By Jim A. Johnston
Strathnaver Museum, located in the former Church of St Columba in Clachan Cemetery, Bettyhill, has relied heavily since its inception on the work of volunteers and has had many long serving and dedicated unpaid assistants during that time. These include Elliot Rudie, of Arken, Bettyhill who, having started his volunteering career in April 1976 when his wife, Pat, was curator could very nearly claim to have been in there with the brickwork.
Elliot, whose day job from 1971 to 1997 was as Principal Teacher of Art at Farr High School, still pursues a lifelong interest not just in the history and archaeology of the local area but across a far broader conceptual spectrum on the ancient world and, throughout his career as a museum guide, conveyed this enthusiasm to visitors and colleagues in his own inimitable style.
He retired from his post last week and was presented with a variety of gifts at a celebration in the Teleservice Centre including a collage of photos of him at work, sketch pads and pastels, and a Strathnaver tartan scarf: this last to add to the wide selection of clothing he retained in order to stay well wrapped up, a necessary precaution in a place as chilly as the old museum can be.
Though giving up regular service on the Strath Museum’s front line, Elliot will remain on the Board of Directors where his long experience and encyclopaedic knowledge will continue to inform the debate on the future evolution of what has become a local institution.