Celebrating Langholm’s astronaut

NEIL ARMSTRONG APOLLO 11 . FIRST MAN ON THE MOON 1969  PIC . NASA
NEIL ARMSTRONG APOLLO 11 . FIRST MAN ON THE MOON 1969 PIC . NASA

A programme of events to celebrate the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, and his links with Langholm, is beginning to take shape.

The former astronaut who commanded the historic Apollo 11 mission in 1969, died in August at the age of 82, after complications stemming from heart surgery.

Armstrong’s link with Langholm and the Borders stretches back to 1972, when, three years after his historic flight aboard the Apollo 11 mission, he became the only person ever honoured with the freedom of the burgh.

Always the reluctant hero, Armstrong was notoriously shy when it came to the cult of celebrity and only accepted the freedom honour because of his Scottish heritage and the fact that the “Muckle Toon” is at the heart of traditional Armstrong country.

It was on March 11, 1972, that hundreds of Langholm’s citizens thronged the town’s streets and were joined by the world’s press for the visit of Armstrong and his then wife, Jan.

Following his death there were calls for the visit to be commemorated in some way, with local councillor Denis Male urging Dumfries and Galloway Council to agree to stage a special memorial service in Langholm’s Old Parish Church, where the freedom service was held 40 years 
ago.

Mr Male, who met Armstrong during the 1972 visit to the town, told The Southern: “We have a date for a church service and a civic reception. It is June 14, and the service will be in Langholm Parish Church and is being organised by the Rev Scott McCarthy.

“There will also be a civic reception in the Buccleuch Centre. There will be competitions for local schools with the Armstrong clan putting up the prizes.

“A ‘moon walk’ is also planned. The museum will be open for two weeks displaying moon memorabilia. There will also be special talks on ‘did we really land on the moon?’ And a shop window competition is also planned.”