Chairman’s Report 2007

 ‘The Friends of Bellie Churchyard’
Annual General Meeting
Tuesday, 19 June 2007
Chairman’s Report

Over the last 5 years, the Friends of Bellie Churchyard have helped in a variety of ways to improve and enhance this historic site.   Members of Moray Burial Ground Research group have spent many hours carefully collating the inscriptions of the gravestones, now published as:

‘Monumental Inscriptions–Bellie Churchyard and New Cemetery

Parish of Bellie’

Our colleagues at Moray Council have assisted in the ongoing clearing of ivy and self-seeded plants, planting of Spring bulbs and the upgrading of paths and roadways, improvement of drainage methods, installation of seating in the new cemetery.

The latest development has been the successful completion of an appropriate car parking area, the cost of which has been equally shared between Moray Council and the ‘Friends’.  The careful implementation of this environmentally friendly development has been welcomed by those visiting the churchyard, especially in wet weather conditions when the ground often becomes soft and muddy underfoot on the grass area.

Repairs to damaged stones have also been undertaken with a view to the overall enhancement of our historic churchyard.  This work will be progressed further during the year.

As a result of research on the ferryman’s grave, John Hosack, ‘killed by a fatal shot 1711’, the Friends have investigated the landing points of the Ferry Crossing at Fochabers.    Site visits and collating information from various sources of historical data have proved a very interesting project for Friends in recent months.  A document entitled ‘Catching The Ferry at Boat o’ Bog’ by Peter Dawson provides an excellent comprehensive report on the subject and is a splendid addition to our historic records.

The shared cost of the car parking area has used up a much of our funds although monies from Mr Ian Baxter’s legacy were also used towards this.  A balance of £634.06 remains as at 4 April 2007.  Many members are now ‘life members’ so income for membership was only £105 for the year.  The sale of Bruce Bishop’s publication on the history of Bellie and the surrounding area amounts to income of £110 for 2006/7 and further promotion of this fine publication will continue.

‘The North of Scotland Family & Local History Fair’, presented by Scottish Genealogical Research in association with the Aberdeen & North East Scotland Family History Society, was held at Baxter’s Highland Village on Sunday, 28 May 2006.   This proved to be a very lively and enjoyable day.

This well organised and very informative event attracted over 150 people and the series of lectures on family history and related topics proved very interesting to all who attended.  I do hope that Baxters will be able to act as hosts for future events of this kind.

Phase 2 begins …

The Friends will continue their efforts in upgrading our historic churchyard and in the coming months, the following specific works will be progressed further:

  • Erect a plaque at the churchyard making reference to many of the most interesting stones within the site;
  • Erect a stone, possibly a Celtic cross, with signage at entrance to churchyard highlighting the site and its historical interest (i.e. dating back to 1130’s)
  • Put together a bid for funding application
  • Investigate Website  – to create further interest from other parties on the churchyard and its history – also to pinpoint possible benefactors

I am sure you will agree that ‘The Friends’ are continuing to make good progress with plans to enhance our Churchyard for generations to come.  We look forward to reporting on these developments … and much more … during the next few months.

My colleagues and I would welcome practical help from all those who share our interest and also suggestions from those interested in this special project.

Gordon Baxter, Chairman, June 2007