Until recently, my only connection with Balhousie Castle, was to occasionally enjoy a cup of tea and a delicious scone in the café. I also have a family link with the Regiment as my husband’s uncle, Private William John Morrison, had served with The Black Watch in Cyprus, 1957-1959.
In February this year, my husband, Garry, very suddenly and unexpectedly died, and I found myself with too much time, and sadly lacking in routine and purpose.
I noticed the poster in my local Post Office looking for volunteer Poppy Partners, and thought, I would like to do that. I remembered seeing the installation on television when it was at the Tower of London and thinking how wonderful it would be to see them.So I duly filled in the application form and was welcomed on board to be a Poppy Partner. We had a morning’s training, where we learnt about the poppy installation and what our roles would be.
So far I have completed some shifts as a Poppy Partner and was fortunate to be assigned to Poppy HQ – sounds very grand- you will find us at the Wavell gate before you go into to see the sculpture. It is a real privilege to welcome visitors to Balhousie Castle and chat with them, even if it is apologising for the Scottish summer! I have managed a greeting in Polish and a short conversation in French, and a hello in Spanish! It is very interesting to learn where our visitors have travelled from and find out why they are visiting; many have significant connections with the Black Watch Regiment.
I am thoroughly enjoying my time as a Poppy Partner and each time find myself really looking forward to the next shift. My experience so far has been very positive and has given me a great deal of pleasure. At the moment I have committed most Saturday mornings for the duration of the installation and, if I am able to, would be happy to do any weekday sessions. As the weeks go on I am looking forward to taking part in other Poppy Partner roles, such as the Craft Room, or at the Weeping Window – not so keen on the car park though!
Elizabeth Sime, Poppy Partner 2016