Advocates' Tumbling Lassie ball tackles slavery

The Faculty of Advocates' Tumbling Lassie charity ball and seminar held last month have raised a whopping £20,000 to help fight human trafficking and modern slavery in Scotland.

Wednesday, 2nd May 2018, 8:30 am
Jasmine Parris in the McCall Smith-penned operetta

The third ball was held at Prestonfield House to raise funds for Community Safety Glasgow’s Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA) and International Justice Mission (IJM) and featured the world premiere of the Tumbling Lassie Operetta by author Alexander McCall Smith and his musical collaborator, Tom Cunningham. Joanna Cherry, QC, MP for Edinburgh South West, who attended the ball highlighted the events while calling on the UK Government to amend the Modern Slavery Act to bring it into line with the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act. She said: “I was pleased to be able to support the fundraising efforts of the Faculty of Advocates’ Tumbling Lassie Committee which commemorates the Scottish Judiciary’s rejection of slavery in the 17th century and exists to raise awareness and funds for charities fighting against modern slavery and people trafficking and to help survivors in Scotland and beyond.”

A spokesman for the committee, made up of seven members of Faculty, said: “We are truly overwhelmed and humbled by the response we have had to the Tumbling Lassie events this year. The seminar was very well attended and our speakers gave us many highly practical insights into the fight to disrupt those who still seek to traffic and enslave, both in Scotland and abroad.

“With the generous support of Prestonfield House and many other kind donors and sponsors, the Ball was by far and away the most successful we have held.”

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The committee takes its name from the story of a young girl known to history only as the “tumbling lassie” who had been “bought” from her mother and forced by a travelling showman to perform as a gymnast, until she managed to flee and was given refuge. The showman went to court to demand damages on the basis of a written contract which he said proved the girl was his property. The judges dismissed his claim, with the only surviving report of the case declaring: “But we have no slaves in Scotland and mothers cannot sell their bairns.”

Today, slavery is illegal across the world and yet millions of people are still held in actual or effective slavery, even in Scotland. The story of the tumbling lassie continues to resonate. The Tumbling Lassie Committee is a group of Scottish Advocates which exists to raise awareness and funds for charities fighting against modern slavery and people trafficking, and to help survivors in Scotland and beyond as they recover from their ordeals.

To find out more about the Tumbling Lassie or to donate visit