Rural ladies celebrate 65 sparkling years

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BLUE sapphires were in short supply, but the ladies of Milton of Campsie Rural certainly had a sparkling celebrating to mark their 65th anniversary.

The Scottish Women’s Rural Institute (SWRI) group was first formed in Milton of Campsie in 1923, but folded two years later due to a lack of speakers.

The formation of the SWRI Stirling, Clackmannan and West Perth Federation in 1925, however, gave the group the support it needed to ensure that its second attempt on December 18, 1946, was more successful.

And since then they have not looked back, with the group stronger than ever and counting over 50 members in its ranks.

Ladies who join SWRI take part in a whole host of activities and the only things off the table for discussion according to president Chrissie Collins are politics and religion.

She said: “Milton of Campsie Rural started because women wanted to be involved in something positive after the war. Back then it was all farmers’ wifes and country people who were involved, but now our members are from all sorts of different backgrounds.”

Chrissie explained that new homes being built in the area in the 1970s prompted a change in the make-up of the membership as “the town came to the country.”

The traditional SWRI values are still as strong nowadays, with members acquiring and teaching country and home skills, as well as encouraging citizenship.

At the fortnightly meetings, members still take part in competitions, try activities such as bowling or flower arranging and look forward to demonstrations and speakers.

There is also a charitable side to the organisation as they collect all year round for their chosen cause and recently arranged Christmas parcels for Women’s Aid.

Some might say they may face an uncertain future if they fail to attract younger members as Milton of Campsie Rural’s ladies range from 40 to 90-years-old.

Having survived the last 65 years, however, the group will not go down without a fight and there is talk of attracting a new generation of members by giving talks on SWRI at local schools and encouraging grandchildren to come along.

Anyone who wants to get involved in the group can contact president Chrissie Collins on 01360 319848. They meet every fortnight in the village hall in Milton of Campsie.

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