Jun 242020

By Suzanne Kelly.

Rob Scott’s ‘Zombie Cake’.

March 17 – a day that is usually given over to a stereotypical but good-natured outbreak of beer-drinking to honour St Patrick.

This St Patrick’s Day, the UK was poised to go in a lockdown to slow the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus. James Watt, co-founder of Ellon’s BrewDog, tweeted:

“At BrewDog we are doing all we can to make it through & protect as many jobs as we can. But we, like so many businesses have lost 70% of our income almost overnight.”

The growth of Brewdog is without precedent in the UK craft beer world, possibly without precedent anywhere.

In the beginning they were Watt, Martin Dickie, and a dog, selling 4 different brews at Aberdeen’s farmers’ market. They now employ thousands and have breweries in Columbus Ohio, Australia and Germany as well as their Ellon home.

From one Aberdeen Castlegate bar sprouted scores of bars on four continents. These bars are a key point of revenue – and just like that, all the UK’s hospitality sector was faced with the lockdown and all it implied.
This dog was not going to just roll over.

Sanitized News:

BrewDog first decided they would use their distillery to provide free-of-charge sanitizer for the NHS which had announced a shortage. They worked with the NHS and while the very first batch wasn’t quite strong enough (a BrewDog first), they’ve been pumping out sanitizer and packing it into any and all bottles and packages they can get. An NHS spokesman said:

“It’s heartening that firms like BrewDog are choosing to play their part, and helping protect our NHS workers on the frontline across Grampian.

“This serves as yet another example of the phenomenal support we’ve received from a number of businesses in the local community. By working together, and continuing to follow the government advice, we will get through this pandemic.”

The sanitizer is not for sale; BrewDog are now delivering some of it to North East Scotland’s nursing homes, and over 100,000 bottles have been distributed free.

Funding this initiative’s costs, and commenting on a government covid-19 scandal, BrewDog recently released a new product…

Barnard Castle Eye Test – Cummings’ Comeuppance:

While many of us were doing our part and following lockdown orders created by Boris Johnson and his advisers, he and his advisers seemed immune to these regulations they created.

BoJo shook hands with Covid-19 patients – later denying it- he caught the disease and passed it to others.

His unelected guru, Mekon-lookalike Dominic Cummings, decided that despite lockdown, despite being ill, and despite not able to see straight, he’d drive his family to stay with his dad (staying in a cottage on the property that seems to have no planning permission and for which no tax seems to be paid by the way. True: Dad owns a horse he named Barak because the horse is black and white: Racism is alive and well and in Barnard).

The country was outraged (save some Daily Mail readers) by these double-standards and all their implications. Watt told LBC Radio:

“If they’re asking the country to make sacrifices for the common good the government and its advisers should be abiding by the same rules.”

Following BrewDog’s longstanding history of ‘protest beers’ such as ‘Hello my name is Vlad’ (dig at Putin’s anti LGBT hardline actions), ‘Make Earth Great Again’ (a commentary on Trump) and more, BrewDog announced it would make a Cummings-related beer.

The name was put to a public vote, and within hours of being put on presale, ‘Barnard Castle Eye Test’ sold over 45,000 units: all profits going to the NHS hand sanitizer project.

Open Arms Welcome:

For many on lockdown, BrewDog provides a great online social resource, the BrewDog Open Arms https://www.brewdog.com/uk/onlinebar .

Every Friday at 6pm this virtual online pub opens up for a few hours of zany fun.

BrewDog told Aberdeen Voice:

“The Open Arms was started as soon as our bars shut so we could still bring our community together to be social and enjoy a beer. Since opening we’ve been blown away by the support and experience with over 100,000 people joining our sessions from all over the world.

“The Open Arms has hosted live music, virtual beer tastings, homebrew sessions, food & beer pairings and our weekly Friday session.

“We now have regulars joining us every week and, due to demand, have recently changed the Friday session to be unlimited entry via streaming on YouTube Live”.

