Newsletter for Scots in South Africa

Issue No 45, September 2016

It is with great sorry that I begin with the sad news of the passing of Heather Brokenshire, on 5 September.

Heather was a past Federation Chief and a Caledonian member for over 70 years. She joined Eastern Johannesburg Callies as a child, and then continued as a Junior. She later spent many years in the Roodepoort/Florida/Maraisburg Society and then finally returned to Easterns.

She was a Scottish Country dancer and a fine singer; many will remember her beautiful voice, signing the songs of Robbie Burns and others. She was always a hard worker and totally devoted to the Caledonian movement,

We send our condolences to Fred, Gayle and Andrew and all her many friends.

Federation of Southern Africa Caledonian Societies’ 92nd Congress 2016, 7- 9 October 2016

Dear Members and friends

As Convener of the 2016 Federation Congress, I look forward to welcoming you all to the 92nd Congress at Cedar Woods of Sandton. The hosts are:

  • Highland Province,
  • Eastern Joburg Caledonian Society
  • St Andrews Scottish Society

The venue and accommodation is Cedar Woods of Sandton, 120 Western Service Road, Sandton


  1. a) Shuttle is available from Marlborough Gautrain at R120 for the first person plus R50 additional person on the same trip.
  2. b) Shuttle from the airport at R425 for the first person plus R50 per additional person on the same trip. Should you require shuttle services please indicate on the booking form and provide your flight details to arrange the booking for your account.


7th October: Registration in restaurant: 10h00-16h00: Ceilidh: 18h00

8th October:

08h30: Assemble for procession of dignitaries

09h00-12h30 – Business session, followed by the kirking of the new Federation Chief and Provincial Chieftains.

13h00-1800 – free time

18h00 – Ball

9th October:

Breakfast and departure of delegates

Best regards, Jane Dyer,
Congress Convenor.

For further details please contact Jane on 072 2000 108 or email:

Oot and aboot with the Federation Chief and Lady President

Greetings to you all.

After Durban (see their report below) our next trip was to the Free State, on 30-31 July. We began the trip to Bloemfontein with a diversion to the Benoni Highland Gathering, to see seven-year-old Jessica Powell competing remarkably well in the dancing. While there we saw the World Champion Highland Dancer who had flown in from Scotland, and who predictably, but deservedly, won the competition.

We were warmly welcomed by the Goodlets and taken to the CBC Club for the welcome at a fun-and-games night. Bloemfontein Callies nights are always loads of fun and this was one of the best.

We started with a darts competition which showed how long it was since any of us had played before, if at all. It was made easy by not having to start with a double and only score 101, but it still took nearly an hour before anyone would get their winning double!

This was followed by dinner and the formalities, and then some great singing and piping. One of the pipers was a very young, but in my view brilliant, piper who is trying to revive the Bloemfontein Band which was once the South African Champion band. Yet again it is the pipers who are bringing the youth back into the Callies.

Sunday began with breakfast, where one of the waitresses told us her family were from Dundee and took photos of herself with the men in their kilts.

We drove in convoy to Welkom where we were welkomed, possibly for the last time at the Goldfields Society’s Club, which they have very reluctantly decided to sell.

But the society is clearly going to carry on. The function was a Christmas in July and was great fun, with the inevitable great joke from John Bell, one of the three past Fed Chiefs in attendance. And as a bonus a sniffer dog and his handlers, David Scott and Nathan, demonstrated their skills.

Thanks to both the Free State societies for their lovely gifts, mostly made from glass!

The next function was another Christmas in July, with the twist that it was in August, in our own home, with over 40 present, one of the best turn-outs at Easterns Callies for some months.

Our next official visit was to Randfontein. It would be fair to say that in recent years Randfontein was one of the smaller Fed welcomes. But this year was different. While so many of the other societies had been apologising for the small numbers attending, this was by far the biggest welcome in Randfontein for years.

But best of all was the venue – the brand-new restaurant – Grootjiesekombuis – just   opened by past Fed Chief and lady president, Gavin and Ida Wilson. The food and the atmosphere were brilliant. Our gifts too were exceptional – plates and mugs emblazoned with photos taken at last year’s Congress.

So to our final visit, to East London. We were welcomed by Chief and Lady President, Nookie Middleton and Rose Thompson and accommodated in the very comfortable Guest Room at a retirement complex. We met the committee and members at Nookie’s house in the adjoining complex.

Next day was the Eastern Cape Highland Gathering, which I was honoured to be asked to officially declare open.

The event demonstrated everything that is so good about the East London Society. For years they have been doing everything that I have urged other societies to do – working closely with the pipers and dancers and reaching out to other organisations.

As well as the usual events – piping and Highland dancing – this gathering involved the Scouts, Boys Brigade band, Line dancers, Country dancers, Jukskei players, Guide Dogs, Ninja warriors… and it was all masterminded by the East London Caledonian Society itself.

The only problem was the unseasonable weather, though even that showed the Scots’ ability to improvise. The rain held off for most of the morning, so the highland dancing and solo piping competition could be completed.

