Public Open Day & AGM 2008
A short reflection by Dave McCann
The sun is shining. The front drive is ringed by cars and coaches. The field in front of the chapel
is full of cars. Hundreds of people are gathering from all over Scotland and from Wales, Ireland
and England and possibly even further afield. All ages are represented from young babies in
carry-harnesses to older people walking with the aid of sticks.
People are being met and greeted, led into the college and given tea or coffee. Groups are in the
study-hall, the refectory, main corridor and the dormitories. Laity, Religious, and secular clergy
are seen chatting together, and studying photographs pinned to display boards. Stories of
goings-on by students are being greeted with smiles or gales of laughter. Some visitors pause for a
moment of silence in the grounds, some people walk the bounds. The chapel is full for Mass;
Gregorian and English hymns are sung; the organ is heard at its usual majesty. There is a feeling
that the Spirit is moving in this place.
It is not a Pentecost Sunday of forty years ago nor a parents day of the 1980s.
It is Blairs in 2008.
The open day on Saturday 7th June was a great success. A previous open day, organised by the
Muir group earlier in the year, had attracted more than 600 people. The Friends of Blairs
committee was, if a little apprehensive, convinced that this day would go just as well.
Nobody need have feared, even although similar numbers did arrive, including two coach-loads of
visitors from the central belt. Former students, ably aided by spouses, volunteered willingly for a
range of duties as master of ceremonies, meeters and greeters, car park organisers (if we ever
repeat such a day, protective mud-resistant clothing will be issued to car park organisers), tea
makers, and tour guides. All of the tours of the corridors, refectory, classrooms, dormitories and
courtyards very were successful. Anecdotes caused many a smile and laughter. The volume of
laughter coming from those led by 1980s students seemed just that little bit louder than those led
by the more mature former students. What did the boys get up to just prior to closure that was so
The success of the day was tinged with other emotions as we realised that this may be the last
time that we would have access to the college itself before work begins in turning it into a five star
hotel. Names of long remembered friends were recalled and shared.
A shorter AGM than usual was held, given the nature of the day. New members volunteered for
the Friends committee.
Mass was solemn and joyous, with principal celebrant Archbishop Mario Conti, himself a former
It would be impossible to thank everyone who contributed to the success of the day. A general
heart-felt thanks to all who participated in any way, and especially to those who willingly took on
tasks at a few moments notice.