Did You Know

 The Average White Van Band


According to their manager: “The Average White Van Band is a tremendous acoustic band coming soon to a pub near you.  Provided you live in Kippen.”

The band consists of:

David Jones – guitar and vocals

Karen Dekker- fiddle, piano and hard stares.

Stewart Carnegie – lead vocals & “best kazoo player this side of The Mississippi”

Michael Flint – vocals, suitcase and percussion

Cliff Hewett – Ukulele & piano

As most good things do, the band started as a conversation after a few drinks:

Cliff: “We should form an acoustic band”

Karen: “Great idea”

Cliff: “We just have to work out how to make it good”

(…thoughtful pause…)

Karen: (wavering) “We’d have to be good???”

Undaunted by this initial clash of ideals, they started playing in 2018 and have since proved a popular hit.  In Kippen, anyway.

Playing a curiously successful mix of folk favourites, original songs and the occasional boogie-woogie piano the band notably features excellent vocal harmonies.  When asked for the secret of their success, their reply was:

David: “Dedication and hard work.”

Stewart: “Beer.”

Mike (waking up): “Did someone mention beer?”

Mike is American and spends most of his time dreaming up plans to get people to buy the band a drink.

Apart from beer, another of their secrets is to ditch the traditional P.A. system and play acoustically round a table.  Whilst generally making for a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, in a busy pub this sometimes leads to the band not being heard but this “doesn’t really matter” said the band’s manager. When asked why it didn’t matter that the band couldn’t be heard at all he added “Dunno. It adds to the mystery.  Now push off, I’m trying to chat up the barmaid.”

Currently recording their “Greatest Hits” album at Sun Room Studios the band confidently expect it to be a worldwide hit.  If so, there is no danger of the usual band fall-outs or arguments, as apparently, they have already had a serious, and surprisingly sober, discussion about any future royalties:

“Oh yes, it’s all been sorted out in a very agreeable and positive way.” says Cliff.  “They aren’t getting any.”

And with that sorted out, a gig at Wembley Arena is “in the pipeline” with just a couple of details “needing finalised” said their manager, a little unsteadily.

More details, including all the ways you can buy them a drink, can be found on Facebook:



Did You Know

Bus News     


After much ado the new bus timetable started on October 21st and for once most passengers did manage to get a timetable prior to the start date.

Due to numerous complaints FirstBus backed down and restored the early morning buses to the timetable.

However, the rest of the timetable is still causing significant difficulties, particularly for residents living and travelling east of Balfron.

With longer gaps between buses and a Saturday service reduced to every 2 hours, residents without transport are struggling to go about their daily lives. To access Stirling, some Balfron residents are now using the much longer X10A route via Aberfoyle in order to keep appointments, reducing patronage on our X10 more direct service.

First have removed the busy 1pm bus from Stirling, which affects many residents from different villages who volunteer, work part time or attend morning hospital appointments.

This has been replaced by a 12 o’clock bus, ironically a service they withdrew in 2016 – allegedly down to low patronage. Not a valid excuse that can be used for withdrawing the busy 1pm service this year!

Our Saturday service has been reduced to every 2 hours despite maintaining an hourly service 6 days a week from Balfron to Glasgow with 5 services on a Sunday, as First continue with their Glasgow centric approach at the expense of residents needing to travel east to Stirling.

Of major concern has been the running of adapted school coaches on two X10 commercial services, once again, only on the Balfron-Stirling side of the route.

This vehicle has steep narrow stairs and very narrow aisles. Many elderly and disabled passengers are finding it too difficult to get on and off particularly if carrying bags, shopping trolleys or luggage. Those with mobility scooters and wheeled walkers are unable to board at all.

Even the fittest of residents are finding this bus a problem with some no longer prepared to use it in case they fall.

With so few buses available on this route, a vehicle that residents are unable to board is totally unacceptable.

In recent weeks the amount of delays and breakdowns on the X10 buses has been unprecedented, a true reflection of the age and condition of the vehicles operated from Balfron.

Along with the coaches, we have raised all these concerns with First, Stirling Council and local community councils. We urge residents to continue writing to Stirling Council themselves regarding any service causing a problem, especially this particular coach.

Letters can be addressed and posted to Public Transport Team Leader or handed into Stirling Bus Station or email info.stirling.gov.uk or alternatively contact FirstBus direct.

We should say that passengers contacting First direct have not been impressed with the response.

Please also make a point of reporting the usual issues of no heating, water ingress and dirty vehicles. If these are not reported both the Council and First assume all is well and, as we know, this is not the case.

