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The people of Mid Argyll paid tribute to Reverend Hilda Smith at a highly sociable garden party in the sun.
After 16 years as Lochgilphead Church of Scotland parish minister, Hilda retired at the end of August and is now looking forward to having more time for hobbies including photography and crafting – stamping, stencilling, die cutting and parchment craft.
The church garden was bedecked with bunting on a gorgeous afternoon on Saturday August 28.
A marquee – erected with the help of 19th Argyll Scouts – provided shade for the many people who came along to enjoy delicious tea and cakes.
Session Clerk Sandy Taylor paid tribute to Hilda’s contribution to the parish during her tenure.
Through good times and bad for the people of the area, he said, Hilda was a listening ear and a source of comfort and support.
Addressing her directly, he continued: ‘You have responded to the challenges faced by our church through the years.
‘We have achieved a lot in that time, not least of which is our wonderful hall, behind which you were a driving force.
‘And in terms of your work with young people and families too, including the Messy Church, the weekly café and wider links with the community, a great deal has been achieved under your leadership.’
Hilda replied: ‘Hearing what Sandy said kind of brought it home that this is the end, in one sense.
‘It’s the end of part of the journey and there will be more. It’s not the end of the book, it’s the end of a chapter.
‘I know I’ve made the right decision in taking early retirement, but there’s still something surreal about it.’
Initially studying German at university, with the intention of teaching, Hilda had no desire to go into ministry.
‘I had umpteen excuses for not studying divinity, but that changed and in 1987 I started training for ministry.
‘I was eight and a half years in Drumchapel before I went to Yorkhill and the Queen Mother’s Maternity Hospital, where I spent four and a half years.
‘On September 1, 2005 I came here, so almost exactly 16 years ago.’
It was while she had been conducting a wedding in Kilmartin when piper Charlie Ferguson mentioned there was a vacancy in Lochgilphead.
At the time it didn’t suit, but when a vacancy list arrived a year later, it was Lochgilphead that jumped off the page to Hilda.
Speaking at Saturday’s reception, and turning to the people gathered around the marquee, she continued: ‘Lochgilphead was a great move for me.
‘It’s had its ups and downs, but you have supported me during my tough times, just as much as I hope I was there for you.
‘Ministry is a privilege. It is a privilege to walk beside people through good times and tough times.
‘Friendships have developed through this.
‘On a lighter note, the Messy Church has been great. We had a children’s club, a Saturday club and a variety of things going on.
‘It’s great to have seen these kids growing up and to get to know them and their families.
‘I enjoyed the work at the school too, getting to know the teachers and children and it’s a pity that Covid meant that I wasn’t able to go in and say goodbye.’
She added: ‘Thank you for the flowers and gift; I’m always delighted with flowers, and they’re really lovely.’
‘I’ve no desire to leave this area. There’s a kind of unwritten rule that ministers leave an area when they retire.
‘But I won’t be interfering in what’s to come.
‘Because I’m staying in the area, much as it will be tough at times I cannot be available for funerals, baptisms or weddings.
‘That’s going to be tough, but it’s important to say that and draw the line now.
‘This is fantastic today, and I want to thank you all.’
Sandy continued: ‘We will be sorry to part with you, our minister.
‘But as we know, you are not leaving Lochgilphead so we will be happy to meet you again, not as our minister but as our friend.
‘We all wish you success as you start this new chapter in your life.’
Enjoying the garden party were Furnace residents Helen and Neil MacDonald, who came along to pay their respects to Hilda on her retirement. 51_a36Hilda_gardenparty01
From left, Barbara Millar, Margaret McGinley, John McGinley and Robert Eric ‘Bob’ Millar enjoyed the occasion in tribute to Hilda. 51_a36Hilda_gardenparty02
Lochgilphead Parish Church Session Clerk Sandy Taylor spoke of Hilda’s many achievements as Lochgilphead minister. 51_a36Hilda_gardenparty03
Orla Mochrie and Mara Taylor presented flowers to Hilda as Sandy Taylor handed over a gift from the parish. 51_a36Hilda_gardenparty04
Hilda said she was delighted to receive such beautiful flowers on her retirement. 51_a36Hilda_gardenparty05