2018 David Morrison

This year David Morrison, a Dundee-based property developer who was born at Sangobeg, a mile from the mouth of Loch Eriboll and brought up in Durness attended Durness primary school has been appointed. David is a fluent Mackay Country Gaelic speaker and a regular participant in local ceilidhs singing Gaelic songs. In primary school David excelled at Gaelic singing, thanks to the tutoring of primary teacher Dolly MacDougall, the Rev John’s widow, and he won many prizes at Sutherland provincial mods, both while at primary and secondary school. Despite having become one of Dundee’s most successful businessmen, David has never forgotten his crofting roots, and regularly returns to Durness, where he now owns a number of properties, including a croft. A member of Keoldale Sheep stock Club’s Committee, which he advises on business matters, he is currently heavily involved in negotiating a buyout of the club’s rented Keoldale Estate premises from the Scottish Government. Earlier this year he was appointed patron of the long-established Edinburgh Sutherland Society, whose events he attends regularly.

 

One of very few remaining reasonably fluent Gaelic speakers from North-West Sutherland, he has long supported Durness Highland Gathering generously, and has on occasion acted as announcer on the field. David has been an avid supporter of the games returning annually with family to attend. Sprightly great-grandfather David says he is looking forward very much to his day as chieftain, and plans to begin his address in Durness Gaelic.

David Morrison 2018 Durness Highland Gathering Chieftain.

 

David Donald Corbett Morrison, honoured as this year’s Durness Highland Gathering chieftain, was born at Sangobeg on 23rd January 1944 to Jessie Morrison and her husband George, a hard-working lobster-fisherman and crofter.

 

David, named after his two grandfathers, David Morrison and Donald Corbett, was christened in the summer of 1944 by Durness parish minister, the Rev John MacDougall, at home on his last leave before returning to the army as chaplain to the 2nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders. David was the last Durness child to be baptised by the popular minister, who sadly was killed in action in Normandy only weeks later.

David’s older brother Willie a well know journalist and chieftain in 2007 were joined in 1947 by sister Violet, and in 1949 David went to school at Durness Primary, then known as Durness Junior Secondary, though few pupils were then spared the trauma of being forced to finish their education at an East Coast School. In 1955, having passed his “qualifying” exam with very high marks – Durness councillor, the late Morley Hames, told his father that he had been top for Sutherland County – he left Durness very reluctantly for Dornoch Academy. In primary school David excelled at Gaelic singing, thanks to the tutoring of primary teacher Dolly MacDougall, the Rev John’s widow, and he won many prizes at Sutherland provincial mods, both while at primary and secondary school.

Although never an enthusiastic footballer, he was a good runner, and a cutting from the Northern Times in 1959 records that he won both the 100 yards and 220 yards races for his group at Dornoch Academy school sports. He remained at Dornoch until 1962, when he left to study business at the Scottish College of Commerce in Glasgow. By the time he graduated in 1966, it was from the University of Strathclyde, of which the college had been a founding partner.

 

Along with his new wife, Shonagh Hay, a fellow student, and their son Ross, he departed for Aberdeen, where he spent a year studying for a teaching certificate at Aberdeen Training College, before settling into a post as sole business studies teacher at Cults Academy, in the city suburbs. There the couple had two more sons, George, who sadly died aged only three weeks, and Donald. Tiring, however, of the classroom, David successfully applied for a post with the Highlands and Islands Development Board at Inverness, where he quickly made the transition from teacher to accountant, with the particular brief of investigating grant and loan applications. Promotion to head a newly-established HIDB office at Wick followed a few years later, from which David eventually moved to Kestrel Marine, the undersea pipelaying firm at Keiss.

 

From Caithness, David and family moved to Dundee, where he spent several years as chief executive of Dundee Enterprise Trust, before that body was subsumed into Tayside Enterprise Trust. With mass redundancy looming, David and his former deputy John Gibson were forced to branch out on their own, as fledgling property developers. They were joined by David’s son Ross, who proved a very useful lieutenant.

After a lean year or two, business began to flourish, with lucky development opportunities presenting themselves and a healthy cash flow.

 

Their biggest break came after they bought the former redundant MacVities biscuit factory in Broxburn. While pondering a possible use, they were approached by the owners of Glenmorangie Distillery, desperate for storage space in the face of increasing demand, and asked whether they could turn it into a bonded warehouse. This gave their business sufficient financial clout to expand farther, and among other acquisitions was the former disused Brora Tweed factory, which they converted into another huge bonded warehouse for Glenmorangie’s products.

 

Despite having become one of Dundee’s most successful businesmen, David has never forgotten his crofting roots, and regularly returns to Durness, where he now owns a number of properties, including a croft. A member of Keoldale Sheepstock Club’s Committee, which he advises on business matters, he is currently heavily involved in negotiating a buyout of the club’s rented Keoldale Estate premises from the Scottish Government. Earlier this year he was appointed patron of the long-established Edinburgh Sutherland Society, whose events he attends regularly.

 

One of very few remaining reasonably fluent Gaelic speakers from North-West Sutherland, he has long supported Durness Highland Gathering generously, and has on occasion acted as announcer on the field. Sprightly great-grandfather David says he is looking forward very much to his day as chieftain, and plans to begin his address in Durness Gaelic. BBC Alba Kitchen Coves will be filming on the field during the afternoon.

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Gallery of 700 Images from the 2018 Durness Highland Gathering

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