The adventures of the legendary ‘Angus Òg’ - who was created by a son of Staffin – have given the Taobh Sear a very welcome financial boost.
The popular cartoon character was sketched and written by the late Ewen Bain and enjoyed across Scotland and appeared in the Daily Record and Sunday Mail until his death in 1989.
More than 30 years later, Ewen’s family have donated £1,000 to Staffin Community Trust (SCT) to support its project work having sold some of his Sunday Mail cartoons for charity.
Ewen’s daughter Rhona Flin said her father had spent many happy summers in Brogaig, which was where his mother Flora hailed from.
Angus lived in the fictional village of Drambeg in the Utter Hebrides and his sayings and quick wit were rumoured to have been based on some of the characters Ewen came into contact with in Staffin - and also in Waternish where his father John came from. Ewen's background in Skye and the time he spent here meant that the phrases and expressions used by Angus belonged to the islands, They also had an affectionate tone which avoided the Hebridean cliches and caricatures often found in the work of the Central Belt media
Rhona, who lives in Aberdeen, said: “My father's ashes were buried with his parents in the cemetery at Sartle. After my mother died in 2017, I inherited the cartoon collection and I was in Skye later that year. I was talking about this to the postmistress in Staffin and she told me about the Skye Archive Centre in Portree. I contacted them and they were happy to have the collection so I donated all the strip cartoons that I had from the Daily Record to the Archive.”
Rhona was keen for everybody in Staffin and rest of the island to get the chance to enjoy the cartoons and said she was delighted the main collection will be available in Portree.
She was pleased that SCT was making a difference working for the community and also preserving history. “I spent quite a few summer holidays in Staffin when I was a child and worked for two summers in the Claymore in Broadford when I was a teenager,” she said. “Nowadays I try to come over every so often as it is such a beautiful place to visit and even more special, having family connections.”
SCT is a charitable and not for profit organisation and secured significant capital funding recently to help deliver the Taighean a’ Chaisheil development. However, SCT has significant annual costs, such as maintenance and insurance liabilities, and cannot get funding for that. Any surplus made by SCT after meeting those costs will be invested into its community projects.
SCT’s treasurer Angus Ross said the volunteer board of directors were very grateful for the donation from Rhona, three decades after her father passed away. “The escapades of Angus Òg and his friends took place in a setting that we were very familiar with and we fondly recall following in the Daily Record,” he said. “SCT is one of the oldest community trusts on Skye having been formed in 1993 and we have successfully sought to make a positive contribution to our community. Like other charitable organisations we manage to achieve a lot with the backing of our community but donations like these are vital to help us meet our rising costs and help us deliver key projects.”
SCT has been heartened by the support from our community and diaspora in recent years with a crowdfunding appeal for Taighean a’ Chaisheil raising more than £7,000 with pledges from as far away as Australia, including a £3000 donation from the acclaimed Gaelic signer Alasdair Gillies, another famous son of Staffin. Local residents including Sean O’Driscoll have also been very supportive to SCT.
If anybody would like to support the work of SCT please phone the office on 01470 562 464 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Ewen was born in Maryhill in Glasgow in 1925 to his Skye parents and was the youngest of three children. Each year in July there was great excitement when they would get the train from Glasgow to Mallaig before sailing to Skye. Ewen’s mother stayed with the children during July, and in August there was further excitement when his father arrived in Staffin for his annual holiday.
It was described by Ewen’s late wife Sheila, who wrote: “This was much more than a family holiday – it was ‘coming home’ and the welcome, of course would be in Gaelic.
“Ewen loved Skye and was very keen that I should share its magic with him. My choice of view to express that magic would be of rounding the bend of the road at the monument in Staffin to behold the superb Quiraing against a lilac, evening sky with Brogaig and Stenscholl spread below it. Following that would be the welcome waiting for us at Riverside.”
The carefree summers of his boyhood ended with the outbreak of the Second World War and Ewen trained as a coder and spent most of the conflict sailing between Gibraltar and West Africa on convoy-escort duty. He trained as a teacher and taught in a number of Glasgow schools before becoming a full-time cartoonist in 1969.
A website created by Rhona celebrates the work of her father, to visit click here: https://www.angusog.scot/