Friendly welcome in Russia for Earlston group

Members of the Rhymers Group, Earlston, attending commemorations in Russia. The first Scottish group to be invited there in around 30 years.
Members of the Rhymers Group, Earlston, attending commemorations in Russia. The first Scottish group to be invited there in around 30 years.

Five members of the Earlston-based Friends of Thomas the Rhymer group have returned from Russia.

They (pictured with Russian hosts) were invited to join the Lermontov family gathering, the first in over 20 years, in recognition of the group’s promotion of the legend of Sir Thomas Learmonth (aka Thomas the Rhymer) from whom the Lermontov family are descended. The trip from Moscow to Pyatigorsk was a pilgrimage to the place where Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov, a revered poet in Russia, was killed in a duel, aged 26, on July 27, 1841.

In October 2014, Earlston received the gift of a bronze bust of Mikhail Lermontov from members of the Lermontov family and each year the Friends lay flowers at the base and walk to the Rhymer’s Stone, Melrose, where a similar bouquet is laid to represent their Scottish heritage.

The Friends’ trip – which included excursions, entertainment and banqueting – attracted the attention of Russian regional and national television.

A Friends’ spokesperson commented: “The hospitality we received was overwhelming and our presence much appreciated everywhere we went. Our group of five spent our final morning in Moscow, before taking a taxi to the airport. We walked freely to parks, shops, churches etc. and were welcomed warmly.”