When Patrick Gillies graduated from the University of Edinburgh's distinguished school of medicine with honours in 1890, a high profile
career as a surgeon lay ahead of him. Any city across the world would have welcomed him, and his university mentors, including the famous
Joseph Lister, urged him to take up one of these opportunities. Gillies defied them all and returned to his home town of Easdale, determined
to continue the work his father had begun as a physician to the parishioners of the Slate Islands. Over the next 40 years Patrick Gillies worked
tirelessly to sustain and improve the community services available in Argyll. Although he worked as a General Practitioner, Patrick involved
himself in every aspect of the community, joining the Cullipool School Board, where he was determined to protest against its closure - a fight
he eventually won.
This early battle is indicative of the rest of Gillies' life which he spent investigating everything, from the drainage systems to preventative
medicine, and fighting for improvements, such as an isolation hospital for the Slate Islands and better medical provisions for school children. In
later years he was able to apply his determination and sense in Army service in two wars.
Mary Withall was born in London and was a science teacher for many years. On her retirement in 1988 she moved to Argyll and began a second career as a historical novelist. Her novels include Beacon on the Shore (1995), The Gorse in Bloom (1996), The Poppy Orchard (1999) and The Flight of the Cormorants (2000). In addition to her writing, she is also archivist of the Scottish Slate Islands Heritage Trust and author of The Island that Roofed the World.