DUNCAN FENTON 5th JULY 1956 - 25th MAY 2014

Duncan's sisters Margaret and Jean shared with us some of their memories of Duncan's early days, they told us " Duncan was born in their house at Brown Street, Anderston in Glasgow.  Our parents were Mary and Duncan Fenton; Duncan was the middle child with Jean being the eldest and Margaret being the youngest. Duncan has two children from his first marriage and has six grandchildren. We moved from Anderston to Pollok in 1960 where he attended McGill Primary School and then moved on to Crookston Castle Secondary School.  As a kid during the summer holidays he spent a lot of time playing at the River Cart which was very close to where we lived and we loved fishing and swimming and would walk for miles trying to catch fish and bugs to further investigate and watch them grow, particularly the tadpoles turning into frogs. Duncan was inevitably covered in mud most days with “scabby knees” much to the disgust of our mum. 

Duncan always loved to build things be it wooden go karts to race with the other local kids, to building bikes from parts collected from around the neighbourhood. He would then go cycling for the day with friends and only come home for something to eat when mum would throw a “jam piece” out of the third floor window for him to catch. We were a “make do and mend family” and our dad pressed upon us not to be wasteful and it is still a mantra that we live by today.  We were always encouraged to read and reading became a passion and instilled in Duncan a great love of books and researching topics that were of specific interest to him.  Much to his annoyance Scottish history was not taught in any great depth to us at school and for the past 20 plus years he has continued to study all of Scottish history with particular reference to William Wallace.  After secondary school Duncan attended Springburn College to study to become an electrician for which he was nearly always at the top of his class and received a few first prizes during his time at the College.  He then decided he did not want to become an Electrician and joined a cmpany which manufactured traditional sweets.  At 21 he then joined the company which eventually became Mustoe Pallets and was still working there up until a few weeks before his passing.  He loved being outdoors and working with people who became like a second family to him."

From the Herald newspaper: " Duncan Fenton, who has died of cancer aged 57, was the convener of the Society of William Wallace, the organisation dedicated to preserving the memory of the medieval Scottish patriot.

Born and educated in Glasgow, Mr Fenton moved to Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, in 1973, and lived latterly in the village of Greengairs with his partner of 22 years Jean Thomson.

His lifelong love of Scottish history saw him contribute to campaigns and radio broadcasts, one of which introduced him to the newly formed Society.

Driven to promote Scotland's history and patriotic figures, he joined in 1993, a year after it was formed, and quickly forged a strong friendship with fellow member and later convener David R Ross, the late author and "biker historian". He became vice-convener to Mr Ross and took over the leadership of the organisation in 2010 after his great friend's unexpected death.

He led the society for four years, during which time he spearheaded several campaigns, most notably to repatriate the Wallace Safe Conduct, a fragile letter believed to have been taken from Wallace by his English captors in 1305.

The letter, discovered in the Tower of London in the 1830s, was returned to Scotland for the first time in 2012, after a loan agreement was made with The National Archives in Kew. The success gave Mr Fenton one of his proudest moments after he campaigned for the letter's return for seven years. He said it was the society's greatest achievement as Scots could see the document with their own eyes and feel a connection to William Wallace.

Mr Fenton had been leading a bid to commemorate the little-known Battle of the Bell O' The Brae, in which Wallace overcame English troops in the streets of Glasgow. He also led an ongoing bid to bring to Scotland a sword, dagger and an emerald ring said to have been carried in to battle by King James IV. The artefacts are said to have been carried in the ill-fated Battle of Flodden in 1513, when the king and many of Scotland's nobles were killed in an English rout.

Mr Fenton was known for his warm nature, and calming and unifying influence on others. He has been credited with strengthening the Society of William Wallace in recent years and expanding its membership to more young people. He was keenly involved in setting up the Young Lions, a youth division of the society, to encourage children's interest in Scottish history. He also regularly visited primary schools, giving colour to the Wallace story, complete with claymores, shields and broadswords.

He loved writing speeches, which he would deliver at commemorative marches and gatherings throughout Scotland in his capacity as convener. His last was delivered at Loudoun Hill on May 10, where he commemorated those who gave their lives in battle in 1296, fighting under Wallace. Just two weeks before his death, fellow members were amazed by his strength and enthusiasm in the midst of his own fight with cancer.

Mr Fenton also wrote a speech for his successor Gary Stewart to deliver at Bannockburn this summer. Mr Fenton himself had made inspirational speeches on the anniversary of Robert the Bruce's 1314 victory for the past four years.