As yet, no official word has been received regarding the provision of a regular Sunday Service, but we remain optimistic that the promised Pilot will indeed materialise. Like other pilots, its longevity will depend on residents using the service, and we hope, when implemented, it will be well supported.

Val Brand



Did You Know

Rocktalk – the Talk of the Town!

Where do you find the latest chat? How can you catch up on the local news?

An obvious place would be the newspaper, and the Stirling Observer just fits the bill for our area. But hang on, supposing you have lost your sight, or it has become so bad that newspapers just don’t work for you anymore?

This is where Rocktalk is the answer- a talking newspaper!

It was in 1983 that a group of journalists from the Stirling Observer decided to read selected articles on to audio cassettes for folks who couldn’t see, and about 20 of these were copied and distributed each week. Since then, the service has grown in numbers, in volunteers and transformed in technology.

Around 2005, the audio tapes were replaced by CDs and in 2016, these were succeeded by memory sticks. Very fast copying is now possible and well over 100 copies have been sent out each week over the years. Each recipient is given a robust player which is simple to use in their own home and receives a weekly memory stick in a re-usable padded envelope, delivered free by the Post Office. These are then returnable in the same envelope, simply by turning over the address label. Listeners can then enjoy around 80 minutes of news and reports, these days read by a team of over 20 readers, working in groups of 4 on a rota basis. Several of this number undertake to be ‘editor’ for that week and dissect 2 copies of the paper, choosing which items to include. This actually leads to an interesting selection of articles, according to the editor’s taste!

In total, there are 40 volunteers to keep this service running, technicians, copiers, admin folks, readers and editors.

And there is more! Each month a group of folks gather together interesting articles from various magazines and record about an hour of fun, fact and fiction, which goes out with each newspaper, so listeners don’t have to read it all in one week.

Rocktalk has come a long way in over 30 years and has been a real blessing to hundreds of people in that time. It is a completely free service to its users and as a charity depends on the generosity of the public. Although throughout the UK there are dozens of local talking newspapers, they can often be relatively unknown and under publicised. So…


For more information, or if you, or anyone you know might benefit from this service, please contact us by e-mail:  enquiries@rocktalk.org.uk or call: 01786 816673

Marilyn and Steve Willett


Did You Know

Interested in influencing nurses and health care workers of the future


The University of Stirling has been educating adult and mental health nurses for over twenty years. Periodically (approximately every 5-7 years) the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), our governing body review their guidance and Standards for Pre-registration nurse education to ensure that programmes produce nurses who meet the requirements of contemporary health care provision.

In 2018, the NMC published their new standards and expectations of the knowledge, skills, behaviours and values of a nurse at the end of their programme of study. As a result of these publications, new programmes for nursing are being developed.

The University Of Stirling is passionate about developing our nursing and other health related programme in partnership with people who receive services and their families. As part of the development and implementation of our new programme we would like to invite people who have experience of health care services and their families who provide care to become part of a reference group to help us develop the best education programme possible for our future nurses and other health staff.

There are a number of opportunities for people who are interested including teaching resource development like real life scenarios for learning, direct teaching in class or online, informing skills assessment, assessing students learning review of teaching and learning as well as programme development and approval.

To find out more about the ways you can be involved please contact:

Gwenne McIntosh

Senior Lecturer, University of Stirling


Did You Know


Re-engage_master_RGBA charity that has been combating loneliness in West Stirlingshire for more than 20 years has issued an urgent appeal for more volunteers.

Re-engage, formerly known as Contact the Elderly, tackles social isolation among older people through regular Sunday afternoon tea parties and other activities.

The monthly events are usually held in a local host’s home and guests are chauffeured to and from the gatherings by volunteer drivers – a crucial service that solves any transport worries for those who have difficulty getting out and about.

The West Stirlingshire group is one of more than 140 in Scotland with more than 1000 guests whose lives are often transformed through this simple solution of some kindness and company over a cup of tea. The group, which covers Balfron, Fintry, Drymen, Buchlyvie and Killearn, has been going for more than two decades but is currently experiencing a shortage of drivers.

Lorna Dunbar, the charity’s support officer for the area says: “Social isolation is one of society’s biggest problems, especially among the older generation, but we see the huge difference social events like ours can make to someone who perhaps doesn’t have the chance to interact with others as much as they would like.

“We believe everyone should have the opportunity of a social life, no matter how old they are, and we’d really love to hear from locals who can help us enrich the lives of the older generation in their communities.”

Drivers are asked to devote just a few hours one Sunday a month to the charity.

“It’s really not much to ask if you’ve got a spare Sunday afternoon and for anyone new to volunteering it’s an ideal way to get involved,” said Lorna.

