Special Feature

Kippen Street Fayre 2018

The sun shone, the music played, and the costumes were fantastic – it’s fair to say that the 2018 Kippen Street Fayre was a great success.

The warm weather was particularly welcome after last year’s downpour which didn’t let up until late afternoon. The Disney theme also went down well, resulting in some of the most imaginative fancy dress costumes seen in a long time. From Pinocchio and the Queen of Hearts to Mary Poppins and Cruella de Vil (to mention just a few), it was great to see adults and kids alike getting into the spirit of things. This year’s King and Queen, Ewan Milligan and Ava Scott, along with attendants Charis Bell, Freya Hadley Stove, Edward Boyd and Grant O’Donnell, led the street parade with the help of local piper Murray O’May. They were also joined by Special guests Elsa and Anna from Frozen (aka Shooting Starz) whose appearance on stage went down a storm (although we have to say the boys were better at following the dance moves than the girls!).

Charlie Sullivan won the sausage competition for her pork, rhubarb and lime recipe which local butcher Cameron Skinner made on the day. People also had the chance to have a go at making their own sausages, which helped raise more than £80 for Contact the Elderly.

People came from far and wide, with one visitor from Derbyshire winning the prize for the furthest travelled.  The dog show, sponsored by Struthers and Scott, was very popular, especially the agility course which saw some underhand dog swapping (one black lab looks very much like another, right?).

Stallholders, local pubs and cafes did a roaring trade, especially those offering liquid refreshments to help quench the thirst in all that heat (not that anyone needed an excuse for a cocktail or two).

The raffle was popular as always and helped raise more than £500 for local groups and charities, thanks. A big thanks to the all the local businesses who donated prizes.

Musical entertainment was provided by Old Play, the Dodgy Characters, Alan Stewart and the lovely young singer Christie McEachern, who kept the crowds entertained throughout the day.  Thanks are due to those involved in organising this year’s event and everyone who came along on the day to show their support.  Special thanks also to Kippen Windfarm Initiative for their generous grant, which helped buy a number of new gazebos for this year’s event.

Special Feature

The World’s Largest Vine!

As many of our readers will know, in the first half of the twentieth century, Kippen was renowned as the home of the biggest vine in the world, (second largest was in Kew Gardens.)  This, and other vines, had been planted in 1891 by Duncan Buchanan in greenhouses in Cauldhame.

Income from the vine was initially derived from the sale of grapes (as far afield as Harrods), given that fruit from abroad was not readily available in those days.  As time went on, this income was supplemented by an increasing volume of tourist trade.  In the early 1960s, it was estimated that the vine was attracting over 20,000 visitors annually, with peak daily numbers in excess of 1,000.

However, maintenance of the vine and its companions was extremely labour-intensive and very specialised, and in 1964, Selby Buchanan reluctantly decided to cut it down.

The full history of the vine, with many illustrations, was documented in 1991 in a booklet by Alan Edwards (a member of the Buchanan family with personal memories of the vine).  This had gone out of print, but was resurrected in 2013 by Kippen Heritage, and has been available to buy in McNicolls, Rhubarb Lime and The Inn.  That reprint sold its last copy recently, and a small print run resulted in its re-introduction in early March.

It is intended to publish an expanded version towards the end of this year, telling what has happened to offspring of the original vine since it was cut down.  It is known that many greenhouses in Kippen, from Cauldhame to Shirgarton, have cuttings.  There are also plants in Culzean Castle, with Alan Edwards in Angus, and at locations in Surrey and Buckinghamshire.

The Wee Vine would very much like to know of other descendants, so please email us details (and photos) at enquiries@theweevine.org.

Stuart Thomson & Rick Dekker


Special Feature

Volunteering in the Solomon Islands

My name is Torin Price and I am currently a 6th form student at Balfron High School.

Come summer next year that is going to change in quite a dramatic way for me. After a 5-day selection course on the Isle of Coll I’m pleased to say that, as part of a volunteering programme with Project Trust, I will be spending a year in the Solomon Islands!

I’ll be sent with just one other person from the UK and I will be teaching English to secondary school students whilst immersing myself in the local community – helping in whatever way I can. Although I don’t know exactly where I will be posted, I’m told it will be a rural setting. I and my partner will live within that rural community for a full 12 months.

Project Trust itself is a charity that specializes in sending school leavers away for a year to help communities in less developed nations. They send pairs of volunteers to 21 different countries around the globe for 12-month periods. They primarily focus on sending people to teach in primary and secondary schools, although they can also offer opportunities in social care and outward bound.

