Twin Town Diary

A record of visits and other events arising from the twinning of Oban and Laurinburg.


The year of the bicentennial of Old Laurel Hill Church, just outside Laurinburg. This is the oldest established church in the area. Its second minister was a John MacNair, who came to the area from Kilchenzie, near Campbeltown. Its fourth minister, and one of the best known, was John MacIntyre, who may have been born on Jura, but spent his youth at Kinlochlaich farm in Appin.

Bill Purcell, the current mayor of Laurinburg and a signatory of the sister city agreement, is a direct descendant of John MacIntyre.

The present Old Laurel Hill Church building was constructed in 1856.

January 97

Laurinburg C of C delegate unable to come, so Tom Laurenson attends Glasgow Craft Fair in further pursuit of items and sources for Laurinburg shops. Catalogue, various brochures and leaflets dispatched, along with information from suppliers on order levels, payment arrangements, delivery times, etc.

Mark Durham and his wife Debbie are involved in a car crash near Winston Salem. Their son David was in the first group from SHS, Mark had until recently been editor of the 'Laurinburg Exchange', and Debbie was a teacher. Debbie is killed, and Mark badly injured.

Gillian Gibson applies for a senior year at SHS and is accepted, making a total of 3 OHS students who will be at SHS next session.

As a result of these 3, Dr John Batchelor, Superintendent of Schools for Scotland County (equivalent to Director of Education) indicates that he would be interested in joining the June 98 group.

February 97

A group of SHS students attend the memorial service to Debbie Durham as representatives of the Oban friends of the Durham family.

Approach received from North Carolina Centre for International Understanding, but our programme already achieves much of what they have in mind.

March 97

TL visits Laurinburg, with wife and 2 sons, The State Capitol picture is brought back.

May 97

Gillian Gibson decides not to take up her SHS opportunity.

June 97

Apart from the annual SHS exchange group, 4 others visit, having made friends in Oban, either by being part of an earlier exchange, or by meeting Oban students in Laurinburg. They are Jacqueline Nance (Nov 94) Scott Bullard, Bill Black, and Robert Floyd

Laurinburg Rotarian representative Rev Jimmy Bruce, accompanied by wife Sue, attends as delegate to Rotary International Conference in Glasgow , and visits Oban en route.

Arrangements made for some activities which involved the Russian visitors, the Americans, host families and friends, principally a joint civic reception, and a coach trip to Edinburgh. The Russains are an hour late in reaching the bus to come back.

Raleigh Boychoir visit Oban on June 13th as part of their UK tour, having heard about the Oban/Laurinburg connection. Numbering over 40, and staying in the Oban Bay Hotel.

The Bullard family from Laurinburg arrive towards the end of the visit, and stay on with their son Patrick who was one of the SHS group. Older brother Scott researched the possibility of divinity courses at Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The Morgan family also arrive to link up with daughter Melody - one of the exchange students.

Highland Girls Choir from Laurinburg (12 performers from middle school, plus some mothers) in Oban June 23rd - 25th - they perform in the Corran Esplanade Church on June 23rd, with Jim Morgan.

Achievers International is proposed as a way of extending the link to a wider group. Laurinburg Rotary ready to back the project if Scotland County School Board approves.

Conversation with Debbie Bridges brings out several ideas to be explored - sister city CD and others.

July 97

Tom Laurenson pays 1 week visit to Laurinburg - addresses School Board about Achievers International, and they approve SHS participation. A meeting is held with Kay Bullard, Bill Purcell and Beacham MacDougald to discuss the twinning letter, which is sent later in the month.

August 97

Twinning letter arrives too late to be included in the agenda for the August meeting of the Area Committee.

The 'Hix group' arrives in Oban - 30 people from Laurinburg, Maxton and MacColl. Among them is Clint WIllis. The 'Oban at War and Peace Exhibition' is opened specially to allow him to see the VFW plaque which he presented the previous October.

On the 12th, Martin Still and Karlynn Silkowski fly out to begin their Senior Year at Scotland High School. They are denied entry to the USA, because their paperwork is incomplete. Apparently someone in Scotland High who should have processed an I-20 form, and completed an I-17, did not do so. On both sides, people swing into action to try to correct this situation.

Sept 97

Argyll & Bute Council's Lorn and the Islands Area Committee approve redefining the Sister City agreement as Twinning,.

October 97

11 students from OHS to go to Laurinburg, with 2 staff (Ted and Mary Heath). The students are;























Michael Forbes makes a return trip to Laurinburg, travelling with the main group. Rowan MacAllister flies out one day earlier as an additional student (other flights full).

The group will once again man a stand at the John Blue Cotton festival, promoting Oban and surrounding area.

As part of the Old Laurel Hill Church bicentenary, Catriona MacKinnon delivers a reading in Gaelic at a service.

October 16th

Martin Still makes it to Laurinburg, having had the paperwork sorted out at SHS, and the US Embassy on London.

November 97

5th November - signing of twinning document

Beacham MacDougald, Kay Bullard and Terry Parker in Oban for the signing ceremony.

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