Celebrating the valiant act of a local boy

Norman Myles, Gary Nurse & Lord Lieutenant of Fife Robert Balfour at the opening night of the new Robert Dunsire exhibition at Methil Heritage Centre. All pictures by Fife Photo Agency.

Norman Myles, Gary Nurse & Lord Lieutenant of Fife Robert Balfour at the opening night of the new Robert Dunsire exhibition at Methil Heritage Centre. All pictures by Fife Photo Agency.

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A brand new exhibition in Methil is now open to the public, celebrating the life of the area’s only Victoria Cross recipient, Robert Dunsire.

‘Robert Dunsire VC: The story of a Victoria Cross’ explores the life and death of the Buckhaven boy, who went from miner to hero during the First World War.

Friends of Methil Heritage Centre

Friends of Methil Heritage Centre

The Mail got a sneak peek at the exhibition at a special preview evening on Monday, which was attended by a dozens of local people, elected officials and dignitaries.

As well as telling the story of Dunsire’s life, from his work as a miner down the Rosie Pit and his home life with wife Catherine, to his time in the army and the fateful day during the Battle of Loos which later earned him the highest military decoration, the exhibition also looks at life during the First World War and what it was like for those in battle and those at home.

There are a number of historic artefacts on display, many of which were loaned to the heritage centre by local people.

The exhbition is being led by the Friends of Methil Heritage Centre group, and was made possible thanks to significant funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The exhibition shows what life was like during the war

The exhibition shows what life was like during the war

The exhibition was officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Fife, Robert Balfour, who said: “This is a fantastic exhibition. it is not just about Robert Dunsire, but is really more of a social history of the time with him at the centre.

“During my opening speech, I asked how many people were aware of the fact that there were five VC recipients in Fife, because not many people know that, and many don’t know who Robert Dunsire is either.

“I think the Centre has done a wonderful job and I hope lots of people come to see the exhibition.”

Gary Nurse, chairman of the Friends of Methil Heritage Centre group, said: “We are really happy with how it has turned out.

“I have to thank all the Friends for all of the research they carried out, it was really outstanding. We also have to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund, because without the funding this exhibition would never have been able to go ahead.”

Gary also thanked Bob Jarvie and Mike Taylor, designer and curator of the exhibition, for all of their hard work, as well as Fife Cultural Trust for all of its support for the exhibition, and continued support of the Centre.

Mike Taylor, curator of the exhibition, said he was delighted with the outcome.

“I’m very pleased with how it has turned out and it seems to be going down well. I’m actually quite proud of the finished product and I have to say, it has been quite fun as well.

“It is such an interesting subject, and you just really get the sense that Dunsire was such a thoroughly nice, although relatively shy, young man, and it’s really quite sad that he only lived a mere eight weeks after receiving the VC.”

Bob Jarvie, who was brought on to design the project by Mike, added: “We’ve only had a month or so to do this, but I’m very happy with the outcome. I’m from Crieff, so I didn’t know anything about Dunsire, so I have really learned a lot and it has been quite fun.”

Provost of Fife, Jim Leishman was there to view the exhibition, as well as local councillors Jim Young and Tom Adams, who commented: “This is a really eye-opening exhibition for what the men had to go through, let alone what Robert Dunsire did to get his VC.”

He added: “This is a brilliant place to come to learn a wee bit of the history ahead of the anniversary event in Buckhaven on September 26, and I hope that the schools can come here too to learn about their local history.”

The exhibition runs until February 13, 2016. Methil Heritage Centre is open Tues-Thurs, 11.30am to 4.30pm and Sat, 1pm to 4.30pm.