Margaret Stewart - forthright views about Scottish Gaelic song
Lewis-born Scottish Gaelic singer Margaret Stewart recently won an award for an album of songs from the Outer Hebrides. She holds forthright and interesting views on the state of Gaelic language and culture in the UK. I spoke to her at length for a recent Living Tradition Magazine article:
Margaret Stewart – choosing the road less travelled?
I spoke with Lewis-born Gaelic singer Margaret Stewart just before she left for what has become her annual visit to Willie Clancy Week in County Clare, Ireland. A lively, witty, highly articulate and elegant woman, Margaret is renowned for her beautiful voice, her great love for and immaculate handling of the Gaelic song tradition into which she was born, and for her Highland hospitality. Of equal renown are her passionate views on Gaelic song and culture, and how they are presented to the outside world. Her views on how the Gaelic songs of her native Scotland are handled by those outside the culture have indeed earned her the reputation of being a rather forthright, and to some, an intimidating woman.
In a remarkably frank and fascinating interview, Margaret sets the record straight with refreshing honesty and great eloquence. I personally find nothing at all intimidating about her, but then my conversations with her do go back some time. This was the first occasion we managed to pull together the various strands of our discussions in a more formal, coherent way. Some of our conversation had to be curtailed to fit the space confines of the magazine, so a few stones have been left unturned, to be visited and explored in more detail in the near future. I wanted to take the opportunity in this article to present a wide-ranging and interesting overview of Margaret and her life, and to perhaps find out what makes her tick musically and culturally.
Margaret has been extremely busy recently. Besides taking up a position as one of the two Gaelic song specialists on the Tobar An Dualchais (Kist O’ Riches) project earlier this year, she has also released a beautiful new recording of immaculate, gracefully presented Gaelic songs, all holding deep personal significance for her. That album is called ‘Togaidh Mi Mo Sheolta - Along the Road Less Travelled’; the Gaelic part of the title means ‘I will make my way’ and segues into the second part of the album title. Does this title describe the personal route Margaret has chosen to follow during her life? Her responses in this interview will go some way to providing the answer. We spoke first of all about her love of Willie Clancy Week, one of Ireland’s most respected celebrations of the traditional Irish song, music and dance traditions.
‘I’ve been attending the ‘Willie Week’, as its affectionately called, for over ten years now. Two of the organisers first met me in Lewis during a joint Irish and Scottish conference on traditional sean-nòs singing; and invited me to come to the festival the following year, but my brother was getting married at the time and I couldn’t attend, but I said I would be delighted if the invitation were open for the following year; which it was! It’s an important cultural exchange for me; after all the roots of our Gaelic language come from the Irish. I meet up with my Irish musician friends as well as teach and sing there – this year I’ve been invited, and cajoled into delivering a lecture on Scottish Gaelic Jacobite song; a bit of a daunting task, but I’m not shrinking from it!’
It’s evidently not all work and no play in Co. Clare, however. Last year Margaret and friends met and had dinner with actor Jeremy Irons, who had been learning fiddle from Caoimhín O’Raghallaigh in preparation for an RTE television series. ‘He was charming of course, and joined in on a small session at our hotel, where he very skillfully played the guitar and sang ‘Miss Otis Regrets’ and the Eric Clapton classic ‘You Look Wonderful Tonight’.’ Setting the undeniable charms of Mr. Irons to one side, it’s clear that Willie Clancy Week holds much appeal for Margaret. ‘It’s because it’s such a true festival. It’s very traditional, and nobody, bar nobody, is treated as a celebrity; as Mr. Irons put it last year “everyone is a celebrity”. For me, that’s one of the things that’s so special about it – no egos allowed. Many old tradition bearers attend each year and are given the respect they deserve and it makes my heart glad to see the young and not so young, metaphorically sitting at their feet; listening, learning and appreciating the nuances of style which these ‘masters’ are passing on during this very special week. The older tradition bearers don’t hold classes but are often brought in to demonstrate particular styles or to talk about some aspect of their playing or singing.’
Willie Clancy Week is an annual Summer School run along similar lines as its younger cousin, Ceòlas in South Uist, and Margaret evidently feels comfortable attending such an event, enjoying the way that the educational and ‘working’ part of the events combine so successfully with the evening concerts and opportunities to socialise. Is she equally attracted by the wealth of festivals on offer these days, particularly in Scotland?