But just as the bands took to the field the heavens opened. The first band tried to perform, despite driving rain, under the tent the dancers had used. But then the tent was blown down on top of them and they had to beat a retreat.

Incredibly however they were able to restart in a café/bar and completed the entire band competition. The winners, the Medics Band from Durban, then gave a great concert.

It was a fitting end to our society visits and gave us plenty of food for thought as to how the Caledonian movement in South Africa still has a future.

Thank you to all the societies and members who have made us so welcome, given us wonderful gifts and proved that despite our problems, we can keep the Scottish flags flying high in South Africa.

Patrick and Norma

Society reports

Durban Caledonian Society

 From Scribe Molly Gould

Our last social was the official visit of our Federation Chief and his Lady President, Patrick & Norma Craven. Our Chief Margaret Gardner welcomed them and the other guests at the top table who were Deputy Chief and Lady President Alex & Memory Coutts and our Honorary Chief Noel and Past Provincial Chief Molly Gould.

Alex and Memory have refurbished the lovely photo of the Late Queen Mother who was our Patron and gave us the photo back in 1982 on the occasion of our 100th birthday, and it was unveiled by the Federation Lady President, Norma Craven.

Alex talked about some interesting facts on the 1882 expat Scots in Natal and George spoke about the similarities between Scotland and Greece. We had a reasonable turnout of 35 members and in his address, Patrick remarked how pleased he was to see so many people at a function and in a hall as well with a Pipe Band in attendance which was a bonus for them. It appears that some Societies had only a handful of members left which was so sad.

We had a fairly full programme and thanks to the Pipe Band who did us proud with both the piping in of our dignitaries and giving us a section of piping and drumming. Our Federation Chief was enthralled and commented on our fine band.

Part of the programme was a Scottish Quiz presented by Alex Coutts (which most of us locals found rather hard) but to our Federation Lady President, our own Chief, Nancy Dunsmore and a few who were born in bonnie Scotland, it was a breeze.  To her delight Norma Craven got all 25 questions right and walked off with the prize – befitting a Federation Lady President! Once again Ronella and Alistair got people on the floor dancing the St Bernard’s Waltz.

The afternoon ended with Auld Lang Syne sung to the Pipe Band and Will ye no come back again for Patrick & Norma.  Our thanks to all who helped make the afternoon a success.

Goldfields Caledonian Society

 From Chief Debbie Bell

A very special thank you to all who contributed in any way to our Christmas in July Lunch. We appreciate the donations and help that we received.  Our Federation Chief, Patrick Craven and his lady President Norma as well as our Provincial Chieftain, Lynette and her Lady President Linda, were in attendance and enjoyed the afternoon with us.  They all asked me to convey a message of thanks to the Society.

A special thank you to David Scott and Nathan for the Dog Show that he did for us during the course of the afternoon at our Christmas in July Lunch. We appreciated it David, and it was great to see Nathan again.

St Andrew’s Scottish Society

 From Chief Gavin Johnson

 The Johannesburg Military Tattoo is happening from the 7th to the 10th of September 2016 at the Apartheid Museum.

All the pipe bands and dancers have already started preparing; rehearsals start soon. We wish them all the best.

We would like to go as a group on Sat the 10th of September 2016, dressed in tartan representing the society and enjoy the tattoo together.

News from Scotland

Rare Jurassic Skye fossil one of ‘most important’ found in Scotland

Pamela Tulloch, 5 September

The skeleton of a sea-living reptile ‘monster’ which ruled the oceans around the same time as huge dinosaurs thundered across the land has been unveiled.

The fossilised skeleton of this dolphin-like reptile from 170 million years ago is said to be the most complete that has ever been found in Scotland.

Named the Storr Lochs Monster, the fossil was discovered on the Isle of Skye in 1966 by a local power station manager and has been preserved by National Museums Scotland ever since.

In the last few months, experts have been able to clean up and extract the fossil from the rock which has been encasing it for millions of years.

The skeleton of a sea-living reptile ‘monster’ which ruled the oceans around the same time as huge dinosaurs thundered across the land has been unveiled.

The fossilised skeleton of this dolphin-like reptile from 170 million years ago is said to be the most complete that has ever been found in Scotland.

Named the Storr Lochs Monster, the fossil was discovered on the Isle of Skye in 1966 by a local power station manager and has been preserved by National Museums Scotland ever since.

In the last few months, experts have been able to clean up and extract the fossil from the rock which has been encasing it for millions of years.

“What we have had before is a few bones here and there, but what we have now is almost a complete skeleton so it is one of a kind. Their bones are exceptionally rare in Scotland, which makes this specimen one of the crown jewels of Scottish fossils.”

He adds: “Scotland is one of the best places in the world to find fossils from the middle part of the Jurassic period.

“So when you think of Jurassic Park, there are only some places in the world that actually have fossils from that time. Scotland is one of them and this one is one of the best fossils from here.

“So that just shows how critical this fossil is in helping us better understand that world 170 million years ago when there were huge dinosaurs thundering across the land and these reptile monsters swimming in the ocean.”

