MY INTRODUCTION to Bo’ness Children’s Fair Festival was in the Old Kirk vestr. The late John Gilfillan, a real minister’s man if ever there was one, gave me a glowing glimpse of the Fair when I arrived in 1971. Having witnessed the like from Caithness to Aberdeen through Perth to the Borders, I was not altogether convinced about the magnificence of the Bo’ness Fair. One does incline to exaggerate in describing one’s local activity. But, come Fair Day 1972, I was quite unprepared for the magnificence of the Festival. From the Coronation of the Fair Queen to the late evening everything glittered like the Queen’s Crown. John’s introduction was more than true to form.
Down the weeks, however, there was the preparation so ably carried out, as it always is, by the Fair Chairman and the ‘ non-time ‘ sparing Committee. One preparation is the Kirkin’ of the Fair Queen Elect, and where better than the Old Parish Kirk of Bo’ness. Being who I am, I may well be a wee bit prejudiced, but no one can deny the magnificence the Old Kirk provides as a setting. It is a building of beauty and, as has been written, a treasure trove of history.
Stemming from the early Christian Saints and missionaries the Old Kirk is a place to worship God. It is also a place where folk can view priceless artifacts of the Christian Religion. Not too many churches can sport a Mariner’s Loft with a beautiful model of an old sailing ship. Nor do they have a Miner’s Loft with a Miner’s lamp. Then there is the Katrina Bell ( where is the other ? ), the 16th century silver ware, the Breeches Bible gifted by the people of Amsterdam and the expertly carved Dutch Pulpit. But most of all there are the Stained Glass windows. Imaginative beauty to behold.
It is the large Transfiguration Window Queen Elect Kerry will see as she enters the Kirk for her Kirkin’. This window is particularly effective in radiating the Risen Christ to all and sundry. As with all who are in the Kirk, Kerry will see the Old Kirk in all its memorial beauty and find it a fitting place to start toward her reign as Queen of Bo’ness Children’s Fair Festival. Long may it remain in her, and everyone’s, memory.
May Kerry’s Crowning together with her Reign be a delightful one, and may Margaret Watt find great delight in Crowning Kerry.
One last word. I must say that I am most pleased not to have had the misfortune of missing the Fair which is Fair indeed.
Rev. BILL SUTHERLAND Minister Emeritus Bo’ness Old Kirk