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The Highland-Russia Connection Charity had another busy and successful year and our AGM is coming up on Friday 23rd October at 8 pm in Nairn Community Centre. Our charity accounts and annual report were submitted and accepted by OSCR, the charities regulator. At the AGM we will explain about, and show videos and photos regarding the 70th VDay celebrations in Russia that we attended.
The Highland-Russia Connection Charity offers talks,  displays, exibitions and performances. Elena ,Elizabeth and Anna Reid, Beth and Alex Garrow and Lauren Mackay have for the past a few years performed at different events and for many community groups across the Highlands and beyond. All of us have spent many hours volunteering for the community.
Elizabeth and Anna Reid, Beth and Alex Garrow will be presented with Saltire Awards, which are a positive recognition by the Scottish Government of 12-25 years old volunteers and their achievements, at the Highland-Russia Connection Charity AGM on the 23rd October @ 8pm in Nairn Community centre. The girls have entertained many people with Russian and Highland dancing, bagpipes and songs on many occasions.

The Highland-Russia Connection Charity Reg No SC040352


Plus talk on 70th Victory Day celebrations in Russia

Friday 23rd October  @ 8pm

Nairn Community Centre.
All welcome.
Saturday 3rd October 2015, Earlston in the Scottish Borders, a year after the 200th anniversary of Lermontov’s birth and arrival of the bust to Earlston. The official unveiling ceremony of the Mikhail Lermontov sculpture took place with Gwen Hardie representing the Thomas the Rhymer / Lermonth side and Mairi Koroleva from Moscow representing the Lermontov Family.The bust was gifted to Scotland in 2014 in acknowledgement of the link between the Thomas the Rhymer, the Learmonth and Lermontov families. Mikhail Lermontov, who died in a duel in 1841 at age 26, never got to see Scotland, but he was a descendant of a Scottish soldier of fortune, George Learmonth, who settled in  Russia in the early 17th century and adapted his name to Lermontov. His standing in Russia was almost akin to that of Robert Burns. One of Lermontov's first well known ancestors was a mysterious 13th Century Scottish poet and prophet from Earlston, known as Thomas the Rhymer. Also present at the unveiling were the Consul General of the Russian Federation Andrey Pritsepov and Vice-Consul Timofey Kunitskiy along with John Paton-Day, the chairman of Earlston community council and many guests from across Scotland. We travelled from the North of Scotland representing the Highland-Russia connection Charity based in Nairn with our Russian-Scottish programme consisting of Russian and Highland dancing, bagpipes, Russian songs ,music and poems. There were also performances from The Glasgow Russian Orthodox School choir, the Brian Forest Scottish Dance Band, The Small Time Splitters ukulele band and Alex MacAllister on the bagpipes. Speeches at the Earlston gathering were given by Gwen Hardie, chairperson of the local Friends of Thomas the Rhymer group, by Mairi Koroleva, representing the Lermontov family , the Consul General of the Russian Federation Andrey Pritsepov, Gerald Maitland-Carew, Lord Lieutenant of Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale, and by professor Ronald Black who gave a very interesting lecture regarding the history of Thomas the Rhymer. The speeches were then followed by entertainment portraying Scottish and Russian culture. The whole event was a fitting tribute to Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov, a direct descendant of George Learmonth and one of Scotland’s sons, who has finally come home. A historical moment and a great day. Thanks to Mairi Koroleva, Gwen Hardie and the Thomas the Rhymer group for their perseverance in making this project succeed and for helping to bring Scottish and Russian culture together.

European Day of Languages

European Day of Languages,
26th September 2015,
The Spectrum Centre
The Highland-Russia Connection Charity will run the following at the event:
1. Russian language taster.
2. Russian calligraphy.
3. Try on Russian girls costume.
4. Try Russian percussion instruments.
5. Russian dancing, including public participation.
6. A piper and a Highland dancer.
7. Highland Fling public participation/workshop
8. Finishing the event with Auld Lang Syne on the bagpipes with public joining in.

Russiantrains.com, an excellent company

Russian trains - the world's most trusted full service travel company for Russia.

Exellent company and a first class service!
As part of our visit to Russia it was necessary for us to travel from Moscow to St Petersburg to meet up with the group of British convoy veterans and their companions so we decided to travel by train as this was the most convenient,and cheapest option. From start to finish our journey was an exellent experience made possible by booking through this company.The e tickets were an excellent option and saved us time by not having to pick them up at the station,other companies that we contacted did not offer this option.The customer service and after sales experience are great,they even sent helpfull phrases in Russian and offers for various excursions in the final destination.
We would like to thank RussianTrains.com very much and would definitely recommend them to anyone!


Col Navolotsky was the very first veteran we met in Russia and was in the Arctic convoys and sailed to Murmansk.