Dawn Scott’s ‘Kamikazi Knitting Club’.

MCs Tim Warwood & Adam Gendle host the event and run a hilarious quiz with prizes randomly given out. James Watt and Martin Dickie are among the hundreds who attend. Musical guests have included Carl Barat from The Libertines and a host of upcoming talents performing from their homes.

It usually ends up with people dancing in their living rooms to the cheesiest of music, ending in Toto’s Africa (yes, really).

James and Martin announced, seemingly off the cuff that they’d give away £1,000 next week in beer vouchers for the best costume. Amanda Scott won the bar’s costume competition with a hyper-creative recreation of BrewDog’s ‘Homicidal Helpdesk Puppet’.

Runners-up included Jazza Crawford and Linz as ‘Super Bario Brothers’, while Rob Scott and his wife Dawn recreated BrewDog beer labels for ‘Zombie Cake’ and ‘Kamikazi Knitting Club’.

Rob said:

“I love the Open Arms Online bar…[it] lets us experience some of the vibe. We attend the Open Arms bar and afterwards we videocall each other and talk some more.

“Another reason I like the Open Arms is that I’m an introvert. This way I can take part of the experience on my own terms.”

Jazza said:

“Since the very first week both Linz and I have been enjoying catching up with friends and other Equity Punks in the BrewDog open arms.

“So far we have learned a lot more about the creation of some of our favourite beers and spirits. Learned how to cook some amazing dishes. Painted sharks and whales with Plague Fisher.

“Most of all our Friday night highlight is the quiz and after party. It’s been brilliant to have what feels like and escape from the home without actually leaving the house.

“I hope it stays after lockdown maybe as a once monthly catch up for the international friends that we have made through BrewDog.

“Brewdog Open Arms is a great community, it’s fun to see everyone and to hear James & Martin talk about the business and the new beers and sprits they’re making!”

The Open Arms session on 29 May featured a challenge which raised a massive £3,000 for the NHS. Sessions are occasionally held on other days, featuring beer yoga, recipes, virtual tasting sessions, and even an art tutorial from Craig Fisher, whose distinctive bold designs decorate BrewDog bars and breweries around the world.

Craig, who no longer works in-house for BrewDog, said:

“It’s been an awesome way to interact with the BrewDog fans who’ve followed my work, despite the current limitations.”

While many businesses are losing revenue, while many people are worried about finances, friends and lockdown, BrewDog is coming through with helpful initiatives – and it all started on our doorsteps in Fraserburgh, Ellon, and Aberdeen.

On a personal note, I am a shareholder (as I always disclose when I write about the company) – I’ve had many proud moments as such, but how they’ve handled lockdown’s challenges, but these initiatives re-set the scale and won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

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Oct 212016

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

From the park

Kincardine Castle is hosting The Nomads Tent Roadshow this autumn.

An Aberdeenshire castle will be transformed into an Eastern bazaar later this month as a Scottish home furnishing, textile and gift company opens a pop-up shop inside its historic walls.

Kincardine Castle on Royal Deeside, which is not normally open to the public, will throw open its Victorian doors to visitors when The Nomads Tent Roadshow arrives later this month.

The pop-up shop will run from Friday, 28 October until Sunday, 06 November and feature a wide range of authentic Middle and Far Eastern goods available for purchase, bringing a flavour of the Orient to the oldest village on Deeside.

The Nomads Tent is a popular Edinburgh-based warehouse that sells a range of items, including carpets, rugs, furniture, pottery, lanterns, Christmas decorations, scarves and jewellery. All of which is sourced from markets and bazaars in countries including India, Turkey, Vietnam and Morocco.

A private family residence, Kincardine Castle is widely used as a venue for meetings, conferences, corporate events and weddings.  It also offers group accommodation in 16 of its bedrooms. The Nomads Tent pop-up eastern bazaar will give the public a chance to venture inside this late Victorian arts and crafts style castle free of charge.

