Extract from the Cumnock Chronicle and Muirkirk advertiser. Friday June 29th 1979.

Farewell to Family Doctor after Forty years of service

DOCTOR and Mrs. John S. McCrae were guests at a retiral presentation ceremony in the local school last Wednesday evening when the doctor, at the end of 40 years’ service to the community, received a gold wristlet watch and a cheque as a mark of the esteem in which he has been held since he came here just before the second world war.

Some 300 people attended the function, representing not only Catrine, but Sorn and Mauchline. Many Catrine folk, who left the village years ago, returned with their families to say farewell to their family doctor.

Over £1,000 was raised by collection in the district to mark the event and when the 300 filed out of the hall at the end of the ceremony, shaking hands with their trusted physician for the last time, Dr. McCrae was obviously deeply moved.

Chairman Jack Bunten stated it was 40 years since their guest had come to Catrine as a young man. He had gone on to become not only the doctor but a friend to many families and he had always had the interest of the patient at heart. He had worked extremely hard to achieve the esteem in which he was held in the community—an esteem which had been reflected in the magnificent response to the collection appeal—

 Dr G. D. Falconer, OBE, FRCS, secretary of the British Medical Association, came through from Edinburgh to pay tribute to Dr McCrae’s work for that body, saying it was most unusual to find a GP from a small country place like Catrine also playing an important role at the centre of the medical world on a national scale. But their guest had achieved this difficult task and he had never failed in his duties either at the BMA or here in Catrine. For this, great thanks had to go to his partner, Dr. Philip, who had proved most loyal and whose kindness had made it possible for Dr McCrae to play this important role in medical affairs. He recalled that Dr McCrae had served as a major with the RAMC in the Far East during the war and it was there that he met and married his wife. He had later become a member of the BMA and he was heavily committed to this work over the years, gaining a CBE for his services. He was a man of great character in the London council meetings where he had made a considerable impression.  In Scotland he had reached the top of his profession and he was chairman of the first investigatory committee set up to probe the medical aspects and hazards of North Sea oil workers and divers. He was also chairman of the national medical organisation which gave expert advice to the Secretary of State. Dr Falconer, who had brought with him a BMA crest to present to Dr McCrae, remembered too late he already had one, and presented it instead to Catrine Primary School, the plaque being received by headmaster Mr. V. Campbell.

Dr Falconer concluded his remarks:  “Your family doctor here is a most remarkable man and I feel certain you will be as sorry to see him going as I am.”

Mr. J.H. Faulds, who spoke on behalf of the community, thanked Dr McCrae for a lifetime of service, expressed the loss and regret that was shared by his many patients and friends and went on to wish Dr and Mrs. McCrae health and abundant happiness in the years ahead. He recounted some tales of Catrine and some of its characters before stating that Dr McCrae had been the village’s family doctor in the best sense. Today the NHS services were under fire and Catrine people were fortunate that they had in Dr Philip a worthy successor to Dr McCrae.

Their guest had been –one of them- in the community and had many interests, including the Bequest Fund, Bonnie Jean ambulance committee, A.M.Brown Institute and others; he was regarded with affection and trust and was a man of transparent honesty. Above all he had been blessed with a ready sense of humour.  Catrine people did not often get together in this way, the last occasion being 100 years ago when they united to oppose the threatened closure of a right of way.  So it said much for the popularity of their guest that this turn out tonight was possible.

 He was delighted to note that two of the four members of the McCrae family were with them tonight and that their guests would, in the autumn, be journeying to New Zealand to visit son Iain before settling down in Somerset. Mrs. McCrae, he said, had made a considerable impact in her own right, she had given tremendous support to the doctor in his years in Catrine and she must feel extremely satisfied with what he had achieved. In conclusion he reminded Dr and Mrs. McCrae that, though living in Clevedon, they would always be assured of a warm welcome if they pointed their car up the M6 in the direction of Catrine and district.


Miss Mary Carson, one of the doctor’s oldest patients, presented a gold wristlet watch and a cheque with best wishes for health and happiness in the years ahead.

In his reply, Dr McCrae thanked the community and the committee for their thoughtfulness and kindness at what was, for him, a most emotional time. It was true, as had been suggested earlier, that the kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness of the community over the past 40 years had caught up with him tonight. He, his wife and family had a deep and abiding affection for this district and its people. He recalled the kindness in his early days in Catrine of Bill Cochran the chemist and of his wife. He paid tribute to his predecessor, Dr John Allan, told of visiting Mrs. Allan at Ayr and acknowledged the help and advice he had received from Dr. Allan in his early days in the Catrine practice. He also spoke of how fortunate he was in having such a willing and co-operative partner as Dr Murray Philip, without whose tolerance and co-operation he would never have been able to achieve half the things he had done. He would always be in his debt. He was pleased to see Nurses Duff and Donaldson present on this occasion and recalled- with humorous asides- the great co-operation he had received from nurse Christie when he first came to the village and had, in the Leap Year of 1940, delivered four babies who (he believed) were still alive and well.

