12/03/2015
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Blair Castle launches appeal to reunite wartime evacuee penpals

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Blair Castle has issued an appeal to members of the public to help to reunite two childhood penpals, following the recent discovery of a wartime letter at the castle.

The short letter, which has been in hiding since 1945 behind a radiator in the Castle’s grand ballroom, was discovered during recent winter conservation work at the castle. It is believed to be correspondence between two young evacuees who had been sent to the safety of the countryside until the end of the war.

Now the team at Blair Castle are appealing to the public to see if they can track down the two young friends, who may now be in their eighties, to reunite them with the lost note sent all those years ago in 1945 as well as a collection of keepsakes including dominos, cigarette cards and an unusual golf game involving a dice.

The almost perfectly preserved letter, featuring the unmistakably innocent scribblings of a young child, was written by Archie who was writing to his friend, or possibly a relative, called Bill who was staying at Blair Castle. The letter begins by asking after Bill, then comments on how quiet it is without him and goes on to tell him of another friend, Jackie who is 'going away for good'.

The heading on the letter indicates Archie was staying at Boturich Castle in Balloch, Dunbartonshire and, going by the location of the letter, Bill was a resident at Blair Castle. The Castle team are keen to hear from any members of the public that may be able to shed some light on Archie and Bill to piece the story together.

A 'frightening time'

Stuart Letford, marketing & communications Officer at Blair Castle, said: 'It is incredible to think that Archie’s letter to Bill has been lying hidden for such a long, long time in one of the castle’s thirty rooms and it would be fascinating to hear more about their story and their memories of being evacuated during the war. Who were Bill and Archie? Where were they from? Do they even still know each other? Are they both still alive? It must have been a frightening time for them during the war, but we hope Bill enjoyed his time exploring Blair Castle and the surrounding area during his stay.

'If this letter sparks a memory for anyone, we would love to hear from them. Blair Castle is steeped in over 700 years of history and this remarkable little find is another story to add to a chapter in the castle’s long and rich history.'

The castle’s archive team also found a photograph of the 8th Duke of Atholl with the evacuees who stayed in the area during World War Two. Is Bill in this picture from seventy years ago?

If you can help, contact Blair Castle on tel: 01796 481411 or e-mail.

Blair Castle, Blair Atholl, Pitlochry, Perthshire PH18 5TL; tel: 01796 481207; website.

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