A life-long wish will be fulfilled

LOCAL businessman Alastair Donald is helping an old friend to achieve a life-long dream.

Every year Alastair and a group of friends from the local area visit the First World War battlefields and cemeteries in Belgium and France.

And this year they are taking along Tom Welsh - Alastair’s former boss from Laurencekirk.

Tom, who is in his 80s, was in the Cameronian Highlanders during the Second World War and has always had a keen interest in the First World War.

So, for their annual trip to the battlefields, Alastair and his friends will bring Tom along for the ride.

Leaving this Friday, the party will travel to Paris before exploring further over the course of the weekend while basing themselves in Ypres.

Each evening they will pay their respects at the Menin Gate ceremony. By day they will travel throughout the area with plans to focus on the Somme for this year.

Alastair, who was always been fascinated by the conflict will continue his research into those who fought with the Gordon Highlanders - a regiment Alastair was once part of.

In the past he has carried out research for his own family history. He found out about his uncle who was sadly killed in action and was able to find the exact area where he fell during a subsequent trip.

Alastair has also found and taken pictures of graves for people back home who have asked him to do so for part of their own family histories.

There is always something new and interesting to discover each year and Alastair says they plan to keep the tradition going. He added: “It’s a beautiful part of the country and it is so similar to here.

“In some ways it is very much like a home from home, it’s very rural.”

r Look out for Alastair’s diary and pictures of the trip in a future edition of the Dispatch and Herald.