Participated in the Scottish clans’ remembrance ceremony in Ypres again this year (7/10/2017), proudly showing my scouting connection to the clan MacLaren. Didn’t find any good shots of the ceremony itself, unfortunately, but at least we have a nice Belgian MacLaren group photo.
(Photos by Clan Hay Pipe Band )
It was the third time I attended the Clans’ Days in Ypres, and the second time in combination with the Schotse Dagen (Scottish Days) at castle Ooidonk near Deinze. But this time was quite special: it was the first time our clan chief, Donald MacLaren of MacLaren and Achleskine, attended as wel!
The Schotse Dagen started on Friday evening with a charity dinner on the castle grounds, with speeches, toasts, an auction, live music and lots of whisky. An unscheduled piece of music was performed by our own chief. He has no need for a ‘personal piper’, since he is a talented bagpipe player himself, specifically in the pibroch genre.
In Ypres there was a nice addition to the usual clans’ march to the Menin Gate on Saturday: to give the chief an appropriate welcome, we invited theMacLaren Pipe Band Venlo.
After the wreath laying at the Menin Gate and lunch, we went back to castle Ooidonck to man the clans’ tent and enjoy the Schotse Dagen.
It was great to finally meet the chief, and I hope to see him again at some clan event in Scotland. Or maybe he liked the Belgian part of his clan so much he will visit Belgium again to attend one of the next Clans’ Days?
Last weekend, Belgian members of the Clan MacLaren were present again at the Clans’ Days to pay homage to kinsmen fallen in the Great War, at the Menin Gate in Ypres and Tyne Cot Cemeterynear Passchendaele.
An excellent occasion to post a photo of me wearing my kilt with my scout uniform and explain a little about the link between scouting and the Clan MacLaren, of which I am a member.
Firstly, Major Kenneth MacLaren was a friend of Robert Baden-Powell and assisted him in 1907 at the Brownsea Island Scout camp, considered to be the beginning of scouting as we know it today. After that camp, Kenneth MacLaren became the first secretary of the Scout Association.
A couple of years later, in 1919, William F. de Bois MacLaren, a scout commissioner from Rosneath, near Glasgow, financed the purchase of Gilwell Park, thereby giving the Scout Association the leader training facility they were still lacking at the time. To this day, when leaders successfully complete their Wood Badge training — anywhere in the world — they receive a neckerchief with a patch of MacLaren tartan, put there as a little thank you for the generous gift of William de Bois MacLaren.
Supposedly, this same William de Bois MacLaren, after noticing some bullying of Scottish scouts who didn’t have a kilt to wear with their uniform because their family didn’t have a tartan, invited all tartanless scouts to wear the MacLaren tartan. After all, scouting is a brotherhood, making all scouts his family.
However, I’ve failed to find any reliable sources for this story, and I can’t even find back the forum where I read it! If anyone knows more about it, please let me know!
The first photo was taken at a wreath laying at the Menin Gate, where I was on of the persons representing the Clan MacLaren. Since the scouting link is my only link to the clan, wearing the uniform was deemed appropriate.
For those familiar with scouting in Belgium, I should clarify that it isn’t the uniform of Scouts & Gidsen Vlaanderen I’m wearing, but the uniform of Boy Scouts of Belgium. They were the predecessors of FOS Open Scouting, and their uniform is still being worn by 17 BSB Prins Albert, of which I am a member. Usually it is worn with a navy blue corduroy pair of shorts, though.