The society helps to educate, and also to collect data, both historical and contemporary, regarding the life and legacy of Wallace. It holds several annual events including walks and services to commemorate dates including Wallace's victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, in 1297, and "Wallace Day", held each year on the nearest Saturday to the anniversary of his execution in 1305.

Though the Society is not political, concentrating on the commemoration of Wallace, and other figures including Andrew de Moray, James "The Black" Douglas, and Robert the Bruce, Mr Fenton was also a nationalist, who had hoped to see an independent Scotland.

He was born in Anderston, in Glasgow, on July 5, 1956. He was the middle of three children to his parents, cabinet box maker Duncan, and Mary Fenton.

The family moved from Anderston to Pollok in 1960, where Mr Fenton attended McGill Primary School before moving on to Crookston Castle Secondary.

As a child, during summer holidays he spent his time playing at the River Cart, and enjoyed swimming and fishing and would walk for miles trying to catch fish, bugs and tadpoles which he would watch grow.

He also loved to build things from wooden go-karts to race with the other local children, to bicycles which he created from parts collected around his neighbourhood. He would then go for longs day cycling with friends, only returning home for something to eat when his mother would throw a "jam piece" out of the third floor window for him to catch.

His other great childhood passion was reading, particularly on Scottish history, which he was annoyed was not taught in great depth at school.

He later attended Springburn College to become an electrician, receiving first prizes during his time at the college. He then decided he did not want to become an electrician and joined a company which manufactured traditional sweets.

At 21 he joined the company which eventually became Mustoe Pallets and was still working there as a forklift driver until a few weeks before his death. He loved being outdoors and working with people who became like a second family to him.

It was in the pallet yard in Riggend, Airdrie, where he met his long-term partner Jean, in 1984, while she worked in the transport cafe across the road.

Though the couple never married, they were an item for 22 years, often travelling the country together to society events, and locations of Scottish historic interest.

One of Mr Fenton's passions was visiting castles, and it was said he had visited every one in Scotland, often recording his trips with photographs. He also made Scottish-themed T-shirts, often working on new designs long in to the night.

He was diagnosed with bowel cancer in January and died at 8.30pm on Sunday May 25 in Monklands Hospital, Airdrie. He was surrounded by his family and close friends from the society. Tributes posted on social media from around the world described him as a true Scottish patriot, an inspiration, and a man of integrity, love and humour.

His funeral was held at Holytown Crematorium, North Lanarkshire. More than 250 mourners were amazed by the appearance of two saltires in the sky above the venue, caused by the coincidence of passing aeroplanes.

He is survived by his older sister Jean and younger sister Margaret, and his partner Jean. He has two children, Duncan and Jennifer, from his first marriage to Jessie and has six grandchildren from that relationship. He is also survived by partner Jean's daughters Julie and Stacey, and granddaughter Ellie. "

From the Herald newspaper; Tributes have poured in from around the world for Duncan Fenton, the convenor of the Society of William Wallace, who died after a battle with cancer.

Mr Fenton, 57, led the organisation, dedicated to preserving the memory of Scottish patriot William Wallace, for four years. He lived in Greengairs, North Lanarkshire, and died at 8.30pm on Sunday at Monklands Hospital. He was diagnosed with bowel cancer in January.

His widow, Jean, 55, said: "Duncan was the best man in the world, a true Scotsman who would have dropped everything and done anything for anyone.

"He showed such bravery in his battle. He was loved by so many people." Friends and Society members described Mr Fenton as an "inspiration", and a "man of integrity, love and humour".

Speech by George Boyle at Bannockburn 700 using an amalgamation of Duncan's past speeches at Bannockburn.

On the 25th of May this year, the Society of William Wallace lost one of its greatest ambassadors in Duncan FentonUnder his leadership the society went from strength to strength, and such were his ideals and vision for a fairer, stronger and independent Scotland he was very much sought after to speak at events and commemorations all over the country.

Radio and the television were becoming common place too for our dearly beloved friend.

He spoke many times here on the field of Bannockburn where Robert the Bruce defeated the English and set the wheels in motion to free Scotland from the grip of a foreign invader!!

He was all set to be here with us today and give us his thoughts on the 700th anniversary of this most famous of battles!!

Sadly time ran out for another patriot who made it his life’s work to see his beloved Alba free.

