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Clan MacAulay gather in North to bury their chief

From Press and Journal Saturday August 16 2003

Clan MacAulay 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 great grand-son.

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 MacPherson.

At the 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.”



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