The organization started in 1967 and is now reaching its 50th year of operation. In these 50 years the Trust has sent over 7,000 volunteers abroad to South America, Africa, Asia and now Oceania. They are one of the most respected gap year organizations in the UK, offering a once in a lifetime opportunity for school leavers to immerse themselves in a completely different lifestyle, culture and community to what they’re used to.

The Solomon Islands lie in the southern Pacific Ocean, just east of Papua New Guinea. The small nation has a population of 599,000, only a thousand people more than Glasgow! There are 6 main islands and over 900 smaller ones. The country is hugely diverse with 70 local dialects spoken. Even though the official language is English, only 2% of the population actually speaks it.


final final

The economy is very poor with its gross domestic product (GDP) per person similar to many African countries, which makes it fall under the classification of underdeveloped. As a result, many basic facilities lacks funding for maintenance or even staffing, including schools. This means that the country often has to rely on foreign aid to support the education system, which is where I come in.

To do this I’m required to contribute to the funding. For me to travel to the Solomon Islands, cover living costs and insurance, and not put any of the expense upon the community, I need to raise just over £6,000.

So, over the next 8 months I will be wearing myself thin fundraising, trying to reach my total by the end of July. I’m planning on hosting multiple events, whilst also doing a sponsored swim/run and hosting several afternoon teas, amongst other things. I would really appreciate any contribution (no matter how small) to help me reach my total.

If you would like to get in touch to find out any more information, or to give me a donation towards my year away, please contact me at: Ardenlea, Fintry Road, Kippen (Tel 01786 870395; mobile 07402151709); email torinprice@gmail.com. Or donate online on my Virgin Money Giving page:


Please feel free to visit my Facebook Page where I’ve got more information, and I will post updates on my progress and advertise any events that I’ll be holding.


Torin (Price).


Special Feature

Flanders Moss NNR

2 Bogs, a swamp and some islands.

The Scottish Natural Heritage Stirling National Nature Reserve team manages 3 NNRs across central Scotland and we are quite often asked what do you actually do? What does managing nature reserves actually entail? Well, now you can find out.

We have just started a new blog called “2 bogs, a swamp and some islands” after the types of reserves that we work on. These sites are Flanders Moss, which you will all know, plus another bog site called Blawhorn Moss near to Bathgate, and the Loch Lomond NNR which is swampy land around the Endrick Mouth, part of Loch Lomond, plus 5 islands on the loch itself. Flanders Moss is the biggest of the sites and the most visited, so there will be more posts about it than the other reserves. All these sites are very difficult to see beyond the boardwalks and paths so the blog will give you the chance to see the distant corners of these special reserves without getting your feet wet.

We aim to update the blog 2-3 times a week and the posts will tell of what wildlife we are seeing on the reserves, what work we are doing and whom we are meeting on the sites.

So, if you are keen to find out more about these special nature reserves then, have a look, the web address is below:


For those on Facebook you can also follow what is happening on NNRs across Scotland with the Facebook page Scotland’s National Nature Reserves. All our blog posts will also feature here.


Flanders Moss Improvements

My email inbox has been steadily filling with complaints about the state of the access track to Flanders. I can only apologise that it is so rough at the moment. It is disappointing that in the last 2 years we have spent quite a bit of money on it, to no long term improvement. So all I can say is that we are busy applying for more money to re-profile the track and get an improved surface that lasts much longer, but this work may take a little while to come to fruition so, please bear with us.

More positive news is that we hope to improve the path and boardwalk over the winter to give a drier path. The wettest part of the path will be replaced with a new section of boardwalk, the flooded areas of boardwalk will be raised and the rest of the path will be resurfaced. So the hope is that by next spring we will have a much improved surface all the way around.

In the car park, the wildflower meadow has had a good summer. It has now had its annual haircut and there will be another 400 wildflower plugs planted soon which will help to make the meadow a colourful and wildlife-rich welcome to the reserve.

If you would like more information about Flanders Moss NNR you can find it on the NNR Scotland website (www.nnr-scotland.org.uk) or contact me, David Pickett on david.pickett@snh.gov.uk.


Special Feature

Kippen Kirkyard Project

First of all, apologies for the omission, in the last edition of The Wee Vine, of the 1859 eulogy to James Kay composed by J. S. Dunn of Arngomery. It is now included following this article.

Work in the Kirkyard was somewhat hampered in late Spring by the presence of contractors building the bus shelter and using the entrance area for storage and cement mixing, so the first task on their departure was to clear up the debris left by them.

The above process exposed, what was initially believed to be a coping stone dislodged from the entrance wall, a memorial stone with an inscription to the memory of Duncan Robertson and his wife Mary McGrigor, dated 1830! Unfortunately, as a result of years of having been lying, partially buried, in a direct route from the gate, the inscription is barely readable but archive material has identified that they lived in Arnprior and that two further Robertson burials followed in the same lair in 1892 and 1903.