As part of the 10-day event, a series of fringe events will also be held at the castle, which sits on the outskirts of Kincardine O’Neil, four miles east of Aboyne. On Tuesday, 01 November a dinner and illustrated talk on the origins and imagery of Persian garden carpets will be held, with money being raised for Scottish children’s charity Children 1st.

Tea, coffee and light lunches will be available in the castle each day during the roadshow, but Kincardine’s monthly pop-up café with its more extensive lunch menu will take place on Friday, 04 November.  Two half-day cookery classes will also take place at the castle. Run by Kincardine Cookery, the class on Saturday, 05 November will feature Middle Eastern cuisine, while Indian cookery will be covered on Sunday, 06 November.

Nicky Bradford of Kincardine Castle said:

“We are very excited that The Nomads Tent Roadshow is pitching up at Kincardine for 10 days this autumn to set out its wares. The pop-up shop is a great way to experience some of the huge range of authentic eastern furnishings, textiles and gifts that it offers, including some Christmas items.

“It is shaping up to be a brilliant few days with something for everyone. Food features in all the fringe events, providing a platform for us to showcase some of the fantastic local produce that is grown in Deeside.

“Kincardine Castle has always welcomed people and has a real buzz to it when packed with guests.  Over the past 30 years we’ve worked to increase the number and variety of events that can be held here, but we’ve never opened the castle up to visitors for so many days at a time. We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone to our historic home.”

The Nomads Tent Roadshow will take place at Kincardine Castle from Friday, 28 October until Sunday, 06 November, opening daily between 10:00am and 5:00pm, except on Sundays when it will open at 11:30am.

Kincardine Castle is the centrepiece of the 3,000-acre Kincardine Estate, which is owned and managed by Andrew and Nicky Bradford. The estate was bought in the 1880s by Andrew’s great-grandmother and the castle remains a private family residence. Built in 1894, the castle was designed by architects David Niven and Herbert Wigglesworth.

The building incorporates elements of five centuries of castle architecture in its design, starting with the 14th century style square keep tower.  Kincardine Castle is available for hire for a range of events, including meetings, conferences, dinners and weddings. Sixteen bedrooms in the castle provide overnight accommodation for groups of six or more.

For further information Kincardine Castle, visit www.kincardinecastle.com or telephone 01339 884225.

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Sep 162016

cfine1With thanks to Cath Deans.

Do you want to get involved in a creative activity but don’t know where to start?

CFINE are delivering various educational courses to teach practical skills so if you want to learn something new or indeed brush up on your existing skills in sewing, knitting, crochet, upholstery or cooking, please get in touch.

Our newly completed training kitchen is also available for hire to run your own course – special prices for charities.

Or, if you want to join a social group on a Wednesday, we have two hobby groups – am and pm – bring along your craft activity and join others over a cuppa and a blether.

What we do:

  • Community Food Outlets: fruit & veg at affordable prices
  • FareShare – fighting hunger, tackling food waste
  • Food Bank
  • Community Training Kitchen
  • Benefits and Budgeting Advice
  • Employability, Energy Efficiency & Housing Referrals
  • Environment: Zero Waste Scotland Project
  • Volunteering opportunities

We offer:

  • Fruit & Veg: Excellent Quality at Great prices
  • Cook at the ‘Nook – Cooking/ Nutrition courses
  • Knitting, Sewing, Crochet & Upholstery Courses
  • Hobby Groups
  • Mailboxes
  • Room Rental

All this and so much more at our premises at 2-4 Poynernook Road, AB11 5RW

If you want more information, please check out CFINE’s Facebook page or contact us on 01224 596156 / info@cfine.org

We look forward to hearing from you!

CFINE is a charity and Social Enterprise supported by Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, Climate Challenge Fund, Zero Waste Scotland, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, FareShare UK, Scottish Government and corporate support through Technip, Wood Group PSN and individual donations.

