The image above is a poignant one, with yellow ribbons tied to the railings outside Cove Fire Station in the Rosneath peninsula. They are there for Jamie Taggart, the 41 year old retained firefighter and botanist in charge of the renowned Linn Botanical Gardens in the peninsula.
Jamie Taggart has now been missing in the remote Lao Cai area of northern Vietnam since the end of October 2013, almost two and a half months ago.
During this time, his many friends, his family and his father, founder of Linn Gardens, have not stopped in their efforts to raise the substantial amounts of money needed for continuing serious searches in the area where Jamie was looking for rare plants.
These searches had to stop because of unusually heavy snows in this upper tropical rainforest area. They were, though, able to resume on Christmas Eve, 24th December, but no trace of Jamie has yet been found.
There is something very stilling about someone missing alone so far away, so remote and hard to reach, with their family and friends left having to operate by remote control, although it cannot feel anything like ‘control’ – making contacts in the area as they have done, fund raising to support searches organised by others in territory they cannot themselves know and denied any information or understanding for such a long period.
While a lot of money has been raised – The Lochside Press, to whom we currently owe our information and the photograph above, describes it as ‘thousands of pounds’ – most of it has been used and more is continually needed to pay for more searches to be organised in new parts of the are where Jamie was exploring.
Some of the fund raising has plucked the heartstrings, as with a little girl, six year-old Annie Ferguson of Cove, who brought her entire savings – £14.50 – to help look for Jamie, whom she had met at the gardens.
There are two upcoming events in the peninsula aimed at contributing to this situation in their different ways.
The Peninsula Choir, whose name speaks for a cohesive community in this resonant place which is central to so much and yet removed from it, is having a concert in Cove Burgh Hall on Saturday 18th January.
There will be a collection for search parties for Jamie Taggart at this event – in a building which, like Cove Library, has been taken over by the community, restored and integrated into a lively and markedly creative communal life.
On the following day, Sunday 19th January, at 7pm, there will be a prayer vigil for Jamie at St Modan’s Church in Rosneath. The Lochside Press reports that: ‘The community is being invited to invited to bring a ‘safe’ light to shine in the darkness during a vigil for Jamie’.
How to donate to the search fund
For those living in the peninsula itself and in nearby Garelochhead, Rhu amd Helensburgh, there are collecting cans for the appeal to help the search are in:
- Cove and Kilcreggan post offices
- Walkers’ butchers in Kilcreggan,
- the Lighthouse pub
- Knockderry House Hotel
- the Buffet Shop in Helensburgh
- St Modan’s and Craigrownie churches
- and GPs’ surgeries in Kilcreggan and Helensburgh.
For those of us outside the area but wishing to help in a situation where what might have been helplessness has been defeated by the will to get an answer:
- contributions can be made by cheque – payable to ‘Friends of the Linn’ with the words, ‘For Jamie’ written on the back of it – and sent to Mrs Rie Bellamy, Treasurer, Friends of the Linn, Portkil House, Kilcreggan, Helensburgh, G84 0LF.
- make a payment through a bank to: Friends of the Linn, Bank of Scotland, Helensburgh branch, sort code 800831, account no 00704064. Here too, the words ‘For Jamie’ should be used.
None of us can do anything about losses of which we have no knowledge; but helping as best we can in the cases of people of whose loss we do have knowledge, makes them emblematic of our will to to be part of humanity.