Galloway Gossip



President Anne Alderson welcomed members to the monthly meeting on May 15 in Glenluce Bowling Club, and the rural song was sung. Apologies were taken and the minutes were read and approved.

After a short business meeting, a warm welcome was extended to the evening speaker, Mrs Elizabeth Leggatt, a teddy bear artist, who has a lifelong love for Steiff teddy bears but particularly miniature ones. Elizabeth gave a short account of the origin of teddy bears and how her love for the little creatures has led her to become a skilled specialist teddy bear artist, producing hand-made miniature bears for clients worldwide. Elizabeth’s enthusiasm for the bears and her work was very apparent in her talk.

Janet Peers, hostess for the evening, extended a heartfelt vote of thanks.

Competitions were: cup cakes – 1. Morag Bickerstaff, 2. Joan Meldrum, 3. Janet Peers; gift-wrapped box – 1. Janet Peers, 2. Doreen Baillie, 3. Joan Meldrum.

After a very enjoyable supper and raffle the meeting was closed with the National Anthem.



Maureen McKie gave a warm welcome to the members and visitor to our May meeting. Sheila McKie, our secretary, attended to a small amount of business and correspondence. Mary Rudd gave a report from the federation meeting. Maureen then handed over the meeting to Sheila Baxter and Elma Ferguson, our hostesses for the evening. Sheila gave a warm welcome to Mary Wilson and Clare Edmonson from Home Start.

Mary explained that Home Start was a volunteer visiting service. It is a national charity with hundreds of schemes in local communities, of which there are 35 schemes in Scotland. There must be at least one child under five years of age. Home Start has been in Wigtownshire for 12 years and Mary is the co-ordinator.

There are 30 volunteers in Wigtownshire supporting around 60 families and 131 children. Home Start’s help is free and confidential, and volunteers respect privacy and never forget that you have invited them into your home. Many parents need help, friendship, advice and support during the early years when children are young. Most clients are lone parents who do not have an extended family.

Home Start will visit for two hours once a week and complement social work services. Theyand get referrals from health visitors though parents can approach the service themselves. All volunteers are given an induction and extensive training, and no experience is needed other than being a parent or grandparent.

Clare then gave a talk on why she had become a volunteer. The two hours she gave made a difference to the children’s mother, as she supported the mother with her shopping, appointments/budget and financial help, and with visits to relatives. Sometimes just sitting listening and talking was enough, having someone to rely on can make a big difference to family life. Clare has supported 20 families, and is involved with group work. These are structured activities such as baking, arts and crafts. This introduces parents to projects they wouldn’t normally have access to and allows them to meet others in similar circumstances and to form friendships.

Sheila gave the vote of thanks to Mary and Clare for an interesting talk and enlightening us about the good work that Home Start does.

Mary and Clare judged the competitions: quiche – 1. Sadie Cloy, 2. Maureen McKie, 3. Mary Rudd; nicest dinner plate – 1. Sadie Cloy, 2. Sheila Baxter, 3. Sheila McKie.

The hostesses served a welcome supper and Maureen thanked them.



Results were: North/South – 1. 1930 Lynn Drummond, Barbara Gaw, 2. 590 Mary Sharp, Margaret Baird, 3. 440 Betty, Jim Watson; East/West – 1. 2310 Fay Halliday, Ronald Graham, 2. 2220 Margaret Hornell, Evie McKenzie, 3. 610 Margaret Parker, Ann Gerrish.



ON Monday, May 14, president Margaret Hewitson gave a warm welcome to members and to the residents and staff of Trust Housing on our annual visit, and also to our guest entertainers Janet Modrate, Matt Hose and Steve Maxwell, who travelled all the way from Drummore.

Thereafter followed a wonderful evening of popular Scots and Irish songs with Janet singing, Matt on the fiddle and Steve on the accordion, with much encouragement to members and resident to join in the fun.

After supper and a raffle, Alan Parson of the Residents’ Association thanked us all for coming to entertain again and for the lovely supper that our members provided for their residents and hoped that we would come again next year.

Our competitions were kindly judged by Janet, results as follows: childhood toy – 1. Sheila McColm, 2. Brenda McDowall, 3. Maisie McHenry; flower of the month – 1. Doreen Ferries, 2. Brenda McDowall.

Elizabeth gave our vote of thanks to the residents and staff of Trust Housing, to our guest entertainers and to the hostesses for a wonderful supper.

