Charity Work

Charity Work

From the outbreak of war the Scottish people were keen to show their support for those affected by war – be they soldiers at the front, Belgian refugees, the wounded or widows. Mrs Agnes Morrison, the daughter of an Edinburgh lawyer, who was already an experienced fund-raiser, came up with the idea of fund-raising through the sale of charity flags, and her first Flag Day was held on Saturday 5 September 1914. Mrs Morrison founded the Flag Day Movement and the whole of Britain embraced this effective way of raising large amounts of money for worthy causes. As collectors were volunteers, and frequently children from groups such as the Boys’ Brigade, the organisation of these fund-raising days, and the distribution of funds collected, was initially quite chaotic. The Government was forced to introduce more structure and regulation into charitable giving and Local Authorities became responsible for licensing and authorising Flag Days from 1915.

In Moray the spirit of giving was strong. Local Council minutes are littered with mentions of forthcoming Flag Days which had been authorised, and a post card of one of these days in Elgin shows they were not limited to collectors with tins selling flags in the street but well supported social occasions too.

The funds for all this charitable giving went to a variety of sources but the plight of the Belgian refugees appears to have struck a particular chord with the people of Moray. In the minutes of the Council of the small fishing town of Buckie mention is made of a 'Devastated Belgium Committee', a 'Buckie Belgian Relief Fund' and a 'Belgian Artists' Committee'. This community also supported a home for Belgian refugees in Glasgow's West Cumberland Street from at least 1915. The source of funding for this project is not clear but presumably it came from charitable giving rather than burgh funds.

Lapel flag Belgians in Scotland
Lapel flag sold to raise money for the Belgian refugees in Scotland 1915. Image courtesy of Keith Mitchell.
Flag Day in Elgin 13th April 1917
Flag Day in Elgin 13th April 1917
Buckie Belgian Home 1915
Article from the 'Banffshire Advertiser' about the home for Belgian refugees in Glasgow supported by the burgh of Buckie
Allied forces flags
A selection of lapel flags depicting the national flags of the Allied Forces. Image courtesy of Keith Mitchell.