‘I do have to be careful how I say this, but I feel very strongly that festival organisers should truly know the genre they are promoting at their event. Things too often get formulaic and predictable, with the same bands and performers appearing at most festivals, so something has to give. Naturally enough, budgets and funding criteria generally control the programming for many of these festivals, particularly the smaller ones who need to attract audiences and cannot afford to be so adventurous, but I was impressed with Donald Shaw’s choice of programme at Celtic Connections this year; I believe he had the right mix of the high-profile ‘venue fillers’ and international talent, while still remaining true to our Scottish roots, and in some cases, being adventurous, with the inclusion of sean-nòs and very traditional bands and performers. It’s a huge festival and very hard to get to see everything and even have the ‘craic’ with your fellow performers, but it’s an immense undertaking and was certainly an amazing showcase for Scottish music this year. Personally, I couldn’t handle more than one of those types of festivals per year, necessary though they may be. I miss the camaraderie of small events, where there is more contact between performers, more impromptu sessions and time to get to know people. I think that there will inevitably be a split in what we currently fit under the all encompassing umbrella of ‘Celtic Music’, if it hasn’t already happened. I see many musicians leaving the tradition behind; it’s a natural course for them, particularly if they are full-time musicians, seeking work not just in Scotland and England, but beyond. Audiences will dictate their performance style; some festivals will only accept a certain ‘image’ or style and this is bound to have an effect on a performer’s or band’s repertoire. Sadly, for me, the popularity of this ‘fusion’ is at the expense of traditional regional styles, particularly in singing but also in other areas, and in another generation we are in danger of seeing these styles becoming extinct. These are the roots of our music and although I have uttered this ad nauseam I don’t think it can be said often enough “if the roots die, not only will the tree fall but in time so will the entire forest”. Ask any young performer or student of ‘trad music’, who their influences are, or easier still, check their MySpace pages: to read them is an education in itself, a contemporary commentary on who young traditional performers emulate, learn their material and musical styles from.’
Is this a uniquely Scottish phenomenon then, that tradition bearers are being ignored or cast aside, in favour of the latest high-profile band or performer? Do we see the same in England and Ireland for instance? ‘It is not for me to say, as I am no expert and my opinions are based only on my own experiences and observations and mainly on the current state of Gaelic song.’ Does Margaret have any suggestions as to what might have caused this? ‘I haven’t studied it, but I guess we would have to look at how newcomers to the music and young people in areas known for traditional music and song styles are currently being taught. I would have to make the point here that I have absolutely no opposition to innovation and experimentation within traditional music - it is after all a living tradition. I would be happier if there was some evidence that in the areas where we still have a strong living and unbroken tradition, and there are tradition bearers to pass this on, that they are given their place, the respect they deserve and the opportunity to give more than just ‘the song’ or ‘the tune’.’
‘I see that perhaps this could be one of the possible causes. Organisations who are responsible for teaching traditional music and song, such as Feisean nan Gaidheal and the various institutions of learning who offer degree courses, may have been successful in teaching all ages how to play and sing, but there is a lot of other knowledge that the traditional performer needs to be equipped with. I think they should be taught about who has come before them and whose shoes they are filling, be taught the nuances of their own regional and singing styles, educated in correct stressing and phrasing, be encouraged to learn more about a song that just the words; the history or story behind a tune/song and the composer. They should also be taught to treat older performers with respect, whether they feel their material is no longer trendy or not, and above all they should be taught that even if they are talented, they still need to serve an apprenticeship. Too many are launched into professional careers before they have enough experience or are musical or in the case of Gaelic song, linguistically ready for it.’
Margaret avoids many of the bigger festivals because she has found that she just doesn’t seem to fit in. ‘I see now that most festivals look at me as merely a solo Gaelic singer, rather than a singer who also comes with a fine band of musicians behind her, some of the best in Gaeldom. There are very few opportunities for a solo - particularly an a-capella - singer in any language, and in order to hold the attention of an audience outside one’s own linguistic area one has to provide something for the audience to relate to.’