CFINE was a finalist in the 2015: Guardian Charity of the Year, Northern Star ‘Outstanding Contribution to Society and PWC Social Enterprise of the Year Awards.

CFINE is a private limited co. registered in Scotland no. 262156 Registered Charity no. SC037833. All profits are reinvested into our charity tackling food poverty, building resilience in communities and supporting vulnerable individuals and families throughout the north east of Scotland.

Nov 122015

Neil Hanna Photography www.neilhannaphotography.co.uk 07702 246823With thanks to Jennifer Kelly, Tricker PR.

A cosier winter is in sight for homeless people across Scotland this winter, thanks to the Scottish Women’s Institutes (SWI) picking up their knitting needles and casting on in support of a national campaign to help make a difference to the lives of Big Issue vendors.

As Scotland’s largest women’s organisation, and with many members talented sewers and knitters, the SWI is throwing its weight behind The Big Issue Foundation’s Big Knitathon to ensure that this year’s effort is the biggest and best to date.

Throughout November, the women will gather to knit garments, raise funds and hold events, all of which will benefit homeless people in Scotland. And, in a powerful message to get others involved, they are providing two Big Knitters – expert knitters who will help promote the Big Knitathon by attending events, posting tips online and answering knitting queries.

Although the SWI is no stranger to supporting important issues and worthy causes, it’s the first time that the 17,000 member organisation has been involved in the Big Knitathon – and members are determined that their backing will make a big difference to the lives of people who have become homeless. The SWI will be working alongside Hobbycraft, another key supporter of the campaign, with all 83 stores taking part nationwide.

As the leading ladies and resident ‘Big Knitters’ for the campaign, mother and daughter Anne (73) and Jane Muirhead (47) are determined to encourage all members – from novice to seasoned professional – to keep their knitting needles by their side for the month of November.

Gargunnock SWI member and Stirling Federation chairman Anne says,

“For as long as I can remember we, as an organisation, have gone above and beyond to support local and national causes. We’re passionate about making a difference and helping others in need.

“I’ve been a member for 40 years and I still love the fact that when we work together, we achieve extraordinary results. I, and many of my fellow members, were taught how to knit in primary one and so have had the best part of 70 years to perfect the skill – and practice we do!

“This is a fantastic cause with very worthy recipients so between our scarfs, gloves, blankets and hats, we’ll make sure The Big Issue vendors don’t feel a chill this winter.”

The Big Knitathon is an annual campaign to encourage knitters across the country to create clothing for the vendors, sell the finished articles to raise funds, or hold events with all proceeds going to The Big Issue Foundation. Over the last three years over 2000 knitters have got their needles out for the Big Knitathon and raised over £22,500 for the campaign.

For The Big Knitathon, SWI members are being encouraged to teach novice knitters, share skills, donate knitted goods organise fundraising events and document their knitting journey online through social media.

They are also encouraged to attend the nationwide Hobbycraft event on Saturday 14th November. Held in all 83 stores across the UK, the event will give members a chance to knit together, share skills, share patterns and enjoy a cake or two – all in aid of Scotland’s Big Issue vendors.

Stephen Robertson, CEO of The Big Issue Foundation, says,

“Winter is an especially difficult time for our sellers, especially when the end of the working day doesn’t provide any respite from the harsh conditions. The Big Knitathon enables everyone to help make our sellers’ days and nights easier by buying, selling or donating hand knitted items. This year we’re delighted to have support from the SWI, and know that the warmth of their fundraising and knitting support will be felt by our sellers through the winter’s chill.”

Working outdoors in the freezing winter months, vendors will be protected from the chilling Scottish winds and cold temperatures with cosy knitted hats, scarves and fingerless gloves. Knitters can also donate individual squares that will then be made into patchwork blankets providing some extra warmth during the coldest months of the year.

Joining in with the Big Knitathon is easy. SWI members can submit knitted goods or raised funds to their nearest Hobbycraft store throughout November. Simply register for free online and you will be sent a fundraisers pack. www.bigissue.org.uk/event/big-knitathon-2015. To find out more about the Scottish Women’s Institute visit www.theswi.org.uk.

