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Last Updated: Friday, 26 August 2005, 21:24 GMT 22:24 UK
Last St Kildan on pilgrimage home
Norman John Gillies
Norman John - sweet and precious memories
One of the last surviving St Kilda islanders has returned to see his homeland, 75 years after its evacuation.

Norman John Gillies only spent the first five years of his life on the islands, but his childhood memories remain clear.

Far out into the Atlantic, the islands are the most remote part of the British Isles ever inhabited.

Islanders lived there for thousands of years, until the last left in 1930.

On the anniversary of the 75th evacuation, Norman John brought his family to see St Kilda for the first time.

He showed them the tiny post office and the places he played.

In his family home, he was able to trace out the walls of the bedrooms and point to the kitchen where his mother had cooked oatcakes, scones and puffins.

"It's nice to come home to my little homeland," he said.

Photographs of Norman John Gillies' parents
Thousands of years of history were left behind

Photographs of those years depict his heavily pregnant mother who died when he was a toddler.

He recalled seeing her wrapped in a shawl waving goodbye from a boat which took her to hospital in Glasgow, where she later died.

"These are really sweet and precious memories to me. You can almost see her there calling to me home to my dinner," he said.

St Kilda is a barren and inhospitable place and by 1930 the population of the island had declined to under 40.

Confidence which had been at a low ebb was shattered by the death of Norman Johns' mother, and the islanders asked to be evacuated.

They were removed to the mainland, leaving behind their houses and thousands of years of history.

Norman John said he was determined to keep the heritage and history of his island home alive.


SEE ALSO:
Island life shown in exhibition
04 Aug 05 |  Scotland
Puffin colony's future in doubt
26 Jul 05 |  Scotland
Islands join world heritage elite
14 Jul 05 |  Scotland
Cameras to give bird's eye view
24 May 03 |  Scotland
Islands at the edge of the world
18 Jul 02 |  Scotland


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