Window reflection of Allan’s life and work

Alan Pennie commemoration window
Alan Pennie commemoration window

PETERCULTER resident Allan Pennie celebrated his 86th birthday yesterday (Wednesday) - after having been honoured by the community with the installation of a stained glass window in St Peter’s Heritage Museum which he was instrumental in founding 15 years ago.

Mr Pennie was invited to unveil the stunning half-light window on Saturday in time for the re-opening of the Heritage Museum and Hall after its winter closure for maintenance. The new window commemorates his life and work in and around Aberdeen, complementing a similar window installed at the opposite end of the museum which commemorates the life and work of his Heritage co-founder Arthur McFarlane who died four years ago.

Artist Catriona McKinnon with Alan Pennie.

Artist Catriona McKinnon with Alan Pennie.

Both windows were designed by stained glass designer Catriona MacKinnon of Elgin. She told the Piper she had many meetings with Alan, discussing his many interests (17 symbols denoting his life’s work and connections, with a list available in the museum for “symbol spotters”) and the lead lines of the design mirror the many roads around Grampian involved in his work, while the Celtic script used reflects his love of calligraphy. Catriona has been a stained glass artist for 30 years, since studying at the Edinburgh School of Art - two of her windows can be seen in Cults West Church and one in Aberdeen’s St Mary’s Cathedral.

Prior to the unveiling, Rev John Ferguson of Peterculter Parish Church (of whose congregation Alan became a member and elder when St Peter’s amalgamated with Kelman Church) spoke of Allan as a man who had committed his life to Christian values and “put these values into the community,” not only in Culter but in Aberdeen, such as with his involvement with the Manor project for the homeless in the city. However, St Peter’s Heritage Museum and Hall were possibly one of Allan’s greatest achievements, as he and co-founder Arthur McFarlane bought the church from the Church of Scotland, gifted it to the people of Culter and, along with another local philanthropist Dr Sheila Grant, set about creating the Heritage Trust.

The astonishing thing about Allan Pennie is that he has pursued a life of working for his community against all physical odds, having been born with a disabling body ‘tremor’ which delayed his attendance at school for some time in his childhood. His achievements are therefore all the more remarkable and he has become an inspiration to all who know him.

Starting out from a small rented tenement in Aberdeen, when he left school and started work he determined that he would somehow buy his family a house of their own - and did so.

In the following years, he worked his way up through the milk marketing trade, eventually becoming not only manager of Kennerty Dairies but also the “troubleshooter” during their amalgamation with other Grampian dairy firms. He has been a lifelong sports fanatic, founding a football team for youngsters in Aberdeen, and eventually initiating community sports and citizenship awards, now awarded annually at Culter Gala.

Today, Allan’s disability and age find him now requiring daily care at his Culter home yet, though he recently retired as chairman of the Heritage Trust, he still takes his turn once a month down at the museum he helped to found. The Heritage Museum is entirely run and funded by volunteers, has a wide range of interesting exhibits and photographs and is open every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday between 2pm-4pm till the end of October, while teas and homebakes are served in the nearby Heritage Hall (former ‘Iron Kirkie’ from Ballater).

A NEW art exhibition by local artist Patricia Reith opened in Bieldside on Monday, running for three weeks until Thursday, May 1.

Appropriately entitled ‘Art in the Waiting Room’, the exhibition is being held in the waiting room of Camphill Medical Practice on the Murtle Estate in Bieldside, part of the Camphill School Aberdeen complex, and will be open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.

A percentage of all sales at the exhibition will go to support the work of Camphill Wellbeing Trust.

Cults & District WRI held their annual general meeting on Thursday, April 3, presided over by Dyce WRI.

While the votes were being counted, Dyce members provided entertainment in the form of songs, beautifully sung by one of the ladies, a game, a quiz, and an amusing comedy skit in which some of them, dressed appropriately in wigs and mini-skirts, performed to a Cher number.

Committee members were appointed and in the absence of the current president, Moira Morris, specific post assignments were postponed until the next meeting in May.

The April competition winners were: caramel onion relish - 1 Vicky Fletcher, 2 Shona Bruce; a needle case - 1 Shona Bruce, 2 Catherine Stewart.