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The Voice of Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Strathyre & St Fillans

Icicles along the (soon to be) cycleway between Lochearnhead and St. Fillans By The Villagers photographer Alistair Barclay

Editor’s Bit

A very Happy New Year to you all - to our readers, contributors and advertisers. May you have a prosperous and healthy 2014 (once we have all got over the Hogmany bugs which seem to be affecting so many); all that kissing is obviously not a good idea! However, the various dances and concerts were enjoyed by many; we are fortunate that each village seems to have individuals who are willing to give up hours of their time at this busy period so that we can all have fun in our communities. Speaking for Balquhidder, I would like to once again say a communal thanks to the Ramsay-Claphams, for squeezing so many of us into the hall and organising a very varied programme for the evening, and then the McNaughton clan for the annual New Year’s Day Dance. Now the ‘bad cop’ bit! Our AGM is on the 19th of this month in the Inn at Strathyre and we need as many of you as possible to attend, to discuss several important issues for the future of The Villagers. The main issue is whether we can continue to publish our monthly editions. The committee would very much like to - and, having spoken to many of you, I know most readers would prefer us to carry on. However this can only be possible if we can get some help/ cover - particularly for Gill in her role as Production Manager. It would also be wonderful if someone was able to do the editing role - perhaps once a year - to facilitate our family trips to the other end of the world! Just a few hours a year could make all the difference. Other issues we need to discuss include the actual articles we include. We’d like to hear your suggestions for features not presently covered, including (for example) whether we should be featuring some input into the Independence Debate. There are other challenges we face to keep the paper viable in these continuing challenging times. We have some exciting and innovating ideas about how we could move forward - so please do not be shy in bringing forward any thoughts you might have. JJ



The following readings were taken at ‘Bramblings’, Auchtubh, Balquhidder for the month of DECEMBER 2013.

Average max temp Actual max temp Average min temp Actual min temp

8.4 ºC 12.2 2.5 -1.8

47.0 ºF 54.0 36.5 29.0

Rainfall 50.4cms 20.16ins Strongest wind gust: On December the 5th I couldn’t record this - as the memory of my anemometer was affected by the power failure!


St Angus’s Church

Gardeners’ Question Time

Our attempt to stage Gardeners Question Time in early December 2013 was foiled because of the effects of the storm that left many of us without power for varying lengths of time. The Four Seasons Hotel had a torrid time but, despite the setback, Andrew Low has offered us an opportunity to ‘go again’ at 7.00 pm on Thursday the 27th March 2014. It was previously a sell-out but some people who could come then are now unable to attend, which means I have a few tickets available. For anyone who is already coming you could bring some friends or for anybody else who fancies an entertaining evening with a lovely buffet supper you just have to give me a call on 01567 830238. Tickets are just £15.00 each. It really will be a case of ‘first come, first served’. Lawrie Hopkins 01567 830238


The Lochearnhead Village Hall


will take place on

Monday 10th March 2014 in the village hall at 7.30pm

All villagers are welcome to attend in particular younger members of the community are encouraged to stand for election to the Committee - and get involved!


Next event at the village hall will be a ‘Race


on Saturday 17th May

Put the date in your diary now!


Realistic Pilates

Want to improve your core strength and posture in 2014? Classes will be up and running again on Mondays at 6.15pm or 7.30pm and Wednesdays at 9.50am from 17th February in Balquhidder Hall. All new comers very welcome! No experience, fitness/strength/ flexibility necessary. For details please contact me at or call me on 0776 6407578

The St Fillans Bit

by John Murray

Here we go into another year of village life – and a Good New Year to anyone with nothing else to do but read this column. I’m delighted with the input I now receive from villagers with ideas and reports for the St Fillans Bit – in particular this month to Johnston Brown for the submission of an article about the new path and bridge works which you will find elsewhere in this issue. Keep the info coming and I might last another year in my role, and apologies if your idea/input is missing which will be because I ran out of space. (Ed’s Note: at least another ten years). Happily the village now has its own defibrillator thanks to the funding mentioned last month. To prepare members of the community Don Forrester organised a training session on 28th November in The Sandison which was fully attended. I must admit that I expected 2 hours of boredom, but far from it. The excellent tutor Stuart Ballantyne from The Scottish Ambulance Service instructed and entertained, both in the use of the defibrillator and in

Defibrillator kit

general CPR. The most sobering thought was that after cardiac arrest the following ten minutes are vital to the survival of the patient – and we in St Fillans are twenty minutes from the nearest ambulance if we are lucky! Hence the importance of a basic knowledge of CPR. The evening included individual hands on, literally, experience of CPR using realistic dummies designed for the purpose. Excellent Skills for Life videos from the BHF were shown and I think that most there learned a lot from the session. It is hoped that further training sessions with Stuart will be arranged and are well worthwhile. Those of us who thought that the defib was some massive machine were surprised to find it smaller than a briefcase, and its use really couldn’t be simpler since once you switch it on the machine talks you through the process of using it. The machine resides in the Church annex accessed by a coded lock – most villagers have the code by now and it is available in the Village Store. It is happy and sad news that Ulla Ross is departing St Fillans in February. Happy because her house is now sold and she can move on to a new life in Polmont closer to

Ulla and fellow ramblers

friends, but sad as Ulla has been so much a part of St Fillans life for so many years (25 I think). We will miss her striding across the hill tracks and along the village daily, shaming most of us with her fitness! Ulla has always enjoyed hill walking and she with 4 or 5 pals always used to finish up at The Achray, when I owned it, every Monday evening for sustenance after a day in the hills. Happy memories. More recently, in November last, her wee group enjoyed a day’s walking with Clare Balding of TV fame along the Forth coast by Hopetoun House. This is a regular event – the first one Ulla took part in was in 2004 – and part of the BBC 4 Radio programme Rambling. The November walk will featured in the programme during February (I don’t have the date yet) and listeners can be delighted by Ulla’s own particular brand of Swenglish. As most will know a new Planning Application has been submitted for 4 further houses in Dundurn Walk. Two public meetings have been held in January in The Sandison to allow the developer to explain the proposals and to get feedback from villagers. I think the word is ‘lively’ Continued overleaf


The St Fillans Bit (Continued from Page 3)

meetings with a fair degree of opposition to the proposals from existing home owners in Dundurn Walk and Station Road. The main problem appears to be that the roads and drainage for the 1st Phase have still not been adopted by P&K Council despite P&K having indicated that they would do so in December 2012 and that due to the demise of the previous development company the open spaces have not been finished to the standard required by the LA for taking over and maintaining. There is also a spasmodic flooding problem. The developer showed a willingness to modify house types and positions on the plots in response to input from the meetings and to resolve the flooding problem whilst pressurising P&K to adopt the roads & drainage. A full meeting of the Community Council will draft any response by the CC to the application taking in mind any general village feelings. The other day I did a wee count and surprisingly out of a permanent village population of only about 150 some 20 villagers run their own businesses. It’s always interesting to learn the background of a local business (like how did an English police officer finish up selling boats on Loch earn). In the past I’ve mentioned some of the businesses and this month it’s the turn of Whispers Lingerie, owned and run by villager Louise McGregor. Louise was born in Aberdeen and after schooling in Aberdeen went off to Edinburgh University to study Law and Accounting, graduating


with an LLB. She subsequently obtained the chartered accountancy qualification of CA so with LLB CA after her name she’s no ‘dumb blonde”! Louise pursued a career in accounting for 15 years during which she met fellow CA Mike and they married in 1994. They moved to St Fillans in 1995 and who can forget the constant weekend sight of Mike hanging off ladders as they spent 10 years renovating Inverearn. As their children 4

Whispers Lingerie

came along Louise retired from work to become a mother & housewife in 2000. Then with more time on her hands in 2007 she decided to return to work, but for herself. She had noted after research a definite gap in the local market for quality lingerie with a proper personal service – thus was born Whispers Lingerie in Auchterarder. The business prospered and in 2013 moved into new premises still in Auchterarder. The business model is based very much on local trade, repeat business and word of mouth and offers the kind of personal approach with proper measuring and fitting which is missing in mass outlets. Apparently very few women are ever correctly measured or fitted for bras and my better half tells me the difference is amazing. The customers’ ages range from 12 to 90 and even include residents of a Care Home in Auchterarder which Louise visits regularly to help the ‘oldyuns’ find suitable underwear. The stock is not all exotic gear with more basic ‘undies’, mastectomy bras, superb swimwear and bespoke alterations to ensure a perfect fit all part of the business. Whispers is part of a ‘bra recycling’ scheme by which a company called BCR purchase old bras from shops and they are recycled to Africa. BCR pays for the bras and the proceeds go to charity – in this case Auchterarder & District Cancer Research Fund Raising, of which Louise is treasurer. She is also involved in the local trade association so has a busy life which has included a bit of amateur dramatics - many will recall her role in The St Fillans Players’ production of Ladies Day (see photo). Whispers can be found at 109 High Street in Auchterarder and is open from 10 till 5 six days a week. More details are on the web site – but Whispers does not sell off the site as the kind of service they offer can’t be done by mail order. Well worth a visit ladies and also a welcoming environment for hubbies at Valentine’s Day & birthdays who can be guided by a professional rather than try to pluck up courage to venture into a store full of teenage assistants. Mary from The Four Seasons updates me that the hotel opens again for weekends on 28th February then fully open from 27th March with a return of all of last year’s staff. The first Gourmet Wine Tasting Dinner on Friday 7th March is already booking at the very sensible price of £55 a head. As usual, a warm welcome to customers old and new for 2014.

Good to hear that the Carpet Bowling Club, which was threatened with closure last year due to declining turnout has seen a good increase in numbers this year after the Open Day at The Sandison Hall last Autumn and looks firmly established again. All interested very welcome on Monday’s at 7.30 p.m. Apologies to anyone using the old railway line over the ruts which my mobility buggy is making in the horrendous mud caused by the recent rather moist conditions. Not much I can do apart from not take the buggy out – which would kind of defeat the object of the device. No doubt all will return to normal when spring arrives in August. Latest word from The Drummond is of an opening in March. There are certainly more signs of activity there now and it will be great to see the place open again and a functioning focal point of the village. If you are not aware Arran Brewery is hopeful of raising some £4Million for general expansion of the business (not just The Drummond) by means of what I gather is called a ‘crowd funding’ scheme. I’d never heard before of such a scheme but by my understanding is that basically anyone can buy shares at £80 a pop in a company operating the scheme and obtain certain benefits from ownership of those shares (like a discount on some of the company products) whilst helping fund a Scottish business in its expansion. The shares are non-voting shares and no dividend is offered or guaranteed and they cannot, of course, be traded on the open market. For anyone interested full details are on the web at The details comprise a multi-page prospectus which extensively lists the possible benefits, the risks and the possible pitfalls for investors along with the uses to which the £4m will be put if raised and the order of priority of the use. I am very far from a ‘financial advisor’ and am not promoting this share scheme, merely making readers aware of it - and as responsible publishers we have to point out the obvious that potential investors should fully read and understand the prospectus and take proper professional advice before investing, and remember the old adage that any investment is risky and never to invest more than you can afford to lose. Finally this month, I’ve been asked to mention that there has been another theft of the contents of a domestic heating oil tank in the village. Difficult to know what to do as I’ve heard police advice that locking the modern plastic tanks can do more harm than good as the thieves simply go in through the side of the tank to steal the oil then you need a new tank as well. I suppose it’s just vigilance – if you see an unusual truck or van close to a house at least take the number.


