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50 years ago 
– September 15, 1962

ALTHOUGH it may produce shock and horror elsewhere, Wigtownshire’s illegitimate birth rate of 9.6 per cent – more than double the average for Scotland – is “almost taken for granted in Wigtown itself”. So says the writer of an article in this week’s “Today” magazine who set out to investigate the county’s reputation for “sowing more wild oats per acre than any other county of Scotland”. Among the people he interviewed was a local minister who did not want his name mentioned but who said: “I think this behaviour comes from the Irish. The place once used to be a sort of Gretna Green and many Irish went there to get married and settle down. Illegitimacy seems to happen in more rural parts of the country. The people are much closer to the earth.” The writer does point out that the creditable difference between Wigtownshire and many other places where illegitimacy is high is that the children are always well cared for.

A Stranraer businessman has been told by the Board of Trade to go ahead with his plans for a pet food factory in the area, which has the highest rate of unemployment in Britain. Mr Burns said if he received government aid he would employ 36 people.

WIGTOWNSHIRE Rugby Club suffered their most humiliating defeat ever when they went down by 86-0 to Marr College on Saturday. Of the team originally picked only four made the trip, the remainder being occupied in harvesting operations.

25 years ago 
– September 19, 1987

TWO separate attempts at crossing the Irish Sea’s treacherous North Channel ended in contrasting scenes of triumph and bitter disappoint­ment in Portpatrick this week. Ideal weather conditions led to a team of members from Wigtownshire Rugby Club setting off on their handmade raft, Bluebird, to make the first ever raft crossing of the 19-mile stretch between Donaghadee and Portpatrick. The players made the crossing in a time of six hours, 56 minutes and raised £1500 in the process to be split between the club and the RNLI. But for swimmer Sandra Blewett it ended in failure – again. The New Zealander was making her fifth attempt to swim the notorious channel. Five miles out from her destination of Portpatrick she complained of breathing difficulties and was quickly hauled on board her support vessel. By the time she arrived at Portpatrick she was verging on unconsciousness and suffering from convulsions. She was rushed to the Garrick Hospital in Stranraer where a spokesman later confirmed she was suffering from hypothermia. The next day Sandra told the Gazette that while she was not considering another go this year, next year may be a possibility. But the skipper of her support vessel said: “She’s 38 today. I don’t think it would be advisable to for her to try again. Sandra has nothing to be disappointed about. She has swum further than any other woman.”