My own view is that for her to speak up like this is courageous because in so doing, she potentially damages her career prospects. She is acutely aware that if she is seen to criticise, her chances of getting booked are probably limited: ‘I feel that festival organisers could be celebrating the best of our culture and presenting it to audiences.’ She readily acknowledges the need for festivals to have the ‘big names,’ sees the importance of bringing them to more remote communities who wouldn’t get the chance to see them otherwise. And she also accepts the need to attract audiences. But she also notices that a fair few of her friends both inside and outwith the traditional music community aren’t so attracted by so many of the bigger festivals these days. Perhaps they are just too big and impersonal and more about the ‘idea’ rather than the ‘reality’ of traditional music? ‘Ceòlas Music and Dance Summer School, although mainly a summer school, also features as a mini-festival. It is under the musical directorship of renowned piper/flautist/producer Iain MacDonald of Glenuig and focuses, although not exclusively, on the very real and strong links between Hebridean Gaelic song and the music and song of Cape Breton. Since its inception some of the best traditional dancers, musicians and singers from Scotland and Cape Breton have been brought together to explore, identify and strengthen those links for a week in the Gaelic heartland of South Uist.’
‘It may just be that we’re missing true folk audiences in Scotland. A lot are looking for the highly publicised names and I often feel that there’s no place for a musician like me at some of the bigger events, that I’m very much on the margins; not trendy enough or young enough or that I haven’t got the right image for the festival organisers.’ I reminded Margaret that her programming of the Lewis & Harris Night at Celtic Connections 2008 was indeed very trendy, in particular her decision to include Iain Morrison and the Sleepy Café Band alongside Margaret herself, Christine Primrose and Jenna Cumming. She was self-deprecatory: ‘I just gave a representative cross-section of what people could expect from the musicians of our island. There were many Gaels in the audience who came up to me after the performance and said “oh, I wasn’t sure about that bit at all”, others said “oh I didn’t think I was going to like it at first, but it grew on me”. Iain of course has performed with Crash My Model Car at Glastonbury and is to appear at this year’s Hebridean Celtic Festival. I’m very pleased that we included them and they were pleased to have been asked – and pleased to perform with ‘traditional’ singers! Iain and his friends know exactly where their music and influences came from, and in that performance they used the language, and elements of Gaelic, in a very modern way. I don’t have a problem with that at all. I don’t think people who think I’m against use of Gaelic in modern settings can really understand me, because that’s just not the case at all; it’s the way Gaelic is treated within those modern settings that makes the difference.’
So what is it about the treatment of Gaelic song that irks Margaret and many of her fellow Gaelic ‘tradition bearers?’ Margaret clearly feels that not all who come to Gaelic song are cutting the proverbial mustard. The answer seems to lie in the fact that they feel that some of the practitioners of those songs do not appear to be proficient enough in the language to take on the task, or are attempting to handle songs that they are not equipped to sing, either linguistically or musically. The effect upon the Gaelic ear is apparently akin to nails being scratched down a blackboard, especially when songs are taken out of their traditional style and, as Margaret describes it, ‘treated to the newcomer’s imagined ‘improvement’ of a musical genre,’ not perhaps having the same sensitivity to the beauty, complexity and value they hold for the indigenous people. Margaret explained further: ‘When words and internal rhyme are altered, where words are tweaked and squeezed and clipped to fit a into a strict and ‘alien’ rhythm, when the natural rhythms of the language are being ignored in favour of the melody line, all the beautiful nuances are being destroyed in favour of what is perceived as being ‘better’, and often the meanings of words are changed in the process.’
I told Margaret something Derbyshire singer-fiddler Bella Hardy recently said to me: ‘I don’t sing foreign songs, they don’t belong to me.’ Is this something Margaret empathised with in respect of non-speakers’ treatment of Gaelic songs? Margaret indicated that those words could have come out of her own mouth. ‘I know there’s great anxiety about the about the state of our language, and that it should be seen to be thriving and flourishing, particularly amongst the young, but why should mediocrity be accepted where once thrived eloquence and excellence?
I asked Margaret why she and her Gaelic peers didn’t speak up even louder if they felt that unsuspecting audiences were being hoodwinked (though Margaret can never be accused of remaining silent on this fundamental issue that causes her such personal difficulty). ‘I have no authority to set myself up as an expert or spokesperson on any subject and I certainly wouldn’t want to be thought of as such. These opinions are opinions that are shared by many, but of course none of us would wish to hurt anyone’s feelings or prevent them from taking an interest in our language and songs. One can try to advise as politely as possible but there’s only so much you can do if people think they know it all or know better. The traditional songs of any culture should be treated very carefully by novices, even when they have reached high levels of linguistic proficiency; authentic delivery relies very much on style, usually nurtured from childhood, natural, fluid and convincing and of course the language rhythms should never, ever be distorted to fit in with the melody line – the language is what makes the song! But that is only a part of it - a good, authentic and convincing traditional singer takes a lifetime to learn their craft: one never actually arrives, one is on an endless journey, learning and refining until the day one dies.’
