Brazil Gears Up for World Cup and Diaspora Tapestry

A small group of intrepid stitchers in Brazil, Scotland and England has just completed the Brazilian contribution to the Tapestry, just a few weeks before the World Cup that kicks off in Brazil.

The panels reflect a link that goes back almost 500 years and is still strong on both sides.

As football was introduced to Brazil by Scots, it is fitting that one of the panels features four of the top names who nurtured the game in its earliest days – Charles Miller, Archie McLean, Thomas Donahue and Jock Hamilton.

Penny, Rita and “Fitba”

Penny Heckmann in São Paulo and her Scots-born mother, mother, Rita Denson, who now lives in southern England, were responsible for this panel.

“We were really keen on this as our family had a relationship with Archie or “Jock” McLean as he was known,” said Penny who was born in Rio de Janeiro. 

“We met the Mclean family around 1963 after Rita had been in Brazil for a few years and was living in São Paulo. She became friendly with the family through the children who went to the same school (St. Paul`s) and all lived within a few blocks of each other. Both families were very involved in the Scottish community. Rita and Barbara (Jock´s daughter-in-law) helped out at Scottish dancing nights and picnics. Rita and Bob (Jock´s son) used to make Athol Brose for most of the Scottish events held in São Paulo. The families became close and Rita and Barbara never lost touch over the years. Barbara still lives in Paisley and her children in Uddingston.”

Marcia and Cochrane the Sea Wolf

Marcia Ryan, an American who has been in Brazil for 60 years, tackled the panel showing Lord Cochrane, the swashbuckling sea wolf who commanded the Brazilian navy during the nation´s successful fight for independence.

Cochrane never did things by half and also helped Chile, Peru and Greece in their struggles for independence which is why the names of these countries also appear in the panel.

“My mother was a Johnston, with Marshals and Gracies in her family. I have read a great many books set in Scotland and when I won a trip to Europe eight years ago, I decided to go there. I had a wonderful time, concentrating on the countryside and history. I very much enjoyed working on the Lord Cochrane panel. What a man he was,” Marcia said,” said Marcia.

Ana and Drummond the Wordsmith

Scots are not only good on the sports and battle fields but also with words and the third panel celebrates Brazil´s greatest poet, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, whose ancestry can be traced back to Sir John Drummond, a knight who fought alongside Joan of Arc in France against the English in 1418.

He later served in Spain and Portugal and was granted land on the Portuguese island of Madeira in 1430. His daughter, Beatrix Escócia (Beatrix Scotland), was the matriarch of the branch of the family which left Madeira for Brazil and settled in Minas Gerais state. Drummonds from Madeira settled in many other parts of Brazil.

It was quite appropriate that this panel was stitched by Ana Filogonio who lives in Prestonpans with her husband Tulio and twins, Daniel and Aidee, but comes from Drummond´s home state of Minas Gerais.

“Oddly enough, my father´s name was Joao de Escocia (John of Scotland) but I don´t know why as I never knew my grandparents. However, my older sister said our paternal grandparents were very interested in the history of Europe,“ she said.

Her involvement with the project came through Yvonne Murphy, the stitching co-ordinator for the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry.

“As Yvonne knew I was Brazilian, she invited me to take part. At first I thought it just involved embroidering a bit of the panel. When I learned it was to do the whole panel with the illustration of Carlos Drummond de Andrade I was really pleased and keen on becoming part even though I had never stitched previously.

“Being part of the project made me feel part of the community and was a way of thanking everyone for the welcome I had been given in Prestonpans. It was also a great privilege to embroider a panel of a great poet from my own state of Minas Gerais.”


John Fitzpatrick from Glasgow who has lived in São Paulo for around 20 years and helped coordinate the work from the Brazilian end said: ”I´m really pleased that Brazil was chosen as one of the countries to be represented. Unfortunately, we are often lumped in with the “ingleses” here, i.e. English, and I hope this will raise awareness of the contribution the Scots have made to Brazil´s history. Marcia Ryan, Penny Heckmann, Rita Denson and Ana Filogonio have made a great effort to this project and ensured that Scotland´s contribution to the world´s most tolerant and welcoming country has been recognized. It is also particularly pleasing to see how Ana and her family have been welcomed in Scotland, showing that the diaspora works both ways. Viva a Escócia! Viva o Brasil!”        

By Admin