At her final Zoom Meeting as President, Frances Wallace welcomed members and guests to the May meeting.

The guests this month were recipients of Charity Cheques from the club for 2020-2021.

Introduced by President Frances as her chosen charity, Jane Stewart spoke and gave her thanks on behalf of Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland.

Jane has been a Stroke Nurse in the Grampian area with CHSS for seven years. In the area, which stretches from Elgin in the North, Braemar in the West and St Cyrus in the South there are 5 stroke nurses. Not all Health Boards provide this service.

She outlined the history of the charity which was established a 100 years ago after the eradication of TB. The vision of the charity is – No Life is Half Lived and Jane went on to explain how CHSS supports the possible 60 discharges of Grampian stroke patients in a month.

CHSS provide a Community Rehabilitation Service, advice line and information booklets on topics such as benefits, support for careers, driving and healthy eating. The aim is to make the transition from hospital to home easier.

Covid has meant that home visits to stroke survivors were not available but CHSS initiated Kindness Callers to keep contact with their clients and carers.

Jane reminded the members of FAST – to help if a Stroke is suspected- Facial Weakness, Arm Weakness, Speech Problems and Time to call 999.

She concluded by telling about the pioneering new stroke service which has been established at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee where a Thrombectomy procedure can be carried out and can significantly improve the outcome for suitable patients if they are admitted to hospital in the first six hours after showing symptoms.

Gladys Johnston introduced Juliet Ward from the Milltown Workshop at Arbuthnott.

Juliet explained that Milltown, which is in its 25th year of operation began in an old garage. It is a small and dynamic community and is part of the Camphill Community. Through living and working together, making connections in the local area, and taking part in a wide variety of activities, the service users or “workers” aged from 16 to mid 70s are encouraged to learn new skills and reach their potential. The clients may have autism, head injuries or physical disabilities

There are houses and a Day Workshop. The three houses – Milltown House, Peesie’s Knapp and Grassic View – are registered for housing support and care at home for seven adults with learning disabilities. Milltown Day Workshop provides day services for people with a variety of disabilities who live locally. Activities include restoring donated tools for Tools for Self Reliance, wood work, Arts and Crafts – including a pottery and also gardening, which as well as providing employment for “the workers “, fosters self- worth and self- confidence.

Tools for Self Reliance work in partnership with local organisations in the six countries that are their areas of focus – Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Zambia. They believe that these organisations are best placed to identify the local needs and to engage with the community. Their partners deliver training programmes which include not only technical trade skills, but also business and financial management, health awareness, and life skills. Upon completion, trainees receive a start up kit of tools, and are supported in forming their own businesses. This holistic training model is proven to support the development of sustainable livelihoods and income diversification for people affected by poverty.

At Milltown, the workers repair hand tools and make up tool kits for sending to Malawi.

During Covid, Milltown members were supported by daily phone calls and walks as well as Zoom Coffee Breaks. A newsletter was also compiled by clients with support from their families ….A Day in the Life Of…..
One of their service users had processed wood for sale in his community during Covid and used the money raised to buy a dishwasher and log splitter for their use at the workshop.

Juliet also spoke of the Milltown workers presence in the local community, prior to Covid – at Local Galas, Local Facebay, making planters for East Coast Viners and a Story Chair for Montrose Basin.

The final guest was introduced by Lena Smith. This was Helen Reid who accepted a cheque on behalf of Laurencekirk Hanging Baskets.

Along with Janet McLean, Helen has been one of the founding partners for the Hanging Baskets and Christmas Lights in Laurencekirk.

Helen explained that as a member of Laurencekirk Ladies Social Club she had been approached by Hilda Kerr of the Community Council at the time of the Millennium and the Jubilee in 2002 to display some hanging baskets in the village.

Permission from Aberdeenshire Council was given, a bank account set up and fund raising began.
The project is now an annual event.

Some funding and plants come from Aberdeenshire Council but most is raised from donations within the community. Helen and Janet McLean attended a two day course on horticulture early on in the project which proved invaluable.

The present 40 baskets which were bought in 2012 cost approximately £2600.

A great deal of planning and preparation goes into each display, with the baskets being filled at the yard of local haulier Doug Mitchell. This part can take about 3 days if the weather is suitable. They require 40 bags of compost plus plant feed. Andy Ogilvie of the Hardware Store in Laurencekirk helps with the provision of the plants for which Helen is extremely grateful. The average cost to fill each basket is between £30 and £40.

The more recent two tier planters which are on display in the front of the Masonic Hall were bought with donations from funerals and from locals in Laurencekirk.

Local volunteers now use 2 electric water carriers to water the baskets. The water carriers are stored at First Friends Nursery. There also needs to be an insurance paid to cover the personal safety of those erecting and watering the baskets and the Christmas Lights. Since Janet McLean moved away Anne Bruce helps Helen plant the flowers in the baskets.

Frances Wallace gave the vote of thanks and informed the members of the other local recipients of the Charity Cheques which were – Mearns and Coastal Healthy Living Food Banks, Edzell Flowers and Christmas Lights Laurencekirk.

Earlier in the day outgoing President Frances met outside and handed over the chain of office to incoming President Marion Robson.

The new Committee for 2021 – 2022 are

President: Marion Robson
Secretary: Gladys Johnston
Treasurer: Lena Smith
International Service Organiser: Sandra Cooles
Past President/Correspondent: Frances Wallace
Syllabus Secretary: Sylvia Cartwright
Committee: Cathy Reid, Diana Deeney, Denise Donald

The meeting concluded with the AGM and the club will meet again on Tuesday 8th June.


Helen Reid

Juliet Ward

Jane Stewart

Frances Wallace and Marion Robson

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