The Muriel Sheldon Award is presented annually to the authors of the best articles appearing in The Tay Valley Historian of that year. For the fourth year running, the winners have been selected by Fife writer, Barbara Millar. The top articles from the 2013 issues have a common factor – jute.

The number one position has gone to Stuart Hay for his article on the life of a distant relative, William Westwood. From Hawkhill to the House of Lords appeared in the June edition. William, born in 1880, started his working life in the jute industry in Dundee before moving on to a variety of other occupations. He became active in the trade union movement and the Labour Party and his administrative skills in supporting the World War II Coalition Government led to him being created Baron Westwood of Gosforth – he had moved to the North of England with his second wife.

Jute also figures in the article which has been awarded second prize, Flax and Jute: Dundee and Angus, Ron Scrimgeour’s piece in the February issue. Ron’s comprehensive history initially takes us back to Biblical times to explain the origins of textile terminology in the Middle East. He then switches emphasis to the development of the flax and jute industries in Dundee and Angus, focusing particularly on the efforts of William Baxter and Peter Carmichael.

The third article, again from the June edition, is The Forgotten Grey Lady of Dundee by Suzanne Zeedyk. The article is about Mary Lily Walker who spent her life making life better for the families of the jute workers in Dundee’s slums. She became the founder of Scotland’s first infant health service, instigator of Dundee’s first women’s hospital, author of a ground-breaking report on the health of the city’s children and one of the first two women elected to serve on Dundee’s parish council. She also founded the Grey Lodge settlement in 1888, the community centre she bequeathed in her will to the city of Dundee. Suzanne has requested that her prize be donated to The Mary Lily Walker Project.

Congratulations to the winners and our thanks to all the contributors to the Journal throughout the year. Special thanks to Barbara for agreeing to adjudicate the competition yet again. Her full adjudication can be found in the February 2014 issue of the Historian. Members who would like to read the winning articles again, but have mislaid their copies, can login and download the issues at

3 March 2014.

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