CHARACTERS  He recalled some of the well known characters he had known around Catrine over the years and went on to acknowledge the help he had received from his wife during his years of service. To him this had been a most rewarding and emotional evening and he was quite overcome with what had been done and what had been said. His parents had given him a watch when he came to Catrine; he still had it. He would treasure this watch they had given him tonight and the love and kindness that went with it. His time was running out in Catrine and it was nearly time for him to leave the stage;  he would take away happy recollections of his stay in their midst. He concluded: “Thanks for all the memories and God bless you all.”

A comprehensive vote of thanks was proposed by Mr. Wm Bryson, and Dr McCrae shook hands with the 300 well wishers as they filed out of the hall.

Tea was later served for invited guests at Catrine Community Centre when grace was said by pastor Dan Dewar and councillor James McInnes proposed a vote of thanks to the ladies of the committee who had provided the tea.




 When Catrine Doctor, J. S. McCrae announced his intention to retire, many organisations in the village got together to mark his faithful service to the community over a long period of years. Last week at the annual prize giving ceremony at the school, it was the children's turn to say thank you to the Doctor and Mrs. McCrae. 

On behalf of the pupils and the staff, a matching set of claret and water jugs were handed over by Lindsay Ann Hume and Alison Muir, the two dux medallists. Also in this happy picture is Catrine headmaster Vic Campbell.





CBE presentation                                                                      

Mrs. McCrae wrote the following account of their experience going to the Palace. Many thanks to Frances for sharing this little piece of the family's history.

On Tuesday, 23 November 1976, Daddy (Dr John S McCrae, CBE) went to Buckingham Palace to be decorated with the Honour conferred by
Queen Elizabeth the Second in the Birthday Honours of 12 June l976. 

We met Madeleine and Alan at Glasgow Central Station on Monday night and travelled by sleeper, arriving at Euston on Tuesday morning. After having breakfast at the station, we went to BMA House, leaving our luggage and then to St Pancras Station to meet Frances and Roger. Frances, Madeleine, Daddy and I took a taxi to the Palace and drove through the gates right up to the foot of the steps leading inside. 

We went into a magnificent Hall with wide stairs leading upwards to right and left. On each step was the figure of a guard in silverbreast-plate, silver helmet - some with red plumes and some with white - long, white, tight fitting breeches and enormous swords held at the side. At first sight they looked like statues, but were REAL. 

All the way up the stairs there were wonderful portraits, statues, mirrors, chandeliers, Chinese vases, tapestries, chairs and tables. One of the family portraits I noticed was of Queen Charlotte and her children. To me, Queen Charlotte and our Queen bear a strong resemblance to each other. Frances and Madeleine agreed when I pointed it out. 

We eventually arrived at the door of the ballroom where the ceremony was to take place. There were Gentlemen Ushers and Gentlemen of the Household in Waiting all along our route. They were dressed in a dark navy uniform - trousers and long coat, with golden tasselled braid across their breasts, and hair well-groomed. There was also an RAF Officer at the entrance to the ballroom. I smiled at him as he approached - he obviously thought he should know me and said "Good Morning: how are you; you'd better watch that old man of yours afterwards!!!! " I said "of course" and moved across to the other side of the room where another Gentleman was indicating that we should sit in a certain place. It was a very large room. At the far end from where we entered, there was a dais, in the middle of which were two golden armchairs. High above was a crown surmounting a circle of velvet and the velvet (red) fell to the floor on either side of the chairs. There were pillars - two at each side and wonderful carving, gilded ceiling, enormous chandeliers which glittered in all sorts of colours. At the back of the ballroom, and along each side, were tiers of rose-coloured satin seats; about four rows at the side and, perhaps, a dozen at the back. We sat in the third row of these seats, which were well tiered so that we saw very clearly and we looked to the left to see the dais. We were there at 9.35 am, seated. We had been directed to be there between 9.30 and 10.00 am, so we saw most of the people coming in, which was most interesting. The fashions were all and sundry; some women wore no hats, others stunning creations; Frances said she saw one woman in a knitted bonnet. I forgot to say that the centre of the ballroom floor was taken up with white chairs. By the time all the guests were in, the front half of these were filled, as well as the permanent seats on which we were sitting. Daddy had left us at the bottom of the stairs to go a different way. 

At the back of the room, above the rows of seats, was a Music Gallery where an Army Band was playing. There was also a very large organ up there too. Afterwards, I asked one of the Gentlemen Ushers which band it was, but he said he had not noticed and was most apologetic; by this time we were on our way downstairs. 

