One kilt, two acts of kindness

Athletes competing for Zambia are jetting home with fond memories of Glasgow 2014, thanks to the kindness of two East Renfrewshire residents.

Raphael Mulenga, chief sports development officer for Team Zambia, had approached Clydesider Irene Houston, from Giffnock, at the athletes village in the hope of finding somewhere to swap his team kit for a traditional kilt.

Irene told The Extra: “I put the request on the Facebook page, and David Blainey got in touch to say he had a spare kilt — it’s a story which shows the generosity of the people of Glasgow.”

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David, from Waterfoot, explained: “Irene replied and said Raffa wanted to collect it in person, which was brilliant.

“My wife, Frances, was worrying about cleaning the house and the kilt I thought was a 38 inch waist had actually been altered, so my mum spent the day readjusting it.

“I was not popular at the time — all I had to do was go buy Irn Bru, teacakes and shortbread, and print Zambian flags to put in the window.

“To our surprise it wasn’t just Raffa who arrived — there was Irene, another volunteer, Leo, and two of the Zambian team.”

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The Blainey family welcomed 2014 silver medalist Benny Muziyo and former gold winner Kennedy Kanyanta, who were besotted enough with David’s daughter Amelia (1) to let her wear a medal.

David continued: “I gave Raffa a MacDonald tartan kilt, and printed information on the clan for him. There’s no way I would take his team kit when he’d worked so hard to achieve it.

“But he did give me a Zambian scarf and a pin, and I wore that to the closing ceremony along with my own kilt.

“Irene sent me a message after saying that the guys spent the journey back to the village phoning home, talking about the lovely family they’d met, and the beautiful baby girl. It was a surreal day and we’ve been laughing about it since.”

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A representative of Facebook page commented: “What a great effort from Irene to give Raffa a memento of his time in Scotland — and David is a star for donating his kilt.

“It’s what the spirit of the Commonwealth Games is about, and we’re so pleased that could help.”