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Oct 222015

With thanks to Angela Theobald.

AberdeenforwardThmEnvironmental charity Aberdeen Forward are hosting a range of workshops and courses up until the end of 2015.

Aberdeen Forward works closely with local communities, businesses and individuals to educate and promote projects that help to protect our environment, reduce waste and encourage sustainability.

Course Details

Hobby Club: Every Wednesday, 10am-12pm/1.30pm-3pm, these are drop in craft sessions. Donation of £2 per person.

Upholstery afternoon class: 2pm-5pm, £200, every Monday in this block

  • 2nd November to 7th December

Upholstery weekend class: 31st October to 1st November, 10am-4pm, £200

  • If you book with a friend, we will give you a £10 discount each.
  • Also if you are already booked onto another course with CFine, you will get a £10 discount.
  • There will be breakfast and a homemade lunch included.

Back to Basics Sewing courses 2015: 6pm-8pm, £92, every Thursday in each block

  • 19th November to 17th December – a two week break for xmas and new year – then the last date on 14th January

Advanced Sewing courses 2015: 6pm-8pm, £92, every Monday in each block

  • 16th November to 14th December – a two week break for xmas and new year – then the last date on the 11th of January

Crochet: 6:30pm-8:30pm, £60, Every Wednesday in each block

  • November 4th, 11th, 18th


To book or find out more please contact atheobald@cfine.org or 01224531376.


Unless otherwise stated, the venue is:
Aberdeen Forward, 2 Poynernook Road, Aberdeen, AB11 5RW

Sep 112015

With thanks to Angela Theobald.

AberdeenforwardThmEnvironmental charity Aberdeen Forward are hosting a range of workshops and courses up until the end of 2015.

Aberdeen Forward works closely with local communities, businesses and individuals to educate and promote projects that help to protect our environment, reduce waste & encourage sustainability.

Course Details

Hobby Club: Every Wednesday, 10am-12pm/1.30pm-3pm, these are drop in craft sessions. Donation of £2 per person.

Upholstery: 2pm-5pm, £200, every Monday in this block

  • 14th September to 19th October

Back to Basics Sewing courses 2015: 6pm-8pm, £92, every Thursday in each block.

  • 24th September to 29th October

Advanced Sewing courses 2015: 6pm-8pm, £92, every Monday in each block.

  • 21st September to 26th October

Curtain Making: 12pm-4pm, £92, every Saturday in each block.

  • 3rd, 10th and 17th October

Crochet: 6:30pm-8:30pm, £60, Every Wednesday in each block.

  • 9th, 16th and 23rd September
  • 4th, 11th, and 18th November

Basic Knitting: 6pm-8pm, £60, Every Wednesday in each block.

  •  7th, 14th and 21st October


To book or find out more please contact courses@aberdeenforward.org or 01224560360.


Unless otherwise stated, the venue is:
Aberdeen Forward, 2 Poynernook Road, Aberdeen, AB11 5RW

Aug 282015

With thanks to Esther Green, Tricker PR.

Scottish Women's InstitutesIn cities, towns and rural areas of Scotland, a new generation of women is discovering for the first time the appeal of the Scottish Women’s Institute.

They are trying activities like speed crafting, going on brewery trips, making cocktails and learning to play the ukulele at new branches that have popped in Leith, Shawlands, Aberdeen and Dervaig on the Isle of Mull.

Moves to introduce the SWI to a broader reach of women have led to the birth of pilot meetings which are being trialled in different parts of Scotland.

These less formal gatherings have been encouraging women to meet with other like-minded women to make friendships and learn new skills and interests at times of the day and week that best suit their lifestyles.

The latest pilot to get off the ground is in Aberdeen which held its first meeting on Wednesday, August 19, inspired by the new style groups that are taking root elsewhere in Scotland.