Duncan can’t be here to inspire us in person, but his words can.

Here is what he had to say:

Dear Patriots, People often ask, “Why do you still remember events that happened so long ago?”

Because it’s important, that’s why. 

It’s the right of every country to remember & to celebrate its history.

It is part of our collective memory as a nation. It is what binds us together, this sense of shared history, and a sense of belonging.

We Scots are a proud race & when our freedom was threatened, here at Bannockburn brave men rose to the challenge to repel the invader, just as Wallace & Moray had done at the Battle of Stirling Bridge some years earlier. 

But since her nobles gave away her sovereignty with a whimper at the Union in 1707, Scotland has become cowed as a nation. Successive governments employed a program of systematically keeping our country’s head down, by controlling the way that Scottish history was being taught in our schools. The premise being, “If they don’t know their history of being wronged, they won’t rebel”. 

The late Nigel Tranter once said, “You have to know where you’ve been in order to know where you are going.”  So very true.

Davie Ross once used a quote from World War II in his book, For Freedom.  It is from the Nazi, Reinhard Heydrich, speaking on the Germanisation of Czechoslovakia. It runs,“Deprive the people of their national consciousness, treat them as a tribe & not a nation, dilute their national pride, do not teach their history, propagate their language as inferior, imply they have a cultural void, emphasise their customs as primitive, & dismiss independence as a barbaric anomaly.

”Any of this ring a bell? 

This is exactly what has been systematically applied to Scotland & her people by a foreign government for the last 307 years. They’re still doing it, telling us we’re not intelligent enough to look after our finances, we’re too wee, aye right!!

Like many others of my generation, I was taught very little of my own country’s history. I learned about the Romans – who couldnae beat us - & I learned about events after the creation of Great Britain.  It was as if everything that had gone before 1707 had been wiped clear from the pages of history.

Back then, teachers had more of a free rein to stamp their own opinions & influences on impressionable young minds than they have today.This disillusioned me so much that when I left school, I began to learn about our history on my own. I devoured everything from the Picts & their enigmatic sculptured stones, then through the medieval period, right up to the unwanted union & the Jacobite cause. 

Someone once said to me that if I had been properly taught at school, I would have gone on to learn a whole lot more. That’s as maybe, but I know that in my particular case, I feel that it was because I was denied that education, that, once an adult, I launched myself full tilt into learning as much as I possibly could. That does not excuse the teaching methods of my day.  We have to ensure that our children are given a good grounding in their own history, to kindle their interest while they are young

Encouragingly, more & more schools are now giving Scottish history the attention that it deserves, & that it should have always had.  Any increase in teaching is welcome, but more could yet be done.  Money must be found to take kids on trips to battlefields & castles, to give then a better understanding of the subject they are learning. 

We can play our part in this also. Take your children & grandchildren to historic sites; let them watch some of the many excellent battle re-enactment groups who put on displays there. They will be allowed to touch & hold the weapons of the period & wear the helmets and so on.  This is a far more powerful & tactile way of instilling interest into children than many hours of classwork. 

I know that, as an adult, I have visited many, many sites of interest, where I have stood & contemplated the events that have transpired there, & it is quite a powerful feeling.  I think it would have had even more of a profound effect on me if I had experienced this as a child, had my school taken us on field trips.

But it’s changing, I know Scott McMaster who runs the new Bannockburn Centre actively encourages field trips, I’ve been in there when the coaches arrive and they absolutely love it, more of the same please!!

There’s a massive change going on in Scotland at the moment, I look around at some of these well-kent faces & I see it in you.  I see it in the eyes of the patriotic souls who regularly attend commemorations like Bannockburn, keeping our history in the forefront of the minds of the public.
I see the generation who will fight for Scotland’s freedom, not with the sword of course, but in a subtler, more intelligent & civilised manner.King James VI once said that “The pen is mightier than the sword”.

Personally, I would loved to have had a go with the sword, but unfortunately I was born in the wrong era and I’m dangerous enough with a pen!!

But now we must look forward.  We are now entering a new phase & a new time.  We now have the best chance we have had for 307 years to re-assert our nationhood. 

We have the chance to write the next chapter in Scotland’s story & you can all play your part in it.Back in 1707 our parliament gave in with a whimper, the time for whimpering is past.
The concept of freedom has lain dormant, like a sleeping lion, but you can prod a sleeping lion once too often. It’s time to hear the roar of the Scottish lion once more! Since I was a teenager, I have always hoped that one day I would see my country free again. That goal is edging ever closer to the point where it is now inevitable & unstoppable.

