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Diamond day for Cullen couple

By Alan Beresford

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A PANDEMIC and lockdown could not stand in the way of one Cullen couple celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.

Sixty years ago on July 16 saw James and Rita Findlay tie the knot in St Clement's Parish Church, Dingwall and last Thursday it was time for them to mark the milestone.

While the coronavirus lockdown may have forced the occasion to be scaled back, the Findlays nevertheless held a small, socially distanced gathering in the garden of their Cathay Terrace home.

On hand to congratulate them on their achievement were deputy lord lieutenant of Banffshire Charles Milne – a former pupil of Mr Findlay when he was, for many years, the headteacher at Cluny (originally Buckie) Primary School – and local councillor Laura Powell representing Moray Council.

Offering his his best wishes, Mr Milne said: "I was honoured to congratulate James and Rita Findlay on their diamond wedding anniversary today on behalf of Her Majesty and the Lieutenancy of Banffshire.

"James was my old headmaster at Cluny schooland it was a real pleasure reminiscing with him."

Councillor Powell added: "Iwas honoured to represent Moray Council on the occasion of James and Rita's diamond wedding.

"Sixty of marriage is a fantastic milestone and it was lovely to be asked to share part of their special day."

James Findlay, who is a Cullen native, met his future wife, who hails from the Black Isle, when they were studying teaching in Aberdeen. A shared love of sport was to draw them together when they met at a badminton class.

After graduating, Mr Findlay worked in Aberdeen then Portsoy before securing the post in Buckie with which for generations of youngsters he was to become synonymous for three decades. It was also to bring with him a professional record as well as a long-lasting affection in the hearts of former pupils.

"I was the youngest headteacher appointed at that time in Banffshire when I was 31 years old," he recalled.

"Cluny, as it is now, was part of Buckie High School back then in 1964 and I was originally appointed as the depute rector of the primary department before it became Buckie Primary School.

"I loved my time there and I'm always interested in what my former pupils are up to."

Mrs Findlay enjoyed a successful teaching career of her own, teaching P6 at Cullen Primary before leaving the profession for a few years to bring up their family. On her return, she worked as a learning support teacher and also taught P7s.

The Findlays went on to have two children – son James, who lives and works in Minnesota, USA along with his wife Aleta and their grown-up children Hannah and Alex, and daughter Mhairi, who works in Aberdeen. Her daughter, Sarah, lives in Glasgow.

Away from teaching, the couple had plenty of interests to occupy their time.

Mrs Findlay said: "We love travelling and regularly go over to Minnesota many times to see James and his family.

"Minnesota is ideally situated to visit many other states and also Canada

"James and I love going cruises, too and we were actually supposed to be on one to Alaska had it not been for the coronavirus."

Both have been heavily involved with the community over the course of a great many years. Mr Findlay's lengthy list of achievements include holding the presidencies of Buckie Rotary Club, Buckie and District Probus Club, the bridge clubs in both Buckie and Cullen and of Cullen, Deskford and Portknockie Heritage Group.

Before retiring in 2018 as a senior elder, he served as an elder with Cullen and Deskford Parish Church and the Auld Kirk for 52 years.

Mrs Findlay is a past president of the Cullen Young Wives and Mothers group and to this day thoroughly enjoys the many local walks in and around Cullen.

With six decades of marriage successfully behind, the big question remains – what is the secret?

Mrs Findlay added: "I think you need to communicate a lot and have a highly developed sense of humour."

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