As we all look forward to the happy day when the Covid pandemic becomes a distant memory, we’re sure to all have our own recollections of this strange and difficult time.
To mark a unique year, the pupils at the Royal School of Dunkeld have put together Our Lockdown Book, together with local author Molly Arbuthnott.
A creative collection of all their lockdown experiences, and the nature around them, the book also raises money for the parish of Dunkeld.
“The school is a wonderful primary school in Dunkeld, thriving under Nicola William’s very capable leadership and following the motto that ‘we love to learn,’” says Molly.
“There are currently 136 pupils plus 20 in the nursery. Unfortunately, there was not enough space to include all the children’s work in the book but they all contributed to the initial project and created some really beautiful creative pieces.
“The minister of Dunkeld Cathedral, Fraser Penny, has written a story, a mother has drawn a picture and my mother has drawn a picture too so it is a real team effort and it looks really lovely,” continues Molly, who has written five children’s books including Oscar the Ferry Cat and Oscar the Hebridean Cat.
“The idea was to channel the loneliness, hardships and difficulties we have all endured into something positive and something that can help the community around us,” says Molly, a former primary school teacher, who lives in Caputh.
“I felt that having gone through an experience like lockdown it was a great opportunity to reflect on what we had all experienced in a positive light and a way to raise money for the cathedral too.
“The idea started during our first lockdown but it was a bit tricky to spearhead at that stage and so the majority of the work was done when the children were newly back at school and the memories of lockdown were still fairly fresh,” she explains.
“It took about five months to put together. The teachers were hugely supportive of the initiative, and the parents too. In fact, there is a painting at the back of the book that was painted by a mother of a pupil.”
Molly’s mother is an artist too and was more than happy to contribute to the book.
“She stood by the gate at Dunkeld for a day to paint her piece and made friends with a robin too,” smiles Molly.
Minister, Fraser Penny, also enjoyed being able to contribute.
“The story about Squeaky and Titch, the mice, is quite well known to the congregation and so it was lovely to be able to bring that story into the book too,” says Molly.
The book is illustrated with drawings and photos of craft the children made and it’s obvious the pupils truly entered into the spirit of the book.
“We started on the theme of nature and it blossomed from there. Being surrounded by so much beautiful nature as we are in this part of the world helps a lot in producing top quality work,” says Molly.
From what Molly has gleaned, she reckons the majority of children enjoyed their lockdown experience.
“They thought outside the box and made the most of nature’s playground. Their pieces are original, insightful and hugely creative.
“I think that we should look at every hurdle thrown our way as a great opportunity to build ties within our communities and always to look at the solutions rather than the problems,” she reflects.
“The lockdown experience has made me feel so fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the world, a part of the world I feel very fortunate to be able to share.
“Thank you to all the children at Dunkeld school for entering into the spirit of the lockdown book so enthusiastically, to the teachers for managing the project so brilliantly and anyone who reads and buys it. I really hope you’ll enjoy what we have put together – any support you can give to Our Lockdown Book would be hugely appreciated as we would really like to be able to give the Parish of Dunkeld as much money as possible.”
Our Lockdown Book is £7.99 and available from mollyarbuthnott.co.uk or through local Dunkeld bookshops.