Ann Milne, the driving force behind the Granite City’s Deen Divas says:

“There has been tremendous interest in an informal group of women getting together to socialise, enjoy shared interests and above all have fun.  About 40 people attend our first meeting and we’re looking forward to developing and growing in the coming months.”

Leith SWI is part of the new generation SWI with Facebook taking the place of committee meetings and cocktail making and ukulele lessons among its meeting themes.

Member Dawn Endean says:

“It’s about people getting together because they want to make friends. We do whatever people fancy doing.”

Dervaig Divas held its first meeting in a pub in the north of the island of Mull and has been the brainchild of the SWI’s Sheelagh Still who finds it refreshing to go forward with younger people’s ideas, input and enthusiasm.

Says Sheelagh:

“We recognise that women want flexibility and may wish to dip in and out of meetings as their other commitments allow. It’s great to see new interest being generated in the SWI.”

Shawlands in Glasgow launched its new-style SWI on Sunday, 23rd August with plans to focus on women’s safety, alongside crafts and baking.

Angela Tamburrini of Shawlands sought out a local SWI to learn more about homecrafts and baking, but with none near her home decided to do something about it by forming a new group.

“That was at the beginning of June and I’ve had 80 women register their interest,” explains Angela.

“Activities will be whatever the majority want but will include speakers to talk about topics such as women’s safety.

“Some of the talent out there is gobsmacking and some of the ladies are happy to do demonstrations like make jewellery, quiltmaking, baking, decoupage, paper crafts. 

“I’d also like to help women improve their employment prospects and am thinking about getting someone from a recruitment background to give their CVs a health check – for free of course!”

SWI national chairwoman Christine Hutton is encouraged to see new members coming on board and taking an interest in the organisation and says it bodes well for the future.

Christine adds:

“The SWI will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2017 and to see fresh blood coming in, and new institutes being formed, is a positive step in the right direction.”

The new style meetings have come about as part of the rebranding of the movement introduced earlier this year to address the organisation’s ageing membership and to inspire women to join an organisation more reflective of modern lives where women work, have family and busy lifestyles.

The word ‘Rural’ has been dropped from the name, to reflect the growing membership in urban areas, while a new logo has been designed to give a fresh look along with the strapline ‘Women Together’. A new website has also been launched making it easier to search for Institutes.

Flexible meetings at different times of the day and in different venues are being trialled with new Institutes encouraged to take up themes and activities that reflect their own interests, lifestyles and communities, alongside existing SWI groups where education and training in home skills, family welfare, citizenship and friendship remain the key aims.

The new groups complement the existing network of traditional meetings that have been held all over Scotland since the organisation’s foundations in 1917.

The SWI remains one of Scotland’s most loved institutions with a membership of around 17,700 women.

For more details of how to find your nearest institute, or advice on how to set up a new one, visit www.swi.org or go to its Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/ScottishWomensInstitutes

Mar 202015

With thanks to Angela Theobald.

AberdeenforwardThmEnvironmental charity Aberdeen Forward are hosting a range of workshops and courses up until the end of 2015.

Aberdeen Forward works closely with local communities, businesses and individuals to educate and promote projects that help to protect our environment, reduce waste & encourage sustainability.

Course Details –

Hobby Club: Every Wednesday, 10am-12pm/1.30pm-3pm, these are drop in craft sessions. Donation of £2 per person.

Upholstery Weekend Course: 28th to 29th March, 9:30am to 4:00pm, £190

Plant ideas workshop:

We are pleased to offer this plant ideas (http://www.plantideas.org/) workshop which teaches how to make the most of plants in various useful ways. The cost is £35 per class. Here is the format of the classes:

  • Herb Walk: 25th April 11-13:00, Duthie Park
  • Wild Food: 6th June 11-13:00, Aberdeen Forward Building

Back to Basics Sewing courses 2015: 6pm-8pm, £92, every Thursday in each block

  • 23 April to 28 May
  • 11 June to 16 July
  • 30 July to 3 September
  • 17 September to 22 October
  • 5 November to 10 December

Intermediate/Advanced Sewing courses 2015: 6pm-8pm, £92, every Tuesday in each block

  • 20 April to 25 May
  • 8 June to 13 July
  • 27 July to 31 August
  • 14 September to 19 October
  • 2 November to 7 December

Curtain Making: 12pm-4pm, £92, every Saturday in each block

  • 1, 8 and 15 August 2015
  • 7, 14 and 21 November 2015


To book or find out more please contact courses@aberdeenforward.org or 01224560360.


