Braemar Mountain Rescue assist in Community Memorial for Aberdeenshire

BMRT are joined by team members from National Trust for Scotland, image credit: Paul CampbellBMRT are joined by team members from National Trust for Scotland, image credit: Paul Campbell
BMRT are joined by team members from National Trust for Scotland, image credit: Paul Campbell
The Aberdeenshire Remembering Together project reached a key point in its journey, as the first in a series of memorial benches was installed by Braemar Mountain Rescue at the picturesque Hutchison Memorial Hut.

The team from BMRT, accompanied by members of the National Trust for Scotland, embarked on a 4.5-mile journey leaving from Mar Lodge and heading up the mountainous landscape where they met lead artist Claudia Zeiske, who is currently undergoing her final ‘Mountain to Sea’ walk as part of the project.

A series of 8 benches are set to be placed along key points of a walking journey – including Haughton Park, Kemnay Donside and the Oldmeldrum Housing Estate.

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The 250km route, starting at the region’s highest point of Ben Macdui, and ending at the lowest in Peterhead, was previously walked by Zeiske in 2022. She met with hundreds of individuals throughout communities on her travels including Aboyne, Ballater and Inverurie, discussing their pandemic experience, all of which ultimately informed the memorials’ final form and location.

BMRT with lead artist Claudia Zeiske at Hutchison Hut with the installed bench. (Pic:Paul Campbell)BMRT with lead artist Claudia Zeiske at Hutchison Hut with the installed bench. (Pic:Paul Campbell)
BMRT with lead artist Claudia Zeiske at Hutchison Hut with the installed bench. (Pic:Paul Campbell)

Walking outdoors was a key part of many people’s experience of the pandemic, and the collective vision that emerged from the project’s initial phase was creating opportunities to walk across the region. Joining Claudia in realising this project is Aberdeenshire native and world-renowned fiddler, Paul Anderson. Together they also worked with sustainable furniture maker, Chris Nangle. The benches, crafted with sustainable materials by Nangle, will have QR codes fitted that when activated, play original music composed by Anderson, that has captured the stories and emotions that Claudia took from her journeys with local folks.

After the fitting of the benches, members of the public are warmly invited to join in re-creating Claudia’s journey. This can be done in various ways, and visitors can do all or parts of the walk whilst still gaining a sense of the wider project’s message. For those who have additional needs with accessibility, there have been a series of ‘proxi-walks’ hosted by Zeiske offering guided embroidery sessions that form a similar means of contemplation, as well as a broader message about the paths and pilgrimages that they wish to take in life. Claudia’s journey is set to be completed when she reaches Peterhead on June 11. A film short documenting the community response to the creative interventions will be made by Paul Campbell and shared at a future date.