Weel-kent Culter woman hands over reins

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A woman at the heart of community life in a Lower Deeside village for many years retired last week from her work with the community’s village hall.

Alison Skinner, administrator of Peterculter Village Hall for the past 23 years, finally decided to hand over the reins at the thriving community hub to the younger generation of village residents as her daughter, Rachel Beedie, took up the administrator’s post this month.

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A celebration of Alison’s retirement took place at the Hall last Friday (December 19), the l committee presenting her with an engraved cake stand - a very appropriate gift given that she is ‘weel-kent’ for winning prizes for her cakes in the village’s annual show.

The president of the Hall Committee, Nigel George, said: “Alison will be much missed for her efforts, which have been above and beyond the call of duty. She is one of the unsung heroes of this village.”

Also present at the event was Alison’s husband, Jim, who is equally well-known in the community as an all-round handyman and strong supporter of many village groups, including the Culter Theatre Club.

As Jim is also retiring from his unofficial role, Culter will be missing two pillars of village life. The Skinner family’s connection with the community is very strong, with several generations belonging to the area, Alison’s grandparents having worked in Culter Paper Mills.

Her own family have all played an important part in keeping Culter Theatre Club and the village’s annual pantomime going since it was founded 23 years ago, son Shaun frequently acting as lighting technician, daughter Rachel’s young sons Robin and Zander acting in them, and granddad Jim working backstage with set-building.

The Village Hall is owned entirely by the people of Culter so has to be kept going with fund-raising events and the essential work of local volunteers.

New administrator Rachel emphasised: “We are always looking for new volunteers! We’d like to move the hall forward, maybe with more social or family events, but we still want to make it the heart of Culter.”

Alison and Jim can now look forward to putting their feet up a bit and enjoying life with grandsons Zander and Robin, but their connections with the community will remain strong, partly through being involved with the St Peter’s Heritage Trust and Alison’s new “Knit and Natter” group for keen sewers and knitters.

Asked finally if she thought Culter had changed during her 38 years’ community involvement, she concluded: “Yes, it has. There’s a different sort of population now and it has spread from being a small village to more like a suburb. But we fight to keep it as a village and the hall will always play an important part in that.”