Our business meeting followed with the final details of our trip together with Challoch to Bowhill in Selkirk on Monday, June 11. Our coach will depart from Wigtown at 8.30am (will also pick up from Carty Road end) and from Newton Stewart at 8.45am. We will arrive at Gardenwise at 9.45 and depart at 10.45 to arrive at Bowhill at 12.30 for lunch and special private tour of the house, followed by a wander around the beautiful grounds.

Members were asked to choose from catering options for lunch at Bowhill. We should arrive at Mabie House Hotel for high tea at 6.30pm.

Margaret and Nancy read out all the federation news and good wishes for a speedy recovery were expressed for Kathy Higgins, who is in hospital at the moment.

Also discussed were the entries for the Federation Show which will be held in the Millennium Centre, Stranraer, on Saturday, August 11.

Members have decided to go to the Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park in Kirkcudbright on Monday, August 13. More details to follow.

Noreen read out the minutes of the last meeting and a letter from Kriss Nichol of Wigtown Women’s Walk about a new project involving the collection of women’s stories, photos and memorabilia on film together with a youth project and is looking for volunteers for the stories. Noreen will pass on phone and email addresses for Kriss to anyone interested.

Margaret wished everyone a safe journey home and thanked the staff at Trust Housing again for their warm welcome.

Newton Stewart

Community Garden

The Community Garden at Newton Stewart Hospital will be officially opened on Wednesday afternoon, May 30, after which the public, along with local organisations, will be able to visit either for leisure or to carry out some work. Visits will be by arrangement through the Wigtownshire Health Improvement Team, which has a base at the hospital, and anyone interested in seeing around the new garden and woodland should make contact with any of the team who work there. John McNaught, the Grounds4BetterHealth project coordinator, is also making a plea for anyone who has surplus shrubs, flowers, bedding plants or vegetable plants which they would like to donate to the project to contact him on 01671404267. It is anticipated that the garden will be an asset to the community as a whole and to organisations and groups in general.

MUSIC club

Newton Stewart Music Club welcomed Quintet Zambra to the Cinema for the fourth concert of the season. The five young players presented an eclectic programme ranging from an arrangement of Debussy’s piano piece Le Petit Negre via Malcolm Arnold’s well-known quirky Three Shanties to the Dance Suite by Norman Hallam, complete with synchronised movement and sticking-gramophone effect.

The most eagerly-awaited item on the programme was the premiere performance of Suite Provencale No 2 by local composer Russell Denwood. The three movements, based on popular songs of Provence collected in 1860, exploited the technical capabilities of the individual instruments to best advantage within a subtle harmonic structure.

The energy and enthusiasm of the performers, combined with their impressive ensemble playing, created a memorable afternoon’s entertainment.

Port William


There was a good turnout of members and friends at the meeting in the supper room of the Maxwell Hall on Thursday, May 17. Cliff and Dru had come along to give us a talk on the fascinating life of bees and share with us some of the intricacies of caring for them. Both are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic beekeepers and it was wonderful learning about this enthralling subject.

Bees are so intelligent! We all watched spellbound when Cliff brought through his observation hive and we were able to watch the bees, up close, busy about their housekeeping. It was a most interesting evening.

Following a cuppa and the departure of our speakers and their colony of bees, we settled down to the business part of the evening. President Mrs Topping was delighted to announce that Port William SWRI had won the Syllabus Competition, was runner-up at the Federation Ruralympics, and also that Jennifer Brodie had won the Ann Wallace sugar sifter for her Border tart.

Names were noted for the summer outing on Wednesday, July 18, to Ayr. Any others wishing to go, please contact Sheila or Jennifer.

Competition results were: small vase flowers – 1. J Kinnear, 2. J Brodie, 3. C Makepeace; favourite cup and saucer – 1. C Makepeace, 2. N Campbell, 3. S Charlesworth; flower of the month – 1. S Topping, 2. J Kinnear, 3. C Makepeace.

Mrs Topping wished our bowling team well for the match on May 20 at Sandhead and reminded those interested that the golf will take place at St Medan’s on July 16.



President June Dinnell welcomed a good turnout of members to our May meeting. Minutes were read, approved and signed, and apologies given. June introduced us to Mary Smith from Castle Douglas, who had come along to talk to us about her time in Afghanistan.

