Call for the community to support their village hall

Retiring Sheila Gilmore and Irene Currie outside Shiskine hall which they have given so much to over the years.

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The village hall has played a key role in the life of the Shiskine Valley since its move across to Torbeg in 1958.

This followed the former Shiskine Church of Scotland congregation granting the existing building in a Deed of Trust to become the new Shiskine Village Hall.

As was usual at the time, the initial trustees were the local doctor, school mistress, Church of Scotland minister and the bank manager from the Bank of Scotland in Blackwaterfoot.

Groups represented on the first committee included the Shiskine Women’s Rural Institute, Shiskine Youth Club, Shiskine Bridge Club and the Arran Junior Agricultural Club.

The hall thrived and over the years was the venue for many groups including Guides, Scouts, Cubs, badminton and, of course, the famous Shiski Diski.

However, by the mid 1980s the hall was in need of major refurbishment and by 1991 the committee took the difficult decision to close, pending funding applications to renovate the building entirely.

This massive leap of faith paid off.

The committee successfully gained more than £38,000 in grants as well as raising loans to cover the total sum.

Steering this work, with full committee support, were two formidable ladies; Sheila Gilmore, who was 23 years old when she joined the committee in 1986 and Irene Currie joined in 1971 when still in her teens!

Over 1993-4 the hall underwent a major refurbishment expertly undertaken by John Robertson and Sons.

Sheila advises when the hall was reopened, by former hall keeper Mrs Betty Campbell, the loans were all repaid within a year, such was the use of the building and successful fundraising.

The hall BBQ and duck derby at Shiskine Valley Sports Day and regular quiz and games nights were all part of a Shiskine summer.

Further fundraising resulted in the installation of a shower room and new kitchen.

In 2018 another milestone was reached when the hall gained charitable status, becoming a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO).

As with all the village halls, the pandemic meant the hall has been out of use for much of the last 18 months but it is now looking forward to activities resuming including keep fit groups, Rainbow and Brownies, Women’s Institute, the Well-Being café, junior Taekwondo and yoga.

It’s also the venue for the children’s Hallowe’en and Christmas parties, Burns Suppers, Hogmanay Hooley as well as being available for hire for community and private functions.

Over the years many members of the community have played their part on the committee with ongoing maintenance and improvements being key.

Most recently energy efficient heating has been installed which should ensure the hall is warm and welcoming year round.

The hall committee was very moved recently to receive a legacy of £5,000 from Joyce Scott, the much-respected and affectionately-remembered former headteacher of Shiskine Primary School.

The next AGM on Wednesday September 22 will be seeing some significant changes.

After first joining the committee over 50 years ago, with a period of living away, Irene has decided it is time for her to stand down and for some new faces to join the committee.

When asked to reflect on her long involvement, Irene said: ‘The hall is at the heart of the community and generations of children and adults alike have fond memories of their time there.

‘I just loved doing my bit to help as my children benefitted too.’

Sheila’s imminent move back to Brodick, after 35 years on the committee, prompts her standing down.

Sheila is also passionate about the importance of community involvement and need for some new members.

‘It’s been a real honour and a privilege to be part of Shiskine hall committee over the years.

‘Joining when I was 23, I was involved before, during and after I had my children! It was a great way to get involved in the local community both practically and socially.

‘It would be great to see some younger committee members too. The hall is for the whole community and this is an opportunity to help shape the way forward.’

Hall secretary Diana Turbett says Sheila and Irene’s departure is a huge loss and wishes to express heartfelt thanks for their incredible contribution over many years.

Echoing both Sheila and Irene’s sentiments, Diana says involvement with the hall is a great way to play a part in the community and very rewarding.

The committee is, therefore, hoping to welcome new faces to the AGM to ensure that Shiskine Hall will continue to be at the heart of the community for many years to come.

The always popular Shiskine hall auction from a few years ago.