Dr. Anne Lorne Gillies
Anne Lorne Gillies (Scottish Gaelic: Anna Latharna NicGillìosa) is a singer, writer and Gaelic activist. She is a classically-trained musician, with a deep-rooted understanding of Scottish culture, and a professional singer/songwriter who moves convincingly from the traditional Gaelic song repertoire to operatic arias; from the songs of Robert Burns to the songs of St Kilda. She was born in Stirling in 1944, and raised on a croft in Argyll from the age of five. Throughout her career Gillies has espoused many causes, charitable, cultural and political: she has given her services freely to raise funds and public awareness for many organisations – medical, social, artistic, political – especially those connected to children and Scottish Gaelic culture. In 1983 she was invited to take on the role of Patron of Comhairle nan Sgoiltean Àraich (the Gaelic Voluntary Playgroup Association) and then became a key player in a no-holds barred nationwide campaign to persuade the authorities to recognise the importance of the Gaelic language both within Scotland and at international level: the urgent need to reverse the decline of Gaelic as a spoken language and to protect and develop its rich heritage through its development as a medium of communication on radio and television and, especially, in mainstream education.
In between raising her own three children she worked tirelessly in support of Gaelic voluntary organisations, raising funds and public awareness, organising events, committees and parental groups, and using her contacts and expertise to persuade all political parties, as well as the educational establishment, to acknowledge the viability and value of Gaelic in the modern world – specifically as a medium of education at every level of education, both formal and in the community. In 1983 she was commissioned by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (the Gaelic College in Skye) to conduct a large-scale study into “popular attitudes towards Gaelic and its relevance to 20th century Scotland”. Her report led directly to her return to University: first as a full-time post-graduate student in the University of Strathclyde, where she.gained an Additional Qualification as a primary teacher which enabled her fully to support the newly established Gaelic-medium units on both a voluntary and a professional basis. She also attended the University of Glasgow for a part-time Masters’ course in Multicultural Education, which was commuted after one year to a part-time PhD.: Fraser, Anne (1989) “Gaelic in primary education: a study of the development of Gaelic bilingual education in urban contexts”. She completed this in record time while simultaneously holding down the post of National Education Development Officer with Comann na Gàidhlig (CnaG), the principal Government-funded language development agency at the time. Gillies' remit with CnaG was the promotion of Gaelic as a medium of education at all levels, from preschool to tertiary; to inform parents, educators, the media, government officials and politicians of all parties of the historical importance of Gaelic to Scotland and the world, and to facilitate its usage in the modern context and continuance for future generations. The work of Anne and her colleagues throughout the Gaelic-speaking community led to a sea-change in the fortunes of the language, with unprecedented levels of official support, its burgeoning usage within the Scottish education system and media, and – vitally – its endorsement and encouragement among native Gaelic-speakers and learners at grassroots level.
In 1991 Gillies was appointed by Govan Initiative Ltd to develop an arts strategy for the enrichment of a disparate and often dispirited area that had suffered from acute social and economic problems since the decline of the ship-building industry. She devised a wide array of arts activities designed to address problems of unemployment, homelessness, addiction, disability, and fear of crime. Perhaps most notable was her creation of Greater Govan Youth Theatre, a network of groups designed to develop skills and overcome social, sectarian and territorial dichotomies.
In 1996 she was appointed Gaelic Lecturer in the Faculty of Education of the University of Strathclyde.
She has also served voluntarily on numerous committees and working-parties, including the Scottish Arts Council Music Committee, The Gaelic Books Council and the Curriculum for Excellence Consultative Group on Gaelic. Anne Lorne Gillies has contributed to preserving the Gaelic language by writing autobiographies about her Gaelic life along with newspaper articles. She is reported as being one of the 17 people who use the Gaelic language even though she is living in areas where English is generally spoken.
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