Volunteer Hall remembrance

To mark the centenary of the end of the First World War a series of events is being held at the Volunteer Hall, Duns, in the coming weeks.

The hall is a fitting venue for such events - it was owned by the Lowland Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association until earlier this year and was the recruiting base for soldiers joining up in Duns.

The first event on November 1 (at 7pm) takes the form of a series of talks, readings, songs and discussions. The main speaker is Raina Haig who was born in 1958 and grew up at Bemersyde in the Borders. Her father was the distinguished painter Dawyck Haig (1918-2009), the son of Field Marshall Haig, the First World War commander.

Raina read Sanskrit at Oxford and has worked extensively in media and film, as a writer and director. She has contributed to many community arts projects, particularly with reference to disability issues - she is registered blind.

As a writer she worked with several members of the Theatre Workshop troupe which first created Oh What A Lovely War, and is the Royal British Legion Scotland, Women’s Section, national president.

Mike Hally, a freelance radio producer is working towards a PhD at the Centre for Conflict Studies at the University of Edinburgh dealing with the development of ex-servicemen’s organisations during and after the war, in which Edinburgh played a leading part.

In addition, there will be readings from the newly published local book ‘The Soldiers Remember’ inspired by the Southfield Auxiliary Military Hospital, Duns, and songs from Duns Players’ forthcoming production of ‘Oh What a Lovely War’, at the Volunteer Hall from November 7-10, with ample opportunity to discuss issues that arise from the way that the First World War has been remembered.

Other events include the creation of a major community art work in the Volunteer Hall on Monday, November 5, which will remain in the hall for the week. A Heart for Duns is acquiring a group of poignant silhouettes of soldiers to display in the hall on a permanent basis.

The are supported by the First World War Then and Now Programme of the Heritage Lottery Fund which offers grants of £3-10,000 to community group projects focusing on the heritage of the First World War, helping people understand the war better, uncover its stories and explore what it means to us today.