‘The Scribbler’ was a musician, writer and teacher called Graham Whitelaw who lived in Stirling. Graham was an inspirational and fun family man with a zest for life who sadly died after battling cancer in 2001.
Graham was passionate about music. Whilst at Glasgow University in the late 1960s Graham was given the nickname ‘Mendal’ and he was involved in a world record attempt at playing the organ. He narrowly missed out on being signed to Richard Branson’s Virgin Records with band Vladivostock due to Richard ploughing all his cash into another band…..The Sex Pistols!
Graham taught music in different schools across the Central Scotland belt, latterly teaching at Deans Community High School in Livingston where he was working when he was diagnosed with cancer. He played piano at venues such as Dunblane Hydro and Princess Square in Glasgow in his spare time and after forging a friendship with Ted Christopher of Stirling’s Roadshow Music in the 1980s, a band was formed to release a single for the Italia 90 World Cup called ‘The Lion Roars With Pride’ – the band featured Rangers and England player Terry Butcher on drums and was called Yet Another Tonto….and The Lone Ranger!
Further achievements included winning a trophy at an international music competition in Ireland, penning single ‘Jock Rock’, creating the music for the Rob Roy visual display in the visitor centre in Callander, creating the soundtrack for the Peebles Beltane anniversary and assisting a rave band in the early 90s to shape their sound.
Graham’s talents also lay in history and writing leading him to pen a manual titled Disco Management in the 80s and a number of historic plays which were staged at venues such as Stirling Castle and Argyll’s Lodging. Passionate on a number of issues, Graham used to regularly write letters to the editor of the Stirling Observer Alan Rennie. After years of pestering letters, Alan suggested Graham write a column in the paper, commenting on a huge range of topics, which was titled ‘The Scribbler’ – which he wrote right up until his death.
When Graham died of cancer in 2001, his good friend Ted Christopher got together with Graham’s friends Alan Rennie and local photographer John McConnell to hold a music event to raise funds for Strathcarron Hospice, where Graham spent a short time before he died. This event, held at Stirling Rugby Club, was such a success Graham’s family agreed for it to become an annual event and it has blossomed into Stirling’s own music festival.
Acts of all ages – primary school to octogenarians – have performed at the event and it is a great chance to have a fun, relaxing day seeing some local talent in a beautiful setting – between the historic Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument.
Ted Christopher says: “I had the privilege of playing with Graham in a band and he remains one of the finest musicians I have ever played with. The first Scribbler’s was not held to mourn the loss of a great musician but rather to celebrate the life of a very popular guy who was never happier than with his family, and a man who to many of us was just a damn good friend.
“Graham was much more than just a musician and The Scribbler’s Picnic is more than just a music festival or a charity fundraiser. It is an opportunity for all of us to spend a day with family and friends celebrating the life we have been blessed with and also to do something positive against a horrible disease.”