|From Press and Journal Saturday August 16
gather in North to bury their chief
by Sue Restan
REPRESENTATIVES of the Clan
MacAulay gathered at a picturesque cemetery in west Sutherland yesterday
to bid farewell to their chief.
Iain MacMillan MacAulay 82,
made history in August of last year when he was elected the first chief of
the clan for over 250 years. And the democratic process by which he was
elected is now seen as a blueprint for other disbanded clans.
The retired RAF squadron
leader, who was tortured by the Japanese during World War II , collapsed
and died during a dinner with friends in Drumbeg last Saturday.
Around 150 mourners
yesterday attended Mr MacAulay’s funeral at the Church of Scotland,
Lochinver, before moving on to Stoer cemetery for the burial. The Rev John
MacPherson conducted the service and reminded Mr MacAulay’s family and
friend that though he endured much, he achieved much. “He touched the
lives of many for good over the years and lived a very full life to the
end” said the Rev MacPherson.
Mr MacAulay was born in Dunoon, Argyll, in 1920. He joined the medical
branch of the RAF in 1938 and was posted to Singapore shortly before the
country fell into the hands of the Japanese. He then spent
three-and-a-half years in a prisoner of war camp.
“He endured torture,
mal-nourishment and disease. When he was finally able to return to his
family in Dunoon, his health was very poor, weighing less than five stones
and threatened with the possibility of blindness,” said the minister. Mr
MacAulay received £300 back pay for the time he had spent as a prisoner of
war. The Rev MacPherson told the congregation that he had given half to
one of his brothers and used the other half to buy a MacAulay kilt and to
marry Nina in 1946.
The couple who were married
for 57 years, had two sons, Alasdair and Diarmid four grand-children and a
Mr MacAulay remained in the
RAF where he trained as a physiotherapist. He went on to complete a
physiotherapy teaching degree at King’s College London, and later founded
the RAF School of Physiotherapy. The minister said the former squadron
leader also led expeditions into the Scottish mountains to teach young
service men survival skills, for which he was made an MBE.
The minister also reminded
the mourners of Mr MacAulay’s constant dream of re-establishing the Clan
MacAulay. “He advertised publicly for MacAulays to come together and 50
turned up. That was , in effect, the rebirth of the clan,” said the Rev
cemetery, the funeral procession was lead by Mr MacAulay’s friend, piper
Andrew MacKay, of Drumbeg, who played The Meeting of the Waters.
The coffin was covered with
the colours of the Clan MacAulay, which is the standard for the chief. On
the top of the red and white flag, were the hat, which he wore for
official engagements, his medals and his MBE. The flag was removed at the
graveside by the standard bearer Brian MacAulay, who folded it up and
handed it to Mr MacAulay’s widow.
Mourners, stood heads bowed
in the sunshine, as Mrs MacAulay dropped a single white rose on the coffin
and Mr MacKay played a Gaelic lament.
After the service, clan
organiser Hector MacAulay said: “He was a wonderful man, with great
leadership quality. It was his strength of character and his leadership
that managed to re-establish the clan. “It was not just a question of him
wanting to be chief, before that he had built up an organisation, which
will continue. He is leaving that legacy.”
The Clan MacAulay now has a
couple of hundred members in the UK and hundreds more in Canada, the US
and Australia. Hector MacAulay said “Nominations for the next chief will
be forthcoming in due course and an election will take place at a time to
be arranged in the near future.”