Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Historic find goes on show at museum

A fascinating article from the Lochaber News. It just goes to show, you never know what you might turn up!

A Lochaber woman's chance discovery in the attic has gone on permanent display this week at Fort William's West Highland Museum.

Kate Cameron was clearing out boxes from the loft of her former Fort William town centre home when she came across a framed photograph of her father. But when she removed the picture from its frame, there was a surprise in store.

Tucked behind the portrait was a magnificent military memento: a roll of honour document from the First World War which was been presented to her grandfather Kenneth Kennedy Cameron, known as KK, who served as a lieutenant with the Cameron Highlanders and was posted to India.

There was also a poem, written by H Cartwell of Southend on Sea as a tribute to KK following his death in 1944. The touching, five-verse piece comments on KK's life as a soldier and well-known and respected businessman.

After liaising with Jimmy Smith, of the Fort William branch of the Royal British Legion, Kate, who lives at Banavie, has now presented both documents to the world famous museum in Cameron Square where they are being displayed alongside other military-related exhibits.

Kate (64), a Link Housing officer, had originally intended to donate the roll of honour to the Cameron Highlanders Association in Inverness, but is glad the scroll will remain locally and be accessible to the wider Lochaber public.

She told the Lochaber News: "It was really by chance that I found the roll of honour in the loft, but I was really delighted by its discovery.

"It is headlined 'Roll of Honour, Inverness and District B' and is for the period 1914-19 and features all the different regiments. It's a beautiful document.

"I found it in my old house at 143 High Street, in the west end, which was located above the family business. It was tucked behind the picture of my father. I liked the frame, but not the picture so much, so I took it out and got the nice surprise.

"I had made enquiries about putting the roll of honour up to Inverness and spoke to a British Legion representative about this. Then recently, Jimmy Smith got in touch, suggesting it would be fitting to put it to the West Highland Museum.

"I'm really pleased it's staying in Fort William. My grandfather was a well known and popular character in the town and I'm sure there will be a fair bit of interest from locals.

"I never knew my grandfather, but I'm very proud of him. I know that as well as his exploits in India he also had a great escape in France when he was shot at Ypres. Miraculously he survived because the bullet struck his cigarette tin tucked in his chest pocket."

West Highland Museum curator manager Mairi Mooney said: "We're delighted Kate has chosen to present the roll of honour to the museum. We're sure it will generate a lot of local interest as KK was a highly-regarded man in Fort William."

l Kenneth Kennedy Cameron was born on December 8, 1885, and died on February 16, 1944. He met his future wife Mary Margaret Evans, known as Meg, before his posting to India.

KK and Meg married in 1920 and started married life at 103 High Street. In the early 1920s they moved to Lochaber House, 1 Reform Place - now 141

143 High Street - having purchased from his father, Walter, the family business which was a bakery/tearoom and hotel upstairs.

The business, established by Walter in 1874, then became known as KK's.

KK became a very respected business man and although he suffered poor health with malaria and angina he devoted much of his time to the MacIntosh Memorial Church and British Legion.

KK died in 1944 aged 58. His son Kenny was serving with the RAF in the Second World War but was given compassionate leave to carry on the business with his mother.

While the premises at 141-143 High Street no longer remains part of KK's business, fourth-generation Kim Cameron, Kate's brother, carries on the family tradition in Caol Shopping Centre.

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