Strathyre News

And so it begins...

Hogmanay at the Hall I can hardly believe that already I am writing my first column of 2014! Maggie and Ron would like to thank Can I start by wishing all our readers everyone who helped set up the Hall a happy and prosperous new year ready for Hogmanay and special (especially prosperous!) ? thanks to all the local companies for 2013 went out with a bang with lots donating the prizes. happening in the Village over the festive A great time was had by all! season - so a big thank you to all involved. Heatwave the band had everyone To begin with we had our wonderful dancing from 8pm till 1am. carol concert organised by Jan with the The night had a great party help of Callander Brass who, as always, atmosphere, and I have had requests gave a beautiful recital of all the old for over 70 tickets favourites with everyone joining in and for next year, so watch this space! getting into the Christmas mood. The photos are (right, from top A special thank you to The Villagers to bottom) Davy Allen having a who donated £50 towards the costs of swinging time; Mike Keeney showing this event, to the Inn and Bistro staff for how to boogie, and Heatwave on the their hospitality and to Janet Richards for stage. providing the mulled wine which adds Ron Milne so much warmth to the occasion and of course to all who donated traditional mince pies. Next on the agenda was the heart warming ‘Children’s Christmas Party’ held in our lovely old Village Hall, and what a wonderful day it was. This is the real Christmas factor, to see all the kids in total awe of what is going on with games, prizes, dancing and a magician who mesmerised the kids and adults with his humour and mind blowing tricks, and to top it all a visit from Santa himself with a sledge loaded with presents for every child, was the icing on the cake. The girls who organise this party are STARS without a Listing Christmas Tree Christmas ‘List’ doubt and I take my hat of to every one of them. Keep up the good work girls - the Village loves you for it!! Having said everything about village events I find myself in the very With Christmas safely out of the way it was time for unusual position of submitting a rather negative report. the adults to come out to play. Something that we have no Oor Dougie and myself went to a lot of effort under very strenuous difficulty in doing in Strathyre! conditions (we were both suffering from back problems) to fell and Playtime started in the Hall on Hogmanay with the deliver the village Christmas tree to the Victorian Gardens and, with fantastic New Year’s dance which took us into 2014 - a the help of Andy McGregor and Ian Brydie, managed to have it put very memorable evening of song and dance, very well in place for the forthcoming event. However on the day we could not supported by villagers and visitors alike. Food abounded, manage to complete the job of decorating the tree with its lights as we supplied by the body of the hall, and the dance floor was ran out of daylight hours. The weather did not help over the next few never empty (especially with the kids). days although a couple of hours would have been sufficient to finish A big thank you to Ron and Maggie Milne for their the job. Both of us were away over the Christmas period so were not tireless efforts to organise this dance each year and to all available, but we were VERY disappointed to return to find the tree who helped in any way to make it the success it was. had listed over and no effort had been made to right it and decorate The evening was finished off with a night in the Inn it with the lights. Was it too much to ask of some of the villagers to singing along with members of Balvaig entertaining us finish the job? with some traditional Scottish songs and tunes. Fantastic. While a lot of people do an awful lot to help in the village at various A number of people in the village are making the events, we do seem to be a “same old faces” case where the same effort to re-introduce the old custom of “First Footing” people are faced with things to do while others do nothing to help. - something that at one time went hand in hand with I know NO ONE can be forced into helping but common decency Hogmanay - and a very good job they are doing of it. should prevail, especially at this time of year. Jan and I were delighted to be involved. We had a First Shame on the people of Strathyre for allowing Christmas to pass Foot which culminated in a night at “Big Brydies hoose” without the children having the magic of a village tree to admire. and as usual Ian and Mel were the perfect hosts and we all Needless to say this is something Dougie and I will NOT be involved had a fantastic evening. in next year. Looking forward to next year, although ma heid might A very disappointed WD. no be ... Wullie D 5

Callander & West Perthshire


The group started the new year with a well attended lunch at the Dreadnought Hotel, giving members the opportunity to socialise with others who follow different courses. A challenging quiz made for enthusiastic competition between tables and thanks are due to Eleanor Malcolm, our Social Secretary, for this and all the arrangements for the excellent meal. In the same week the first of our two Scottish Referendum meetings was held and 65 members attended to hear Murdo Fraser MSP put the case for the ‘Better Together’ campaign. Questions were wide ranging and specific and these will also be asked at the next meeting on 20th February when Gerry McLaughlan, SNP Bannockburn, will speak on behalf of ‘Yes Scotland’. Once again this is a U3A members only meeting due to restrictions in the numbers of seats at our venue, the Callander Youth Project. We ask members to come promptly for the 2.00pm start as parking spaces are limited. The Astronomy Group, run by Keith Wilson, paid an evening visit to the Royal Observatory Edinburgh for a talk by the staff there and to use one of the telescopes. A full report will appear in the next newsletter. Keith has also established links with the BBC2 programme ‘Stargazing Live’ and there will be more news of this soon. Patricia Macinnes, who runs the Scottish History Group, is to be congratulated on the forthcoming publication of her researches into the life and death of the 3rd Duke of Perth – the Jacobite Duke. The annual Journal of the Northumbrian Jacobite Society will publish the full story. Readers of The Villagers may remember that they were the first to see an abbreviated version in three instalments towards the end of 2012. All our courses are in full swing again and if anyone requires further information or wishes to join us please visit our website uk/callander-and-wp or Google us at ‘Callander and West Perthshire U3A’.


The New Year lunch

Astronomy outing - to the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh

BOOK CORNER For all cat lovers: this month’s book is the hilarious How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by the strangely named ‘The Oatmeal’. For anyone that has a deep mistrust of cats, or just doesn’t ‘get’ them - this is for you too! The book contains a very funny pull-out poster. Recommended. GA


Christmas Market  Thanks to the generosity of people

I was able to send a cheque for £77.50 to Care for the Wild’s Bear Sanctuary. The caged bear Bruno was released to the care of Janette Greer from Strathyre.   Thank you every one for your generosity! Edna

Care For The Wild

Who exactly was St Valentine? In ancient Rome, roughly about AD 197, in the reign of Emperor Aurelian, a Christian known as Valentine of Terni was martyred for his beliefs. Little is known of his life, except that he was made Bishop of Terni and died shortly after. He was apparently imprisoned, tortured and beheaded on the Via Flaminia in Rome for his Christianity on the orders of a Roman prefect with the oxymoronic name of Placid Furius. According to legend, he died on 14 February. An estimated 1 billion St Valentine’s Day cards will be sent worldwide this year, making it the second most cardheavy celebration after Christmas!

For some years now, wildlife charity Care for the Wild International has received wonderful support for our brown bear rescue sanctuary, through funds raised by the sale of Balquhidder bears by local resident, Miss Edna Haydock. The money has been used to care for two bears, Ben and Mitsos, at the Arcturos sanctuary in Greece. Mitsos was taken from the wild at a very young age and forced to perform in the dancing bear trade. When he was rescued his teeth had been shattered and he was suffering from severe malnutrition. Now he is one of the oldest bears at the sanctuary and is well loved. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his den and enjoying the plentiful food provided for him. Ben and his brother were found without their mother when they were just four months old. Without her protection, they were in real danger from wild predators and human threats. They were both taken to the sanctuary where Ben has matured into a strong and dominating bear. However, without basic survival skills he would never survive in the wild, so the brothers will live out their days under the sanctuary’s protection. . In Greece, brown bears are found only in the forests of central and northern Pindos, and the Rhodope massif in the north of the country. This is thought to be one of the largest populations in southern Europe. Principal threats to brown bears are humancaused mortality and fragmentation, loss and degradation of their habitat. Arcturos actively works for the conservation of the brown bear and its. They were implemental in ending the dancing bear trade in Greece and continue to work towards the end of illegal captivity in the wider regions of the Balkans. The sanctuary is home to former dancing bears, captive bears from zoos or orphaned cubs. You can support this valuable work by adopting a brown bear with Care for the Wild International at

Real Ale - Real Music

A Word To Husbands To keep your marriage brimming With love in the loving cup Whenever you’re wrong, admit it Whenever you’re right, shut up. Ogden Nash




BARGAIN AT £250.00


CONTACT 01567 830238 7

Community projects set to benefit with National Park grant awards Communities across Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park are celebrating after receiving the latest round of National Park community grant awards. In total sixteen communities are set to benefit from contributions totalling over £20,000. Projects include providing protecting clothes and chemical equipment to tackle Japanese knotweed around Benmore and Kilmun, flood prevention and replanting work at Buchanan Memorial Hall and a project to renovate and repaint all the benches in Drymen Community Square. Gartmore Village Hall is set to benefit from new landscaping and planting, there are plans for a new display area and counter at Kilmaronock Millennium Hall and a grant to help with refurbishing the library at Lochgoilhead Village Hall. The garden group in St Fillans will now be able to buy lawn and brush cutting equipment to maintain the verges throughout the village and Tyndrum Village Hall will see repairs and repainting carried out to the external walls. Speaking about the awards, Petra Bieberbach, National Park Board Member and Chair of the Community Grant Award panel, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to help with so many diverse projects covering the whole of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. It was incredibly hard to decide where the money should go this year as we were inundated with applications. We’re lucky that we have such active communities here in the Park who take a real pride in where they live. I would like to pay tribute to all those people who give up their free time to help make a difference.”   Awards were granted to the following organisations: • Ardentinny Community Trust • Arrochar & Tarbet Community Development Trust • Balqhuidder Lochearnhead & Strathyre Community Trust • Benmore and Kilmun Community Development Trust • Buchanan Community Council • Callander Community Development Trust • Croftamie Community Trust • Drymen Community Development Trust • Gartmore Community Trust • Killin and Ardeonaig Trust • Kilmaronock Community Trust • Lochgoil Community Development Trust and Community Council • Sandbank Community Development • St Fillans • Strachur • Strathfillan 8

