“The Smilers” remembered

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Brothers Graham and Gordon Wishart always knew Stonehaven was a special place for their parents – their mother was from the town and the family holidayed there throughout the 50s and 60s. However, it was not until their mother died last year that they discovered just what an important part Stonehaven Open Air Pool played in their family history.

Graham, from Carnoustie, takes up the tale: “We knew our father, who died over 20 years ago, had met our mother in Stonehaven during the Second World War, when he was stationed in or near the town as ‘A’ Company Sergeant Major with 7/9th Battalion, The Royal Scots. We always assumed that they had met at a dance in the Town Hall. However, after our mother died last year, we discovered about 200 letters which she had written to Dad between 1943 and 1946 which told us the full story.”

Graham and Gordon had already decided on a small memorial to their parents, thinking initially of a bench, perhaps in Stonehaven, and perhaps at the Pool, which they had always visited during their family holidays.

Following contact with the Friends of the Pool, it was decided that a more fitting memorial would be a hard-landscaped area at the north end of the Pool’s garden, with some suitable plants which would survive the often stormy conditions which hit that area.

“We then discovered, on reading Mum’s letters to Dad, that they had met at the Pool itself, on July 2 1943. They went on to marry at Dunnottar Church on March 9 1946. So a memorial at the Pool is even more appropriate than we could have imagined!”

The brothers also discovered a lovely photo of their parents, their joy very apparent, which had been taken outside the Pool by a stranger and sent to them, addressed only to “The Smilers”.

Graham and Gordon, who works abroad, recently visited Stonehaven, on one of the wettest days of the summer, for a family reunion, and for a private dedication of the garden to their parents’ memory. Gordon had written a lovely little poem which he read as part of the ceremony.

THE SMILERS

They met at this pool, did Tommy & Liz

It was during the war, but away from the blitz.

This handsome young man, a true Royal Scot

Stands proud in his uniform, happy with his lot.

For he’s met Lizbeth Stephen, well know in these parts

And they seem to have stolen each other’s hearts.

And who would have known that soon they’d be wed

We can only imagine what might have been said.

As they stood here together and paused for a while

And a passing stranger he captured their smile.

And now we stand here in memorium

To remember Tommy Wishart, our dad and Lizbeth Stephen, our mum.