In a similar vein one of the Kippen Heritage group was playing bridge with a Ms Fairlie who mentioned her forbears lived in Kippen (Loaningfoot), and had connections with the Aikman family. Coincidentally ‘Aikman’ is recorded as occupying lair No. 1 but there is no longer a stone in that position. Further on-site investigation has discovered the Aikman grave slab, dated 1786 several yards away; it appears to have been moved perhaps to protect it during slate removal on the Smiddy roof as a quantity of discarded slate was uncovered where the stone should have been!

As stones, long buried, are uncovered we are always very interested to know if anyone has any knowledge or information about the deceased, therefore we will continue to report any discoveries in The Wee Vine and be available to visitors to assist in locating memorials as was the case recently when Canadian visitors arrived at the Kirkyard.

Dale and Anita Galbraith searching for Galbraith stones with Dale's brother

Dale and Anita Galbraith from Canada, on holiday with Dale’s brother who now lives in
Texas, were pleased to gain access to Kippen’s historic kirkyard. They were researching their family history and looking for graveyards where ancestors named Galbraith were buried. They had come from Culcreuch Castle Hotel, the ancestral seat of the Scottish clan Galbraith for over 700 years where it was suggested to them to explore Kippen’s kirkyard. It was not to disappoint. A relevant stone was quickly located. Subsequent research by a Kippen heritage group member revealed a further significant number of Galbraith burials. This information will be forwarded to the family in Canada.

These are 3 early examples to encourage the Heritage group as to the importance of the project, in its early stages, to restore the kirkyard and enable archive material to be matched with stones and made easily accessible to people both on site and across the world on line.

Irene Chapman & June Waley, Kippen Heritage

Special Feature

Lines on the Death of James Kay, Kippen

DIED 17th October 1859

What do I hear? Can it be true
That he has bid this world adieu
To dwell in one so fair?
And yet his footprints can be seen
Down by the turnings of the Green,
But he himself’s not there.

This morn he rose in usual health
And rich in love if not in wealth,
By noonday he was gone;
Now nothing but the clay is left,
The body is of the soul bereft,
For God has claimed his own.

He was beloved by old and young,
The very babe with lisping tongue,
Loved to pronounce his name;
For he, with his enchanting lyre,
Set youthful maidens’ hearts on fire,
And kindled love’s bright flame.

The young men too they did rejoice
Whene’er they heard his cheerful voice,
Or saw his smiling face;
Whene’er under his arm was seen
His little bag of darkest green,
They something then could trace.

But now his race on earth is done,
No longer will his fingers run
Along fair Scotland’s pride!
Alas! we never more will hear
His music that once charmed our ear,
It’s now laid too aside.

He now is free from care and pain,
We will ne’er see his face again;
But this we all can say –
It will be long before we find
Another with a heart so kind
As our friend, Jamie Kay.

J. S. Dunn, Arngomery

Galbraith family from Canada looking for their ancestors buried in the Kippen Graveyard.

Special Feature

Music for Syria

On the evening of Saturday 4th March Kippen Kirk was filled almost to capacity with people coming together to enjoy a performance by a Syrian classical guitarist, Ayman Jarjour, a musician of world renown. Ayman has played with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra and the Syrian Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also performed widely across many continents. He holds a Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School in New York and a Bachelor’s degree from the Royal Conservatory of music in Madrid. Having lived and taught in several countries Stirling is now his home.

During the set-up, John Fulton had the chance to imagine himself in concert.

The evening began by projecting powerful images of the reality of the horrors experienced in war-torn Syria, a refugee camp and finally the smiling faces of two young men now settling in the Forth Valley and volunteering as coaches for a young lads football team.

Ayman invited requests before embarking on his chosen performance which demonstrated his immense talent. He played pieces from a wide range of composers from many nationalities.

Refreshments were a wonderful taste of Syria, prepared by a refugee woman now living in Stirling and wishing to show her gratitude for the welcome, friendship and support that she and her family have received as they begin a new life in Scotland.

With the generosity of many villagers, and those from further afield who made donations, the sum of £2,641 was achieved. With the added value of gift aid this will make a significant contribution to two charities. Ayman is involved with many charities working inside and outside Syria, to help refugees and people remaining in Syria and affected by the war.

One third of the proceeds have gone to Stirling Citizens for Sanctuary. This new charity has been established to befriend and support those Syrian refugees now settling in our area. Medical Aid and Support for Syria is also a new charity which aims to get medical supplies to areas of need in Syria. Two thirds of the donations have gone to this cause.

Thanks to all who helped with organisation and to all who attended and contributed generously to a memorable evening.

June Waley