Church News BalquhiĐĐer Reg. Charity No. SC012316

Another year has whizzed past so it is time to wish everyone a very happy New Year and all the very best for 2014. Last year was quite busy for Balquhidder Church, with major repairs necessary to make the belfry safe. We are so grateful to all Church members, friends and visitors who encouraged us and helped financially. In early December the concert held in the Church raised £357.00 for Church funds, and our thanks go to Charlie Hunter and all who took part so willingly. It was a lovely evening and a grand way to raise funds. The Christmas Eve service was well attended and the traditional readings and carols made a good start to the celebrations. We sent £175.00 to Borderline, the charity caring for Scots down on their luck in London. We can only imagine the problems and worries that the homeless experience in winter, far from home and family. In 2014, we are hoping to help closer to home by supporting the local Food Banks. Many of us who shop at local supermarkets could look out for a special Food Bank trolley by the checkout tills. Buy a few extra items and, after paying for them, put them in the trolley. Callander Co-op has been providing this facility for a while now, and it supports a Food Bank in Stirling. Look out for similar schemes at Tesco and other supermarkets. Obviously food is a priority, especially dried and tinned goods, but other essentials such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo and baby items are also required. It is another way of helping folk who are so much in need. Jean Edwards

The Bridging of Two Communities

Bridge over Glen Tarken Gorge is installed The communities of St Fillans and Lochearnhead are in the process of trying to develop the disused railway path that links Lochearnhead to St Fillans and then on to Dalchonzie as a walking and cycling path. The route runs the length of Loch Earn, on the slopes just north of the main road (A85), behind St Fillans, then crosses the road (and the River Earn) at Tynreoch and on to the old Dalchonzie We have a bridge! Halt. (From here, the ‘Back Road’ is a very pleasant access route through to Comrie.) It has to be said that the views from the elevated section along Loch Earn are truly spectacular. Among the many benefits of using the old railway lines are that they are traffic free and relatively level; thus making them ideal for children and the disabled, creating ‘safe routes’ between communities. It is an all encompassing programme as opening up this link will have enormous benefits for consolidating access to the slopes and countryside on either side of the route. It will offer the opportunity to connect with the National Cycle Network and create a viable East/West long distance route, potentially being part of a Scotland – Coast to Coast (SC2C Oban to Dundee) and a Pilgrim Way (Iona to St Andrews). It may also make possible a ‘Circuit’ around Loch Earn which would be an attractive sporting challenge for both walkers and cyclists. In 2012 the St Fillans Paths Group, a sub group of the village Community Council, commissioned a survey to be made of the whole route by Peter Leslie of Transport Planning & Engineering (TP&E), associated with Cycling Scotland, and a Design and Consultation Report was issued in April 2013. This was funded by Paths for All and the community were grateful for their timely financial support. The survey established that the first phase would be to rebuild the old railway bridge over the Glentarken Burn, which was the only major obstacle that prevented walking from Lochearnhead to St Fillans. During 2013, the Paths Group managed to secure funding from Rural Tayside LEADER Programme 2007 - 2013, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and Sustrans, to whom they are very grateful. Following a tender process, McGowan Outdoor Access was appointed as the contractor for the installation of the new bridge and the upgrading of the approaches to it from both the east and west. The bridge is of a ‘Bailey’ design and was supplied by Mabey Bridge Ltd. It took three days to construct the bridge, which was pushed out on rollers over the gorge. The final bridge span is over 100 feet with a drop to the burn below of 130 feet. The project is the culmination of great effort within the community, including many hours of volunteer path clearing which involved the felling of trees that had fallen onto the track bed and trying to uncover and reintroduce the original railway drainage systems. The Paths Group are keen to acknowledge the support of both John Forth and Doug Stewart from the National Park (‘without whom we would still be floundering’). The support and input of Drummond Estates through Michael Aldridge has also been much appreciated. The completion of this first phase has inspired the whole community to look forward to their next challenge along the route. Over the next few years, further upgrading will take place along the path, to achieve the completed route so keep a look out for further developments on this exciting pathway.

The workers



View from the Park

Rambling Club

by Owen McKee I’m always fearful (no I’m not) of predicting the weather. Surprisingly the rainfall within the calendar year varies little from one year to the next but it is less dependable as to the season in which it falls. On the basis of the average annual rainfall and the fact that this year has had a wet start I’m plumping for a repeat of last year’s dry summer... In the last issue I mentioned that the Park Authority was spearheading the Scenic Routes Project which will be rolled out throughout Scotland over the next ten years and was seeking funding to position one of the winning entries at the south of Loch Lubnaig. I am pleased to say that we have been successful in our efforts not only for the Loch Lubnaig site but also for two others. Work will start shortly with the aim to complete it by the end of March this year. The others sites are both on the A82 between Tarbet and Crianlarich. One is at Inveruglas and the other at The Falls of Falloch. Of the three projects only the Inveruglas site will be subject to a Planning Application. The other two are smaller scale projects which are covered by the provisions of permitted development under Class 33 of Planning Regulations. I am confident that these developments will add to the attractiveness of the area and provide a boost to the local economy A visit last month by Keith Brown MSP Minister for Transport highlighted another boost for our area with the announcement that £750,000 was being provided to Sustrans to work with The National Park Authority and The Forestry Commission to complete the cycle path from Strathyre to Kingshouse, And it doesn’t end there. The bridge at Glentarken has now been completed and a further step in the St Fillans to Lochearnhead cycle track is now in place. And efforts will continue to bring more funding to help develop more projects in the area. One point I would make is that in doing so the Park Authority will always be looking to find ways to ensure that it is not burdened by ongoing maintenance costs. Not everyone’s cups of tea - but statistics are part and parcel of the economic picture. Stirling Council will be running a couple of workshops to help


Sponsored by Caledonian Country Wear

The Club consists of a group of enthusiasts who meet regularly throughout the year to participate in a programme of strolls, rambles, hill walks and a Long Distance Path. Details are published on http://www. a m b l e r s . h t m in the Ben Ledi View and on posters around Callander. New members and guests are always welcome. Here are some dates for your diary: FEBRUARY 2014 • Wed 5th 9:30am Ramble: Leny Lime Quarry (6 miles) - contact 01877 331621 • Wed 15th 8:30am Hill: West Lomond (522m) - contact 01577 862799 • Wed 26th 9:30am Stroll: Leannoch Loop (5 miles) – contact 01877 376236 MARCH 2014 • Wed 5th 9:30am Stroll: In and around Airth (6 miles) - contact 01877 330446

A slightly wet start to the year...

community groups better understand information gathering to assist in the submission for grant applications. Community groups are being advised directly but in case your group has been missed the workshops are taking place in Stirling on 26th February and 5th March at 7PM - 9PM. For bookings and further details phone 01786233145. In the same vein the National Park Destination Group have commissioned the Moffat Centre to conduct a survey among Park Businesses. Scotland will this year play host to a number of important events such as the Commonwealth Games, The Ryder Cup, Bannockburn, Forces Day etc. and the Park Authority is working to ensure that every opportunity is taken to attract the people who attend these events to get even more benefit from their visit to Scotland by coming to The National Park. And finally this is the year of elections at the National Park Authority. Under our rules the Convener is elected for a period of three years by and from within the Park Board. The convener election will take place at our Board meeting on 17 February. In June the Park Community will get the opportunity to vote in the Five Directly Elected Board Members. I’ll let you have more details on that election nearer the time.

We meet in Ancaster Square, unless otherwise indicated. Please bring wet weather clothing, appropriate footwear and a packed lunch. And please let the walk leader know if you plan to join the walk via the contact number given!

Are you a sole trader... a partnership... a small limited company or charity? a I can offer help with your: a VAT returns • Tax returns Book keeping • Credit control a Payroll • General office/paperwork a Helen Clark a 07971 648743 01567 830459 a

Crawford Welcomes Funding for New Cycle Route Bruce Crawford, MSP for the Stirling constituency, has welcomed the announcement of new Scottish Government funding of £750,000 towards a new cycle path from Strathyre to Kingshouse. Commenting, Mr Crawford said: “I warmly welcome news that the Scottish Government will fund the construction of a new cycle path between Strathyre and Kingshouse, providing a safe offroad route for walkers and cyclists and encouraging a healthy alternative to driving and making good on the Scottish Government’s commitment to promoting cycling. “This work will also link up with other cycle routes, and I hope the new path will see an increase in the numbers of people choosing to cycle in what is a spectacularly beautiful part of Scotland.”

Are you in danger of losing your home or looking for other housing options? Do you know someone who is? If so, Stirling Council and Stirling Advice Partnership will be providing free confidential housing options and financial wellbeing advice in Callander Local Office on the following dates: Thursday 20th February Thursday 27th February Thursday 6th March Thursday 13th March Thursday 20th March Thursday 27th March There’s no need to make an appointment. Simply drop-in anytime between 9.30am and 12.30pm to speak to trained advisers. If you need further help they will point you i n the right direction. For an informal discussion about the advice we can provide contact Louise Tel: 01786 237900 e-mail:

Do you need a new home in Lochearnhead, Strathyre, Killin or Callander? If so,

Rural Stirling Housing Association may be able to help

The Association’s aim is to support rural communities by providing affordable good quality homes for people in housing need. We currently have 450 rented homes and around 30 of these become available for re-let each year. We also build some new homes each year. For more details and a housing application form contact us at:

Rural Stirling Housing Association Stirling Road, Doune FK16 6AA Telephone 01786 841101 Email Registered as a Scottish Charity No. SCO37849 Please note that we encourage all applicants to also apply to Stirling Council’s housing list (Tel 0845 277 7000) Being on both lists is the best way to maximise your chances of being re-housed.


Balquhidder, Lochearnhead & Strathyre Community Council Minutes of Meeting held at Mhor 84 (Kingshouse) on 11th December 2013

Please note that these minutes have not yet received formal approval and should be considered as a draft version only. Present: Alastair Barclay (AB), Paul Hicks (PH), Angus Cameron (AC), David Johnston (DJ), Susie Crammon (SC). Apologies: Adrian Squires, Roseanne McWilliams, Malcolm McNaughton, Karen Methven, Suzanne Player - Stirling Council (S-C). In attendance: Cllr Martin Earl (ME) - Stirling Council, PC Will Diamond (WD) - Police Scotland, Owen McKee (OM) - (National Park), Andrew Logie ñ RWE Npower Renewables Limited. 1) Approval of Minutes 1.1) It was proposed by AB and seconded by SC, that the minutes of the meeting on 25th September 2013 should be accepted, and this was approved unanimously. 1.2) It was proposed by SC and seconded by PH, that the minutes of the meeting on 6th November 2013 should be accepted, and this was approved unanimously. 2) Declarations of Interest No declarations were made. 3) Police Report PC Diamond reported that the previous month (6 Nov to 11 Dec) had seen just twelve offences reported, of which eight had been road traffic offences that were detected. Four thefts had also been reported, of which one had been detected so far. One offence had involved theft of metal from a farm, whilst the others were all thefts (or attempted thefts) from motor vehicles. To counter these offences, officers are conducting numerous vehicle checks, particularly during the hours of darkness. These will continue through the festive season with the usual emphasis on discouraging people from drinking and driving. There will also be checks carried out on licensed premises. In response to a question regarding the burglaries in the area, earlier in the year, WD stated that these were still under investigation. Forensic samples have been recovered and are still being analysed. 4) Hydroelectric Scheme - Kendrum Burn Andrew Logie gave a presentation on the proposed hydroelectric scheme at Kendrum Burn. Provided that planning permission is given, this is expected to go ahead in 2014. Under the terms of the company’s customary, community benefit package, the local community may opt to receive either an annual payment equivalent to £1,000 per megawatt capacity of the installation, or a single, lump-sum, payable in the first year of operation, but limited to the equivalent of between 10-15 years of annual payments. The only condition is that monies may not be used to campaign against the company’s hydroelectric schemes. The scheme in question will have a capacity of 0.75 megawatts and will be operated by the company for a period of forty years. Thereafter, the land-owner will have the option of continuing to use the scheme and any financial arrangements will become the owner’s responsibility. On this basis, our community may choose to receive £750 per year for forty years, or a lump sum in the first year of between £7,500- £11,250. Following discussion, it was agreed that this benefit should be handled by the BLS Trust. Consequently, it was decided to refer to the Trust the question of whether a lump sum or annual payment should be received. Action: PH to notify BLS Trust. 5) War Memorials - Refurbishment AB reported that he had established that S-C owns the war memorial in Lochearnhead, and funds for restoration could be made available from the Community Pride fund. The consensus from ex-military people in the community is that it should be refurbished in time to coincide with the commemoration of the end of the First World War. It was agreed that this work should be carried out, and AB undertook to make the necessary arrangements. 6) Schedule of Meetings 2014 A proposed schedule of meetings for the coming year was considered and accepted. It will be circulated to S-C and all interested parties. Action: PH to circulate. 7) Priority-based Budgeting - Local Priorities PH gave a summary of a proposal from S-C to adopt a new system of setting budgets in a five-year cycle. It will be known as Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) and feedback is bring sought from all community councils. It has come about because the national government continues to set a freeze on council tax, whilst inflationary pressures persist, so savings must be sought across the board. The proposed system identifies three options for achieving them: changing the way in which existing services are delivered; making existing services more efficient; and cutting part or all of some services. ME added that all three, combined options will amount to a saving of some £30M with the projected costs over five years being £29M. The cumulative effect of not implementing a particular option will increase significantly the gap between the two over this period. Consequently, if one option is removed, an equivalent saving will need to be made elsewhere. Hence, it is all about identifying priorities for the local community. He emphasized that councillors will have to produce hard evidence of a local community’s needs if such adjustments are to be made. The subject was discussed at some length and the following observations were made: the experience of being ignored in previous ‘consultations’ has left many people apathetic about the democratic process; the artificial constraint of freezing council tax could prove counter-productive if it leads to the loss of important local services; the new proposal does provide the opportunity of changing (and improving) the way that some services are delivered. It was agreed that AB, PH and DJ would consider S-C’s report on PBB, in conjunction with the Breadalbane Forum of Community Councils (BFCC), and bring proposals to the next meeting on how to respond. Action: AB, PH and DJ to prepare a response. 8) Community Emergency Plan PH explained that the CC has been invited to prepare an Emergency Plan to enable the local community to supplement the response from emergency services and other agencies, in the event of extreme situations such as bad weather or power outages. It was agreed that PH and DJ would prepare an appropriate plan and aim to present it for approval by Spring 2014. Action: PH and DJ to work on plan. 9) Correspondence 9.1) Stirling Credit Union. PH reported that correspondence had been received from S-C regarding the newly formed ìStirling Credit Unionî that has resulted from the amalgamation of three earlier credit unions in this area. It was agreed that this was a positive initiative that should be encouraged in our own communities. It was suggested that an article in The Villagers would be an appropriate way of publicizing it. Action: PH to circulate. 10) Planning Matters 10.1) Forest Lodge, Main Street, Strathyre. An application has been made to build three dwelling houses on a vacant plot, previously owned by the Forestry Commission. SC commented that nobody in the village seemed to be aware of this, and it would be helpful to have more time to consult with people. It was agreed that we should ask for further time to prepare a response to this application. SC agreed to liaise with others in the local community to sound out feeling about this. Action: SC to enquire further. 11) Matters From Local Councillors There were no additional matters to report at present. 12) Any Other Competent Business 12.1) Lochearnhead Toilets. AB reported that a resident from Lochearnhead had complained about the fact that the public toilets in the car park had been closed, and people were using the adjacent childrens’ playground to relieve themselves. Members agreed that this was not acceptable, but closing the toilets for winter maintenance probably could not be avoided. SC then queried whether the loch-side toilets at the new facilities beside Loch Lubnaig were going to remain closed. OM stated that they might be opened at weekends. Members commented that it was understandable if the building remained closed in winter, but surely the car park itself could be opened. AB offered to raise this point at the forthcoming Five Lochs Management Meeting. Action: AB to raise at Five Lochs Management Meeting. 12.2) Bye-laws in the National Park. OM stated that the N-P was considering the question of what additional powers (through bye-laws) might be useful in our area. Clearways and restrictions on the consumption of alcohol were particularly in view. It was agreed that the CC should invite Graham Archibald to the next meeting to provide further information. Action: Graham Archibald to be invited to next CC meeting. 12.3) Rural Broadband. ME stated that a definitive roll-out map will be produced in January to show where the improvements funded by the StepChange programme will be located. Community Broadband Scotland is also inviting people to register their interest in having better broadband facilities. PH added that it would probably fall to the CC to canvas support from local businesses or other significant users who might be prepared to finance the start-up of local initiatives for broadband provision. There was no other business and, at 9:10 p.m., AB declared the meeting closed. The next meeting is due to take place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday 15th January 2014 at Mhor84 (Kingshouse).


Gardening J A N U A R Y by Jonathan MacDonald Winter gardens offer some returns during the annual ‘garden recession’. The term arose more by accident than calculation from the Victorians, when gardens spilled out from the dilapidated glasshouses that were found to be too expensive to maintain.

The modern concept, with deliberate planning, has advantages to the amateur. Cambridge’s botanic gardens, arguably the finest modern professional example, can on a frosty mid January day emit a warmth of style and colour to last until the coming spring. Planning should ensure a balance between ‘leaflessness’ and ‘evergreeness’ - for bare twigs show different characters to plants when not swaddled in verdure. Scent, a compulsory agent, should feature - and some winter flowering shrubs hold wonderful aromas, albeit on rather nondescript flowers. I presently make a detour on my evening doggy walk to bathe in the heady cologne from a large Viburnum x bodnatense. On a still night I enter the zone along the pavement gathering in power till I am abreast this big pink blob then out the other side till at least ten yards pass before I am alone with the stars once again. Other beauties for the nasal passages are two classics which I find hard to procure. The protagonist of winter, Chimonathus praecox is one I dream of planting as an avenue but if I could just get hold of a single specimen I would be content. This plant provides a wonderful winter resource and is certainly well named “Wintersweet”. The Latin originates from the Greek winter flower and it is revered in China from where it originates as having an ability to endure severe winters. I have seen icicles on the small mustard flowers which would quickly destroy others only to melt away and burst forth its truly exquisite perfume. If you could bottle it and sell it fortunes would made and so I coin my new brand of perfume “Je vois Chimonanthes” mainly because I am not worth it. It appears these flowers are becoming popular with the tattoo artist mainly on the feet for some strange reason I can’t figure out. It is the smell you would want to capture in this area and I am reminded of an old friend whose wife changed the marriage vows to take this man only down to his ankles. Another equal partner is Lonicera fragrantissima a much under-rated honeysuckle that should be grown up beside your wheelie bins. This is the ideal place as you will

Colour all year round - the beautiful Botanic Gardens in Cambridge

enjoy the pleasure of taking the bins out so much more. The January jasmine says it all and it too comes from China where many great plants fit for Scotland originate, think rhoddies! But one from the other side is the Mahonia x media “Charity” whose vital statistics ensure a favoured place in a back corner or against a wall or fence. You can simply leave them alone and they will send up tall skyward spikes of yellow flowers. It is a very important and much used plant which I think deserves a place in most gardens and, cue the dramatic music; it is deer proof. Charity and Winter sun are the best varieties and were discovered as late as 1951 in a batch of chance seedlings between two species hence the letter x in between the name. Faith and Hope were also named at this time but they failed to make it into production as is common with many newly bred cultivars. Plants and animals for sure become extinct but

how bizarre that we can make new ones? The only catch is their infertility thus nurserymen take clones of these plants via cuttings and so the Mahonia ‘Charity’ you have in your garden is an exact clone of the original seedling still to be found growing in Windsor great park since 1953. The winter garden has moved on from an overuse of heather and conifers and has harnessed the forces of nature. Grasses whose burnt tones of brown and tan take so well a good dusting of frost can become a wonderful feature but not for the tidy minded. I once disturbed a very cosy hedgehog that was well duveted up in layers of dead grass in a big mixed herbaceous border thick with decayed grasses. The dead foliage eventually rots down and feeds the soil and has the added benefit of acting as a weed suppressant. I am so desiderate of such a style and envy those that have the calm to see it through.

Happy New Year to all our customers! Open 7 days a week: 9.30am -5pm New for 2014 Larger display areas and fully stocked with new and interesting cultivars in the spring. Garden consultancy and on site advice. Gardening course starts spring. Contact to sign up and for more information. On the main road A85 going East just before Comrie Contact: Jonathan MacDonald and the Riverside Team Tel: 01764 670800 13

BLS – Where Business Does the Talking

by Iona Mchedliani

This month I spoke with Florian MacLaren about his interesting work as a tree surgeon in Scotland today and all the different aspects it involves; from safety issues to finding unexpected guests at 50 feet up a tree! Florian - what made you decide to become a tree surgeon? When I was eighteen I worked for six months in the woods with Peter Matyjasek from Strathyre. Then when I moved back to this country from abroad I looked into it and started working at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, then from there decided to work with trees. How long have you been a tree surgeon? I have been a tree surgeon for seven years. What sort of qualifications or licences do you need to be a tree surgeon? The qualifications you need vary depending on the type and size of the job you’re doing. But it’s all NPTC qualifications. These are lifelong qualifications and are valid all over Europe. Courses range from one day to two weeks. Is there a lot of competition in the field of tree surgery? It’s a highly competitive field. The industry is squeezed by uninsured and unqualified people taking on jobs they shouldn’t. How was the business affected by the recession? It was hugely affected by the recession but it’s finally picking up again. How long have you been based in Balquhidder? I have lived here all my life, but I moved back here from Edinburgh about two years ago. What kind of services do you provide? I provide tree surveying, forest surveys, forest removal (so forestry work), and all types of tree surgery. Is there a limit to the size of the job you can take on? No, there’s no limit to the size of job I can take on. I will do anything from reasonable sized forests to 130 foot giant redwoods. What sort of equipment do you use? Chainsaws obviously are the biggest thing we use, and loads of ropes and harnesses. We always climb in a harness and have lots of personal protection equipment (PPE) like helmets, gloves, chainsaw trousers, chainsaw boots, but most of all you use your harness, your ropes and your chainsaws. 14

How do you ensure your safety? Through endless risk assessments (there’s a lot of legislation involved), safe practice in working, and making sure everyone on site has correct PPE. What part of Scotland do you cover? I cover the whole of Scotland. I’ve worked from up in Skye to Bute and everywhere really. Where are most of your clients located? The majority of my clients are located in Edinburgh, Comrie and Crieff. Which aspect of your work do you enjoy the most? Forest surveys and climbing large, dangerous trees. What’s the most difficult part of your job? Climbing large, dangerous trees in the rain in wintertime. Describe a typical day at work. There is no typical day at work in tree surgery. Every day you can be on a different site, sometimes you’re taking out a hedge, sometimes you’re taking out a huge tree, sometimes it’s a large forestry job, and sometimes it’s pruning someone’s apple tree. So there are always different situations and different types of work. What’s the strangest thing you’ve encountered in your time working in tree surgery? I’ve come across quite a lot of strange things. But one which sticks in the memory in particular was when I was working in Edinburgh up a large tree covered in ivy. It was an eighty foot tree, and when I was at about fifty feet I came across a fox’s den with two foxes in it which had nested right there in the tree at fifty feet! I then had to chase them out of the tree in order to remove it because it was a large dangerous tree, so I had to chase the foxes out before completing the work. How did they manage to make their den in the tree? When the ivy goes in to its flowering phase it starts to stick out up to two or three feet, rather than lying flat as it normally does. So when you get an old, gnarled tree with ivy like that one they can just climb right up through it. Do you have a favourite type of tree? Impossible to say really. Most tree surgeons will tell you that they hate Eucalyptus and Poplar for their weak

wood and the fact that they’re really dangerous, really snappy. Personally, I really like Rowans and Yew trees. Interested individuals please refer to:, or contact Florian directly on 07969920386, or at

Thanks to everyone who came along to Mhor 84 on Burns Night to celebrate the Bard! The packed restuarant was treated to the traditional piping in of The Haggis (thanks to Jonathan and Kieran) followed by the Address, courtesy of Charlie Hunter. Everyone joined in the singing, led by Victoria Scrivenor, pictured here with Magi, Gaylor and Gill. A great nicht oot! 15

McLaren High School News McLaren Duke of Edinburgh News The McLaren D of E Group has had another busy year with participants involved at all three levels of the Award – Bronze, Silver & Gold. The expedition season started in April and ended in October with walking expeditions at Bronze and Gold levels and both canoeing and cycling expeditions at Silver level. The group concluded the season this year with their Annual Award Ceremony and AGM on Wednesday 30 October. The evening, which included a number of expedition presentations, was well attended by both participants and parents. As well as awarding a number of sectional certificates to participants at Bronze and Silver levels of the Award, Mr Fleming presented the u young people with Certificates for achieving their full awards since last year: The group then held their Information Evening for the new Bronze Group on 13 November. The Silver Canoe Group delivered their expedition report as part of the evening’s presentations and as a result the following individuals have now also achieved their Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award: Beth Scott, Alasdair Craig and Craig Russell. Gold Award Earlier in July this year, former pupils Kirsty Fingland and Omar Al-Asadi were presented with certificates for their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (completed in 2012) at the Annual Award Ceremony in Holyrood Palace which was attended by HRH Earl of Wessex. (Photo with group being presented by Colin Downie, Charity Business Manager). Within the last week, the Group was delighted to receive notification from D of E Regional headquarters that the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards for Jamie Fraser, Daniel Mallin Martin and Ross Walker had been approved and the boys are now looking forward to a similar visit to Holyrood Palace next year to receive their certificates. In addition to the four day/three night Practice and Qualifying Expeditions, the youngsters undertook a five day Residential Course and a variety of other activities to complete their other sections : Volunteering (12months), Skill (6/12 months) and Physical (6/12 months). Daniel chose to volunteer his free time to support a younger pupil with autism, Jamie worked hard to achieve his 3rd kup in Taekwondo and Ross chose a residential course for Potential Army Officers. Badminton On 11 and 13 November some of the pupils from McLaren took part in a Stirling Schools Badminton Competition. This was a tough competition as there were 5 schools competing. The standard was high and the games were exciting! The McLaren pupils came together to win an outstanding number of medals including 4 golds, with an outstanding singles performance from Euan Woodley. Another 9 pupils qualified for the Central competition on 11 December, and the standard was suddenly stepped up. All of the pupils gave it their all and hope to return again next year. Alistair Orr S6


Louise Futurechef Futurechef is a competition open to all school pupils under 16. McLaren held its heat on Monday 9 December and 6 pupils took part. Kirsty Prentice S1, Bethan Rimmer S3 and 4 S2 pupils, Alex Robb, Louise Dineley, Laura Maskrey and Eve Scott. All the entries were of an extremely high standard and chef Mark Heirs from Callander Arms in Falkirk had a very difficult task in choosing the winner. Finally he, Mr Cotter and Mr Fleming awarded the 1st place to Louise Dineley (pictured right) for her delicious dish of Griddled Sea Bass on a Bed of Home Made Open Ravioli with a Chilli, Ginger and Garlic Sauce. Louise is now set to represent Stirlingshire in the Scottish Regional Heat in February where she will be presented with her own embroidered Chef’s Jacket to wear in the competition. From there, if she is successful, she could be on her way to London for the final. Good luck Louise!

Nicola The Queen’s Baton Relay Nominee Nicola Allan has been nominated as McLaren High School’s Baton Relay Representative. The baton will cover more than 118,000 miles averaging one to four days in each nation or territory, finishing its journey at the opening ceremony of the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on 23 July 2014. Here is what Nicola has to say about being given the honour of being part of the relay. ‘The Queen’s Baton Relay is our school’s chance to count down and make preparations for Scotland’s largest celebration of sport and culture. With sport having played such a huge role in my life I am honoured and privileged to have been nominated to represent McLaren High School in this exciting, and historic, once in a life time opportunity.’

Flag Football McLaren High Hornets took part in the first ever Flag Football Stirling University Community League that was organised, in partnership, by Active Stirling and Stirling University Clansmen. Stirling High, St Modan’s, Bannockburn and McLaren all took part and McLaren won the tournament - winning all of their games in the process. The event was held at Stirling University on Friday 6 December. Well done to Finn Rhys who won Most Valuable Player (MVP) at the tournament.

Christmas Concert The 43rd Annual Christmas Concert was a brilliant start to the festivities here at McLaren on Monday evening. The Orchestra, Brass, Strings, Concert and Swing Bands all shone from the first performance of ‘Christmas Festival’ to the final exit to ‘White Christmas’ and vocal groups sang their songs with Christmas cheer. There was a piano duet from Niamh Foulis and Finn Newton who played ‘Baby it’s Cold Outside’ whilst the S1 Boomwhackers and ukeleles added some sparkle with a ‘different’ arrangement of ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’! Well done to the audience who joined in and sang all the carols and Christmas songs to help put everyone firmly in the Christmas mood. A big thank you to the PTA who provided refreshments and organised the raffle - around £500 was raised for PTA funds. Also thanks to everyone who donated items for the hampers and raffle prizes. A special thank you must go to Janette and Jim Greer at The Therapy Room, McLaren Leisure Centre, who donated vouchers for any treatment with them and also sold raffle tickets on behalf of the PTA.

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Rangers’ Review By Gareth Kett

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

At the end of October, while my colleagues were delivering the autumn education, maintenance and biodiversity programmes, I was fortunate enough to be able to return to Madagascar with my wife Karen and our two years and eight month old son Tristan, as Karen resumed her in country work as Scientific Director for the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group (see The Villagers December 2012 edition). Naturally my professional focus lies with the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, but when you see conservation projects in other countries, or even in today’s mind-blowing natural history programmes, you realise that boundaries really are just lines drawn on maps by people and, of course, are not recognised by wildlife. I see the world as one place where organisations involved in conservation, including balancing the needs of man and natural ecosystems, all contribute towards the whole of making the world a better place for wildlife and therefore for people. While the people of Madagascar awaited Other on-going field-based fauna research the result of the initial round of the first projects included a fascinating year-long internationally recognized election since the study being carried out by an American political coup of 2009, Karen, Tristan and I student and her Malagasy counterpart made the arduous, but spectacular journey into the behavioural ecology of the indri, up to the field station/village Rendriendry, Madagascar’s largest extant lemur and the which lies on the southern limit the 2,200 black and white ruffed lemur, and a three day square kilometre strict nature reserve of long expedition by an international group Betampona. On the way up we passed a of herpetologists to find as many species of team of researchers and vets from St. Louis reptile as possible. There are already know to Zoo, who had been darting and fitting be at least seventy-six species of frog present collars to a number of lemur species in at Betampona (twenty-four endemic to the order to learn more about their behavioural reserve), making it one of the most important ecology. Unfortunately for Tristan, who last places globally for amphibians. year had learned to perfectly mimic the In a parallel with invasive species work communication grunts of white-fronted being carried out locally by Loch Lomond & brown lemurs coming into Rendrirendry to the Trossachs NP Authority, a Malagasy PhD feed on fruiting trees each evening, darting student is concluding his research into the around the village had made the lemurs wary control of Chinese guava, which is causing about leaving the forest before dark. biodiversity problems across the tropics, but The helicopter rescue


