Did You Know

Minister’s Musings

flowershow14 - opening speech (3)Harmony in times of discord.

‘Live in harmony with one another…’ (Romans 12:16)

Listening to a barbershop chorus, my mind drifts back to childhood sitting around the kitchen table hearing my Grandpa Paul singing but not just singing – harmonising. Song in this house was not everybody singing the same notes all in tune. With Grandpa Paul and Grandma Daisy harmonies rang out.  Only later did I learn how difficult harmonising with others is if one was only seeking to sing what was the CORRECT note without listening. Yes, the desire to hit the note as purely as possible was there however, often Grandpa and later my mother would sidle up next to one of us and gently mimic and draw us nearer the note we needed to be singing. We learned by listening and mimicking. The discord turned to harmony as we listened and sought the notes that work together.

Seeking harmony when the notes are out of whack and no one is listening for the pitch or to each other is hard and wearying work. My heart aches for our world where discord and dissonance reign in communities, in cultures, in countries, in corporations. My heart aches at the cacophony of sounds and words I am bombarded with moment to moment. The balance feels off and I sense we are not necessarily listening to or for each other anymore. The discord is very apparent in the political realm where the CORRECT statement is uttered without consideration of the question being asked and responses retorted back without necessarily understanding. I wonder if the current approach is to increase discord rather than seeking a better way through.  I fear discord will only deepen as time marches on.

I do not expect everyone to speak the exact same words nor believe the identical ideas. Harmony in life and music is never about uniformity across the board. Harmony is each note working together for the whole, each part listening for the interactions playing off the others, every person listening and communicating with the others as part of something bigger than themselves. I hope, pray and commit to working toward greater harmony through the discord. Not one of us can get through life without others. We are all in this together and it would benefit us all if we sought harmony even with those with whom we see no connection. I hope we recognise the discord for an opportunity and in turn seek the harmony through listening and trying to understand one another. I pray for all those who find themselves ignored, forgotten, and drowned out. May we find a way together. Blessings, Ellen

Special Services at Kippen Kirk in coming months:

All-age service for Remembrance Sunday at the War Memorial at the Cross at 10.50 am, followed by service in Kippen Kirk at 11.15 am on Sunday 10th November

All-age Dress up Nativity and Carol Service on Sunday 15th December at 11.15 am

Christmas Eve, all-age service at Norrieston Church, Thornhill at 6 pm

Christmas Eve Watchnight service with carols from 11.15 pm at Kippen Kirk

Christmas Day all-age service at 10.00 at Kippen Kirk

All welcome for worship on Sundays at 11.15 am and for our special services!

Rev. Ellen Larson Davidson
Minister, Kippen linked with Norrieston

Did You Know


Stirling MP Stephen Kerr has this week launched a banking survey, aimed at gauging perceived and real access to banking services in rural areas.

The survey focuses on questions about banking in your area, personal banking habits, and banking experiences. It follows the recent closure of bank branches in Bannockburn, Bridge of Allan and Dunblane which have further reduced the bank branch coverage across the constituency. The survey also tries to find out what services people are using and how the Post Office banking services are being used.

Link to the survey: https://www.stephenkerr.org/banking

Stephen Kerr MP said:

“I’m encouraging everyone living in Stirling to take part in my survey, which will allow my team and I to identify the areas where banking coverage is poorest, and where the most attention is needed to improve availability. The banking world has drastically changed over the last 10 years and we must make sure the system works for everyone, and that there is access to the services needed on a day-to-day basis. “


Did You Know

New Multiple Sclerosis Group Launched in Stirling

Stephen Kerr, MP for Stirling, was invited to visit the newly established Multiple Sclerosis support group in Stirling. The MS Society has established this group to provide support and a social network for those suffering from this debilitating illness and their families who often find themselves isolated.

The group will hold regular meetings and events and provide a much needed opportunity for people affected by MS from across Stirling and Clackmannanshire to come together.

The Group is being officially relaunched as the previous group lapsed some time ago but it is clear there is a need for one.

Stephen heard that a particular problem is the amount of time it takes for those diagnosed with the disease to get their disabled drivers – Blue Badges- renewed. Stephen has previously been contacted by people experiencing very similar problems and who have long term illnesses. Not only is there the problem of the amount of time taken by the Council to get a badge renewed but it raises the question of why those dealing with a long term prognosis need to re-apply at all. Stephen has raised this with the DVLA.

Stephen Kerr said:-

“I was delighted to be present at the official launching of the new group. It is something that is vitally needed in the area and I applaud the commitment of Alistair, Emma and others in getting the show back on the road. I am sure the new group will be extremely successful and will be welcomed. I would also ask that anyone experiencing any problems with their disabled driving badge applications to get in touch with my office.”

Alistair Boyd – The co-ordinator for the new group, said:-

As this is a new committee, we are looking to raise as much awareness as possible to help assist MS sufferers in the Stirling and Clackmannanshire area, by hosting monthly events allowing MS sufferers and their families to try something new for the first time and meet other people in a similar circumstances. All events will be held with the aim of bringing people together in a comfortable environment which is a key aspect of the disease and keeping the mind active. We welcome anyone who would like to attend or help support us.