Mary started off her time working with people with leprosy, set up clinics and taught health education, baby care and lots more to volunteers from each village, some of whom had to walk for two hours to get to the classes, as well as doing all their daily chores. Mary certainly is a woman to be admired and every member was hanging on her every word of her 10 years’ work in Afghanistan. Mary had brought along some items from Afghanistan and Linsay Bell modelled a burqa, which the ladies have to wear.

Tea was served by Agnes Watson and helpers. Linsay Bell gave a hearty vote of thanks to Mary for coming along and commented on how we moan about our NHS but after tonight’s talk we really have nothing to moan about.

Relevant business was then dealt with.

Competition results: spring arrangement – 1. Lilian Carson, 2. Karen Miller; piece of poetry – 1. Ivy Stanley, 2. Irene Houston, 3. Violet Service, 4. June Dinnell, 5. Linsay Bell, 6. Agnes Watson; dlower of the month – 1. Agnes Watson, 2. Margaret Miller, 3. Lilian Carson, 4. Anne McCulloch, 5. Violet Service, 6. Heather Marriot.

June once again ended the evening with one of her made up poems of the evening’s happenings which was excellent.



WIGTOWN and District Bridge Club results for Wednesday, May 16: N/S – 1. Margaret Baird and Mary Sharp -2180, 2. Fay Halliday and Ann Mactier -2320, 3. Jo Chambers and Marion Halstead -2700; E/W – 1. Veronica Kingston and Evie McKenzie +5250, 2. Ann Gerrish and Margaret Parker +4610, 3. Pat McGettigan and Ian Young +3930.



There was little time to get warmed up before the serious business of climbing began for the 19 ramblers who turned out for the Fell of Eschoncan and Bennan walk on Saturday. The day was dry but had a welcome cool breeze as height was gained, and frequent stops were made to admire the expanding views over to the east.

In the foreground, Buchan hill still appeared in its wintry colours of browns and greys whereas Glenhead stood out in myriad shades of green, with trees coming into leaf a delicate colour and new grass appearing in vibrant emerald.

Across Loch Trool the bare summit of Muldonach, still scattered with boulders, topped an overview of the site of the Battle of Trool. In 1304, Robert the Bruce’s men rolled rocks down the Steps of Trool onto the heads of English soldiers riding along the edge of the loch, today where the new path for the Southern Upland Way has just been completed – and in splendid view of the walkers. At the end of the loch a flat marshy area could be picked out as Soldiers Holm where the casualties are said to have been buried, and just coming into view below was Bruce’s Stone, the viewpoint on the loch, where a great inscribed boulder appropriately commemorates the victory.

Flags left by a recent hill run made navigation easy as the cairn at the top of the fell was reached and another view to the south and west opened out, looking surprisingly flat from this height. The breeze dropped and the walkers stripped off their coats as the sun tried vainly to come out.

The forest road was crossed and it was upwards once more for the walkers, across heather and sphagnum moss and through ridges of rock with lochans scattered between, until a welcome stop was called for lunch, in a sheltered spot by a calm stretch of water, within sight of Bennan communications mast.

The walk continued by the access road to the mast where there was an expertly built cairn alongside the humming generator shed. A quick drop down to the rusty remains of the old generator structures and an easy path to the forest road followed. Here there was speculation about two deer fenced experimental areas. One was planted with a species of mountain willow and the other planted with orange flags.

The views from the road were again spectacular as it dropped down between forest and felled wood. The windmills at Barrhill and Artfield Fell helped to pinpoint the features to be seen. The panorama spread from the Solway across the Machars and the Rhins of Galloway to the Ayrshire hills, even Ailsa Craig peeped out behind Knockdolian to the west.

Lower down, a dyke signalled the return route to the cars. Felled and fallen trees made the going rough but the reward was the high vantage point for a lovely tableau depicting the south end of Loch Trool. Bracken and bog eventually brought the walkers back to the road and Bruce’s Stone car park, from where it was only a short drive to the visitor centre where refreshments were enjoyed.

This week’s walk, Saturday, May 26, is a 9-5 mile linear walk from Portpatrick to Stranraer. Meet for car sharing at Riverside, Newton Stewart, 8.30am and Portrodie bus stop, Stranraer, NX 063 609, 9.15am, to catch the bus to Portpatrick. New members are welcome. For details please phone walk leader on 01776 705818.