So, whilst Margaret is regarded by some in the folk scene as being a purist, unbending in her views, I’m now inclined to believe, having enjoyed many robust and stimulating debates with her over the past couple of years, that she simply wants the tradition into which she was born, the song tradition she loves, to be respected by all who wish to present them to the outside world. There’s a lot of mystique surrounding Scottish Gaelic song. The unwary, non-Gaelic speaking listener, for instance (and I fall square into that category), doesn’t have a clue which performers are native speakers, who the novices are, or which ones are truly holding the traditional banner, and it’s only after years of listening to a wide and much truer representation of the genre that you start to get a real ‘feel’ for it. It helped my own understanding to try to imagine a non English speaker coming to a traditional English song that I love and treating it in a way that left me feeling uncomfortable and unconvinced. I imagine that the Gaelic songs that Margaret holds equally dear represent her own history, her own peoples’ experiences in just the same way. She is clearly looking for absolute honesty and authenticity.
I wanted to look back over Margaret’s childhood years, to try and build a picture of how she became the woman she is today. Her formative years were spent in the village of Upper Coll on the Isle-of-Lewis, where her mother, now 76, still lives. Upper Coll sits on the sandy shores of A’ Loch a Tuath - the North Loch, commonly referred to as Broad Bay. Margaret’s brothers Norman, Donald and George still live there too, within a two mile radius of their mother’s home.
‘It was idyllic although a lot of hard work. The village had 22 crofts and as well as working hard in school all week, we, like all children throughout the islands at that time, were expected to help out with planting and harvesting of crops, digging peat and lifting them for drying, helping with the building of the peat-stack, bringing in the hay and building the haystacks. We also helped to collect bait for my grandfather’s fishing creels and helped to bait them, sheared my father’s many sheep, shepherded the flocks back and forth from their various grazing, and sometimes we were sent out to the moors with the sheep-dog to look for the lost sheep - one of my favourite tasks, as I took the opportunity to sing my heart out. My first days at school are a bit of a blur, but I vividly remember being immersed in a strange world the minute I walked through the classroom doors – none of the adults spoke the same language as me; at five years old the only language I knew was ignored and not given any status. It was a bit of a scary experience but at least everyone else in the class were going through the same thing. Thankfully, once we were out of school we were free to return to our own tongue; amongst our families and friends. Apart from going to school in Back, we rarely left the village and until I was around 12 years old few people had cars and fewer still had telephones, and nobody had television (there was no television mast on the island to receive signals at that time).
We could see the hills of Harris from our house and also the mountains of mainland Scotland and often on cold winter evenings the aurora borealis would light up the skies. Upper Coll was the centre of the universe and in many respects, though I’ve travelled far and wide, it still is.’ Winters were bitter though; howling gales, driving rain, snow and blizzards. Is it my imagination, or was there much more snow then?’
Back is of course known as the home of Back Free Church, setting for the ‘Salm’ recordings at which Margaret was present. Was the Presbyterian church a big part of Margaret’s life? “The church was a big part of village/district/island life in my youth, but seems not to be so much now. We attended church and Sunday school regularly as children, where we took exams - the Lyle Orr exams in biblical knowledge, as well as Psalmody Classes mid week. These classes ensured that we all learnt the psalm tunes which are such a magnificent feature of any Gaelic worship. In the home we had evening worship, where my grandfather would ‘read The Book’ – he would also ‘precent’ a psalm at the beginning and end of worship; we were encouraged to sing along to this free style of singing, thus we were subjected, on a daily basis, to the glorious ornamentation which was such a exceptional feature of Lewis traditional singing. When my grandfather passed away at the age of 92, my father took over the praise singing. It was traditionally the role of the oldest male in the house, but I know this practice is now in decline throughout the island.’
