Another really Smart medal

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A BRECHIN man was very intrigued by our story recently on the Smart Medal, which had been won by a relative of local woman Anne Robertson (writes Steve Mitchell).

However, Ian Forbes’ interest was driven by the fact that he too had enjoyed first-hand experience of the Smart Medal, as he has had one in his possession for some time - his late Uncle Robert Forbes being a recipient when a pupil at Andover School.

Ian explained: “The Smart obviously comes from the Smart family who had the Valley Works, which were situated where Middleton Park is now built.

“There was a medal presented to the smartest female and the smartest male pupil in the school.

“My late uncle Robert was fortunate enough to be selected as the cleverest overall boy.

“Robert’s name is inscribed on the medal.

“It reads ‘awarded to Robert Forbes, Andover Public School, Dux in first class (senior).

“Robert would have been coming up for 14 when awarded the medal in 1914, as he was born in 1900. He went from Andover to Brechin High School and was obviously quite an intelligent individual.

“He ended up working in a few local shops, prior to joining the Brechin United Co-Operative Society as a master baker. He worked in their bakery in Albert Place for a number of years.

“During the Second World War, Robert rose to the rank of sergeant in the Home Guard, who were regularly billeted in the Mechanic’s Hall.

“He was in a reserved occupation, as bakers were obviously one of those professions who had to remain at home to ensure the troops, the women and the children remained fed.

“He never really talked about the medal much, although, when we were children, I remember him once taking it out to show us.

“We came across it again when my mother and I were clearing out his house after he passed away and my mother was very keen that it was looked after.

“When my mother passed away, I received it and it is still in very good condition, despite being almost 100 years old.

“I am certain there will be many more Smart medals which were won by school pupils from yesteryear in the Brechin area.

“The medal is silver, it’s hallmarked and is a great family heirloom.”

Production of the Smart Medals actually ceased sometime during the Second World War, as the jewellers who produced them in London were victims of the onslaught carried out by the Luftwaffe.

Their premises were bombed and the Smart Medal became no more than a memory of Brechin’s school pupils of yesteryear.