Maggie’s Penguin Parade

It’s not every day you meet a penguin on the way into work, but as that’s what happened to Lucy this week, she’s been finding out more!


Walking into the ‘Friend’ offices this week, I passed a 5ft-tall penguin outside the High School of Dundee. I’ve since discovered it’s one of 80 individually-designed sculptures which will be on display in Tayside and Fife from the 29th of June for the next ten weeks, as part of a free and accessible art trail. Designed by local artists, each penguin has their own story to tell, and their own part to play in raising funds for the amazing Maggie’s Cancer Charity.

The trail will lead penguin-spotters across Dundee – a UNESCO City of Design – as well as Broughty Ferry, Newport-on-Tay, St Andrews, Perth, Brechin, and Kirriemuir. Organisers are encouraging us all to upload photos posing with penguins to spread the word!

P-p-puzzled about where to start looking? No worries – maps can be collected from Discovery Point and the VisitScotland Tourist Information office in City Square.

Why a penguin parade?

Dundee has a long association with penguins – the RSS Discovery, berthed in the city, headed to Antarctica on its first mission, and the penguins at the City Churches in the city centre have their own Facebook page – @DundeePenguins.

Everyone has come together to help make the trail a success – schoolchildren across Dundee have been taking part already, learning all about penguins, and decorating smaller-sized models that will join the trail before returning to their school.

The Oor Wullie Bucket Trail in 2016 raised over £883,000 for charity as well as being a really fun, free activity over the school holidays. It costs around £540,000 each year to run Dundee Maggie’s, and it’s hoped that the penguin parade will raise enough to cover keeping its doors open for one year.

What are Maggie’s Centres?

Maggie’s Centres are calm and uplifting, warm and welcoming homes-from-home built in the grounds of NHS hospitals. They provide free practical, emotional and social support to anyone touched by cancer, their friends and their families.

Who was Maggie?

On learning that her breast cancer was to have no betterment in 1993, Maggie Keswick Jencks joined an advanced chemo trial. During the time she lived with cancer, Maggie and husband Charles worked with oncology nurse, Laura Lee (now the charity’s Chief Executive), and Maggie’s medical team to develop a new approach to cancer care. It aimed to help people live positively after diagnosis – Maggie felt strongly that people should not “lose the joy of living in the fear of dying”. Maggie believed that life with cancer can be improved by enabling people to make informed decisions; developing stress-reducing strategies; providing psychological support; and giving people the opportunity to meet in a relaxed, domestic environment – in other words, the type of care that’s now a reality at Maggie’s centres.  The first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996; there are now 19 centres across the UK, online and abroad. Support is available on a drop-in basis and the Online Centre is available 24/7, year-round.

So if you’ll be in Scotland over summer, why not come to Dundee and follow the trail? The penguins will be on display until September 22/23, when there will be a farewell event in Slessor Gardens, followed by an auction on the 24th…when you will have the chance to p-p-pick up a penguin! As well as the Blue Planet penguin near our office, Clare and I have spotted one beside Broughty Ferry beach…so that’s two down, 78 to go!

Main image: Graeme Hart

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!