There’s a moose loose aboot God’s hoose

A mouse at the Communion rail?

In the July 1981 edition of the ‘Scots Magazine’ there was a feature on the ecclesiastical work of Robert Thompson to be found in Scotland. Robert was the ‘Mouseman’ from Kilburn in Yorkshire who made exquisite oak furnishings complete with his trademark mouse crawling over it. It was Robert and his descendants who made many of the oak furnishings and fittings in St Andrew’s Tain. The article has a short piece about St Andrews and our thanks to Campbell for digging the article out for us. The bit about St Andrew’s follows:

We now return to the mainland, and cross Easter Ross to the ancient Royal Burgh of Tain on the Dornoch Firth. Here is the church of St Andrew, a lovely little building dating from Victorian times and adorned with more than one mouse.

In 1936 Robert [Thompson] installed the reredos, and his work on these is always worth examining closely. At the same time he fitted the altar rails, and what better tribute to him can be found than that from a Kent lady who tells me that she never passes through Tain without popping into St Andrew’s Church to see ‘the neat little mouse carved under a rail.” A lengthy enough mouse-hunting journey for anyone!

The congregation of the church must have been satisfied, too, because in 1967 they commissioned the grandsons Cartwright1 to carve a lectern and later to fashion a pulpit.

  • 1 The sons of Percy and Elsie Cartwright (Robert Thompson’s daughter), John and Robert, joined the family business when they left school at 15 and worked under the supervision of their grandfather Robert Thompson until his death in December 1955 when they took over. 

Charities Shop – Distribution of Funds 2021

St Finnbarr’s Charities Shop

St Finnbarr’s Charities Shop has recently distributed £12,500 in donations to various groups and charities. As usual these are mostly local groups based in East Sutherland but this year two, Maggies and Mikeysline, which have centres in Inverness have been included. They both work with vulnerable groups throughout our area, one in cancer care and the other in mental health support.

The complete list of charities and groups supported is listed below:

  • Alzheimer Scotland (for local use),
  • Caithness and Sutherland Women’s Aid,
  • Dornoch Beach Wheelchairs,
  • Sutherland Care Forum,
  • Support in Mind Scotland (Golspie Gatehouse),
  • Mikeysline (Mental Health especially Suicide – has drop in and appointments in Inverness including evenings, also text-based support. all ages),
  • Dornoch Academy School Library,
  • Friends of Oversteps,
  • Historylinks,
  • Maggies Highlands,
  • Meadows Patient’s Comfort Fund,
  • Bradbury Centre,
  • CALA (Care and Learning Alliance – Stepping Stones, Brora),
  • Connecting Communities (Helmsdale based but serves all E. Sutherland, older people at home, community support, meal delivery),
  • CAB,
  • Lawson/Cambusavie Memorial Hospital Fund,
  • Migdale Hospital Comfort Fund.

The hard work and dedication of the volunteers means that the Charities Shop is now open Monday to Saturday 10am-1pm. The continuing Covid restrictions mean that we are only able to have a very small number of customers in the shop at one time and we would like to say thank you to our customers who wait so patiently in a queue to come in. The Charities Shop would not be so successful without the many donations of goods to sell and the support of our customers both returning and new – thank you. We look forward to seeing you in the shop.

Northern Pilgrims’ Way launched

Service of Dedication in St Duthac’s Collegiate Church in Tain

Today the Northern Pilgrims’ Way was launched with a dedication service in St Duthac’s Collegiate Church in Tain. Bishop Mark led the service, Jamie Campbell was at the organ and Rev Lizzie Campbell sang the hymns and an anthem and Rev James Currall read the lessons. The Lord’s Lieutenants of Ross-shire (Joanie Whiteford) and Sutherland (Monica Main) were in attendance along with a number of representatives of the Churches.

During the service, an information board was dedicated and the members of the congregations were given blessed cockle shells and candles as symbols of the pilgrimage, but in his address Bishop Mark gave strict instructions that the shells were to be given to pilgrims on the way, that those present encountered in the coming months. He also warned that launching the Way was only the beginning of something and not the end.

