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HighlandLIT normally meets in Inverness at the Glen Mhor Hotel (Hanover Room): however, meetings are currently being held on-line by means of Zoom as a result of the Coronavirus. HighlandLIT is managed by a voluntary committee, elected by the membership at the annual general meeting
The AGM for 2020 was held on Zoom, 16th March 2021 at 6.00pm. The meeting heard the annual report, delivered by Chair Paul Shanks. It then accepted the Financial Statement for 2020, and elected the following committee members: Mark Williams (Chair); Cathy Carr (Secretary); Trish Salt (Treasurer); Mo McQuarrie (Fundraising Co-ordinator.) Four people will share the roles of Programme Co-ordinator and Fundraising Co-ordinator – Scott Fraser, Sharon Gunason, Penelope Hamilton and Liz Macrae Shaw. John Dempster is Website and Newsletter Co-ordinator.
Bringing together those with an interest in all things to do with the written word and the wider world of publishing, HighlandLIT provides a valuable opportunity to discuss projects, books, ideas and attend workshops
It also encourages members and guests to meet and ask questions of published writers and poets,
and hear them read from their work. Contact HighlandLIT here or on
Chair: Mark Williams
Treasurer: Trish Salt
After three decades of living in London, working as a manager within the health and voluntary sector, my partner and I decided to move to Inverness. We spent many a happy holiday in the Highlands, falling in love with its varied landscape and people. A fancy for a change of lifestyle came one sunny day whilst attending a friend’s wedding in Nairn. First off we rented a flat, found work, and then purchased an empty property that required much care and attention. Work on an old property is never really finished and this one will keep us occupied for some years to come, none-the-less it is our lovely home.
It took a while to slow down from my hectic London life, and the feeling that I should always be doing something. Now, I’m happy to spend time standing still, staring at the view and feel healthier for it. I work as Receptionist for Inverness Therapy Clinic and frequently spend my leisure time walking, swimming or gardening. That said, my love of gardening is being challenged severely, previously never having had a garden overrun with ground elder. I am learning to work with nature, planting shrubs in the back garden whilst creating a rockery effect on the stony soil at the front.
In November 2016, I was elected Treasurer for HighlandLIT, bringing to the committee some of the skills acquired from working with charities, where managers are often jack-of-all trades. Committee work occupies a few hours each week, though the time invested is rewarded, such as, when a funding application is granted and an event successfully hosted. In a short time, I have gained much pleasure from the HighlandLIT author events, writing workshops, book reviews and conversations with members. I’m trying my hand at creative writing, having been inspired to believe that I too can write.
My seventh decade was nearing its end when a voice in my head started saying things like, “Why don’t you stop making excuses? Why don’t you get on with it and WRITE? Like everyone else, you’re MORTAL! Why don’t you FINISH something before you die?”
Eventually I listened to the voice and stepped back from my work as a celebrant. Now, mostly to keep myself at it, I upload poems to my website ‘Human Nature Notes’, and for the same reason I make a monthly 5-10 minute podcast. I’m also working on the umpteenth draft of a novel, and a memoir about being a celebrant.
I swithered about joining HighlandLIT for a few years, but when I did, early last year, I wished I’d joined before! Such a friendly, supportive group of people, and such interesting events. I swithered about putting myself forward for election to the Committee, too, unsure how I could contribute, but after the AGM I felt excited about the future of HighlandLIT. I’m glad to be working and learning with Committee colleagues, and to enjoying even more of the varied and wonderful writing that’s crafted here in the Highlands.
Website and Newsletter Co-ordinator: John Dempster
I was brought up in Lanarkshire, and moved to Inverness in 1992 when my Invernessian wife Lorna and I were married. I worked in public and educational libraries. From 1992 until 1998 I was Educational Services Librarian with The Highland Council. I then became system manager for automated library systems, and ultimately, until my retirement in May 2017, was a member the High Life Highland ICT Team.
I’ve always been interested in books and in writing, from the days when Enid Blyton, Anthony Buckeridge, Stephen Mogridge and Malcolm Saville conjured an engulfing world. For a time, I managed a Christian bookshop in Glasgow, and completed two research degrees in the 1980s exploring the profitability and motivation of 19th century Scottish religious and theological book publishers. I published The T. & T. Clark Story: a Victorian Publisher and the New Theology in 1992.
Currently, I am the main writer on the Hilton Parish Church web site, and contribute the weekly Christian Viewpoint column to the Highland News. A selection of these columns, Singing God’s Song was published by For the Right Reasons in 2011.
One of my retirement projects is to finish a book, a memoir charting my Christian faith journey from a fairly fundamentalist background to the broader, and more inclusive, place where I now find myself. The early chapters, driven by powerful memories, were easy to write, but I’m struggling with the more recent period, and I’m not sure if it’s ‘working’ probably because the story keeps changing shape in my mind.
A second retirement project which I hope to move on to when the book is finished or abandoned, is to research and write a ‘spiritual history’ of Inverness - not the same as a church history – if a suitable range of sources exist. I guess both projects are rather self-indulgent, and what really matters is living each day to the full, and seeking to be an encourager, a ‘blessing’ to those I meet.
I also volunteer at Highland Foodbank - Lorna is the local co-ordinator.
We were on holiday in Orkney in 2016, and I was exploring the life and writings of Orkney poets including George MacKay Brown. I realised the extent to which writers benefit from support, understanding, and encouragement, and noticed that this is not always forthcoming. I wondered what I could do to help. In September that year, I was asked if I would join the HighlandLIT committee, and this seemed to be the answer to my question.
I love working with the committee, and sharing in HighlandLIT events – meeting people, and encountering different ideas and perspectives help to shape my journey.
As a Reuters-trained journalist with over twenty-five years experience working in London across the press, broadcast and publishing sectors, Drew has variously launched, published and edited numerous magazines, periodicals and journals. He has also written extensively for BBC Light Entertainment.
As well as the written word, Drew is renowned as a front cover illustrator, with a tally in excess of 400 individual pieces.
These days, having relocated to Inverness in the heart of beautiful Scottish Highlands, Drew is enjoying the fresh air and slower pace whilst continuing to tap his diverse range of interests, though with politics and current affairs never out of arm’s reach, his extensive cartoon and caricature portfolio covers a plethora of national publications, including Private Eye, the Sunday Times, The Oldie, The European, Viz, and Punch, plus several regional press titles and a variety of sporting publications.
Over the years, Drew has also enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Faber Music, for whom he has developed over a dozen books. This, principally, involved illustrating a large selection of best-selling music instrument tutor and repertoire works for young people.