Moffat Town :- Mora Dickson, Author and Aid Worker
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Mora Dickson (1918-) :
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Mora Dickson is a more recent daughter of Moffat. Her claim to fame has been in setting up International Voluntary Service Overseas, the organisation that has made use of volunteers' time and skills in sustainable projects in the developing nations of the world. She was also a prolific writer and an artist
Mora Hope Robertson was born in Glasgow in 1917, her family moved to Moffat whilst Mora was still a babe in arms. Her most endearing book is 'Nannie - A Lifetime of Devotion', a moving account of her nanny, Joanna Marshall. It recounts the family life in Moffat during the 32 years before Mora married, and parts of the time thereafter up to the death of Joanna Marshall - 'Nannie HR' - following the death of her friend and employer, Mora's mother.
After being educated at boarding school, Mora studied at the Edinburgh School of Art. Her elder brother Robert entered the Colonial Service, which maybe triggered in Mora the thought of herself going farther in the world. She recorded candidly the all-too-human reactions of the people of Moffat to war and to evacuees, then to the arrival of Polish officers and the men of No. 2 Commando. Her studies had been interrupted by the Second World War, but it was an experience she built on by working in the Church of England Huts at Glencorse Barracks in Edinburgh and then in Orkney at Scapa Flow naval base. Mora was not satisfied with the way she was treated, so joined the YMCA where she exercised some authority and after D-Day was to go to France and Holland with the YMCA. The war's end saw her running a large YMCA canteen in Nijmegen on the Dutch border with Germany. With the end of the war she resumed her studies, this time at the Byam Shaw School in London, but returned regularly to Moffat and was married from there, the family moving to Edinburgh thereafter.
Alec Dickson met Mora and married her in 1951, the start of an unusual and very productive period. Together, they founded the Man o' War Training Centre in Nigeria, then in 1958 the Voluntary Service Overseas organisation, finally in 1962 the Community Service Volunteers. Mora Dickson travelled widely, exchanging experiences and ideas with governmental and voluntary agencies throughout the world. Her books underline visits to the United States, Canada, Japan, Israel, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Iraq, Sarawak, Fiji and Australia.
Her work as a writer concerned her with individuals who contributed to human needs in the face of great difficulties. Three of her books are biographies of Mary Moffat of Kuruman, Margaret Cargill of Fiji (wife to the first missionary there) and the teacher Joseph Lancaster. Lancaster involved pupils in teaching younger children and so learning more themselves - an inspiration and pioneering spirit brought out by Mora Dickson. The book about Joanna Marshall is a well drawn series of glimpses of life in Moffat, as well as a tribute to the heart and character of a much-loved Nanny.
The books written by Mora Dickson were an interesting account of her wide travels. In her retirement, Mora Dickson returned to her love of art and to London, but Moffat remained in her heart and she is rightly one of its writers. The name of her younger brother Alistair Hope Robertson, a Fleet Air Arm pilot killed in 1942, is engraved amongst others on the War Memorial.
Baghdad and Beyond
A Season in Sarawak
Assignment in Asia
A World Elsewhere
Count Us In
A Chance to Serve
Longhouse in Sarawak
The Inseparable Grief
The Powerful Bond
Nannie - A Lifetime of Devotion (Published 1988)
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All text and images © 1999 Richard Edkins of Dalbeattie Internet.
Moffat Town Website started 9th JUne 1999.
Last updated 12th December 1999.