Classics at Kippen

Five years ago, I had an idea, and, like all ideas, it can be a bit scary wondering if it will work. Then, like all ideas which do work, it becomes scary when they grow arms and legs! Such is the story of “Classics at Kippen.” I’m not sure where all my ideas come from, but I think this idea has worked and it certainly has grown arms and legs!

The ethos of “Classics at Kippen” is threefold; to provide a lovely community event of high class music making in our beautiful Parish Church, to raise money for charity and to provide a much-needed performing platform for my young students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. At this early stage in their careers, as they start out in this tough profession, these very talented young musicians really need to try out their repertoire, to practise their developing technique, and to discover and refine their own performing and musical identities in a real live performance situation. These opportunities are few and far between, so a chance like this is grabbed with both hands by them all, and you, our audience, in return reap the benefit of hearing fresh young talent. Many of the singers and pianists you have already heard are now forging successful careers at Glyndebourne, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Scottish Opera, Opera North, Opera de Lyons, Frankfurt Opera and Chatelet Opera in Paris to name but a few. You heard them in Kippen first!!

These concerts are very dear to my heart because “back in the day” in the 80’s and 90’s, as a singer myself, I gave several recitals in the Church, which also raised money for the Kippen Parish Church and Erskine and, way back in the days of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s my grandmother, Helen McCowan of Brig o’ Frew Farm, was greatly involved in all things musical in Kippen!

Since 2012 we have had five concerts; an opera gala, an evening of song, a presentation of “Words and Music from the Somme” (to commemorate the centenaries of the Battle of the Somme, and Erskine) and two “Raucous Rossini” operas. We have raised around £20,000 for charity – Crossroads, Kippen Parish Church and Erskine being our beneficiaries to date. I’m amazed. I think we may have had our last “Raucous Rossini” performance but I hope to put on another concert in the not too distant future with some of my newest and exciting young singers who, I think, have a great future ahead of them. Please contact me if you would like to be on our mailing list for information of future events

These events don’t just happen and I’m incredibly grateful and hugely indebted to all who help behind the scenes. Thank you so much to all our various sponsors whose generous donations pay for some expenses, to all who help with the publicity, who leaflet the village, set up the “stage” and clear up afterwards, hand out programmes and wine on the night, collect students from the train, offer overnight hospitality and, last but certainly not least, my wonderful cooks who turn up with the most delicious hot meals which the students devour as if they hadn’t eaten for days! Students will do most things for food! Everyone gives freely, as do the students, and they all love coming out to Kippen for some TLC in the country.

My next task, I think, may be to try and find some funding to buy staging which could be generally used for any performances in the village. At the moment we borrow from the church of the Holyrude in Stirling at no charge! It is a bit of a hassle so it would be great to have our own. Also, if anyone knows anything about lighting that could also be really helpful! Not my field of expertise!

Thanks to your generosity and support, “Classics at Kippen” is alive and well in this tough economic climate for the arts. Kippen truly is a “giving village”. Thank you all for digging deep to support us and for turning up “on the night” which is always a huge relief to me! Your support and encouragement is greatly appreciated. Watch this space for our next event! “If music is the food of love play on, give me excess of it”.

Kath Ferguson


Vintage Market

The second Vintage Market took place in the Village Hall on 22 October, with a whole lot of new stalls and their enthusiastic vendors, selling quirky and unique items.

We faced some competition from the Great Pumpkin Event in Arnprior, but still had good sales and donations at the door of £165, for the Village Hall Fund. Thank you to everyone who took a stall or emptied their purse on the day.

It was great fun again, but Christine and I have regretfully decided not to organise another Vintage Market in 2018. If you, or anyone you know, would like to take it on, we are happy to pass on our vast (!) store of knowledge – just get in touch.

Sue Bryans (


Arnprior Pumpkins

Situated just outside Kippen is Arnprior Farm, the location of Arnprior Pumpkins, which last year broke all records when they held their annual pick-your-own event.  On the day we arrived, it was dry but the field with the pumpkins was full of mud – mud like we’d never seen before!   Interestingly, the field was also full of happy children literally wallowing in said mud!  There was a great atmosphere, but you could tell that Duncan and Rebecca McEwen were surprised by the volume of visitors they had attracted.

We managed to grab them for a brief chat and they explained that this was their third year and the event just keeps growing and growing.  We spoke to several folks who had driven for miles to visit including one family who had come from Rothesay and another from Oban!

Of course, the success of the social media campaign had a down side.  The volume of traffic almost overwhelmed the village, but we are told that plans are already afoot for more traffic control and parking this year.

It’s great to be able to report on a story like this and we wish them continued success including their Arnprior Lambing which, we hear, is their next venture.

Alison Bradley




Kippen Flower Show

Flower show Poster



The annual Kippen Flower Show took place on 21 August this year.

A wonderful array of flowers, vegetables, baking and crafts filled the Village Hall. A mostly new team this year enjoyed planning and organising the show.

A few changes were made to the schedule; however, the main change was to move the day of the show to a Sunday.  It was suggested by some that little time was available to prepare their exhibits on a Friday evening.  This was particularly true for those who work throughout the week, consequently if the show was moved to the Sunday, Saturday would give them time to prepare and enable them to participate.  As the number of entries had been falling over the last few years, it was worth a try.  Entries did indeed increase this year, so the day change was clearly a success. Many thanks to those who helped.

The cafe was also very busy and looked charming with vintage tablecloths and jars of fresh flowers on the tables.  Delicious soups and baking were on offer. A big thank you to those who donated baking, there was a wonderful selection.

So…as the evenings draw in, order your seed catalogues and start planning your planting.  We very much look forward to seeing your entries in next year’s Show!

Joanne Lennon






Kippen Heritage Trail

For the second year, Kippen’s 300 – year old Blacksmith’s Smiddy has opened its doors this summer, with permission from the National Trust for Scotland.  Kippen Heritage manned the Smiddy in June on Street Fayre Day, welcoming in many visitors.  This was followed by Flower Show weekend in August when, for the first time, we had a Kippen Trail to show some aspects of Kippen’s Heritage.

Starting at the Reading Rooms, where Winnie Dunlop’s fascinating collection of Kippen photographs and related articles were on display, it continued to the Smiddy at Kippen Cross to see that little time – capsule of a bygone age.  Visitors could then pop in to see the beautiful Kippen Church and visit Kippen Flower Show in the Public Hall.  The Trail ended at the Boatyard in Fore Road, which was generously opened for the first time to the public by Jane Wilson, the owner.

The Kippen Trail was followed again in September, at “Doors Open” weekend when we had even greater numbers visiting the village to see our heritage.  Not only did our visitors remark on how fascinating and interesting these historical buildings and artefacts were, but local businesses said they also had benefitted from the greater numbers coming to Kippen.

Over the three weekends, the Smiddy had over 200 visitors enjoying the experience of going back in time.  Andra’ Rennie would have been delighted!  And the Boatyard, whose mere existence surprised many people – even locals – also had a steady stream of visitors over its two weekends, with many positive comments.

Margaret Oswald


Santa’s Grotto 2017

issue-1-xmas-marketThis year Santa’s Grotto at Linton, Fintry Road, Kippen will be taking place on the weekend of 2nd and 3rd of December from 2-00PM-6.00PM.

There will be the usual 10 minutes spent with Santa for stories, a chat and a special present.

Cost per child is £5.00 and to book contact 01786 870231. Please ‘phone as soon as possible as places went very quickly last year.

There will also be soup, mulled wine, home baking, raffle and of course- Santa’s Elves.

The charities to benefit from this event are-Start-up Stirling and Downs Syndrome.

Shirley and John Lamb