Community wishes Gillian a very happy retirement

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By Hugh Boag

The community in the Shiskine Valley came out in force to wish Gillian Ingham a fond farewell when she retired from the Harbour Shop last Friday.

It was her last day in the Blackwaterfoot shop, so relied upon by the residents of the west coast, after 15 years behind the counter.

A large, socially-distanced, crowd gathered outside the shop in the afternoon to see the presentation conducted by Shiskine resident Colin Mills who said: ‘Today is a historic day in Blackwaterfoot as we witness a change in the running of the Harbour Shop. Gillian has run the business for 15 years and today we say goodbye to her with some sadness.’

After a short speech Gillian was presented with an ArranCard of more than £600, collected at Blackwaterfoot Post Office, which reflects the regard in which Gillian is held by the community.

Flowers were then presented to Gillian and her two assistants Gina Green and Aileen Kelso by schoolgirl Keira Webster. Gina is also to retire soon.

Gillian first came to Arran to work at the Kinloch Hotel as a cook and then moved on to Arran High School in the same role before taking over the Harbour Shop.

She is married to Andy Ingham, whose parents had the chalets at Torbeg where she and Andy have made their home for many years and raised their family with son Craig and daughter Jennifer growing up here.

Gillian and Andy are now proud grandparents of Poppy and Gillian is looking forward to having more time to see her family who now live and work on the mainland.

One long time customer said: ‘Gillian has provided a great service, including the challenges of the ‘big snow’ in 2013, the ongoing pandemic and dealing with the inevitable ferry disruptions impacting on newspaper deliveries.

‘She also shows great kindness and support to customers no longer able to manage down to the shop, with orders being phoned in and Gillian making sure they get what they need. Her homemade tablet and macaroon bars being particular favourites.

‘Gillian has also allowed her front window to be a community noticeboard which has been invaluable, especially for those members of the community not online.

‘Gillian has also made space for collection tins for local charities and sponsor sheets for members of the community involved in fundraising.’

After the presentation Gillian thanked everyone for attending and added: ‘Thank you all, I really did not expect anything like this.’

The shop is still owned by the Iutz family with the lease being taken over by Ellen McMaster.