Sunday, 25 October 2015

Food for Thought

Rev. Henry Duncan
    Each morning there are individuals, parents, grandparents and carers throughout the world who wake up and wonder how they're either going to feed themselves or those in their care that day.They may have a temporary crisis or a long-term one, due to illness, homelessness, unemployment and need to turn to a food bank.

    While the concept has come to the forefront this century there have been soup kitchens, food cooperatives and various other ways for charitable organisations to distribute food to the needy.

    I can personally remember of a food cooperative in the next village distributing food to the miners and their families back in 1984/85. They were suffering hardship due to the year-long industrial action by the National Union of Coal miners, which was the biggest of its kind in the UK since the General Strike of 1926.

    However, on my recent visit to Dumfries and Galloway, I came across a statue of a Rev. Henry Duncan of Ruthwell. The impressive sculpture adorning the front of a red stone building in the town instantly made me want to find out more about the man.

St Andrews University
    A well-educated man, having studied at St Andrews University and in Liverpool, Henry Duncan put his banking career behind him and returned to Scotland to study for the religious ministry in both the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

    But just as there are poverty stricken families today, there were also many in the 18th and 19th-centuries. Rev.Henry Duncan recognised that his poorer parishioners in Ruthwell, Dumfries and Galloway where he was now a minister, needed help. Coaxing and cajoling some of the wealthier parishioners into backing him, from a small cottage in his parish he distributed food and grain to the very poor.

    He also recognised that with help it is possible to turn lives around and from the same cottage he used his background of banking to set up a Friendly Society. Here savers received a healthy return on whatever little they managed to put by, and his model was the pioneer for the savings-bank we know today.

    He also was a writer, editor, publisher and founder of the Dumfries and Galloway Courier, a weekly newspaper published now known as the Dumfries Courier and published by the DNG media Group.

    A man I was glad I had taken the time to find out about.  

#WorldSavingsDay  #poverty #povertyisunnessary

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