Dr Brusatte says these reptiles, from the ichthyosaurs group, were “close cousins to dinosaurs” and would have lived in the water all the time, even giving birth in the ocean. They would have been around four metres in length with fins, flippers and a pointed head which had hundreds of cone-shaped teeth to allow them to feed on fish and squid.

“These were remarkable creatures, totally unlike anything that is alive today. It is these kinds of animals we want the people to Scotland to know,” Steve says.

“There are rumours of sea monsters and lake monsters in Scotland today but there were real sea dragons that lived here during the time of dinosaurs.”

Skye is one of the few places in the world where fossils from the middle Jurassic period can be found and has been referred to as “Scotland’s dinosaur island”.

The Storr Lochs Monster fossil was discovered on a Skye beach near the SSE Storr Lochs Power Station by the facility’s manager, Norrie Gillies, who died in 2011 aged 93, who spotted the fossil while out for a Sunday afternoon walk.

His son Allan Gillies joined experts from the museum, the University of Edinburgh and SSE on September 5 to reveal the fossil to the public for the first time.

Allan has fond memories of experts cutting out the fossil from the rock in blocks when he was just six years old after his father contacted National Museums Scotland to tell them about his discovery.

“It is a proud moment to see it revealed,” Allan says. “Dad’s aim was that it was not the sort of thing you keep in a back garden and should be for the general public to see it. Now that it is out of the rock, they will be able to study the science behind it and learn more about it – it’s fantastic.”

People will be able to view the fossil at a number of locations, including SSE’s new visitor centre at the Pitlochry Dam, which opens in a few months’ time before it returns to the lab for further research.

Here, a team of palaeontologists from the University of Edinburgh and National Museums Scotland will carry out a detailed examination of the fossil in a bid to form a clearer picture of the fossil.

It is hoped this will help to reveal how ichthyosaurs evolved during the middle Jurassic period, an era long been shrouded in mystery owing to a lack of fossil evidence from the time.

For the full article with photos go to:

Forget the brown and tomato – Iron Brew Sauce maker insists future’s orange

Kirsteen Paterson, The National, 7 Sept

MADE in Scotland, for burgers – it’s called Iron Brew Sauce. Gluten-free, vegan and high on tang, the sweet-flavoured condiment is the brainchild of keen cook Kenny Mills.

The father-of-two, from Renfrew, got the idea as he scoured his kitchen cupboards for something to pep up a chicken stir-fry.

Now the distinctive orange table sauce has gone into production, together with a fiery alternative for those with hotter palates. Mills, whose company Necessaucery Ltd will launch the products in Glasgow tomorrow, says they could be “the most Scottish sauces ever”.

He told The National: “You get Irn Bru-flavoured sweets and ice-cream and once there was even a square sausage, but this is the first time someone has made a sauce. Irn-Bru holds a particular place in the Scottish psyche. There’s a fondness for it.

“This is a sweet sauce, to be used in a savoury manner. The flavour profile is a good match for Asian cooking, and it can be used for burgers, glazes, marinades or cheese. The hot one is good for pakora.”

Mills, who ran an electronics firm before moving into business consultancy, worked with experts at Abertay University in Dundee to cook up the recipe.

Inspiration struck when he reduced a can of Irn-Bru to a sticky stir-fry glaze which got the thumbs-up from 11-year-old son Evan, two-year-old Ellis and partner Elaine.

Forty-two of a 43-strong focus group rated the result highly, and Mills – who aims to emulate the success of the Reggae Reggae Sauce range by placing the product in major supermarkets – says the sauces are aimed at diners aged 18-35.

Shoppers at last weekend’s Loch Lomond Food Festival were the first to try the sauce, and Mills says many reluctant samplers were won over by the taste.

He said: “The initial reaction was one of surprise, but the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. We were taken aback. It’s a very strange flavour to describe but it does taste like the ginger – it’s unmistakable, even from the smell. It is sugary – I’m not presenting it as a healthy alternative, but it’s no worse than tomato sauce.”

Enquiries have already come in from Dubai, where there are around 20,000 Scots, and Mills is preparing to send over a stack of bottles for a St Andrew’s Day ball.


D’ye ken?

  1. Ninewells Hospital is renowned teaching hospital near which Scottish city?
  2. Name the 19th-century Skye Terrier who became famous for spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner?
  3. Pittodrie is a football stadium in which city?
  4. From where do the smoked haddock known as ‘smokies’ come from?
  5. Which famous US novel based its title from a poem by Robert Burns?

Did ye ken?

  1. Rothesay is the chief town of which Island? Bute
  2. What is a “Crappit Heid”? The head of a large cod or similar sized fish, washed, descaled and then stuffed with a mixture of oats, suet, onion, white pepper and the liver of the fish in question. This was then sewn or skewered to close the aperture and boiled in seawater. The cooked dish would then be served with potatoes or other root vegetables in season.
  3. In what region of Scotland is Brigadoon? None of them; it is a fictional village which featured in the famous film.
  4. Where in Scotland would you see “The Arabs”? Tannadice Park, Dundee. It is the nickname for Dundee united FC
  5. What is the town of Cullen famous for? Cullen Skink – a thick Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions.