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Dedicated member Beth remembered in family’s trophy gift to Angus village rural

Ivan Laird with Memus and Fern rural members Ella Grant, Frances Craig, Lavina Harvey, Elsie Nicoll and Kathleen Melville. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.
Ivan Laird with Memus and Fern rural members Ella Grant, Frances Craig, Lavina Harvey, Elsie Nicoll and Kathleen Melville. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

For more than 40 years it was part of Beth Laird’s life.

And as Memus and Fern Rural looks towards its centenary, the popular figure’s family has ensured her dedication to the women’s organisation will be remembered by generations to come.

But it’ll take a talented baker like Beth to get their hands on the home skills trophy gifted in her honour.

Husband Ivan was a special guest at the group’s AGM in Memus Hall where he handed over the Beth Laird Memorial Salver to its inaugural winner, Lavina Harvey.

Ivan Laird
Ivan Laird with the memorial salver donated in honour of his wife, Beth. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

“Beth passed away last September, a month before her 85th birthday,” said Ivan.

“The rural was such a big part of her life.

“She was dedicated to it for more than 40 years and was president ten times and vice-president eleven times.

“Beth was a born organiser.

“And she got such enjoyment out of the rural, the church and the other organisations she was involved with.

“She was a particularly good baker and cook. Those were the competitions she did well in for Memus at the rural show in Forfar.”

Ivan Laird
Mr Laird with the new trophy. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

Ivan added: “This new trophy will be for cooking and baking.

“The rural had one, but it was awarded on alternate years for that and then for crafts and sewing.

“With the centenary coming up next year, I’m delighted we have been able to add this trophy in her memory.

“It means they can award it every year.”

Community stalwarts

And it’s another permanent reminder of the couple’s contribution to local life in the community north of Forfar over many decades.

Agricultural contractor Ivan, 85, was a long-time special constable in the area and prison visitor at the former Noranside open jail.

And he remains chairman of Kirriemuir Landward East community council which he has served for 42 years.

“We both liked to do our bit for the area,” he said.

“And I’m sure Beth would be pleased her name is on a trophy that the rural members can compete for every year now.”

President’s thanks

Current Memus and Fern president Davina Farquharson said: “We were determined to make sure we celebrated our 100 years next year.

“But we would love to get some younger members in.

“We miss Beth a lot because she was such a loyal and dedicated member.

“So it is lovely to have this memorial salver in her name to remember her by after so much service to the rural over so many years.”

Memus WRI
Salver winner Lavina Harvey with Ivan Laird and loyal service award recipients Ella Grant, Frances Craig, Elsie Nicoll and Kathleen Melville at Memus Hall. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

The salver presentation took place at an annual meeting which also saw loyal service certificates presented to Ella Grant, Frances Craig, Elsie Nicoll and Kathleen Melville.

“We have a summer trip lined up, but our meetings don’t resume until September,” said Davina.

“Then we’ll look forward to the 100th anniversary, so it would be great to see some more members join us.”

Meetings resume in September

The group meets in Memus Hall on the second Tuesday of the month between September and May.

‘The rural’ has remained a leading organisation for Scotland’s women since its formation in 1917.

Previously the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute, it’s now the SWI.

But the pandemic has dealt a blow to some groups whose ageing membership has dwindled and they have folded.

In Angus, an annual highlight is the local federation spring show.

The showcase of crafts, baking and other skills took place at the Strathmore Hall in March.

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