Dawn Mullady, project manager at Pitstop, returned safely recently from an epic trip to Kolkata, formally Calcutta, India.
Dawn was sponsored by the Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee and the Weaver Craft, in recognition for the work she has done with young people in Forfar.
The heritage project focused on the history of weaving in the town and this in turn led to practical lessons in weaving in the recently-opened Whatley Weaving Shed.
The fact-finding tour included visits to one of the world’s biggest jute mills, a Hindu temple for a ‘puja’ or prayer festival and the Scots Cemetery, to lay flowers on the grave of a Black Watch soldier.
Dawn’s trip was led by Dundee weaver Sandra Thomson, who was born in Kolkata, and they were accompanied by Ron Scrimgeour, Nine Trades liaison officer for Pitstop. In addition to visiting the huge Ludlow jute mill, Dawn spent time at the Scottish Cemetery, the Victoria Monument and tried her hand at haggling in the new market.
Dawn said: “I will definitely return to Kolkata, which is a city that never sleeps. Poverty was all around but people living on the streets still managed to smile.”
She was particularly moved to find the grave of one George Deans Lawie, originally from Edzell, at the Scots Cemetery. Mr Lawie died aged 42, on January 15, 1939, and was an employee of the Chartered Bank of India. The tranquillity of the cemetery on a warm Indian Sunday was soon broken when Dawn disturbed a nest of snakes and had to sprint to the safety of the footpath.
Prior to her trip, Dawn had hoped to establish a link between the local youth project and an Indian school, something which has now come to pass and she is currently planning a number of fund-raising activities to help the Premasree School for Children without Sight, located in a village outside Kolkata.
Bill McLaren, local baker and convener of the Nine Trades at the time the travel award was instituted, has invited Dawn to talk about her experiences at Forfar Rotary Club. Any other groups, keen to hear about this trip and the fund-raising activities, should contact Dawn at The Pitstop on Academy Street.