Lemur life

is great to eat, so is readily spread by birds, mammals and people. But this trip wasn’t to go to plan. In a freak accident, just a week into our stay, Karen broke her leg. Fortunately, through a very good friend, Colin, who works with the aid agency, Help Madagascar we were able to organise a helicopter flight with Swiss missionaries to the city of Toamasina. No helicopter had ever landed at Rendrirendy before so a landing area had to be identified and cleared of vegetation. The only suitable area was a disused cart track along a five metre wide ridge with steep slopes on either side. It is testament to the skill of the pilot that he was able to land (at the second attempt!) precisely where the helicopter wouldn’t topple from the ridge. MFG rangers carried Karen the five hundred painful metres to the helicopter in a bamboo chair and everyone

from the village turned out to wish us well and to see the helicopter land and depart. X-rays were taken in a flooded room in the dilapidated, rat and cockroach infested Toamasina hospital before a cast was put on and we settled into a seafront hotel where Karen could at least continue with her work and meet students and project partners. But within a few days it was apparent that the cast wasn’t holding the break in place and so we were advised by our insurance company to go by air ambulance to Johannesburg for further treatment. Once in Johannesburg Karen’s cast was replaced with a titanium splint and five long days later she was issued with a ‘fit to fly’ certificate allowing us to return home, but not before negotiating Johannesburg and Heathrow airports by wheelchair – another painful experience! Tristan, at least was able to continue his overseas wildlife education with trips to Johannesburg Zoo and the Lion Park between Johannesburg and Pretoria. Johannesburg Zoo is a zoo in progress with some very good exhibits and runs impressive conservation projects for the critically endangered crested crane and hooded vulture. The Lion Park is an eco-tourism destination focusing on the conservation of rare species such as white lions, cheetahs and cape hunting dogs. It is more or less a ranch where you can drive through small herds of zebra, wildebeest, impala, springbok, bushbuck, gemsbok, Blesbok and gazelle and also through very large enclosures with lion, cheetah and cape hunting dog. There are also opportunities to feed ostriches by hand, a giraffe feeding platform and in-situ raised lion cubs that children can stroke. Back in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park the recent storms since our return from Madagascar have meant that the focus of the Ranger Service has shifted towards clearing trees from parking and picnic areas, the cycle way and the West Highland Way . We have also been working with the Scottish Wildlife Trust monitoring red and grey squirrel population distribution and through the winter months are carrying out wetland bird surveys (WeBS) on local lochs. Our team leader, Craig has moved on to a new challenge, taking on the post National Park Volunteer Advisor. Suzanne Humphris, who has worked as a ranger in the Trossachs for almost ten years will be taking over as team leader for the Trossachs and Breadalbane Team beginning in the New Year. We wish them both well in their new roles. Hopefully you have all enjoyed a great festive season and I’d like to take the opportunity to wish you all a happy and successful 2014 from the Ranger Service. As always you’re welcome to drop into the Lochearnhead office if you have any queries or would like to report any wildlife sightings. Alternatively you can call me on the office number 01389 722040 or e-mail me at

Poor Karen - being brave in her improvised cast

Friends reunited!


News Release

Fourteen anniversaries for Stirling in 2014 Stirling Council Libraries and Archives Service have unveiled 14 historical events of interest to mark Stirling 2014. Stirling has witnessed a number of key events over the centuries that have helped to shape the future of Scotland, Britain, and Europe and in some cases – the world. Stirling Council archaeologist Murray Cook said: “People know about great battles like Bannockburn, but there have been many other fascinating events across the centuries. During 2014, we’ll be inviting local residents and visitors to join us in finding out more about our remarkable past.” Murray has selected two key anniversaries to highlight – the witchcraft trials of 1659 and the preparations for the D-Day landings of 1944. He said: “A dozen women were tried for witchcraft over the space of two days in March 1659. The charges were nonsense and the consequences were awful. Those found guilty were banished and would be strangled to death if they ever returned, and those found innocent had their lives ruined – accusations of that sort would stick whatever the judgment. “But where the witchcraft trials showed brutality and intolerance, the D-Day story was very different. The Allies managed to smuggle plans for the German fortifications off the French coast out of Europe in a biscuit tin. They built huge secret replicas near Sheriffmuir and tested different techniques and explosives. This was absolutely critical to the success of the D-Day landings.” Murray added: “Many events in Stirling’s history helped to shape Scotland, Britain and even Europe – but D-Day changed the world. You could almost say that the demise of the Nazis began near Dunblane.” The 14 key events chosen by Murray and his team at the Libraries and Archives Service are: January 2nd – 8th, 1746: Jacobites in Stirling, and February 1st, 1746, explosion at St Ninian’s Church February 13th, 1637: Cowane’s Hospital founded March 22nd – 23rd, 1659: Trial of 12 women for witchcraft in the Tolbooth April 1st – 8th, 1820: Radical Uprising (Baird and Hardie executed September 8th, 1820) May 24th – 25th, 1425: Trial and execution of Murdoch Duke of Albany at Stirling Castle and Mote Hill June 6th, 1944: D-Day landings (Second World War) June 11th, 1488: Battle of Sauchieburn and death of James III 20


All types of tree work undertaken Removal of dangerous trees Crown lifting, Crown reduction, High pruning,Removal of deadwood. All types of fencing erected Mole trapping References can be given. Free estimates

STRATHYRE. TEL 01877384248 07967143910

DOCTORS Unused Medicines Bracklinn Practice has recently signed up with a charity called Inter Care who sends unwanted and unused medication/surgical items to Africa. A list of the items we can send to them is displayed on the website and in the waiting room. The list will also be available in the next practice newsletter. If you have any unused medicines, please bring them along to the practice and put them in the box provided by the receptionists. Please take the label with your personal details off or score through the details with a thick pen to avoid any confidentiality issues. By handing in your unused medicines you will be helping some of the 9 million world’s poorest people. Work of Art Patients visiting Bracklinn Practice will now see a painting behind the reception desk of Bracklinn Falls. The painting was a gift from Pat our practice nurse who took up painting after her retirement. She designed it around photographs taken by Ian the Physiotherapist and her husband Tim. The practice would like to express our thanks to Pat and Ian for a beautiful original piece of art.

Leny Surgery

July 28th, 1914: Declaration of War (First World War) July 29th, 1567: James VI crowned August 6th – 14th, 1651: Civil War (siege of Stirling by General Monck) September 11th, 1297: Battle of Stirling Bridge and the inauguration of the Wallace Monument 1869 September 9th, 1513: Death of James IV at Flodden Field November 13th, 1715: Battle of Sheriffmuir November 1314: The first post Bannockburn parliament. A varied and high-quality programme of events is being developed for Stirling 2014 including two Homecoming 2014 Signature Events – Bannockburn Live and the Armed Forces Day national event. Other activities include; Stirling’s Hogmanay 2014, the Spirit of Stirling Whisky Festival, the Queens Baton Relay, Stirling Angling Festival and Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival. Stirling’s Provost Mike Robbins said: “We want to take the opportunity to make 2014 a year when we can help people discover more about many other times and events in the amazing past of a city that has always been at the very heart of Scottish history.” Stirling Council Old Viewforth, Stirling FK8 2ET Tel. 01786 404 040

Drs Strang & Scott and Drs Mathewson & Gibson Community Nurses The surgeries and community nurses take part in various training programmes throughout the year. This is to meet the educational and training needs of all members of the practice and nursing team. The next training afternoons will be on: Thursday 20th February 2014 Tuesday 4th March 2014 On these afternoons, please do not contact the surgeries for repeat prescriptions or for appointments. Both practices and community nurse clinic will close at 12.30pm. Emergency cover will be provided by NHS24 for nursing and GPs. In the event of an emergency, please telephone 08454 242424.

The ‘Elastic Band”

Hogmanay in Balquhidder

Organiser Iain Ramsay-Clapham and Niamh Lee

Here are some images from a great time at Balquhidder Village Hall on Hogmanay night. Well done, everyone who took part - whether you were on the stage, behind the scenes - or up on the dance floor!

Charlie Methven as ‘The Rev. I M Jolly’

Balquhidder’s Pipe Band. Go Abbey! Kids rock out!

Rebecca and Madeleine, accompanied by Iain, Kenny and Connor


Scottish Wildlife Trust In December, Dave Anderson, FCS Conservation Manager and member of the Scottish Raptor Group, spoke on the benefits of modern camera and tracking technology for research into the lives of Scottish birds of prey. Cameras not only allow identification of individuals by reading coloured leg rings and wing tags, but also provide previously unavailable information on behaviour. Early efforts using a cable to a video recorder gave ~1 day’s recording but today’s cameras can be left in place for a week while satellite tags can deliver live information from migrating birds. Cameras on osprey nests in the Trossachs identified females from Sutherland and the Black Isle while one ringed in Central Scotland nested in Wales. Food sources can also be recorded: a rare powan in a Trossachs nest must have been carried 10 miles while a Cowal nest had local flounders and mullet. Such information is often used in debates on the impact of raptors, eg. if rabbits are in short supply, buzzards have been shown to take small mammals such as moles and shrews rather than game birds. A link has also been recorded between a lack of development of golden eagle chicks when only small items of prey are available. Cameras trained on carcasses of wild animals have shown the importance of this food source to many species: golden eagles, sea eagles, ravens, crows, foxes, pine marten and badgers! Night videos have unexpectedly shown eagles, buzzards and peregrines feeding along with a pine marten removing lining from an eagle’s nest and a fox cleaning up a plucking post! If anyone missed this excellent talk there is a second opportunity on 4 Feb, 7:30pm, Raploch Community Centre, run by Stirling SWT group. In January we were taken overseas by Paul Barr who told of his experiences of Wildlife Policing in Nepal with Rangers

in Chitwan NP. This opportunity was funded under the Interpol-led Operation Prey, conducted across Bhutan, China, India and Nepal and targeting the illicit trade in Asian big cats and their derivatives. Paul’s 2012 2-week reviews of current practices in Nepal supported the aim to co-ordinate and develop international law enforcement best practices. Involvement of Interpol, World Wildlife Fund and the Nepal Police Central Investigation Bureau of Wildlife Crime Unit emphasises the high priority of the project but increased resources, including IT systems, will be needed. Nepal sits in a strategic position on trade routes between India, Tibet and China. Poaching of tigers is one of the most publicised wildlife crimes, reducing numbers from 100,000 to ~3000 over the past 100 years. Government targets are to double this by 2022. All parts of the tiger are of high value: skins for decoration and symbols of power, with the rest for traditional Asian medicines. With rhinos only the horn is of value but poaching reduced numbers from 800 in 1950 to 100 in 1966. Conservation efforts have achieved a rise to 503 in 2011. However, the wider trade includes many birds, mammals and reptiles; eg musk deer glands sell for £560 each (8 times a professional monthly salary). Unbelievably, 2 lorryloads of fur from 5000 endangered Tibetan chiru antelope, used for very fine shatoosh shawls, were worth $38million!! Phase I of Operation Prey led to nearly 40 arrests and the seizure of big cat skins, rhino horns, ivory and sea horses, in addition to flora such as protected orchid and cactus plants. Such cross-border operations are essential to stop profit-making from these despicable crimes, but how is the education of end-users being addressed to eradicate the driving demand? Lesley Hawkins

