Celtic Culture & heritage

Percy Lane Oliver - founder of the first voluntary blood donor panel

Percy Lane Oliver

A Cornishman, Richard Lower, conducted the world's first blood transfusion. It took another Cornishman to set up the blood transfusion service.

Percy Lane Oliver was born in St. Ives in 1878 has slipped into relative obscurity since his death in 1944, but his actions will continue to help save the lives of millions of people worldwide as his pioneering blood donation service went from humble beginnings to a global phenomenon.

As a teenager he won a Science and Art Scholarship. He did well in his exams but was rejected by the Medical Board and the aspiring doctor ended up working as an assistant librarian with Camberwell Borough Council in 1893.

In 1901 he was transferred to the Town Hall staff, where he remained until his retirement. In the years leading up to the First World War, Percy was a founder member for the Camberwell Division of the British Red Cross and became its Honorary Secretary in 1910.

During the war, he served in the Royal Naval Air Service, stationed at Crystal Palace, but his contribution to the local war effort was far greater. With the help of his wife, Percy set up and managed four refugee hostels in Camberwell for those fleeing persecution. In 1918 he was summoned to Buckingham Palace to be awarded an OBE by King George V for his charitable work.

But his greatest contribution was yet to come.

Goldsworthy Gurney - Surgeon, chemist, architect & inventor, invented limelight

Goldsworthy Gurney

Goldsworthy Gurney was born at Treator near Padstow on 14 February 1793.

Goldsworthy went to Truro Grammar School.

After leaving school studied medicine with a Dr Avery at Wadebridge and took over the practice in 1813.

He married a farmer's daughter, Elizabeth Symons, from Launcells and settled in Wadebridge where he practiced as a surgeon.

In 1823 was awarded an Isis gold medal of the Royal Society of Arts for devising an oxy-hydrogen blowpipe (similar to a Bunsen burner).

In 1830, Gurney leased some land overlooking Summerleaze Beach at Bude and started construction of a new house to be built amongst the sand hills. The property rested on a concrete raft foundation, one of the earliest examples of this form.

William John Burley - crime writer, best known for his books featuring the detective Charles Wycliffe, basis of the popular Wycliffe television series

William John Burley

Burley was born on 1 August 1914 in Falmouth, Cornwall.

Before he began writing, he was employed in senior management with various gas companies, before giving it up after the Second World War when he obtained a scholarship to study zoology at Balliol College, Oxford.

After obtaining an honours degree he became a teacher.

Appointed head of biology, first at Richmond & East Sheen County Grammar School in 1953, then at Newquay Grammar School in 1955, he was well established as a writer by the time he retired at the age of 60 in 1974.

He died at his home in Holywell, Cornwall, on 15 November 2002.  

Michael Ward - character actor who appeared in nearly eighty films between 1947 and 1978

Michael Ward

George William Everard Yoe Ward was born in Carnmenellis, Cornwall on 9 April 1909 to clergyman William George Henry Ward and his wife Annie.

He trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and won his first film role in 1947 playing Mr Trafford in Alexander Korda's 'An Ideal Husband'.

In between the years 1947 and 1960 and now known as Michael Ward, he appeared in no fewer than 30 films, making him one of Britain's busiest and most recognisable character actors.

As well as five 'Carry On' films, Ward also appeared in four Norman Wisdom films and six made by the Boulting brothers.

In the early 1960s television started to take over Ward's career and until his retirement in 1978 he appeared in (amongst many others) 'The Jack Benny Programme', 'The Avengers', 'The Morecambe and Wise Show', 'Dixon of Dock Green', 'The Two Ronnies', 'Armchair Theatre', 'Rising Damp' and 'Sykes'.

Richard Trevithick - inventor and father of industrial revoluation

Richard Trevithick

Richard Trevithick - an inventor, mining engineer, builder of wheeled steam engines years before Stephenson, one of the Fathers of the industrial revolution, overseas engineer, refused support or a pension from the British Government, died in poverty.

Richard Trevithick was born on 13th April 1771 in Tregajorran Cornwall, the son of the manager of Dolcoath Mine.

By the 1780s, as a boy he did experiments to improve the efficiency of the beam engines.His aim was to make smaller and lighter steam engines with stronger boilers to generate higher steam pressures and thus more power.

Richard was educated at Camborne School.

Trevithick was tall and strong.

At six feet two inches high and was known as the Cornish giant.

At the age of eighteen he could throw sledge hammers over the tops of engine houses. Trevithick also had the reputation of being one of the best wrestlers in Cornwall.

Richard Lemon Lander - Cornish explorer of western Africa, determined the source of the River Niger

Richard Lemon Lander

Richard Lander was the son of a Truro innkeeper, born in the Fighting Cocks Inn (later the Dolphin Inn) on 8 February 1804

Lander's explorations began as an assistant to the Scottish explorer Hugh Clapperton on an expedition to Western Africa in 1825.

