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John Thurso's words about the Queen Mother
Tribute was also paid to her by John Thurso during a special two-hour sitting
in the House of Commons on Wednesday. He spoke of her immense contribution to
national life and said she showed courage, zest for life, a sense of duty and
devotion and, above all, gentle leadership for almost a century.
“She was an exemplary human being,” stated the Caithness, Sutherland and
Easter Ross MP. “It is hard to put into words the affection that she felt for
Caithness and that the people of Caithness felt for her. It was partly based
on her obvious commitment to duties in the constituency, which were small
when judged on a national scale – opening the harbourmaster’s office in
Scrabster or visiting Caithness Glass – but none the less greatly
“It was partly based on the evident joy that she took in attending local
events, such as her annual visit to the Society of Caithness Artists or the
Mey Games. I once witnessed her consoling a team of German motor cyclists who
had been beaten in the tug o’war by the motley crew of footmen and equerries
from the Castle of Mey,” he said.
“Above all, the fact that, once a year, she came among us in Caithness and
was our very special Royal engendered great affection. Her Majesty warmly
reciprocated the feelings of the people of Caithness.
“That was partly because the Castle of Mey was the only home that she owned
herself. She first saw it in 1952 when it was about to fall down. Indeed, she
told me that the occupants were in one room and the sheep were in the other.
She bought it, took it over and restored it over a period of three or four
years,” added John Thurso.
He said the Queen Mother enjoyed the castle enormously and later added Longoe
Farm, becoming “a tremendous connoisseur of stock”.
John Thurso recalled that in 1996 she put the castle into a trust. The MP,
who is one of the four trustees, continued: “She has left us with a
marvellous legacy but with a challenge too. She wished the Castle of Mey to
be open and available to the public and as soon as the current building works
are complete, some time in July, we will be opening it to receive the public
as was her wish,” he said.
John Thurso added: “The castle was her home. She brought a warmth and
friendliness to that house, which all those who ever went into it will never
forget. The other part of our challenge is to meet her vision of keeping the
house in good order and of retaining the feeling of warmth and friendliness
“She brought a special warmth and light to everyone she ever met: it was her
great gift. We in Caithness will particularly miss her. I will miss her. She
touched all our lives, but above all, we thank God for her life, for her
tremendous service to her country and for her great sense of humour.”