The group meet at the Springkerse View Pub & Grill. For details and dates, please contact the MS Society Stirling & Clacks  Facebook page, or email stirling@mssociety.org.uk.


Meghan Bradford, Joanne Saunders, Stephen Duddy, Alisdair Milne, Alisdair Boyd, Emma Boyd with Stephen at official ‘opening’ moment.


Did You Know

Balfron Bus changes


First Bus once again dropped an August bombshell by submitting a proposal to alter times and frequency on every Balfron bus service. These changes, due to start on October 21st gave communities just 12 days to consider the changes and submit their views by 27th August.

Stirling Council was tasked with facilitating a meeting to inform residents. This took place on 21st August. They also provided contact details in the form of an email address and telephone number for people to send comments directly. Bruce Crawford, Stephen Kerr and our three local Councillors were immediately contacted. They were all unable to attend the meeting at such short notice due to prior engagements. They in turn wrote to First Bus. We contacted the Stirling Observer and invited them to the meeting as well as Greig McKay, Bus Users Scotland. The Stirling Observer followed with a comprehensive article in their next edition.

Despite another event the same evening regarding the new housing development in Killearn, the McLintock Hall was packed with standing room only. This was the first-time residents saw the complete timetable and became aware of the real impact of the changes. First Bus, underestimated the strength of community outrage and failed to print enough copies of the proposed timetables. They therefore had to ask the depot for more to be printed. Even so, there was still not enough to go around.

The proposed timetable was much worse than anticipated, affecting all weekday buses – also, reducing our Saturday service to every 2 hours or more. The timetable was complicated as all buses served by the Balfron Depot had been renamed and amalgamated into 2 new services: the X10 and X10A.

The existing (B12) Balfron to Stirling route is the worst affected; both in terms of service reductions and time changes. First Bus have introduced a new Glasgow-Stirling via Aberfoyle route called the X10A. This appears to be at the expense of our Balfron-Stirling route. (X10) First Bus stated all journeys will go straight through to Glasgow which is untrue. This new timetable will have far reaching consequences for all western commuters who require access to Stirling.

When the early morning buses were cut, this prevented people accessing employment, trains, universities and colleges. However, after considerable public outrage we are pleased to report these have now been re-instated although the changes to the remaining timetable will cause significant disruption, particularly for residents travelling either side of Balfron.

When questioned directly, First Bus admitted it was they themselves who withdrew from the Balfron School Contracts and that the current changes were a commercial decision taken at a higher level than those present at the meeting. It was also put to First Bus that as we already know, the FirstGroup are proposing to sell the UK bus division. “Was it not the case that this was the first stage in an effort to maximise profits in the lead up to a sell off?” No concrete answer was given.

First Bus was lambasted for the short notice given to the public in order to respond to such significant network changes and the fact that none of our elected representatives were able to attend. Brian Peat, First Bus commercial manager implied that we were lucky to have been consulted at all, and that a few years ago these changes would have gone straight through. We pointed out that this was exactly what happened in 2016. Bus operators are in fact obliged to consult stakeholders prior to any changes. Following the meeting, western villagers were rightly outraged and expressed their views directly to both Stirling Council and First Scotland East.

We must not underestimate the impact these changes will have on the lives of rural residents, both in terms of time changes and reduced frequency of journeys. Our elderly and disabled from the different villages once again face long journeys to hospitals.

Two bus service times causing concern that we are pursuing are the 13.00 from Stirling to Balfron which is a well-used bus service, particularly by part-time workers and those volunteering in Stirling. Also, the current 15.55 from Glasgow arriving in Kippen at 17.37 with the latter slot been given to the X10A. We have approached Stirling Council with a view to providing DRT [1] access for passengers coming off this bus at Balfron. Ongoing to print, there is still no word regarding the pilot Sunday Service being introduced on our neglected Balfron to Stirling route.

By the time you receive your copy of The Wee Vine the changes may well have started and we would urge residents to remind anyone they know who is likely to use bus services, especially occasional users. They are the most likely to get caught out by the timetable changes and could face significant delays.

([1] DRT = Demand Responsive Transport.  These DRT services operate like a taxi and cost around the same as bus fare.  They typically operate in local areas where there are few or no conventional bus services.  The exact route and stopping points are usually flexible but in all cases all journeys must be booked in advance.)


Val Brand


Information is available at McNicoll’s Country Store.

Full Timetable Available Here




Did You Know

New Eyecare centre opened in Balfron

Local MP, Stephen Kerr, officially opened ‘Balfron Eyecare’, the new comprehensive centre based in Balfron last week.

The business is owned and operated by Optometrist Susan McGarry who has over sixteen years’ experience, including a diploma in Therapeutic Prescribing that enables Susan to carry out treatment of a wide range of ocular medical conditions directly. The new business will be providing professional eye examinations, high quality eyewear at exceptional value and excellent local service.