“Guests are usually over 75 and our volunteers are generally much younger so it’s also a great way to bring the generations together. I’m confident locals will step forward to help us out and I can guarantee they’ll get as much out of it as the guests – it’s just so satisfying to see the difference you can make to the life of someone who is feeling isolated.”

To find out more about becoming a volunteer or guest of Re-engage, please contact Lorna Dunbar at lorna.dunbar@reengage.org.uk   or tel 01738 730249


Did You Know

Your Stirling: You Decide Update

your_stirlingThe Your Stirling You Decide Participatory Budget exercise is now within the final stages of the process, and there have been decisions made by a number of communities on their final choices, following community engagement and voting events throughout Stirlingshire.

You can access your community’s choice and others on the Stirling Council website at https://www.stirling.gov.uk/ysydprogress

Your Stirling: You Decide is Stirling’s version of participatory budgeting, an initiative that gives local people a direct say in how a portion of our budget is spent. During 2019 citizens across Stirling’s seven electoral wards had the chance to influence how to spend £100,000 in each of the seven wards, of public money. This year the money could be used

for infrastructure and the environment, for example – roads, pavements, parks playgrounds, outdoor gyms and public spaces to name a few.

During the month of January we will be announcing the remaining communities’ choices on the Stirling Council Website and local social media sites.

Did You Know

FollowIt App


On the 9 December 2019, the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre officially launched the FollowIt App, a mobile app to record incidents of stalking.

The innovative mobile app was created with and for women experiencing stalking. It is designed to help women record and securely store what’s happening to them. Through the app you can create a log of stalking incidents that can be used to report this crime to the police.

Full details are available at their website: www.followitapp.org.uk

Find out more about the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre at                                         www.scottishwomensrightscentre.org.uk

Did You Know

Scottish Government’s National Walking Strategy & Action Plan to get Scotland walking

A country where more people choose to walk more often will be healthier, happier, greener, safer and more prosperous. We can all do our bit to get Scotland walking. Watch this new animation to find out more https://vimeo.com/358006632

And to talk about what you can do to get Scotland walking contact walkingstrategy@pathsforall.org.uk

The National Walking Strategy is the Scottish Government’s ambition for a nation that walks more every day. More people walking will improve physical, mental and social health, create safer, friendlier and less polluted communities, and boost local economies through increased footfall and healthier, more productive staff.

To see the strategy and the action plan, revised earlier this year, visit:

https://www.pathsforall.org.uk/mediaLibrary/other/english/186.pdfand https://www.pathsforall.org.uk/mediaLibrary/other/english/final-walking-strategy-action-plan-10-sept-2019.pdf


Did You Know

Poppyscotland Touring Exhibition on Wheels – Bud hits the road


Poppyscotland’s ‘Bud’ is an 18-tonne truck that transforms into a contemporary exhibition and interactive learning space, designed to teach communities across Scotland about the importance of remembrance and the heritage of the poppy.

Bud is travelling around Scotland to schools, community spaces and events over the next 4 years sharing Poppyscotland archives, veterans’ stories and the poppy’s history. It aims to be a catalyst for challenging assumptions, creating conversations and allowing the public to gain a deeper understanding of remembrance and the poppy’s role in modern Scottish society as a symbol of unity and hope.

Bud will be on the road for more than 220 days a year and will visit all 32 local authority areas in Scotland over the course of the next 4 years.

Visitors will hear moving stories from veterans and learn more about the work carried out by Poppyscotland since the charity’s inception through films and stories from those who have served, those still serving and their families. Each visitor will also have the chance to make their own poppy, using the same techniques used by veterans who work tirelessly each year to make five million poppies ahead of the annual Scottish Poppy Appeal.

Poppyscotland Chief Executive Mark Bibbey said: “At the heart of every poppy is someone’s emotions, opinions and stories, and that’s why we created Bud. This is not about imposing a particular view on visitors; quite the opposite in fact.

“Through contemporary conversations about the poppy and our heritage, we hope to better understand the significance of remembrance and its importance to society. We aim to challenge assumptions and create conversations, and, ultimately, engage with a more diverse audience.

“Over the next four years, Bud will play an important role in exploring the history of remembrance, through the eyes of veterans and ex-service men and women. It will be an absolute privilege to travel the length and breadth of the country, welcoming everyone on board to explore the space for themselves.”

More than 50,000 Scots are expected to engage with Bud over the course of the campaign. It can travel anywhere in Scotland, attending events of all shapes and sizes.

If you want to discuss Bud attending your events you can book at https://poppybud.org.uk/ or contact Sandra Comrie, Bud Volunteer Support Coordinator on 0141 473 6221 / 07808 261076.

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