Kirkton Players in Carluke celebrated 60th anniversary by helping Women’s Aid

Charity cheque...members of Kirkton Players in Carluke were delighted to hand over a bumper cheque to local Women's Aid representatives on Monday night.
Charity cheque...members of Kirkton Players in Carluke were delighted to hand over a bumper cheque to local Women's Aid representatives on Monday night.

It’s been a very special year for members of the Kirkton Players in Carluke as they celebrated their diamond anniversary.

And they rounded off the celebrations on November 30 and December 1 with three sell out shows at Kirkton Church Hall.

Diamond birthday...Members of Kirkton Players in Carluke celebrated their 60th birthday with a celebration cake to mark the occasion.

Diamond birthday...Members of Kirkton Players in Carluke celebrated their 60th birthday with a celebration cake to mark the occasion.

The Players performed two British Finals winning plays – In the Blinking of an Eye by Jeremy Hylton Davies and The Steamie by Tony Roper.

Audiences lapped up every second and also helped the group raise funds for a very worthy cause.

George Thomson, show director, said: “The Players wanted to support Women’s Aid as In the Blinking of an Eye deals with domestic abuse, telling the story of two survivors, while The Steamie also focuses on hardships experienced by women.

“The collection was mostly from the audiences and individual drama group members.

“Members also gathered six large shopping bags of personal hygiene products.

“The collection amassed £650 for Women’s Aid.

“We would like to thank our audiences for making the appeal such a success.

“The Players are all very proud of their achievements over the last 60 years.

“But it would not have been possible without our loyal audiences so we would like to thank the public for their on-going support.”

Representatives from Womehn’s Aid were invited to attend a meeting on Monday night to receive the bumper cheque.

Lorraine Brennan, the chairty’s outreach services team manager for South Lanarkshire, was delighted to accept it.

She said: “This is a particularly difficult time for women and children experiencing domestic abuse.

“Women’s Aid South Lanarkshire is extremely grateful for the financial support provided by the Kirkton Players and their audiences over this festive period as so many families involved in our services will benefit greatly from it.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you for their generosity and kindness – it will touch so many lives this Christmas time.”

The Kirkton Players first meeting was held on March 19, 1958, when the first committee was appointed.

Records do not reveal the location of that meeting but the first plays selected were The Spent Match and Nine Green Peas.

When, as it was known then, the Kirkton Church Drama Group first performed it was in the small hall with a raised platform.

Exit stage right and you were in the corridor outside of the Sanctuary. Exit stage left was via a window into Manse Drive!

Humble beginnings but, in 1961, the group started fundraising to build what is now the large hall and a new stage area.

Work was completed in 1965 and the new performance space came complete with curtains and understage storage.

A Players spokesman said: “As much as our old bones now curse the narrow entrance, it must have felt like seventh heaven to the Players in 1965!”

From then on there was no stopping the group – they performed to local church audiences as well as guilds and other social groups across South Lanarkrshire.

A real spirit of community began to emerge, which was only strengthened when the group began performing at local festivals.

And it all helped to create a solid base for future generations of Players.

In 1991, the renamed Kirkton Players joined the Scottish Community Drama Association (SCDA), taking the oak tree that stands in Kirkton Church as its logo.

The spokesman explained: “The oak tree symbolised our roots and heritage but also alluded to great things to come.”

In 1995, the Players rendition of September in the Rain by John Godber reached the Scottish Finals in Kilmarnock.

In 1999, they lifted the Howard De Walden trophy for the first time with Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter.

In 2002 and 2003, they took the top prize with firstly Bouncers and then The Steamie, becoming only the second club in history to win in two consecutive years.

In 2009 Kirkton did it again with Two, followed in 2012 with In the Blinking of an Eye. Indeed, no other club has won the British Finals as often as Kirkton Players.

The spokesman added: “When you are around festivals as long as we have been, you aspire to be better and put on the best performance you can. You also learn from your peers.

“But we still take pride in being part of our community. Whether it be a bingo night, money to repair the church organ or audience donations to the local food bank, we try to give back to our most loyal supporters – local people.”

To find out more about Women’s Aid South Lanarkshire, visit the website www.wasl.org.uk.

And to keep up to date with the Kirkton Players, visit www.facebook.com/KirktonDrama.