THE sons of a former Irvine minister have gone on an African pilgrimage to honour their late father’s work in Zambia - more than 50 years after they first arrived in the country.

Brothers Ron and Andrew Swanson spent seven years of their childhood in Zambia after moving there in 1960.

Their father, the late Rev Ron and mother Mary Swanson left their Glasgow home with their three young children – Elizabeth, age seven, Ron age three and Andrew, just six weeks old – to serve as Church of Scotland missionaries in the Chitambo Mission in Zambia.

During his time their Rev. Swanson, who was a skilled joiner, built many of the local buildings including a nursing hostel and maternity wing, which 50 years on are still serving the Chitambo community.

In August this year Ron, 60, who now lives in Kilwinning, and Andrew, 57, from Irvine returned to the place where they grew up and saw the buildings that hold such sentimental significance for them, including the maternity hospital where more than 20,000 babies have been born in the Chitambo community since 1962.

The brothers also went back to the boarding school they had attended as children, located 500 miles away from their family home.

Speaking to the Times, Ron said: “I always had a notion to go back to Zambia and see the legacy of our parents and where we grew up. As I turned 60 earlier this year I decided that the time was right and delighted that I was able to share the incredible journey with my wee brother Andrew.

“Whilst in Zambia we had the most humbling, inspiring and deeply emotional experience either of us could have imagined, with our visit truly exceeding our expectations. Precious and cherished memories remembered and new ones created which we will treasure forever.”

The Swanson family returned from Zambia in 1967 where they lived in East Kilbride and Aberdeen before settling in Irvine in the 1970s.

Ron and Andrew’s father, the late Rev. Ron Swanson was a minister at Bourtreehill Baptist Church before he died in 1982, at the age of 50.

His wife Mary later died in 2010, age 76. Ron and Andrew will be hosting a presentation of their nostalgic trip on Saturday, October 14 at 7pm in Fullarton ConneXions, in Irvine.

Andrew added: “Ron and I had the honour and privilege to share this special trip together and look forward to sharing our amazing stories and photographs on October 14. There are many people still in Irvine and the surrounding area who remember our parents and who we hope will join with us to hear about their inspirational legacy in Zambia. The night will be a fitting celebration of our parents’ love, courage and sacrifice.”

Entry to the Swanson brothers’ event is free of charge and on the night there will be an opportunity to make donations to the local church in the Chitambo community.

For more information, contact Ron on 07957 138106 or email or Andrew on 07393 019962 or email aswanson458@