Support rolls in for steel memorial fund

Memorial Fund trustee and treasurer Gilbert Cox (second right) accepts the Braidhurst donation from, left to right, headteacher Derrick Hannan and pupils Jamie Buchanan, Kirsty Gorman, Caitlin Armit and Conor Gray.
Memorial Fund trustee and treasurer Gilbert Cox (second right) accepts the Braidhurst donation from, left to right, headteacher Derrick Hannan and pupils Jamie Buchanan, Kirsty Gorman, Caitlin Armit and Conor Gray.

PUPILS from Motherwell’s Braidhurst High School have given their backing to the campaign to have a memorial to Scotland’s steelworkers erected on the site of the former Ravenscraig plant.

The school has a long tradition of being associated with the industry and have donated £100 from its charity fun run proceeds to the Scottish Steelworkers’ Memorial Fund.

School headteacher Derrick Hannan suggested the donation after reading the Motherwell Times and Bellshill Speaker’s recent double page spread promoting the launch of the campaign.

He said: “We have a number of fundraising events every year but the main one is the fancy dress run around Strathclyde Park in September.

“We make donations from that to a number of charities and when I saw the double page spread in the Times and Speaker recently highlighting the campaign I thought it would be a worthwhile donation and the charity committee agreed.

“When I came to Braidhurst over 20 years ago Ravenscraig was still active and in fact Braidhurst was at the forefront of the campaign to try to save it.

NATIONAL

“We put on a special play on the subject which we went on to perform at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh.

“We were the first school to do this and got national coverage because of it.”

The pupils involved were even invited down to Westminster by the late Donald Dewar, who was shadow secretary of state for Scotland at the time and spearheaded the all-party campaign to save the ‘Craig from closure.

Sadly those efforts were in vain and Derrick - whose school over years has taught many pupils from steelmaking families - fears the area’s steel heritage is in danger of being forgotten.

He said: “I have got one of the last pieces of steel to come from Ravenscraig in the school and we use it as an artefact in history.

“But the kids today know nothing about steelmaking or Ravenscraig and how important it was to the local community. There’s a whole generation of kids growing up today who think Ravenscraig is a sports centre.

“The amount we’ve given to the fund may not be huge but I thought it would be a good gesture and the idea of creating a memorial to the steelworkers who lost their lives is something which I and the school absolutely support.

“Steelmaking is something which is part of the heritage of this area and shouldn’t be forgotten - it is something we should be proud of.”

As well as Braidhurst other parties have also come forward with donations to the Scottish Steelworkers’ Memorial Fund, including a number of local businesses.

Uddingston confectionery manufacturer Tunnocks have contributed £1,000, as have Beattie Communications, also based in Uddingston, while the NVT Group of Bellshill have donated £500.

Other companies to make donations are - Merson Scotland Ltd, Eurocentral, £100; Wireless Infrastructure Group, Bellshill, £100; Consarc Engineering Ltd, Eurocentral, £100; Motherwell Bridge Ltd, Motherwell, £100; Philips Lighting, Hamilton, £250.

Bells Food Group Ltd, Shotts, £100; GP Plantscape Ltd, Kirkfieldbank, £100; Border Biscuits Ltd, Lanark, £100; CCL Components Ltd, East Kilbride, £500; The Boxshop Ltd, East Kilbride, £100; Clarke UK Ltd, Coatbridge, £100; Scotshield Fire & Security Systems, Chapelhall, £100.

ENCOURAGEMENT

Tommy Brennan, fundraising committee member and former union leader at Ravenscraig said: “We have received so much encouragement from so many people recently. It reaffirms that we are doing a good thing.

“Braidhurst High School was the first high school to respond to our fundraising appeal and it is hoped that other schools will join them.

“The trustees are looking at ways to involve schools in a wider sense. The association with the history department is an obvious one, but various projects could expand and could involve English departments, art departments and even expand to the science departments.

“We recently lettered many local Lanarkshire businesses and the response has been heartening. The trustees recognise the difficulties everyone is facing in the current financial climate and we are all truly grateful for the monies received so far.

“The launch of the public appeal has rekindled many memories of the camaraderie between ex-steelworkers. It has also opened many wounds for families who have lost a loved one. We, as a committee, sympathise and are proud to be developing such a memorial.

“The committee are very grateful to everyone who has supported our appeal to date. We are a long way from reaching our goal, but with continued support from our schools, local businesses and residents we will be able to make our goal reality.”