I’m especially delighted to welcome today’s speaker, Lt.-Cdr Diarmid OBE.
In 1949 Dairmid Gunn entered the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, as an executive officer cadet and on graduating spent over 20 years in the fleet. He saw active service in Korea and the Mediterranean (Port Said and Cyprus) and studied Russian for two years at London University and in Paris. In the 1960s he served as a naval attaché in the British embassies in Moscow and Helsinki.
After leaving the Navy in 1973 Dairmid became the director of an organisation which endeavoured to improve the commercial lot of Scottish farmers in the UK and the European Union. In 1988 he acted as the coordinator in Scotland for a UK campaign for the promotion of British food and farming. For this, in 1989 he was awarded the OBE.
In 1980 he became chairman of the Scottish branch of the GB-USSR Association, a non-political body with the aim of improving relations between the Soviet Union and the UK. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991 he became chairman of the Scotland Russia Forum, a charitable organisation, the aim of which was to improve understanding between Russia and Scotland by cultural means. He is currently a vice president of the Forum. In 2017 he co-authored a book on the Russian convoys and in 2018 was awarded the Pushkin medal by the Russian government for his work over many years in improving understanding between Russia and the UK.
Dairmid is the literary executor of the estate of the late Neil M. Gunn and has written many articles and booklets on the life and work of the author. He is the author’s nephew.
In 1988 Dairmid joined our Club and was its chairman from 2000 to 2004. He has given many papers on Scott usually, but not exclusively, on the author’s connections with Russia. His present paper is on the subject of Sir Walter Scott: Impressions of Russia, and rather than concerning Scott’s influence on Russian literature will focus this time on the influence which Russia had on Scott’s own work.