Golden eagle chicks

Scottish Wildlife Trust Callander Members’ Diary December to February 2013 Held in the Waverley Hotel, Callander at 7:30pm 11 February 2014 Poo and Plastic: Threats to Scottish Marine Life by Matt Barnes, Marine Conservation UK 11 March Wildlife Reintroduction by Johnny Hughes, SWT Director of Conservation All talks held in the back room of the Waverley Hotel, Main Street, Callander at 7:30pm Admission £2 members, £2.50 nonmembers, free to full-time students, includes tea/coffee & biscuits.

22 Ben Vorlich, from Glenbeich © Alistair Barclay

Farm Forum: Nature really does know best?

Building Stronger Communities


Getting to Know Your Community Researching and finding information and Statistics

What do you know about the community you represent? Information and statistics are becoming an important element of how resources are allocated and cover a huge variety of issues affecting communities. This training looks at what information is available to communities - and what you can do with statistics. Whether interested in getting statistics for grant applications or to find out more about what’s needed in your area – this training will help you get started. By the end of the training you will: • Increase your understanding on where to get information on your community • Increase your knowledge of what the statistics and information mean for your community • Start to explore how to use information  This training session is aimed at management committees of community and voluntary organisations. Places are limited, please book early. The workshops will be held on Wednesday 26th February and Wed 5th March 2014 ACE Cornton, Cornton Community Centre, Johnston Ave, Stirling FK9 5DD 7.00pm – 9.00pm Tea/coffee provided The session will be facilitated by Pauline Roberts, Anne-Marie Timmoney and Paul McNamara (Research Officer, Stirling Council). Please note - booking is essential! 01786 233145 Please include in your email your groups name, contact person and their telephone number and how many people attending.

I read a very interesting article the other day by Duncan Morrison who is Chairman of Inverurie Junior Agricultural Club. I intend to devote this article to his comments. “I don’t think anyone really knows what the future holds for Scottish farming, but I’m sure it won’t be a smooth ride. With a world population set to reach nine billion by 2040 and some predicting it will reach eleven billion by 2050, food and water supplies will become much more valuable than they are at present.Forget oil and gas, food and water are what countries are most likely to be fighting about in the future. In the near future, as countries such as China and India become more affluent and populous, I can see an expanding market for our most sought after farm produce.However in the much longer term, the use of meat production, particularly beef and lamb, to feed the burgeoning population could be at risk. Already, agriculture is under pressure to reduce methane emissions not to mention the ever increasing band of animal welfare groups. Some argue that feeding animals to feed humans is uneconomical and that we should grow cereals instead. I believe this to be a short sighted view, most notably because the majority of Scotland is not suitable for cropping. Moreover the benefits that livestock bring to our industry are often under estimated. Recently I was doing a bit of research online about different grazing techniques and came across a video by Allan Savory. Whilst working to reduce desertification (where productive land becomes arid and infertile) in Central Africa, he studied the influence that cattle had on the situation.

Desertification is affecting up to two thirds of the world’s land area and effectively reducing the area that can be farmed to produce food. The commonly held view in Africa was that one of the main factors causing desertification, along with climate change, was the overgrazing of vegetation by livestock. This leads to poorer root structure and more water evaporation, because less could be stored within the plants. He eventually came to the conclusion that this was totally wrong and set about increasing stocking rates by 400% and grazing them in a mob. The large herds were moved to new areas frequently, mimicking their natural grazing habits. This meant that some grass was trampled, instead of grazed, shading the soil from the sun, improving soil organic matter, and vitally, safely storing carbon in the soils (helping reverse the trend of global warming). It also helped to spread dung evenly and keep moisture in the ground. Grazing plans were set up so that the grass got more rest to grow back, instead of being constantly grazed as it was before, even though traditionally, stocking rates had been in decline due to the lack of grass. Soil fertility improved so much that he (Allan Savory) believes he has found the solution to desertification, famine and global warming all by using livestock.” Duncan Morrison concludes, “Will it solve all the world’s problems? Probably not, but I think it goes to show how valuable livestock can be in the right system.” He adds that if the powers that be continue to allow livestock numbers to decline in this country, there could be more consequences than meet the Agricola eye.



Travellers’ Tales

Summer holiday August 2013

by Andrew Drysdale

The choice was simple. Alaska with the kids or Rhodes. Rhodes won by a vote of 3 to 1. And so it was that we set off on the 7th of August for 2 weeks to the sun drenched Greek Island of Rhodes. Four pleasant hours in reasonable comfort took us from Glasgow to the Airport just outside Rhodes Town. We were to travel about 50 minutes by Taxi to Kalathos on the South Eastern side of the Island, about two thirds of the way down the coast near Lindos. Having arrived around 9pm, the days heat was still in evidence as we drove with the windows down, thoroughly enjoying the warm balmy air. The Hotel was everything we could have hoped for and the accommodation was fine with air conditioning and an adjoining room for the children. After breakfast on the 8th we had agreed to meet with the holiday representative in the lobby to discuss the various excursions on offer, not that this was particularly high on our agenda. We met Rian, a delightful Dutch lady who was promoting a range of activities from traditional Greek evenings to Jeep Safaris and she spelt out  the options. As an afterthought she mentioned a Jungle Tour. A what? we asked. A Jungle Tour, she reaffirmed. We dug deeper and it emerged that just North West from our Hotel was a fully blown bamboo jungle and a larger than life host by the name of Nikos Papas who ran this tour. Being a family who love outdoor activities we booked for the following Saturday and awaited with keen interest to see what we were letting ourselves in for. 9am Monday we squeezed on to the last 4 seats of a tour bus and headed for about 20 minutes by road up in to the nearby mountains. At this stage we did not know that only two other families were booked on this tour out of the 50 or so bus passengers. Stopping at a prominent hairpin bend on the mountain road we quickly stepped down from the bus. We breathed a sigh of relief to note that there were just 12 people in total involved in our Tour. Lying sleeping on the banking was a strange looking individual in traditional Greek clothing including pantaloons and the remains of a straw hat on his head held together by a sprig of green twigs. Swimming in the grotto Before the Bus departed the tour guide handed a jug of water to one of the young lads in our party and told him to throw it over the sleeping Greek. Being of good heart and full of mischief he did just this, and Nikos sprung in to life. Fluent in many languages he welcomed us to Rhodes and to his This section led in to a wide valley and few Jungle Tour. He explained the Jungle is a natural feature and has been hundred yards further on we were again in a in existence for as long as anyone remembers and thankfully it is narrow ravine with steepening sides. Those who felt brave swam in a series of deep pools completely ignored by almost everyone including locals. Nikos Not knowing what to expect we started walking in to the blazing while the others were able to walk along a sun on a dusty but well-made path.   Hot, yes, it was very hot and secure path. very dry except for the irrigation channels running down the path Eventually we came to a waterfall, flowing out of a deep cave which had side. Nikos kept us pretty much in suspense until we arrived at the stalactites and stalagmites visible in its upper levels. A natural waterside delightful little church of Aleimonitria, precisely in the middle of was visible and with a bit of scrambling up a small cliff it was possible to gain the top of the waterfall and slide down in to a large pool at its base. nowhere, amongst a grove of well-maintained olive trees. At this stage he explained that his name was Nikos Papas and Most of the party joined in with this fun including Jennifer who, at three, that he was the son of a Greek Papas or Greek Orthodox preacher. was definitely viewed as quite the young heroine! He said that as a child he accompanied his father and mother on We played for an hour or so before returning to the clearing where their religious duties through much of the island where his father Nikos passed out beer, ouzo and soft drinks, and we relaxed on hammocks carried out his preaching duties and the usual weddings funerals and straw chairs while he  prepared Greek salad and all the trimmings. and christenings. Greek tradition and snippets from his childhood By this time the members of our party had become quite close, as you do when sharing an unusual experience. The camaraderie grew as Nikos activities form a major part of Nikos Jungle tour. (More later). Half a mile further up the trail we were on a high spot on the path had us performing Greek dances on the shores of the stream and he even had one of the couples dressed in wedding gear in a retake of their wedding overlooking this incredible bamboo jungle. Then, we stepped off the side of the path down a steep embankment vows - Greek style. The wedding rings were made from delicate grasses and in to water course about 6 inches deep. Following this for about plucked from the jungle floor. It may sound daft but it was just the greatest 5 minutes we arrived in a clearing next to a small lake. The jungle fun we have had for years. But you no sooner laughed at the exploitation of covered us completely and we were amazed that there were no bugs, some poor member of the group then it was your turn! I have visited Jungles in Hainan Island off the coast of China, in Thailand mosquitoes or any other biting creatures. We left most of our belongings at this clearing and set of up a small and down on the Cambodia border, but for me this was the best ever jungle stream towards a prominent ravine. Most of the daylight was shut out visit. and the temperature was just perfect. Entering the ravine we noticed It’s an experience worth trying - so if you find yourselves on a holiday to that there were hundreds of butterflies drifting about. These were Rhodes, be sure to try this out. Take a good set of trainers - and don’t wear in bright colours until they landed, and on landing they blended so flip flops - they can become lost deep in the mud of this jungle swamp! perfectly with the background that they were all but invisible. The Nikos Papas can be contacted on sun filtered through the canopy of the jungle and it seemed that each butterfly was surrounded by a halo of fine dust. Just amazing! and Rian De Groot (tour organiser) on As we started on, the stream rose in a series of small waterfalls. 24

Festive Period The festive period has passed and we now find ourselves looking forward to the year ahead. The festive period in general was busy but there is nothing of note to report on, which is always a good sign. Throughout the festive period, my colleagues and I carried out checks on all licensed premises and thankfully only found some minor issues which could be dealt with at the time. Road checks were also carried out and although we didn’t find anyone too far over the drink drive limit to report them to the courts, several people were driving with alcohol in their body which I was disappointed with. These drivers are now on our radar and will find themselves stopped when we see them to ensure that they are not endangering themselves or other road users.  

