Mary Turnbull meets the Dalai Lama
A COUPLE savoured a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his brief tour of Scotland - and presented him with a surprising gift.
Michael and Mary Turnbull, of Longniddry, arrived at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh at about 8.30am last Friday to present the spiritual leader with a Tibetan thigh bone flute, which Mr Turnbull's grandfather brought back to Britain after serving in the Younghusband expedition to Tibet.
They presented the Dalai Lama with the flute, in a bag specially made with cloth from Malawi, which had been donated to the Turnbulls for the occasion by the Rev Robin Hill, the minister at Longniddry Parish Church.
Mr Turnbull, 71, who works as a supply teacher in Edinburgh, said: "The British didn't behave very well while in Tibet, they took a lot of booty. I wanted to make a reconciliation. My grandfather served in the 23rd Sikh Pioneers regiment and brought the pipe back in 1904. I think it could be up to 200 years old.
"The Dalai Lama was delighted with it. He explained the flute was used to call the spirits of dead lamas.
"We talked with him for about 20 minutes and he told us about how he saw Scotland and England as a model of how the relationship between China and Tibet should be."
Mary, 73, who taught at St Martin's Primary School in Tranent and St Gabriel's Primary School in Prestonpans, received a special blessing from the Dalai Lama.
She said: "He was a really nice man. He seems to know exactly what to say and how to be with people. When he did the blessing he came right up to me, very close to my face.
"He seemed happy to do it. And when we were sitting talking he held my hands a couple of times. He has been touring across Scotland and people have been coming from all over to see and hear him. It was an honour to meet him."
The Orchard Court couple were given a silver ornament symbolising the eternity knot which represents the unity of the world.
This article appeared in East Lothian Courier 28 Jun 12