Unless otherwise stated, the venue is:
Aberdeen Forward, 2 Poynernook Road, Aberdeen, AB11 5RW

Feb 202015

Scottish Women's InstitutesthmWith thanks to Eoin Smith, Tricker PR.

In a drive to attract a new generation of members, The Scottish Women’s Institute (SWI) will introduce a pilot project adopting new-style flexible meetings at different times of the day and in different venues to fit in with the lifestyles of prospective new members.

Meetings taking place in informal settings like coffee shops in the daytime or straight after work  will be trialled, to help the organisation become accessible to more women who work, have family commitments and busy lifestyles.

New Institutes will be encouraged to take up the themes and activities that reflect their own interests, lifestyles and communities.

The existing key aims of the SWI will remain as education and training in home skills, family welfare, citizenship and friendship and to promote the preservation and development of Scotland’s traditions, rural heritage and culture. However, there will be less formal minute taking and members being required to take on formal roles, with new institutes communicating perhaps instead by blogs and social media.

These pilots will run alongside the network of traditional meetings held all over Scotland by members since the organisation began in 1917.

In tandem with the pilot project of new style meetings, the organisation will in future be known as the Scottish Women’s Institutes rather than the Scottish Women’s Rural Institutes, to show that women from urban as well as rural locations are welcome.

A new logo has been designed to replace the Luckenbooth logo first introduced in 1918 and the motto ‘For Home and Country’ will be replaced by the strapline ‘Women Together.’ A new website is under construction and will make finding out how to join a local institute easier through a simple postcode search, and online payment option for the joining fee will also be introduced. (launch planned for March 2015).

Membership has fallen from 30,000 in the 1980s to under 18,500 today and it is seen as crucial that changes are implemented to attract a younger generation of women to continue the legacy of one of Scotland’s most loved institutions.

Chairman Christine Hutton explains:

“We are the guardians of our organisation and it’s our duty to leave a legacy for Scottish women of the future. Although they may not seem to be pioneers by today’s standards, the women who started the SWRI during the First World War were forging a new path for women learning and socialising together. It’s very important for us to retain and build on our aims, but we have to do this by attracting new members.

It has been estimated that if we continue a membership decline similar to that which we have experienced in recent years, our organisation may simply cease to exist. I am excited that we are pioneering new ways of reaching out to different generations of Scottish women while we retain our structure of traditional meetings which are so valued by many of our current members.”

Christine continues:

“We are aware that many non-members who live in cities and towns feel we are not open to them; just to rural, country people and this could not be further from the truth. We may be dropping the word ‘rural’ from our name, but I am sure generations of women will continue to refer to us as The Rural and we welcome this. Whether we are known as the SWI or the ‘Rural’ our aims remain the same – to bring Scottish women together to enjoy learning and extending their crafts and skills.

There has been a UK wide revival in baking and crafts thanks to the popularity of television shows such as ‘The Great British Bake Off’ and ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’, there is a clear interest from women of all ages, in learning and sharing knowledge in skills including cooking, the arts and crafts, as well as leisure activities. We aim to move forward as a relevant, appealing membership organisation for women of all ages.”

One of the youngest institutes in the SWI is Garnethill  in Glasgow, where the programme of recent events has included an ecstatic dance workshop, life drawing; talks on drug law reform and working in child psychiatry; and members joining  a ‘Reclaim the Night’ march in Glasgow. The new pilot projects may adopt similar styles of meetings and activities.

