Church plays leading role in promoting Scottish heritage and culture in London
Published on 19 October 2023 2 minutes read
Hundreds of people gathered for a gala to formally launch a new partnership to promote Scottish heritage and culture in London.
Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal, was the guest of honour at the sold-out event at St Columba's Church of Scotland in Knightsbridge.
The gala featured the best of Scottish poetry, music, song and dance and provided networking opportunities for Scottish societies, clubs, churches and charities.
It was coordinated by the Scots in London group which is comprised of cultural societies, sports clubs, alumni groups, charities, churches and military representatives.
Princess Anne is the organisation's patron and she praised the work being done to celebrate the wealth of Scottish culture and talent across London.
"Between them, the organisations of Scots in London share more than one thousand years of presence and activity in the capital," she said.
"That is a significant heritage to draw inspiration from.
"I am encouraged to see this new initiative, bringing people together, promoting the contribution of Scots to this most international city, pursuing charitable aims and able to achieve more alongside one another than alone."
Rev Angus MacLeod, minister of St Columba's Church, is the convener of the Scots in London Forum.
He said: "We are excited to be launching this new collaboration of Scottish organisations in London.
"We were greatly honoured that our Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, attended our event to officially launch our new initiative.
"All our organisations and guests enjoyed a great evening showcasing Scottish talent from across the capital."
Attended by around 300 people, the gala was held on 11 October and opened by the rousing sounds of the Pipes and Drums of the London Scottish Regiment.
Auld Lang Syne
The programme highlights included the ScotsCare Choir, recitation of Burns poetry by Alain English, the Tartan Thistle Dancers, performances by Elizabeth Thomson, Mary-Jannet Leith, folk duo Duncan Menzies and Will Chamberlain and joint performances by Còsir Lunnainn (London Gaelic Choir) and Crown Court (Church of Scotland) Choir.
The event was compered by actor David Robb, who is known for playing Dr Clarkson in the television programme, Downton Abbey.
After the concert, guests enjoyed a reception with Scottish refreshments and music and the opportunity to meet staff from all the member organisations.
Guests and staff then came together for Scottish country dancing and a hearty rendition of Auld Lang Syne to finish the evening.
The official launch gala event was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences.
The group commissioned a book, titled Scots in Great War London.
Published in 2018, a chapter is dedicated to the story of members of St Columba's Church who provided hospitality to 50,000 Scottish troops either on their way home or to the Western Front between 1915-1919.
Volunteers, mostly women, would wait at Victoria Station for trains and direct Scottish troops towards the church on Pont Street.
They were fed, given time to rest and sometimes put up for the night before being piped back to stations to continue on their way.
To find out more about the group's activities, visit www.scotsinlondon.org.