Island View: Celebrating the elderly

Bute Museum is one institution that benefits from the expertise of the elderly.
Bute Museum is one institution that benefits from the expertise of the elderly.

Supported both by anecdotal evidence and recently-released statistics, it is probably fair to say that Bute’s population is, on the whole, a very elderly one.

The virtual non-existence of crime, the small, friendly communities and the wealth of great views have made the island a very attractive destination for those looking to retire somewhere peaceful from busier cities and from overseas.

Perhaps the island is also now reaping the benefits of its status as a tourism hotspot in the mid-20th century, as those who sailed doon the watter for day trips as children remembered their holidays and later returned once they could afford to settle down.

The prevalence of those living out their retirement on the island has inevitably shaped the local economy and community, and at the risk of trotting out another cliche, elderly people are a valuable resource for learning.

Retiree volunteers are heavily involved in both Rothesay Museum and the Bute Military Museum, and taking some time out to hear their personal stories of the past is almost always a fascinating insight.

Iain Gillespie is another pensioner who has featured prevalently in these pages recently for his tireless unpaid work around Rothesay, but equally worth celebrating is his remarkable life story before his retirement.

He has packed a lot into his 78 years and is a great storyteller and writer, and if you get a chance to speak to him about his years of work in the theatre on Bute and the mainland I would take it.

Just don’t bother him too much - though Iain is exceedingly polite, he already gets a lot of well-wishers!

Pretty much everyone who has lived into old age will have some stories to tell - and seeking them out can be its own reward.