Sometimes reading history books doesn’t quite convey the brutal reality of what went on here at Bannockburn 700 years ago. These soldiers were not men of myth, but were real people, men of blood, bone & sinew, just like you & I, who lived & loved, fought & died, & returned to the soil of their beloved Scotland, as we surely all will too.

In the short time we are here, we too must do what we can for Scotland’s future.

Here at Bannockburn, those brave souls did all they could for their country, now it is our turn.

It is important that commemorations like this one continue to be held all over Scotland, marking significant events in our history. It is only right to show respect and honour those brave Scots who died in battle to decide Scotland’s future, & save her from a tyrannical English ruler.But, just as importantly, we must continue to teach our history to each new generation, & to keep the deeds of men like the Bruce, William Wallace & Andrew de Moray in the country’s collective memory.

I am proud to be Scottish. Our shared history is who we are. For many, standing on the same spot where such a significant event took place, is a profoundly emotional experience.  It allows us to reach back across the centuries, to our ancestors who fought for our sovereignty, & with it, the very existence of Scotland. All hands will be needed for the final push. Play your part in writing the next chapter of Scotland’s history. Love your country as you would your family. For that in essence is what we are – one big family.

People of Scotland, I thank you for your courage, your tenacity, your sense of what is right & the undeniable feeling that we will triumph.

I carried the torch as best I could, I now pass it on to others to finish the job, and I put my trust in you all.

Yours for Scotland

Duncan Fenton

A true gentleman in every word, a wonderful patriot and a blxxdy good friend, It always seems to be the best who go first.

For the trust you showed in me by making me Vice convenor, I will always hold dear the fact you believed I was up for the job, an hon
our that I'lI treasure and how you made the Soceity stronger after Davie passed away, If I achieve half as much respect as you did Duncan I will be happy.

Really miss you my friend, A couple of times I went off the rails in life you were always there for me and for that I will never forget, RIP my friend, Gary, Vice Convenor, SOWW.

True friend and sadly missed , today I'm missing that gentleman who was always there for u whatever the time or day .
Gary is really struggling and missing you beyond words but I will stand by his side and make sure he fulfills every promise he made to you and hope you know that Jjean always has a friend and family here . Gone but never ever forgotton x x
Irene, Media Secretary, SOWW

Jennifer Fenton (daughter) he was a true patriot through n through it was in his genes, all we need now is to see it through for our own independence, he will be sadly missed but your name will be carried on and you will be greatly missed.
Until we meet again we will carry you in our hearts xx

"HER" call was something that connected us. I am grateful that she guided me and lead me to a brother in spirit. You will never be forgotten, Son of Alba. (Petra S., Bremen, Germany).

Didn`t know ye but i know you ARE a true PATRIOT,we shall prevail,your wishes WILL be fulfilled,a FREE SCOTLAND shall be yours(and ours),ALBA GU BRATH,MUCH love to my BROTHER IN FREEDOM, Rob Cameron, BRACKNELL,BERKS,originally from PORT GLASGOW,SAOR ALBAxx

Duncan we were like brothers growing up now your gone i am proud to say that you were my cousin SAOR ALBA PATRIOT. Billy Mathieson ( cousin ) Glasgow

In my experience a gentleman in all senses of the word.Patriotism Personnified. Makes me wonder why he was taken & I was spared? He was a far better person than I could ever aspire to be!! Iain Turnbull Isle of Lewis.

A true patriot of Scotland will be greatly missed. Chev. Leon O. Ross,KTJ, Clan Ross,USA, Georgia.

I would like to use part of a comment, edited that I posted this morning for Duncan's birthday. For me it says something important to me.

April 2011.
Me and Elaine went to the march and commemoration for the Declaration of Arbroath. This was not the first time we saw Duncan, but I have to say, I think it was the first time I noticed and admired the man.

I wish I had recorded his speech, but it stood out and inspired me to find out more about the Wallace guys. That was Duncan Fenton.

Sometimes wonder how we will manage without you. Then I look around me. And see what you saw. You would be proud. We will be OK.....George Kempik, Scotland

A true gentleman. Few who stepped so softly in life could leave an imprint so deep in all our memories.....Gini Craig, Glasgow, Scotland

Duncan has always seemed to me the epitome of a Scottish patriot, an ideal to look up to and admire. His dedication to bringing the Wallace letter home and promoting the memory of Wallace is something I will always remember. I am glad to have met him and known him a little. Sherry Byrd Greenback Tennessee.

