the town centre is important as it will give people a place to go to reflect.

“Since the 80th anniversary we’ve held community-led memorial ceremonies at the Cenotaph but it has a different purpose. This memorial will provide a new focus dedicated to the Glen Cinema.”

Artists Kerry Stewart and Rachel Lowther said: “Having met with survivors Emily Brown and Robert Pope and processed, through research and community engagement, what happened on that terrible day, we wanted to produce something that spoke to and of the children.

“We have tried to create a sculpture that is playful yet serious, that hovers between a nostalgic lost object – a portal to the children of Paisley, 1929 – and a sacred or devotional object, carrying the story of the children as their own protectors.”

The memorial was funded by the Rotary Club of Paisley and through Future Paisley – the council-led programme of events and activity using the town’s unique culture and heritage to transform its future.

Provost Lorraine Cameron said: “The Glen Cinema remains printed in Paisley’s collective memory as perhaps the darkest day in the history of the town.

“It is important the events of that horrific day should never be forgotten and that’s why this permanent memorial means so much.

“This has been a real community effort – the artists and the groups they have worked with have done a fantastic job to create a sensitive reminder of the tragedy, and all involved deserve praise for their efforts.

“I would invite any members of the local community to join us on Tuesday to see the memorial unveiled.”

Lily the frog with joke book

It’s time for youngsters to join the Silly Squad this summer.

All kinds of daftness is the theme of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge and children between the ages of four and 11 are being encouraged to sign up for a celebration of funny books, happiness and laughter.

Lily the frog with joke book

The Silly Squad is a team of animal friends who love to go on adventures and read all kinds of humorous books. This year’s Reading Challenge also features characters designed by the award-winning author and illustrator, Laura Ellen Anderson who created books like Amelia Fang and Evil Emperor Penguin.

The challenge runs from now until August 15 and to join all you have to do is visit www.renfrewshirelibraries.co.uk where you’ll find the link to the Silly Squad website. Parents or carers will need to give consent for children to sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge.

Once registered, youngsters can set their own personal reading challenge and the website helps keep track of their books, reviews and the rewards for reading books during the summer.

Lily the frog with joke book

The website is also packed with suggestions of brilliant books to read and tips on how to keep reading over the summer. There will also be heaps of super silly activities, quizzes, videos and games to keep children entertained.

Youngsters can also tune into the #ScottishSillySquad on YouTube where every week three authors and storytellers will broadcast their tips on how best to enjoy and complete the Summer Reading Challenge.

A wide variety of children’s books and e-books can be borrowed for free with library membership. To do that, or to join a library, just go to the Renfrewshire Libraries website.

Chairperson of Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “Reading should be fun for children and that’s exactly what this year’s Summer Reading Challenge is.

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“Last year more than 2000 young people took part in our reading challenge and even though we have been in lockdown in recent months, we’re making sure children don’t miss out on the joy of books this year.”

The Summer Reading Challenge is being organised by Renfrewshire Libraries and the Reading Agency with the aim of getting youngsters to read books during the summer break.

Renfrewshire Libraries have now re-opened for click and collect and returning books only. For more information go to www.renfrewshireleisure.com.

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KEVINS CARTOONS
We are going to do a feature every week including the talented Kevin Mills who you can contact via kevinmills944@gmail.com They are based on folks from Glencoe so if you need subtitles then you have never been to the beautiful part of Scotland where people are very friendly but that doesn’t mean we can’t take the mickey out of fictional characters. Enjoy…

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