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Painting in memory of volunteer director installed at Wick WWII garden


By Alan Hendry

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WICK'S World War II memorial garden has been enhanced by a new art installation – a vibrant and detailed painting of Wick harbour created in memory of long-serving volunteer director Alan Cormack.

The work by local artist Alec Paterson takes up the whole window space on one of the remaining walls within the garden site in Bank Row, having been commissioned by Alan's wife Elizabeth and members of his family.

They are delighted with the quality of the painting and are keen for members of the public to go in and see it for themselves.

Alan, who died in 2017 aged 65, was the treasurer of Second World War Air Raid Victims Wick – the community group responsible for establishing and maintaining the garden.

From left: Bruce Cormack, Catherine Miller (committee member), Graham Cormack (committee member), Yvonne Hendry (secretary), Elizabeth Cormack (treasurer) and John Mackenzie (chairman).
From left: Bruce Cormack, Catherine Miller (committee member), Graham Cormack (committee member), Yvonne Hendry (secretary), Elizabeth Cormack (treasurer) and John Mackenzie (chairman).

Officially opened in 2010, it commemorates the 15 people who lost their lives in an air raid on Bank Row in July 1940 and three others who died in a further attack in October the same year in Hill Avenue.

Most of the 18 victims were children, ranging in age from four to 16 years.

Alan's late parents, Elsie and Duncan Cormack, along with other relatives of the victims and local volunteers, were instrumental in creating the memorial garden on the site of the Bank Row bombing which had lain derelict for many years after the war.

Elsie lost her two younger sisters, Amy and Betha Miller, in what is believed to have been the first daylight air raid of WWII on mainland Britain.

Alan's wife Elizabeth took over as treasurer of the group after he passed away. She and his brothers Graham and Bruce, along with others from the committee, gathered in the garden for a photo opportunity beside the painting following the group's recent AGM.

Installed in a south-facing wall, it depicts the harbour and bay as seen from the short slope at the end of Bank Row. Elizabeth pointed out that this would have had special meaning for her late husband as it is so similar to the view from the nearby Round House – Alan's birthplace.

"The concept is that it's actually like looking out a window from inside," she explained.

The starting point was a picture on a Christmas card that Alan had received a number of years ago, and which Elizabeth rediscovered while looking through images on her computer which Alan had saved on screensaver. Elizabeth felt this was a message from Alan.

"I thought, 'That's what needs to go in there,' so it all came together," Elizabeth said. "He always felt it needed something in that space."

Elizabeth, Bruce and Graham regard the painting as a very fitting addition to the garden.

Bruce said: "I thought it would be good but this is amazing. People can come in and have a look and I'm sure they'll enjoy it.

"The whole memorial garden is very peaceful and a beautiful thing to look at."

Graham, who is a member of the committee, said: "It's a nice addition and it's appropriate. We feel that it fits in to the garden and why it is here.

"It took a long time to get the garden – a lot of people were involved and they should be recognised. Alan did a huge amount in the background.

"Mum was the inspiration and she had the vision, and Alan undertook a lot of work in pulling it together along with the rest of the committee.

"It shows that, out of a tragic event, good can come if it helps youngsters to understand. They can come here and look at this as a garden and say, 'Why is this here?' and then they start finding out a bit of history about their town."


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