Lottery cash helps Dunsire exhibition

Friends members (back) Norman Myles, Gary Nurse, Elizabeth McGuire & Brian Christie (front) Moira Myles, Anne Mirtle, Mary Reilly & Ray Nurse
Friends members (back) Norman Myles, Gary Nurse, Elizabeth McGuire & Brian Christie (front) Moira Myles, Anne Mirtle, Mary Reilly & Ray Nurse

A new sixth month exhibition on our area’s only Victoria Cross recipient has been made possible thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery.

The Friends of Methil Heritage Centre stage an exhibition every year, and for 2015, they have chosen to focus on Robert Dunsire, who was awarded the armed forces’ highest honour in 1942.

We’re hoping this will be one of the best exhibitions we have done

And last month, it was “thrilled” to find out it had been awarded £8700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund through its ‘First World War: Now and Then’ programme, which it will use to employ a expert curator for the show entitled ‘Robert Dunsire – The Story of a Victoria Cross’, which will open to the public at the end of August.

Gary Nurse, a member of the Friends group, told the Mail: “We have never gone for a grant like this before so I think we have done really well to have been awarded this.

“The exhibition will be covering his life story in two parts - the war story and his incredible actions and his home life; what made him do what he did.”

Robert Dunsire was born in Buckhaven in November 1891 and was living in Denbeath when the First World War broke out in 1914.

At the time, he worked as a miner at the Rosie Pit, but enlisted alongwith many of his fellow miners in January 1915 joining the 13th Battalion Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment).

It was during the Battle of Loos that Private Dunsire gained the Victoria Cross for acts of supreme gallantry, after he went out under heavy fire, not once but twice to save wounded comrades.

Sadly, just two months after he received his VC, Private Dunsire was mortally wounded by a trench mortar.

Graham Ritchie, Methil Heritage Centre manager, said: “A lot of people have never heard of Robert Dunsire, so we are hoping this exhibition can raise some awareness of someone who was just a normal guy, but went on to do magical things that he didn’t know he was capable of.”

Gary added: “We’re hoping this will be one of the best exhibitions we have done, and we’re hoping it will appeal to lots of different people.”

The Friends group is made up of volunteers and hundreds of man hours and hard work have gone into the research to make the exhibition possible.

“This exhibition is not about World War One, it’s about the Victoria Cross, and someone who gained it, because you gain a VC, you aren’t awarded it.

“Robert Dunsire is a man that we should be honouring.”

The exhibition, which will run until the end of February, will be supported by a number of events, including talks, demonstrations and childrens activities.

Although the amount of information available on Robert Dunsire is vast, the Centre has only a few pictures of the local lad, and is hoping it can source some more ahead of the opening of the exhibition. The Friends are also looking to source memories from that time, memoribillia and other war time photographs. Graham said: “We hope we can have a little ‘People’s Corner’ that we can include these sorts of things in, and people can keep things totally confidential if they want to.” The Friends and Centre management are hoping that this upcoming exhibition will mobilise community support for the Heritage Centre and would welcome anyone who is interested in becoming a member of the Friends group - just pop down to the Centre Tues-Thurs, or Saturday.

For more on Robert Dunsire, the Friends and the Centre, as well as opening times, please visit www.methilheritage.org.uk