Page last updated at 09:21 GMT, Monday, 20 July 2009 10:21 UK

Recalling Moon man's 'muckle' leap


Moon man lands in Scotland

By Willie Johnston
BBC Scotland news

The 40th anniversary of man first walking on the Moon is being celebrated around the world - but perhaps nowhere with more pride than Langholm.

The Dumfriesshire town - an Armstrong stronghold - claimed astronaut Neil Armstrong as one of its own and made him a Freeman in 1972.

Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had fulfilled a dream by walking on the Moon three years earlier.

The Earth they looked down upon was spellbound.

The millions watching included a nine-year-old Glasgow schoolboy, David Wood.

"I think I was old enough to realise the idea of going to the moon would be a fantastic thing to do," he said.

"I was dumbstruck as America did it right in front of me on live TV.

"It was a very enchanting experience and it has not left me."

Space in general and Apollo in particular became lifelong passions for David.

He has written a highly-respected book on the Apollo missions.

And contributed to another mighty tome - not much smaller than a lunar module - which landed on his doorstep the day I went to see him.

'Very impressed'

But I really wanted to know about another early influence - a 1972 meeting with Neil Armstrong.

"It was a wonderful experience.

"I was in first year at secondary school and I was plucked out along with a sixth year girl to go to this seminar that Neil Armstrong and Patrick Moore were attending.

"It was fabulous to meet the man and get his autograph.

"I knew enough of what he had done to be very impressed."

Armstrong also made a memorable visit to the Dumfriesshire town of Langholm.

The Muckle toon is in the heart of Armstrong territory.

The town clerk at the time of the moon landing was Eddie Armstrong who issued an audacious invitation for Neil Armstrong to be made the town's first and only freeman.

pipers in langholm
The town celebrated the visit by Armstrong

To great local astonishment, he accepted.

Grace Brown was Eddie Armstrong's depute.

She said: "We were quite incredulous really, I think, because we did not expect that someone who had walked on the Moon would want to come to a small town like Langholm.

"It was an absolutely fantastic day. The bunting was out, the bands were out and the town was in festive mood.

"I think he was quite impressed after he had become an honorary burgess, he referred to Langholm as his home town."

Neil Armstrong's achievements and commitment to Langholm kindled pride among Armstrongs all over the world.

Fiona Armstrong of the Clan Armstrong Trust said: "When people heard what he had done our membership increased vastly.

"Every anniversary interest in our website increases and it is all because of Neil."

The Moon landing was one of the great events of the 20th century - Neil Armstrong's visit to Langholm, the Border town's greatest day ever.

There's maybe only one slight regret - that he called it a "giant leap for mankind" and not a "muckle leap".

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