Freezing temperatures and hazardous travelling conditions could not deter 46 hardy folk with strong Peterhead bonds from attending a recent family reunion at the Marcliffe Hotel in Aberdeen.
The event brought together three families – the Oxie branch of the Buchan family, the Murrays, and the Piries – all linked through their association, be it blood or friendship, with London Barrister Andrew Buchan, himself an Oxie, and the first Buchan to be called to the English Bar since John Buchan.
Andrew said: “My paternal grandfather was Andrew Buchan, or Oxie, of Peterhead, a cooper and herring inspector. In the 1930’s he married Annie Findlay and brought up my father, also Andrew, in St Peter Street.
"My father, an electrician, left Peterhead after the war to find work in England, but he always encouraged me to keep in touch with my Scottish relatives. When my sister and I were young we visited both sides of the family with my parents, but it had reached the stage where I only saw ‘my ain folk’ at funerals.
"Over the past couple of years I lost both my mother and sister. However, I recently married Victoria Daines, and thought it would be lovely to bring the family together for a positive, happy occasion – and what better a reason than to celebrate our marriage? Victoria had previously met many of the Murray branch, but had not met any Oxies.”
Andrew’s great-aunt, Chrissie Robb, is the only surviving sibling from his grandfather’s generation, and she was delighted to attend the event with her daughter Jane. Her sister Madge (Strachan) died childless, but all the remaining Oxies of that generation were well represented by children and grandchildren.
Former Peterhead Harbour master John Buchan was represented by his daughter Elaine (Buchan) and her son Adrian, as well as by his granddaughter Grace Wilson of Peterhead and his grandson Ian Buchan and his wife Jan, from Edinburgh.
Fishery Officer Rob was present through his daughter Barbara Jane Balfour, who travelled from Fraserburgh with her husband George and son Thomas.
Jeannie (Stephen) was remembered by her daughters Margaret Westney (Fraserburgh) and Sheena Lane (Burnley), who attended the gathering with their children Jane, Sarah, Janice and Stephen.
Local poet and author Peter Buchan (Oxie) was represented by his daughters Anne Buchan (Peterhead) and Alison Massie (Fortrose).
Alison travelled from the Black Isle with her husband Bobby and talented Glasgow-based musician daughter Anna (The Blazin Fiddles). Father and daughter entertained the company with some songs and music which included a waltz “The Buchans of Crouch End” especially written by them to mark the occasion.
The Barrister’s grandmother was well represented by her sister Nellie and her husband John Murray, who attended with their sons John, Andrew, Neil and Bruce, and daughters Fiona and Gail, all accompanied by spouses, children and grandchildren. Family legend has it that John’s forebears fought at Culloden and had to flee by boat. The fugitives were on their way to France but were shipwrecked off Rattray Head. The local Laird took pity on them and gave them some land. John and Nellie worked the family smallholding at White Bog, Blackhills before leaving to become the first Support Managers at the Easter Angusten Farm Training Centre, Peterculter.
The gathering was completed by members of the Pirie family, linked to Andrew by a mutual love of golf, but also by family ties, connected as they are – along with Nellie – to the Findlays and Auntie Annie Pirie, Peterhead’s first midwife.
Sandy Pirie, a former Scots Champion golfer, played in the 1999 Walker Cup at Sandwich, and his son Neil, himself an accomplished golfer, is Captain of the Royal Burgess Golf Club in Edinburgh. Andrew himself confesses to not being such a good golfer but did once represent Ian Woosnam!
Andrew added: “My son Andrew Robert travelled from Germany with his fiancée to attend the gathering, and it was a superb opportunity for him to meet so many of his ‘folk.’ We all enjoyed catching up, and hope that the bonds we have re-established will remain strong.”