As you are aware, our charity, the Highland-Russia Connection, based in Nairn, had planned a unique project for the 70th
Anniversary of Victory Day and, on 4th May 2015, we travelled to Moscow to join these celebrations and later to St Petersburg.

During the visit we performed at numerous venues for the Russian and British veterans and the general public and also
assisted at the V Day parade and at the Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery.

Our Russian language skills really helped the British veterans some of whom had very restricted mobility and required some
assistance with the language when approached by local people. The British veterans were overwhelmed by the kindness of the Russian people.  They said they had never been kissed so much, received so many flowers or been thanked as much as they were on V Day in St.Petersburg!  However, the celebrations also revived sad memories of the losses of their comrades during the war.

The veterans and their families and carers thanked us, especially Elizabeth and Anna, for the performances of piping,
dancing and singing.  These performances made a great impression on the veterans and some of them became very emotional, especially at the renderings of "Auld Lang Syne" and "Amazing Grace".  The girls also performed at a V Day concert in the main square by the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

We all had the most memorable and rewarding time and it was a most educational and beneficial experience for the girls.

The Russian government presented all the veterans with a 70th V Day anniversary medal and a watch before the celebrations and the Scottish veterans attended a ceremony in Edinburgh and Glasgow to receive these.  Unfortunately, one of the veterans, Harold O'Neill, lost his medal in St Petersburg and our charity has been asked to contact the consulate in Edinburgh to ask for a replacement.  Harold O'Neill had the distinction of being the only person who had a pass permitting him to go ashore in Murmansk.

As this was the 70th anniversary of Victory Day, the veterans are now all very advanced in years and this was a once in a lifetime
opportunity and we are proud that our charity was able to be part of such an historical celebration.

You can see some of the photographs from the trip on our charity's
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Highland-Russia-Connection/147183745293116

If you can find some spare time please watch these short videos I made
during the visit.







We have received financial support from The Inverness Branch of The Royal Naval Association and from The Beauly and District Branch of The British Legion,RussianTrains.com and from a few individual donors. We express our sincere thanks to all those who contributed to our project.

Pupils at an art school №50 in Kemerovo,Siberia, Russia have provided A3 size paintings which you can see here.  The children are aged between 8 and 14 years.  We have 24 paintings, 23 by the children and one by their teacher.

The children have produced very high quality work and we have contacted Nairn Book and Arts Festival to ask if they would be interested in displaying the paintings.  We are also looking for other venues and if anyone knows of anywhere suitable, please let us know.

Some of these paintings will be given to the Russian Arctic Convoy Museum Project after being exhibited.
Our charity provided certificates and small gifts for everyone in Russia who painted a picture for the Victory Day Project.

70th Anniversary of Victory Day project

Our Nairn-based charity, the Highland-Russia Connection, is planning a unique project for the 70th Anniversary of Victory Day.  This was prompted by a visit of Russian Arctic Convoy Veterans from Moscow and St Petersburg  to the Highlands in December 2014 for which members of our charity and local musicians provided entertainment at Inverness Town House.

The new project involves a visit to Moscow and St Petersburg in May, to join the celebrations for this special anniversary.  Two local girls, Elizabeth (15) and Anna (12) practised very hard during the Easter school holidays with piping and dancing.  Elizabeth is now able to accompany Highland dancing on the pipes and the girls will perform as a music and dance duo.  This was not an easy task to perfect in such a short time.

The girls will travel with mum (the chairperson of the charity) and dad and we shall all take part in the entertainment.  The girls will perform piping and dancing together and will sing Russian songs with mum and songs in English with dad for the veterans.

We have all met the British Veterans of the Convoys several times and have entertained them on some occasions.  In 2011, we were also able to meet and greet Prince Michael of Kent when he came to Loch Ewe.

We will be meeting Russian veterans in Moscow and will be laying a wreath at a cemetery where Elizabeth will be playing “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes and there will be other events at which we will be providing Scottish and Russian entertainment for the veterans.

We will then travel to St Petersburg to meet a group of people, including 11 veterans of the Russian Arctic Convoys and their carers, from Scotland and England. The next day we will accompany them to the very historical Piskariovskoye Memorial Cemetery where Elizabeth will again be playing the bagpipes.  On the day of the Victory Day celebrations in Russia, which is 9th May, there will be many important events.

The headteachers of the schools the children attend agree that this is a very educational trip and the girls will be able to tell the other children in the schools of their experiences and impressions of the celebrations and this information will soon be spread throughout our local community.  As this is the 70th anniversary of Victory Day and the veterans are now all very advanced in years and their number is being constantly reduced as a natural consequence of this, it is important that information of this kind is passed on to the younger generations. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I think that we should be proud that our charity is able to be part of such an historical celebration.
Robbie Burns celebration at the Russian class in Inverness, Scotland.
Below is a video of the class joining in Auld Lang Syne being performed in Russian.   Classes take place on Sundays in Inverness.   For more information, email Elena at elena.k.reid@gmail.com




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