Jess Smith on New Year Honours List

  31 Dec '22   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Jess Smith has been awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) in the 2023 New Year Honours List, for services to the Scottish Traveller Community.

Jess is one of Scotland’s Travelling People. She was raised on the road and travelled until she met and married her husband Dave, a non-Traveller. She left her old ways behind, but captured them through her writing. She is the author of Jessie’s JourneyTales from the TentTears for a TinkerSookin Berries and The Way of the Wanderers.

As an author of the Scottish Travelling lifestyle, she highlights the diversity of the culture and educates on this throughout schools, groups, prisons, and universities.

Her published books are varied to take all ages into consideration – Jessie’s JourneyTales from the Tent and Tears for a TinkerSookin BerriesBruar’s Rest, Way of the Wanderers.

She has researched both the history and the cultural awareness of Scottish Gypsy Travellers, crucially important when educating on the cultural differences. She also campaigned to have the Tinker’s Heart of Argyll listed as a Scottish monument. This is a small collection of white quarzt stones at a crossroads on the Dunoon road adjoining with Hell’s Glen road. It was significant to Travellers because it served as a church for centuries, where they married, blessed their dead and christened babies. The campaign resulted in Historic Environment Scotland changing their criteria to include a form of intangible heritage.

She was an ambassador for HES in their recent Heritage For All corporate plan for 2019. Her vision is to change attitudes towards Travelling People so that the young can go forward and be all they can be.

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