A FORMER Black Watch soldier and author who helped form a charity that aims to regenerate a historic city in Afghanistan gave a talk in Aberdeen on Saturday.
Rory Stewart, who was made an OBE for services in Iraq and wrote a best-selling book about his 6,000-mile trek across Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal, hosted the talk at Aberdeen University.
Mr Stewart was integral in the setting up of Scottish charity Turquoise Mountain, which aims to regenerate Murad Khane, a historic area of Kabul’s old city.
The audience of about 100 heard how locals are given training in traditional skills and crafts such as calligraphy, woodwork, ceramics, stonework and jewellery making. The charity has also helped provide the area with a water supply and a school and is developing a shopping area with an adjacent craft-making workshop to attract more people to the area.
Mr Stewart said: “We chose to work in Murad Khane because it was in danger of being demolished by the Afghan Government. It’s so important to work with traditional skills – it doesn’t matter if it’s in Afghanistan or Scotland, it’s a way of respecting the past and brings a positive sense of pride.”
The 37-year-old, who was brought up at Crieff, served as deputy governor of two provinces in southern Iraq after the country’s occupation by coalition forces.
More recently he was elected as Tory MP for the Penrith and Border constituency.
The event was organised by the Scottish Traditional Skills Training Centre, based at Fyvie. The centre’s project director, Marc Ellington, of Towie Barclay Castle, near Turriff, said it was “marvellous” to hear about the charity’s work.