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While Arran is in lockdown, this has brought to the fore some incredible community spirit around the island, none more so than in Shiskine Valley, where voluntary support rallied holistically before even the lockdown came in to being on March 23.
The local Shiskine and Machrie Senior Citizens Committee sent support messages to all in the district whilst local shops have been outstanding in their efforts to help their customers. The Harbour Shop, The Arran Butcher and A & C Cameron, Post Office and licensed grocer, offered home deliveries from the outset, and where possible these deliveries are collated.
Although the butcher has taken the decision to close to the public, the Harbour Shop and Post Office remain open, and social distancing is managed at all times. Within the Post Office, friendly staff ensure only two customers are permitted at any one time, and residents form an orderly, distanced queue outside to get in for groceries or to use the Post Office itself; they have also maintained their full post office service in Lochranza and Kilmory.
George Grassie at Blackwater Bakehouse has built a bread shed where you may purchase without contact if necessary. Blackwaterfoot Lodge and Arran Meals2Go are both offering takeaway food delivered to your door over the weekends
The Surgery at Shiskine has its own dispensary, so to avoid collection of hundreds of prescriptions from the surgery, Blackwaterfoot Post Office receives them in large boxes, and co-ordinates with local volunteers to distribute as soon as possible. Volunteers can also be seen delivering papers and messages throughout the valley and beyond. Local residents have put their daily exercise to great use, clearing the playing field, planting shrubs, dredging the burn, and painting and mending benches and fences. Residents have also been collecting litter as they walk or cycle.
Twice a week, Shiskine has Dancing on the Doorstep, as three popular tunes are played at full volume across the valley for people to dance, socially distancing of course. The music is usually selected by those who are having birthdays, and have proved very popular, as has Thursday’s Clap for Key Workers. Last Thursday saw the Shiskine farmers show their support for the NHS and all frontline workers in a superb parade of 20 tractors, festooned with banners and rainbows in a parade around the valley.
Shiskine Valley may be in lockdown, but the community spirit has definitely remained unlocked!