Soon after ten o'clock, one of the Equerries went to the microphone to instruct us about the happenings. He told us that at 10.25 am the Yeoman of the Guard would enter by the door at the back. At 10.30 am, Her Majesty would enter by the door on the right of the dais (we were sitting looking towards that door). When the Queen entered we would all stand (as if we needed telling!!). The Band would play the National Anthem and the Queen would invite us to be seated. This happened. She stood in the centre of the dais, dressed in a gold and green silk dress, with knife-pleated skirt, long sleeves with cuffs, a brilliant brooch and a simple hairdo. The Yeoman of the Guard, a Captain, and four others came in, marching in slow, measured steps, dressed in their impressive red and gold padded coats, white stockings and breeches, round brimmed hats and carrying their weapons - I think they are called pikes. They went up the centre aisle, between the chairs, up on to the dais, and arranged themselves along the back, in front of the golden chairs. When the Queen came in she had a bodyguard which included two Ghurkha Officers. They arranged themselves along the front of the Yeoman of the Guard. The Lord Chamberlain (Lord Maclean) used to be Chief Scout, stood at the Lectern and called out the names of the Recipients. There was a table around which stood three Gentlemen Ushers. One held a red velvet cushion, another held a list of names and the third picked up the appropriate decoration as it was called out by the Lord Chamberlain; the Officer with the list checked it and then it was placed on the cushion. The first recipient was a Lieutenant General who received a Knighthood. A low chair had been placed in front of the Queen; the recipient walked in and stood opposite another Gentleman Usher, moved forward at a signal, turned to face the Queen, bowed and moved forward. He held the back of the chair and knelt on the seat. The Queen took a sword from an aide and touched the Lieutenant General on each shoulder. She then said a word or two, put the ribbon with the Order round his neck, smiled and shook hands. The recipient moved backwards a few paces, bowed and left the room. There were three or four Knights and then came the CBE's. The Lord Chamberlain called Dr John McCrae and Daddy left the care of the Gentleman Usher, walked till he was opposite the Queen, bowed and advanced. She put the ribbon round his neck and asked him what field of medicine he was in. He told her he was a GP in Ayrshire and that; recently, he had been involved in the Medical Implications of Diving in the North Sea. She said this must have been very fascinating work, smiled charmingly (as she did to everyone) shook hands and he backed, bowed and left by the opposite door. Before they came in by the door at the back of the Ballroom, their medal was properly folded and placed in its box, so they appeared, carrying their decoration in the box and were directed to a seat on the chairs which had been left vacant in the centre of the room. Daddy looked around and soon saw us gazing at him. Of course, Morecambe and Wise stole the show. There were chuckles when they appeared together, and a little buzz. Even the Queen smiled broadly as they appeared. One thing I forgot to say - we were told that we may talk during the ceremony, but there was to be no applause. The only other person we knew by name, and from having seen his photograph in the papers, was Howard Lockhart. He has broadcast a programme of music for hospitals in Scotland for many years. His brother lives near Mauchline and we know him slightly - he serves on Hospital Boards. Howard is a bachelor and had been accompanied to the Palace by his two nephews - one was with him on the way home in the train. In fact we sat with them. The ceremony was over at ll.35 am. We all stood for the National Anthem again and the Queen left the room accompanied by her aides, etc. We all filed out, admiring all the wonderful furnishings. Daddy went to get his top hat and gloves and we emerged into the Quadrangle. The TV cameras and all the Press Photographers were buzzing around Morecambe and Wise who were fooling about and entertaining them. A large number of people were queueing up to have their photographs taken by the commercial photographers who have passes to enter the Quadrangle. We decided that, if we waited, we would be late for our lunch and late for our train. We had received a communication from a firm called Foto Press Agency who said their photographer would be outside the Palace and that they would supply photographs and send them to local newspapers and to us if we wished. I held the yellow form in my hand and soon a photographer came up to me and took a photograph of us all. So here's hoping! As we walked towards the main gates we could see Roger and Alan right up against the railings, so we stood and they took some photographs - Alan with Daddy's camera and Roger with his. As we came out of the main gate, the Guards were marching around the Queen Victoria Memorial. There were Scots with their pipes and all the footguards. The boys took some photographs of them and also of the four of us with the marching soldiers behind us. We took a taxi back to BMA House where Daddy changed in to a plain black coat and we then walked to the Post Office Tower. We had to go through a tight security check when we entered the ground floor - same as at airports - handbags emptied, etc. Moving on, your reservation is checked, you are given lift tickets and escorted to the lift - very high-speed - it ascends at 1,000 feet per minute; it is said to be the fastest in the country. There are thirty-six floors." We went up to the thirty-fifth where one has a cocktail before lunch. I asked what was on the 36th floor. Answer: the kitchens!! After a drink, we walked down to the 34th to the Restaurant. Both bar and restaurant are circular. The restaurant actually revolves and makes three full revolutions every hour. The seating capacity of the Dining Room is 180 and the Cocktail Bar, 50. 

We had a super lunch and had great fun identifying places such as Buckingham Palace in the distance, BMA House main entrance a few hundred yards away, St Paul's, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, etc. 

We were very fortunate that it was a beautiful sunny day, with clear skies and wonderful views. We had booked weeks ago, so it was sheer luck. 

We had arrived there just before l.00 pm and left about 3.30 pm. We walked back to BMA House and sat chatting for an hour, collected our luggage and walked to Euston Station, leaving Frances and Roger at the corner by St Pancras Church to walk the few hundred yards to St Pancras Station where their train left five minutes before ours. Euston is quite near St Pancras. We had dinner on the train on the way back to Glasgow, where we arrived at 10.00 pm. We left Madeleine and Alan to go their way and we were back in Wairoa at 11.00 pm.

Dr McCrae 96th birthday


Frances tells me this picture on the left was taken at Dr McCrae's 96th birthday. 

Local people