Balfron Eyecare provides:

NHS funded eye examinations

High quality affordable range of glasses

Contact lenses fitting and aftercare

Children’s eyecare

Red eye and dry eye treatments


The centre is located at 20 Buchanan Street in Balfron.  The centre will provide a service for people across west Stirlingshire. At present people have to go to Stirling or Milngavie and that can present a problem for those with eyecare conditions, often meaning they are unable to drive.

Stephen Kerr said:

“I was delighted to be asked to perform the official opening and to welcome such a great local business for people across these rural communities. I’m sure the centre will be well supported given the wide range of services available and the opportunity to access them much more locally than before. Our local entrepreneurs are the back bone of high streets and always understand the need to provide excellent customer service.”

Susan McGarry said:

“This is really exciting and I look forward to welcoming people to our new centre.  I wanted to be able to provide as wide a range of services as possible but maintain great value for money. Everyone has been so welcoming and what a lovely place Balfron is to run a business from.”

Further Information

Balfron Eyecare, 20 Buchan Street, Glasgow G63 0TT

Tel: 01360 441000

e-mail: balfroneyecare@gmail.com

Opening hours:

Monday & Sunday – closed; Tuesday to Friday – 09:00-17:00; Saturday – 10:00 -16:00

Closed for lunch 12:30-13:30

Eyecare centre

Did You Know


Contact the Elderly logo

The older person’s charity Contact the Elderly has linked up with Reading Friends to help tackle social isolation in the Forth Valley.

Working in partnership with the reading initiative, developed by The Reading Agency and funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, the programme will use a shared interest in reading to spark conversations and encourage new friendships among group members and volunteers.

Contact the Elderly works across the Forth Valley and the rest of Scotland to tackle loneliness and social isolation among older people through regular Sunday afternoon tea events for people aged 75 and over in need of companionship.

It’s predicted that by 2030, loneliness in the UK will reach an all-time high with seven million people experiencing it in the over-60s age-group alone. Research has shown that reading or listening to an audio book can be hugely beneficial in helping alleviate feelings of loneliness and social isolation.

Contact the Elderly hopes that as well as encouraging intergenerational friendships, it will help the older people in the group evoke memories of much-loved books, discover new books and discuss shared experiences.

Morna O’May, Head of Service, Scotland at Contact the Elderly said:

“We are delighted to be working with The Reading Agency on this fantastic initiative as we look to expand our programme offering and reach more of Scotland’s most isolated older people. Reading and sharing an understanding of a book or poem can be an incredible way for people to connect.”

Debbie Hicks, Creative Director of The Reading Agency said:

“We’re delighted to be working with Contact the Elderly on an exciting new partnership that brings together Contact the Elderly’s successful tea party model with the social benefits of reading together. We know that tea and talk go perfectly together, and this partnership will take our reading befriending model in an exciting new direction. It will also allow us to work together to tackle loneliness for some of our most vulnerable and isolated communities.”

Contact the Elderly is looking to launch groups in Forth Valley between now and spring 2020.  Anyone interested in joining or volunteering with a Reading Friends group in the area should get in touch with Contact the Elderly Development Officer Jennifer Kaney, at Jennifer.kaney@contact-the-elderly-org.uk or on 01786 235034.

For further media information please contact Alison Shaw on 07760 193375 or alison@hummingbird-comms.com

Alison Shaw
PR Consultant
Hummingbird Communications (Scotland) Ltd
T: 01224 313724
M: 07760 193375
E: alison@hummingbird-comms.com


Did You Know



The Stirling Members’ Centre numbers about 200 people and membership is £5 per annum for individuals or £8 per annum for a complete household at one address.  When joining you will enjoy membership rates immediately but there will be no membership charge until the start of the financial year in October 2020 and you only pay for the talks.

We welcome new members who are also members of the National Trust for Scotland, but anyone who is not a member of the NTS will be welcome to any of our talks subject to places being available. The current rates for winter talks are £6pp for members or £7pp for guests.

Please come along – we are a friendly bunch!!

Our programme of talks held in the St Ninian’s church hall from October 2019 to March 2020 is as the following:-

Thursday 21st November 2019 at 2.30 pm

Surveying St Kilda”

– illustrated talk by James Hepher


Thursday 12th December 2019 at 2.30 pm

”The Story of Dr John Roebuck and James Watt at Kinneil House”

– illustrated talk by Ian Shearer, Chairman of Friends of Kinneil House


Thursday 16th January 2020 at 2.30 pm

“Recent discoveries in Stirling’s Archaeology”

  • illustrated talk by Murray Cook, Archaeologist


Thursday 13th February 2020 at 2.30 pm

“Gardens and Designed Landscapes”

  • illustrated talk by Colin Wren NTS Gardens Manager


Thursday 12th March 2020 at 2.30 pm

“Glass & Light”

– illustrated talk by Alison Kinnaird, Glass Artist & Clarsach Musician

Contact details: Sandy & Margaret Moreland, Joint Secretaries, Tel: – 01259 761700

E-mail: – stirlingnts@gmail.com or see website: – http://www.spanglefish.com/ntsstirling