I wondered if Margaret could define, encapsulate the Lewis character for me? Although she admitted that it was difficult to look at it from ‘the inside’ she managed to describe her own notion of her people in her own way. ‘Strong, kind, hard-working and determined people; versatile and flexible - these were the people I was brought up with; people who had suffered greatly through the losses of two World Wars, the tragedy of the Iolaire disaster in sight of Stornoway harbour, and the mass emigration of many of the island’s finest in the 1920s and 1930s. Those who remained, and who continue to wrestle with the difficulties of remoteness and the first land-fall of the erratic Atlantic weather systems on a daily basis, need to be pretty hardy and determined. Although it is perhaps not for me to say, I would imagine that anyone visiting the island would find the people to be hospitable and welcoming. There’s been a huge social shift in the Highlands, and especially the Islands, since my own youth, and a thesis could be written on the subject, if it hasn’t already been. I know through observing younger members of my own family, that the introduction of television into our homes has had a huge effect on many aspects of our lives, but there are other factors too, far too complicated a subject to go into right now.’
Margaret’s mother was a big influence on her, and so was Scottish Gaelic song lecturer Morag MacLeod. ‘My mother was, and still is, a hugely influential figure in my life – life without her cannot be imagined although we must all face that time. She keeps us all together, as the matriarch of ‘da family’. All the relatives from around the globe have her as the first point of contact. She’s a great genealogist, as was my grandfather before her, and is often consulted by locals interested in these matters. She still manages to amaze me with Gaelic phrases and sayings that I have never heard before.’ Margaret met Morag MacLeod in adulthood when she started to research the Gaelic songs of other areas outside Lewis. Morag was lecturer in Gaelic Song at the School of Scottish Studies, Edinburgh University, and she has encouraged Margaret greatly over a period of some fifteen years and has supported her interest in exploring the Gaelic song of areas outside her own Lewis homeland.
Despite her love of home, Margaret, like many of her contemporaries, had to leave the island in search of work and further education, and has travelled the world since doing so. “Some do return, but the majority find work on the mainland and indeed all over the world. I always wanted to travel the world, my father having been in the merchant navy and growing up surrounded by tales of far-off lands; so I initially headed for Canada like many islanders before me. I went as far as British Columbia where many of my parent’s relatives settled back in the early 1900s. I had lots of interesting experiences and adventures there and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I knew I didn’t want to live there forever. I’ve travelled a lot but I still find Scotland to be one of the most beautiful and interesting countries on earth – around every corner is yet another surprise. Some of the roads on the west coast could be better, mind you!’
She now lives in Nairn in northeast Scotland and seems settled there. Her husband Tim works in the oil business, and his work took the family to Venezuela for six years. Margaret enjoyed learning Spanish in Venezuela and loved the people and way of life, although it was at times a dangerous and unpredictable place to live. ‘Nairn is a much safer place altogether and although no longer a Gaelic speaking area, at one time there was a great deal of Gaelic spoken in the area here; most of the surrounding place names are in Gaelic, unlike my own home island where the place names are chiefly Norse. Living in Nairn or even Venezuela or deepest Africa doesn’t affect my native language, I am immersed in Gaelic all day and every day, either through my work and chatting to people on the telephone or even on ‘Skype’, and when I meet the likes of Lachie MacAulay - now there’s a character - and other Gaels on the streets of Nairn.’
Margaret was engaged earlier this year to work on the Tobar An Dualchais (Kist O’Riches) project. The material she works on comes from the sound archives of the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh and are digitized there. Margaret works alongside Ishbel T MacDonald on the cataloguing of Gaelic songs and Scots songs cataloguers include Steve Byrne, Sheena Wellington and Chris Wright. It’s work that Margaret evidently enjoys: ‘It takes me back to my childhood and to a different era and reminds me of my grandfather. The fieldworkers are often in peoples’ homes and you can hear the fire crackling, the clock ticking and sometimes chiming the hour, the dog barking outside and sometimes the wind howling. Others work on folklore, tales and anecdotes, pipe music and canntaireachd. There’s about eighty thousand hours’ worth of material – stories, Scots song, Gaelic song. It’s wonderful and rewarding work, and I enjoy the flexibility of working at home, though it was initially hard to get people to accept that I was really working and that I was not to be disturbed!’ Margaret enjoys the linguistic aspect of the job of course, and loves encountering the different language nuances from other areas which she hears in the recordings: ‘There are so many differences, generally, in the way Gaelic is spoken, even today. For instance in Scarp, off Harris, they often used a thin ‘l’ in places where we use the thick ‘l’.
