I was very pleased recently to be asked to carve a memorial stone for the late Tom Fleming.
Tom was famous as the Voice of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the BBC but he also commentated on the opening of Scottish Parliament, Royal weddings and occasions and Armistice Days at the Cenotaph. Tom owned the house up the road from me for the last 40 years or so. Although based in Edinburgh, his father’s side of the family hailed from and worked the land around here and he visited Tomfarclas frequently before falling ill. I met him several times and I found him a warm, intelligent and a joy to be around. The stone can be seen by the public outside his home, half a mile up the road from my property.
“Tom was so pleased to discover that his new neighbour was someone who clearly loves and understands the wildness and peace of the surrounding landscape and he would have taken a great interest in seeing Stuart’s work develop. While Stuart works across many mediums, there is something particularly moving when you see an ancient, silent stone being given a new voice and a new place in the landscape. Stone connects us to the past and will endure long after we are gone.
Tom’s connection to the rolling lands at the foot of Ben Rinnes stretched back generations – his ancestors worked the surrounding fields, turning them from heath to farmland – and while, in modern times, so many of the surrounding farm buildings and houses have been left to return themselves to the ground, looking through the valleys, surrounded by the hills, one feels, yet, a great sense of those whose lives were so much shaped by the beautiful but harsh landscape they called ‘home’.
It seems a fitting tribute to Tom that in the place where he felt most ‘at home’, is now a rough-hewn stone which stands, tall and proud – itself, seemingly quite ‘at home’ – its outlook through to the Cairngorms, the sight of which Tom loved so much.
In all he did, Tom took great care to ‘get things right’. Working with a quiet but indomitable spirit and determination, he got on with the job. He could see the potential in people, as he could in projects, and could bring out the best from them – sometimes gifts they never knew they had! It was no surprise, therefore, that even in the few months he knew him, Tom had a great respect for the work Stuart does – not just for the vision and skill it takes to create beautiful pieces of art, but for the respect for the materials and the space into which they might ultimately be placed, as well as the care and attention to detail which is needed to bring every project to completion.
In the case of the stone for Tom it is all and more than he envisaged and thanks to Stuart, will be an enduring remembrance for generations to come.”
–– Amanda Bruce, friend and personal assistant to Tom Fleming