'Tis the season to take the Sconestone and be kind
Amid the exhortations to spend, eat and drink at Christmas, the supposed altruism of the season can become lost. But everyone at a large North Lanarkshire primary has promised to commit an act of kindness - and their generosity will ripple around the globe.
Cumbernauld Primary has this month been in possession of a symbolic Celtic-style stone that has been passed around the world since 2009. Each person given the Sconestone keeps it for seven days, promising at least one gesture of kindness before passing it on.
Holders must also encourage others to hold the stone and promise an act of kindness, pass it on to a person they trust and send an email to tell their Sconestone story.
The Sconestone has caught everyone's imagination in the school and helped teachers build on work around respect - and beyond. Staff and the 450 pupils have hung cards with their promises on to baubles on a Christmas tree and other parts of the school. All the materials have been donated by local businesses.
Depute head Bernadette Hunter was given the stone by previous holder John Dick, a parent at the school who had been involved in charity work in Africa.
Since then, Mrs Hunter has spoken to all North Lanarkshire schools, including St Andrew's Primary, its campus neighbour. Many have asked to borrow the stone, and local enthusiasm for the project saw Mrs Hunter's seven-day guardianship of the stone from 26 November extended until today.
The presence of the stone has helped children appreciate that acts of kindness do not fizzle out, but begin a chain of goodwill. "They realise that people notice the good that they do," said Mrs Hunter.
She added that, since work on respect for others began last year, pupils have also shown more concern for peers when, for example, they fall in the playground.
The next holder of the Sconestone will be Scott Meenagh, a young paratrooper who lost both legs in a bomb attack in Afghanistan in 2011 and has dedicated his life to helping fellow veterans.
WELL, STONE ME
The Sconestone has travelled the world since it was presented to its first keeper, the Reverend Neil Galbraith, by first minister Alex Salmond during a Runrig concert at Scone Palace on 29 August 2009. It was carved by Warren MacLeod from Nova Scotia, Canada.