Clapperton died in April 1827 near Sokoto, in present-day Nigeria, leaving Lander as the only surviving European member of the expedition. He proceeded southeast before returning to Britain in July 1828.

Lander returned to West Africa in 1830, accompanied by his brother John.

They landed at Badagri on 22 March 1830 and followed the lower River Niger from Bussa to the sea. After exploring about 160 kilometres of the River Niger upstream, they returned to explore the River Benue and Niger Delta. They travelled back to Britain in 1831.

The Screaming Orphans – These Donegal Girls Are Celtic Rock Super Stars

The Screaming Orphans

The Screaming Orphans, the four Diver sisters who hail from Ireland’s County Donegal, have been performing together since the early 1990’s. The Diver sisters have built an international reputation that sees them touring throughout North America and Europe. In 2016 they will appear at Celtic festivals in the United States and have embarked on a 17 city tour in Germany billed the “Irish Heartbeat Tour”. The band then return to the States on May 26, 2016 to perform at the “Ireland 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts and Culture”, a major festival highlighting Irish culture at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.

The Diver sisters call Bundoran in Ireland’s County Donegal home.  Bundoran (Bun Dobhráin in Gaelic translating into “the foot of the little water”)  is on Irelands NorthWest coast near one of the few remaining Gaeltacht areas in Ireland and having spent their early years living here has contributed to the band’s musical style. The Screaming Orphans have been described as having a unique sound rooted in the Celtic tradition combined with the musical influences to which the ladies from Donegal have been exposed during their career.  Since their early days they have performed with Sinead O’Connor, Joni Mitchell, Peter Gabriel and the legendary Celtic band “The Chieftains” among others.

The Rise And Fall of Mary, Queen Of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots

Born in Linlithgow Palace on 7th December 1542, Mary Stuart was the daughter of James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise. James V (10 April 1512 – 14 December 1542) was the son of King James IV of Scotland and Queen Margaret Tudor, a daughter of Henry VII of England. Mary of  Guise was French and the eldest daughter of Claude of Lorraine the Duke of Guise. Six days after the birth of Mary Stuart her father died and she became Queen of Scotland. Her mother was chosen as regent to rule on her daughter’s behalf, and Mary was sent to France in 1548 where she lived as part of the French royal family.

In April 1558, Mary married the heir to the French throne Francis. In July 1559 Francis succeeded his father becoming King Francis II and Mary became Queen of France as well as of Scotland. This uniting of the French and Scottish crowns caused considerable concern to England.  In December 1560 Mary's husband Francis II died after a reign of just 17 months. Mary decided to return to Scotland at the age of 18, a Catholic monarch in what had become a nation where the Protestants were in the ascendancy and on 19th August 1561, she landed at Leith (Scottish Gaelic: Lite). Understanding the difficulty of her situation she took the advice of James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray (c. 1531 – 23 January 1570) who was her half-brother and William Maitland of Lethington. James Stuart had become a supporter of the Scottish Protestant Reformation and despite their religious differences, Moray became the chief advisor to his sister.

Cerris Morgan-Moyer – actress, international businesswoman

Cerris Morgan-Moyer

Cerris Morgan-Moyer was born on July 20, 1973 in Truro, Cornwall and is an actress, voice over artist, film producer and host. 

She grew up in a converted chapel a few feet from the sea on the north coast of Cornwall. Her playground was the beach, the cliffs and her imagination. Aged six, Cerris entertained an unknown guest with a lengthy and elaborate puppet show.  The guest was Norman Stone, who directed Cerris in her first film, shot in Cornwall later that year: ‘A Different Drummer’, the BBC biopic of Cornish poet Jack Clemo.  From that point forward, Cerris knew her life would involve much more of this magical work.

She trained at Central School of Speech and Drama in London, received a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in New York and spent several years working on stage in NYC before moving to Los Angeles where she is currently based.

Sir William Golding – author of world renowned ‘Lord of the Flies’ and numerous other classics, novelist, playwright, poet

Sir William Golding

William Golding was born on September 19, 1911, in Saint Columb Minor, Cornwall. He was raised in a 14th-century house next door to a graveyard. His mother, Mildred, was an active suffragette who fought for women’s right to vote. His father, Alex, worked as a schoolmaster.

William received his early education at the school his father ran, Marlborough Grammar School. When William was just 12 years old, he attempted, unsuccessfully, to write a novel. A frustrated child, he found an outlet in bullying his peers. Later in life, William would describe his childhood self as a brat, even going so far as to say, “I enjoyed hurting people.”

After primary school, William went on to attend Brasenose College at Oxford University. His father hoped he would become a scientist, but William opted to study English literature instead. In 1934, a year before he graduated, William published his first work, a book of poetry aptly entitled Poems. The collection was largely overlooked by critics.

After college, Golding worked in settlement houses and the theater for a time. Eventually, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. In 1935 Golding took a position teaching English and philosophy at Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury. Golding’s experience teaching unruly young boys would later serve as inspiration for his novel Lord of the Flies.


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