Margaret is reputed to be a very sociable person: ‘Och, I enjoy it very much. I like cooking and having friends around when I have time to relax. Tim works abroad and Eilidh is away during term time, so it’s great to share this lovely old house with friends and family. My home used to be a rather exclusive old hotel, which was renovated about six years ago to make three homes, but with a great deal of the character remaining, so it’s easy to have people to stay. I enjoy living in Nairn, right on the edge of the Highlands, only ten minutes away from Inverness airport. It’s a lovely little Victorian seaside town that has its own micro-climate, a gorgeous sandy beach and further inland we have the Highlands of Nairnshire and the spectacular Dava Moor, which I love.’
We spoke about Margaret’s recently-released and much-anticipated CD ‘Togaidh Mi Mo Sheolta’ which Margaret refers to as ‘possibly my swansong’ - perhaps explaining the swan depicted on the album cover? ‘No, the swan depicts much more than that – the loch in Upper Coll - Loch Chol Uaraich - was the habitat of dozens of mute swans and has always been a very strong image of home for me, the swan is also a motif which appears in many Gaelic songs and is mentioned in at least two of the songs on the CD. I didn’t think I would ever finish it! It took a few years and a lot of work. Life, generally, as well as other commitments, kept getting in the way.’
It is an exquisite listen; beautiful songs, beautifully and honestly presented, and with some of Scotland’s finest instrumentalists on hand. Had it all been worth it, I wondered? Was the album getting a fair listen amongst the crop of Scottish releases generally? ‘I don’t know really. I don’t think there are even many programmes on the BBC radio stations which would play this kind of material. The market is flooded with CDs these days, so it’s a very competitive environment. I hope that the album will stand the test of time but, of course only ‘time’ will tell - a cruel thing, time! Ian Green has gambled on me and not for the first time, and I always worry that his investment in me won’t get the warranted return. However, the musicians on the album will be working with me on a more regular basis, which I’m thrilled about; Ingrid and Allan Henderson, Iain MacFarlane, Iain MacDonald and the addition of Ross Martin. We hope to tour the Highlands with the album in the near future but I’m not sure about taking it further afield yet. Do you think Englandshire would have us?’
One thing we hadn’t touched on, but that I was very interested to learn about, were Margaret’s links with England. Her husband Tim is English, born in Chislehurst in Kent. Margaret spent a lot of time in Devon over the years, and took part in Sidmouth Folk Festival and her daughter Eilidh was born in Norfolk. ‘I used to live in Winterton-on-Sea near Great Yarmouth. I remember that there were some fine old singers down there at one time, and lots of sea shanties and Winterton is the village where the great Sam Larner lived. It was a lovely, old-fashioned, unspoiled place. No motorways you see, takes ages to get there! Places like that retain their accents and culture more so than less remote areas. They’re not so accessible!’ Margaret recalled how she had been asked to sing at Burns suppers when she lived in the area. She enjoyed the fact that there were so many little folk clubs and dances in that part of England. ‘I also enjoyed Sidmouth. I loved that it had festivals within the festival, a folky, traditional enclave, a commercial/contemporary arena and big tent, and of course the Morris dancing. Once I found my niche I really enjoyed working and performing there, but would have preferred not to have been on my own. One year I took part around the time that my friends from Blazin’ Fiddles and the Battlefield Band were there and then I didn’t feel lonely at all, had quite a bash actually. I did some workshops one year and I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of people who attended, and I enjoyed the balance of Irish, Scottish and English content.’
Margaret has never been afraid to stand up for her passionately-held beliefs on the treatment of Gaelic song, and I have always found her honesty on this matter refreshing. She has in fact almost single-handedly ‘de-fogged’ much of the mystique and misunderstanding surrounding Gaelic song by being so candid. Thanking her for this, and for her generosity with her time, she responded quick as a flash and with humour: ‘I don’t see the point of pussy-footing around at my age. There’s not enough time left! I spent half my life tip-toeing around people, being careful not to offend, or not standing up for a strongly held belief in case I was going to have to stand alone, but no more! I hope I don’t come across as being negative, I fear I may do but this is one subject that I’m very passionate about!’
By Debbie Koritsas