Chair Lindsay Finnie and her fellow Garnethill members are excited about the refocus of the national organisation and she says:

“We are more of an ‘ideas and brainfood’ group than some of the more traditional institutes but we became affiliated to the SWI as we see how members get so much out of meeting with others, having fun and also taking part in stimulating activities that are relevant to them and the communities which they live.

“I would encourage more women to be part of the move to make the SWI increasingly relevant to women of all ages.”

Long standing SWI member Isabell Montgomerie of the Ochiltree Institute in Ayrshire says:

“This evolution of the SWI is an exciting and interesting time for us as current members. Being relevant and inclusive for women across Scotland has always been at the core of the SWI and while I am sure we’ll all still be calling it ‘the rural’ for many years, it is time for us to reach out to many more women in Scotland’s urban and rural areas to join us.

“It will be great to be able to choose between our traditional meetings and a more informal get together while still having the chance to meet like-minded women and to improve our skills.”

With a membership drawn from Shetland to Wigtown, the SWI remains one of the largest women’s organisations in Scotland. It offers women of all ages the opportunity to learn new skills, take part in a wide variety of activities from art, crafts and cookery to choral singing, debating and dancing, all of which offer friendship and fun and the chance to get to know your neighbours.

Christine Hutton adds:

“We celebrates our centenary in 2017 and we hope to reach this important milestone with an increased membership and a choice of meeting structures for institutes which will be enjoyed by members old and new.”

For more details of how to find your nearest institute, or advice on how to set up a new one, visit www.srwi.org or go to its Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/ScottishWomensRuralInstitutes

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Jan 302015

Informed by Shelagh Swanson’s studies at Bullseye Glass Company, Portland, Oregon at the end of last year, Oil and Glass introduce a new series of workshops and sessions.

Sgraffito Stencilling Workshop


There will also be a 6 Week Evening Class, during which all of the techniques taught in our individual workshops will be covered, with additional technical information also given to provide a deeper insight into the processes involved.

Block one will take place from 6.30pm – 9pm on Tuesday evenings starting on February 17th.
Block two will take place on Thursday evenings from 6.30pm – 9pm starting on the 2nd April.

Visit the website for class descriptions and also to book!

Suncatcher Making

Suncatcher Making

Saturday 31st January 
11am – Relief/Texture Plate Making
2.30pm – Suncatcher Making

Sunday 1st February
2pm – Introduction to Fused Glass

Thursday 5th February 
11am – Suncatcher Making

Thursday 19th February
11am – Sgraffito/Stencilling
6.30pm – Relief/Texture Plate Making

Saturday 21st February
11am – Sgraffito/Stencilling
2.30pm – Suncatcher Making

Thursday 26th February
6.30pm – Powder Printing

Saturday 28th February
11am – Introduction to Fused Glass

Sunday 1st March
2pm – Relief/Texture Plate Making

Wednesday 4th March
6.30pm Sgraffito/Stencilling

Powder Printing thm

Powder Printing

Saturday 7th March
11am Suncatcher Making
2.30pm Introduction to Fused Glass

Sunday 8th March
2pm Sgraffito/Stencilling

Thursday 12th March
6.30pm – Suncatcher Making

Saturday 14th March
11am – Relief/Texture Plate Making
2.30pm – Powder Printing

Sunday 15th March
2pm – Introduction to Fused Glass

Saturday 21st March
11am – Sgraffito/Stencilling
2.30pm – Suncatcher Making

Sunday 22nd March
2pm – Powder Printing

Relief Texture Plate Making

Relief/Texture Plate Making

Thursday 26th March
6.30pm – Introduction to Fused Glass

Saturday 28th March
11am – Introduction to Fused Glass
2.30pm – Suncatcher Making

Sunday 29th March
2pm – Suncatcher Making

Sunday 31st March
6.30pm – Sgraffito/Stencilling