SWACS were extremely saddened to hear of the death last week of Frank Rankin.
Frank was one of the three founder members of SWACS.
Back in 1986, a car was pushed into Jonathan’s Cave and set on fire. That fire caused the complete destruction of a whole panel of precious Pictish carvings that had survived for probably upwards of 1500 years.
It was this incident that led Ann Watters to call a meeting to bring together those who were concerned about the Wemyss Caves and their carvings and wanted to do something about the sorry plight they were in.
Frank Rankin attended that very first meeting and it was he who suggested to Ann that they form a society to promote the cause, and so SWACS was born. Frank became the first chair of the society, Ann the secretary, and Bill Barker – the third founder member – was vice-chair and later became chair in his turn.
Frank had been an enthusiastic explorer of the caves since childhood and had spent many years studying local history, so he had much valuable experience to bring to his role in SWACS. He regularly took visitors on tours of the caves. In fact, he wrote the Guide to Wemyss Caves that we still use today.
In addition, Frank put his knowledge of the area to good use in producing other booklets including one on Macduff Castle and various different volumes on Buckhaven including In Memory of Auld Buckhyne (a collection of poems) and Auld Buckhyne Revisited. Over the years, Frank gave many talks on the caves and on local history to all kinds of organisations in the area.
Frank was the only one of the three founder members able to join the celebrations for the society’s twenty-fifth anniversary in 2011. He also saw the thirtieth anniversary when, although unable to celebrate with us in person, he was still very much with us in spirit.
In recent years he was a regular volunteer at Methil Heritage. He never lost his interest or enthusiasm for local history. And in relation to the Wemyss Caves he always retained his campaigning spirit. He will remain forever a part of the Wemyss Caves story and as long as SWACS still exists his huge contribution to its work will be remembered with admiration and gratitude.
Frank’s funeral will take place on Tuesday 12th February at 13.30 at Kirkcaldy Crematorium.