It is wi a gleg hert that I propone that John Stuart, kent as “Jack” by his feirs, be gien a life lang achievement award for his unstintin darg and smeddum ower a handlawhile o years tae heeze and faurther the Scots leid.
I micht add at this pynt that in spite o the hantel o years o sairvice he has puitten by, oor Jack hisel is gey blate and sweirt tae blaw his ain trumpet – he isnae immodest ataa. I’m gled and joco tae dae it for him.
Jack hails fae Kilmarnock, an airt that hauds a byordinair mindin for aa wha ken their history o the Scots leid. Like monie bairns o his generation he wasnae gien encouragement either at hame or schuil tae speik Scots though he heard its souch in the playgrouns and on the causies.
Later on, as a young dominie at Cranhill in Glesgi Jack was puit in chairge o a ramsteerie cless o young fowk wi lairning difficulties. He walit tae teach them anent the Scots leid and screivit units o work for them tae follae. At this time there was nae dounloadable wittins or ither support for pupils. The cless couldnae get eneuch o it and were maist taen up wi the norrae that poems and sangs had been sceivit in their ain Glesgi speik that they kent and uised ilka day.
Jack puit a puckle o the bairns’ screivins intil the Scots Language Society’s Sangschaw competition. Aye lippent tae new and feckfou ettlins, they were gien their ane special award tae tak tent o their wark.
It wasnae lang afore Jack was co opted tae the committee o the SLS and that is whaur he has bidit since, faurtherin the Scots leid.
For ower forty years Jack has been a furthmaist vyce and a wyce feir tae monie o us wha share his love o the Scots leid. He is steekit in its leir as weill. He has aye been a cannie and tenfou haund at the wheel, positive, encouraging and eydent ae include aabody. As weill, he is an ensaumple o hou tae speik Scots in a naitral and unforced wey. Maist o aa, he has tyauvit awaa tae mak siccar that the leid disnae dwyne. He has cawed awaa wi this through monie dowf times and no let his heid gae doun.
Jack sairved on the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Scots Language Committee. He is an honary fellow of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies forby. His infuit in a wheen o airts has been wechty. Jack’s darg as been for Scotland’s leid and no for hisel. Tae quote the current preses o the Scots Leid Society, Derrick, McClure, ‘the Scots language is a mark of the distinctive identity of the Scottish people… we should be concerned to preserve it. It is ours … that equires no explanation or apology.’
Jack Stuart has been unco concerned and this award is weill desairved.
Written by Wullie Hershaw
This post is also available in: English