Road Safety There has been an increase in the number of vehicles that we have stopped due to defects. Most of the defects that we are finding will be dealt with by means of a 21 day rectification slip; however there is every chance that depending on what is defective and whether you have been caught before, there could be a fine and penalty points issued. Considering that the minimum fine amount for a fixed penalty is now £100, it could be rather costly if you are found with defective lights or tyres. It can also be rather costly if you were to find yourself involved in a collision. If we were to find that your vehicle was suffering a defect, you could be put to blame for the collision which would have an impact on your insurance.   Whilst mentioning insurance, it may be prudent to ensure that your documentation is in order. Insurance and MOT details are now held electronically by the DVLA allowing police to check very quickly. If found to be driving with no insurance, then along with a fine and points, your vehicle will also be seized.   Just this week, I have been working along with Strathyre Primary School to highlight the road safety message to the kids. The age old saying of “truth from babe’s mouths” was definitely true and the some kids openly shared with me how they didn’t have booster seats or wear seatbelts like they should be when in their parent’s cars. Please ensure that this is not the case, it will be something that I will be checking in the coming weeks.   Another issue that has been highlighted lately is the use of scrambler and quad bikes in the villages. The issues are in relation to who is using them and where they are being used.

Rumour has it that the persons using the bikes are under 16, and they are using them on footpaths and roads.   I must stress that children under the age of 16 should not be using any of these machines without direct adult supervision. This could constitute a serious offence and if found to be the case, the parent or guardian could find themselves being held in police custody to appear at court the next lawful day.   In relation to where they can be used, they can only be used on private land with the permission of the landowner. They are not to be used in public spaces, whether that be on a road, a pavement or on footpaths (that includes the Forestry tracks/paths). If you wished to use them on the road, they would require to be registered, display a registration number, and the rider have the relevant documentation including a licence and insurance.   I mentioned the subject during the input to the school kids last week and I will stress it again. If I find them being used in public places, I will seize them and parents will either be fined or potentially arrested as I mentioned above.   Special Constables As many of you will be aware, as well as regular Police Officers working in the area, we are assisted on a regular basis by Special Constables who freely give up their time to come and work shifts alongside us in order to make your communities safer places to live, work in and visit. I would like to pass on my personal gratitude to those Special Constables who are volunteering with me on a regular basis and will continue to do so throughout the coming year. Their help is invaluable and they all bring a different set of skills to the table. Given that they all have other “day” jobs, they can’t always be out which is why we are looking for others to join them. Do you think you could do it?   Police Scotland is actively recruiting both regular and Special Constables, and what better way to make a difference. The next intake for Special Constables is likely to be in March 2014. This year is going to see a lot of big events planned all across Scotland, from the Commonwealth Games, through to the Ryder Cup, and also events such as the Bannockburn celebrations and Homecoming. As a Special Constable, you would have the opportunity to assist at all of these events, along with working in the local area if you wanted to do so.   If you wanted to work in this area, you would become involved in everything from road accidents, through

to mountain rescues, missing persons enquiries or major incidents to name but a few. We also run several planned operations over the course of the year, looking at road traffic offences, licensing or ASB through Operation Ironworks, as well as being involved in events such as Highland Games or school talks. As well as being the local community officer, I am also expected to be the first response to any call that comes in so you just never know what a shift can have in store for you. The job is diverse but can be demanding. Special Constables can act as a positive force for change - bringing with them an extensive pool of skills, talents, experience, local knowledge and diverse backgrounds - as well as enhancing the overall level of service provided by the police. All applications will be subject to the newly standardized recruitment and selection process for Police Scotland. Those who are successful will benefit from a revised training programme which is closely aligned to the content of the initial training provided to Probationer Officers, currently delivered at the Scottish Police College. If joining the police is something you can see yourself doing in future years, then becoming a Special could be a good way to get experience of the job first hand. Here are some of the entrance criteria to be met: • You must be 18 to be appointed as a Special Constable. • You must be physically and mentally able to undertake police duties. • You must not have an occupation or business interest which will be considered to be a conflict of interest with the role of a special constable. • You must meet the mandatory national eyesight standard • Only applications from British citizens, EU/EEA nationals, Commonwealth citizens, or foreign nationals with indefinite leave to remain in the UK will be accepted. • You cannot apply if you have submitted an application that is still being considered by any other police force. • You cannot apply if you have been rejected for any reason in the last  6 months by any police force. For full details on entrance criteria and becoming a Special please visit http:// special-constables   As always, I can always be contacted on 101 or for those who prefer email, I can be contacted directly at william.diamond@ Will Diamond



We’ll send you or your friends The


£14.00 for 11 monthly issues (£37.00 for Europe and £47.00 for the rest of the world). We are sorry about the increased costs to our valued overseas readers, due to the new postal rates imposed by the Post Office! All you need to do is to post the completed form to: BLS NEWSPAPER ASSOCIATION, GARDENERS COTTAGE BALQUHIDDER FK19 8PB, SCOTLAND Cheques should be made payable to: THE BLS NEWSPAPER ASSOCIATION Remittance enclosed £ .........................(do not send cash) Please send copies of The Villagers starting on ................................. for 11 months To: NAME .......................................................................................................................... ADDRESS: ........................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................POSTCODE .............................. SENDER’S NAME & ADDRESS IF DIFFERENT FROM ABOVE Please send copies of The Villagers starting on ............................... for 11 months NAME ................................................................................................................................ ADDRESS .......................................................................................................................... ........................................................................................................................................... ........................................................................................POSTCODE................................

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Laptop Repair Service All types of repairs carried out from physical damage to data recovery

Neil Law

laptop Technician

Tel 01567 830314 Facebook: NHL Laptop Repair

Printed by Graphics and Print Services, University of Stirling Tel: 01786 467209 email: Published by The BLS Newspaper Association


• The Villagers’ Contacts • Jill Johnston Editor Gardeners Cottage Balquhidder FK19 8PB 01877 384227

Gill Allan Production Manager Stronvar Farm Balquhidder Lochearnhead FK19 8PB 01877 384203

Alistair Barclay Photographer & Advertising Coordinator Dalvaich, Glenbeich Lochearnhead FK19 8PZ 01567 830453

Other Contacts...

Helen Clark Business Manager 07971 648743

Copy Deadline Day is the 21st of the month. Send your contributions to:

contac t@the Please help us to get The Villagers to you as soon as possible!

• DIARY DATES • We e k l y A c t i v i t i e s Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Bowling - St Fillans

BLS Lunch Club - Lochearnhead Scout Station - 12.30-2.30pm

Keep Fit - Lochearnhead Hall - 10.30 to11.30am Gaelic Playgroup - Balquhidder Hall - 10.30am to 12.30pm (Contact Abbey Arkotxa 01877 384671) Scottish Slimmers - Lochearnhead Village Hall - 7pm to 8pm Badminton - Balquhidder Hall - 8.00pm Country Dancing - St Fillans Yoga - Balquhidder Hall - 11.00am to 12noon (contact Ann Cobbett 01877 376291) Youth Club - Lochearnhead Hall - 7.00 to 9.00pm Metafit Classes - Strathyre Village Hall - 8.00pm Choir Occasional - Balquhidder Hall - 7.30pm to 9.00pm Playgroup - Lochearnhead Hall - 10.00am-12 noon. Mel Brydie 01877 384668 Ballroom Dancing - Lochearnhead Hall

FEBRUARY 2014 11 SWT Talk ‘Poo and Plastic’ - see p22 14 ‘Mr & Mrs’ Valentines’ Shindig - Strathyre Hall - 7.30pm - see p2 14 Valentines Dinner - Golden Larches - see p15 19 The Villagers AGM - Strathyre Inn - 7.30pm - see p2 MARCH 2014 10 Lochearnhead Village Hall AGM - 7.30pm - see p2 27 Gardeners Question Time - 7pm - see p2 Councillor Martin Earl Stirling Council, Old Viewforth, Stirling FK8 2ET 01786 443497 Mobile 07881 310 922 Councillor Alycia Hayes Stirling Council, Old Viewforth, Stirling FK8 2ET 01786 443497 Mobile 07881 310 924 Councillor Fergus Wood Stirling Council, Old Viewforth, Stirling FK8 2ET 01786 443497 Mobile 07824 496 019

Lochearnhead Contact: Ali Ferguson 01567 830 405 Strathyre Contact: Wullie Dalziel 01877 384 384 Mobile 07768 221661 St Fillans Contact: John Murray 01764 685 487 Mail Order Distribution: Hilda Astbury 01877 384 681

The Villagers’ Photographer Alistair Barclay is available to attend village functions and take photos if contacted in plenty of time. CDs of photos are also for sale. Please phone him on 01567 830453

CHURCH SERVICES Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Strathyre and St. Fillans CHURCH OF SCOTLAND

Balquhidder Parish Church Registered Charity No. SCO12316 Sunday 12 noon Minister: Rev John Lincoln The Manse, Killin Tel: 01567 820 247 Dundurn Church, St Fillans Sunday11.30am Minister: Rev Graham McWilliams Tel: 01764 671 045

ROMAN CATHOLIC Callander, St Joseph the Worker Sunday 11.30am Saturday Vigil Mass 5.30pm from May through to September Killin, in the Episcopal Church Sunday 2.30pm Father Jim McCruden 2 Ancaster Square, Callander Tel: 01877 330 702

SCOTTISH EPISCOPAL CHURCH St Angus’s Church, Lochearnhead First and third Sundays of the month: Holy Communion at 11.15am. Second and fourth Sundays of the month: Evensong at 6.00pm Fifth Sunday of the month: please see church noticeboard. Vestry Secretary - Mary Barclay Tel: 01567 830453


Bridge over Glentarken, Gardening, View From The Park, Where Business Does The Talking, Rangers Review, McLaren High School News, The Voice...


Bridge over Glentarken, Gardening, View From The Park, Where Business Does The Talking, Rangers Review, McLaren High School News, The Voice...