Partner press release: Quarriers marks 150th anniversary with work announced for community memorial

Quarriers has marked its 150th anniversary with the announcement of its intention to create a memorial in Quarriers Village.

The content and location of the art installation will be developed with former residents of Quarriers to acknowledge where people have had a positive experience, where others have suffered abuse, and the experiences of people who were migrated as children to Canada or Australia.  The charity anticipates that it may feature words, phrases and images that represent reconciliation, acknowledgement and respect.

L-R Councillor Stephen McCabe, Inverclyde Council,  Dr. Ron Culley, Chief Executive Officer at Quarriers and  Natalie Don, MSP
L-R Councillor Stephen McCabe, Inverclyde Council,  Dr. Ron Culley, Chief Executive Officer at Quarriers and  Natalie Don, MSP

Joining the charity on its anniversary week were Natalie Don MSP for Renfrewshire North and West alongside leader of Inverclyde Council, Stephen McCabe, who broke the symbolic ground to start the process.

William Quarrier, the rags-to-riches Glasgow shoe merchant, set up the charity for orphaned children on 18 November 1871. Over the first 100 years of its operation, as many as 40,000 children were supported by the organisation, many in Quarriers Village where almost 50 cottages were built in which children would be looked after by ‘house parents’.

However, the leading social care provider – which now supports more than 5,000 people across Scotland – also believes it is important that it acknowledges and apologises for the dark chapters of its history including the 7,000 child migrants to Canada and the abuse of children while in its care in 1950s, 60 and 70s in particular, and these elements will also form part of the memorial.

L-R Dr. Ron Culley, Chief Executive Officer at Quarriers and Louise Long, Chief Officer at Inverclyde Council
L-R Dr. Ron Culley, Chief Executive Officer at Quarriers and Louise Long, Chief Officer at Inverclyde Council

Dr Ron Culley, Chief Executive of Quarriers, said: “As Quarriers marks its 150th anniversary we are looking back and reflecting on the history of the organisation - both the good and the bad – as part of the creation of a memorial in the heart of the village.

“Whilst we recognise that the organisation has supported many thousands of people and enriched and enhanced their lives, we know that for others it was a very different experience, and to those individuals we again offer an unreserved apology for the abuse they suffered in our care.

“We remain focused on providing vital care and support for our fellow citizens who need it most. As one of the most diverse providers of care and support, we deliver high quality services right across Scotland and our mission is to enable the people we support to realise their true potential.”

Maintaining open communication and positive relationships with former residents is very important to the charity, and it keeps in regular contact with survivor and child migrant representative groups such as FBGA and BHCARA to understand the charity’s legacy of care and focus on an era of reconciliation.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, leader of Inverclyde Council, said: “There’s no denying the incredible work Quarriers has done and continues to do supporting many thousands of people across the country. 

“There’s also no denying that mistakes were made in the past and people suffered and it’s important that those are properly acknowledged as part of the reparations and incorporated into this milestone anniversary.

“A monument in the heart of the village developed in partnership with those directly impacted by Quarriers, both positively and negatively, the community and partner organisations will celebrate and commemorate all aspects of what is a unique organisation and a national institution as we look forward to a brighter future for the charity itself and the many people it proudly supports.”

Natalie Don, MSP for Renfrewshire North and West, said: “As a former volunteer for Quarriers, I’m honoured to attend the event marking the organisation’s 150th anniversary and celebrate the positive impacts on everyday life that the charity is delivering through their range of life-enhancing practical care and specialist services for vulnerable children, adults and families facing extremely challenging circumstances.

“Although Quarriers’ services are highly valued by the thousands of people they currently support, it is only right that, in its historic reflections, the organisation is acknowledging in the form of the new memorial, the suffering experienced by many children they were entrusted to care for in past decades.”

David Whelan, spokesperson for the Former Boys and Girls Abused in Quarriers Homes (FBGA) added: “The FBGA survivor group fully support this Quarriers initiative to create a memorial in Quarriers Village to mark the organisations 150th anniversary. This initiative acknowledges both the positive and negative experiences of former residents in Quarriers past care down the generations.

“This major initiative by Quarriers today will continue to build upon the steps towards reconciliation already underway for a number of years by Quarriers and FBGA to reconcile the past and enable Quarriers of today to look forward to the future.”

L-R Dr. Ron Culley, Chief Executive Officer at Quarriers, Arthur Ritchie, Quarriers Historian
L-R Dr. Ron Culley, Chief Executive Officer at Quarriers, Arthur Ritchie, Quarriers Historian

Lori Oschefski on behalf of British Home Children Advocacy and Research Association, said: “It is our pleasure to join with Quarriers, from the other side of the Atlantic in Canada, to give our full support to the placement of a monument, remembering all the children whose life's journey took them through Quarriers.

“The children who were sent from Scotland to Canada contributed greatly to the growth of Canada as a fledgling country. We are honoured to have them remembered in this very special commemoration.”

Anyone wanting to be part of developing the memorial should contact hello@quarriers.org.uk