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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Meeting of the Parliament 14 November 2017

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People, Migration, Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, Decision Time, World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day


Time for Reflection

Our first item of business today is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is the Rev Margaret Shuttleworth, minister of Sauchie and Coalsnaughton parish church.

Rev Margaret Shuttleworth (Sauchie and Coalsnaughton Parish Church)

Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, I thank you for the honour of this invitation to speak to you this afternoon. It is an honour and something of a shock to me to be asked. I know that most of my old teachers would be astonished.

I had a very bad experience of school. I left school with no qualifications and, when I was there, I was, for the most part, educated in what were then called remedial classes. Among my most vivid memories of school are being given the belt for repeatedly not identifying my bs and ds.

I hope that by now you will have identified the problem that they did not. I suffered from dyslexia. I still do. My script today is in a special font which is designed to help my reading.

The guidance teacher told me to leave school and get work as a hairdresser. Thanks to a start in the old youth opportunities programme—that dates me—I worked for 25 years with people with learning difficulties. Today I am proud to serve the people of Sauchie and Coalsnaughton parish church.

To do that I had to go to the University of Glasgow where, eventually, I got a degree. Ironically, given my difficulty with letters, I got a BD—or it might be a DB; I am still not very sure about it.

I do not tell you my story to cultivate your sympathy or your admiration. I tell you this story because I want to say that I know what it is to be a person on the margins. I know what it is to be a person whom the system fails in some way. For many of us, throughout our adult life that translates into us being a failure.

Jesus operated from the margins and for the margins, and he called the powerful and the leaders to care for them. In his kingdom, and I hope in ours, the highest goal should be to help those who cannot speak up or who, when they do speak up, are not heard.

That is where policy should start. After all, it is at the margins and on the edges where the real shape of society is defined.

I repeat my thanks to you, Presiding Officer, and to the Parliament for inviting me to come here today. I wish you God’s blessing on your work.