It always warmed ma heart every time I met yeah Duncan, the hug of releif we made it, and that happy feeling of being part of something, that all Scotland can share in. yeah brung us tae the ring, and wae freedom in the post, am gutted yur no wae us tae reap the fruits of your hard work, am sure Sir William and Sir Anderew are wae yeah sittin proud at your hard graft. every day your in our hearts. Tam + Stephanie, Govan.

'The Boss' , William Ballantyne, Ayrshire Scotland

Still can't believe that you've been taken from us my friend, but I'm thankful that I got to know you and learn from you, it helps with the hurt to know that you are now pain free, will do my utmost to help the Society be all it can be as you asked, George Boyle Treasurer SOWW Paisley, Scotland.

Well Duncan, these words I found hard tae write, as the tears in ma eyes were effecting ma sight,
because our creators taken ye away fae us, and to me the timing just wasn’t right.

Why ? we ask should he take someone away long before their time is due,
especially when he had seen all your good work and so much more you still had left to do.

You took up the Wallace Societies reigns after the sad passing of Davy Ross,
and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind Duncan, that you truly were meant tae be the boss.

Carrying out your roll as convener, filled your heart with so much pride,
it was always such a great honour for many Sir, to be standing by your side.

Just the other week at the commemoration up on Loudoun Hill,
You led the gathered crowd and did us proud, even though you were so very ill.

Standin there wae yer bonnie Jean, ye were lookin so good in yer Wallace Plaid,
And in yer usual fashion, full o vigour and passion, yet another fine speech ye made.

Your knowledge of history was immense and ye passed it on to many,
ye even kent awe those castle names, whereas numpties like me ken hardly any.

An yer great skills wae a camera, taken smashin photies just fur pleasure,
We will never tire o viewin them sir, they are memories for awe tae treasure.

Ye often spoke tae school kids, because for Scots history they did hanker,
Tellin them about William Wallace, The Bruce an thone English King Edward, aye that “Ravi Shankar”.

About Andrew de Moray, where at Stirlin Brig he an William Wallace fought side by side,
With expert presentation, you told those kids about our nation, installing their heads and hearts with so much knowledge and pride.

You had yer first class team, who brought reality to the dream, of makin the society even better,
Like Gary Stewart, your right hand man, dealing with things like the safe return o the Wallace letter.

Irene Clarke, media secretary and like a mother hen lookin after her brood.
George Boyle, treasurer, webmaster, taking care of funds an keeping the website lookin so good.

Andy Middleton, preserving places like the Wallace Well and Robroyston where the Wallace was captured and taken tae London for slaughter.
Ziggy Wilson, organising T shirts, hoodies and all sorts o goodies, he’s a bit like thone guy Del boy Trotter.

Then there’s William Ballantyne, whose epic speeches dinnie rhyme, but they are so renowned, for there lengthy duration, his expletives and pronunciation.
They’re so long ye would think, a caterer should be puttin on food an drink, while that big axe o his is so expertly ground.

And Gordon Aitken, known for his music makin, there to help whenever there was the need.
All because of the way you led and Duncan it has tae be said, your relentless and dogged passion tae succeed.

But we awe ken him up there works in mysterious ways, he’s workin tae a plan,
He must o found something that was needin done an decided, you’re the man.

So now yer up there brother, along wae other Scots patriots loyal through an through,
and for the ones that you’ve left, we are all so bereft, Duncan we truly, aye truly will miss you.

But we ken you will be lookin down on us on the 19th o September, the brightest star in the heavens above,
joinin us in celebration, finally the freedom of our nation, Scotland, the country we all love.

You will be standin proud and tall, wae some o the best Scots patriots of all, Wallace, Bruce, Ross and McCann,
You will be at the front o the queue and we will be thinking o you, because Yes Duncan, you still are the man.

So Rest In Piece our good friend Duncan, your passing should o been SO much later,
But the big yin up there kens what’s for the best and thought his need for you was far greater.

Like so many patriots, taken from us before their time and in their prime,
I look forward tae meetin ye once more,
at Tir na Nogs front door,
in the slow and gentle passing o time.

Charlie McAuley Robertson

For lots more photos of Duncan click HERE


The Society of William Wallace is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Registration number SC045959