You can watch the service on Youtube below:

The original pilgrims were not just trying to get from A to B. The trials and tribulations of the journey were part of the experience, as was calling at recognised holy sites along the way. Modern pilgrims want to feel that they are following in the footsteps of these previous generations. So re-creating a pilgrimage route is not as simple as looking at a map and working out the shortest way from one place to another.

The Northern Pilgrims’ Way is what is known in the trade as a braided route. In other words, it offers the pilgrim alternative tracks between the start and end points. While some routes have more history attached to them than others, all are genuine pilgrimage ways through the North of Scotland.

Map of the Northern Pilgrim’s Way

In our time, pilgrimage is being revived in many denominations. Indeed, it is a feature of most main religions and seems to answer a deep-seated need within us to re-connect with the creator of our world and to work out our own place in this creation.

Further events are planned in the coming months at Thurso and at Kirkwall where the route ends.

  • 3rd July 2021 in Old St Peter’s Kirk, Thurso at 12:30pm
  • 20th August 2021 in East Church, Kirkwall at 12:00noon
Church and State ready for Pilgrimage

Charities shop open more days

From Monday 31st May

the St Finnbarr’s Charities Shop

will be open

Monday to Saturday,

10am -1pm

with all the usual Covid rules still in place.

We look forward to welcoming both regular and new customers

Rice Update

The Rice is all sold!  

Thank you to everyone who purchased some.  Thank you also to those who donated their change, the total of which amounted to £50, which has been donated to Grace’s Briquette Project , a project working with the Malawian women and supported by Just Trading Scotland (JTS) through whom we get our rice.

Grace Mwanguti is a Kilombero rice farmer in the Karonga District of Northern Malawi. She has a vision for starting a business to turn the waste product from rice milling into a useful fuel for cooking. This is not a new idea in itself, but Grace would love to bring this business idea to the rural communities where the women themselves will manage the business as well as use the fuel to cook for their families. The availability of this fuel will help ease the lives of women rice farmers who for generations have had the back-breaking job of collecting firewood in the hills. It will also help to stop the denudation of the hill slopes, itself a serious environmental and climate emergency issue, which the government made illegal in 2020. The project will give the women training in management and computing skills, and more confidence in their abilities in a society where women do not traditionally have equality with men.

Grace’s Briquette Project

Below is a bit of information about JTS from whom we purchased the rice, but if you follow the JTS link you can read as much or as little about JTS as you wish.

The Rice Challenge supports their work with rice farmers in northern Malawi.  Our sale of 90kg raised the equivalent amount of what it costs to send a child to secondary school in Malawi for a year. More generally the work with rice farmers has improved the fertility of their seed and thus yields, and improved their access to ploughs and ox carts, which help them market the rice locally.

Based in Paisley in the West of Scotland, JTS is a not for profit fair trade organisation set up to facilitate the import and distribution of fairly traded products to the UK. Their aim is to empower and educate producers and consumers, through the fair purchasing and sale of delicious food products from the developing world.

They try to provide sustainable incomes and wellbeing for small holder farmers, producers and their families.

Charities Shop Open Again


The Charities Shop re-opened on Thursday 29th April – Alleluia! This became possible when non-essential shops were permitted to open from Monday 26th April.

The shop will now be open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 1pm.

The Shop

Great efforts continue to be made to make the shop safe for customers and staff so we would ask that everybody follows the ‘rules’ carefully. As you will be aware, the shop is small and although it was been reorganised over last summer, the number of customers who can be in the shop at any one time is still strictly limited. Staff will be on hand at the door to guide you and answer any questions that you may have.

Donations of Items

It would be appreciated that if you have been saving donations of items for the shop that you drop them off during opening times only and in fairly small quantities as we don’t want to be swamped and have limited storage space.


We look forward to welcoming everybody in the coming weeks, meanwhile keep safe.