A book has been returned to Paisley’s Central Library – more than 50 years late.

Staff were stunned when the postman delivered a large white padded bag and when opened, they discovered a copy of the book, Mrs Balbir Singh’s Indian Cookery, along with a £20 note and an anonymous letter apologising for the book being so long overdue.

The book is thought to have been loaned out around 1968 from the Central Library, in Paisley’s High Street. But since this was so long ago and before records were digitised, there is now no way of knowing who had borrowed it.

The letter accompanying the returned book, published by Mills and Boon in 1965, said: “Please accept my apologies for the late return of this book.

“Enclosed is a token payment in recognition of this oversight. Thank you.”

The £20 is now going to be donated to charity, as Renfrewshire Libraries is currently not charging a fine for the return of overdue books.

Mrs Balbir Singh was born in the Punjab in 1912 and became an internationally renowned chef, cookery teacher and cookbook author.

Her Mrs Balbir’s Singh’s Indian Cookery book was met with much acclaim when it was first published in London, in 1961 and went on to inspire future generations of Indian chefs and home cooks.

The book sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide and several editions with revisions, and recipe additions were printed in the following years. Mrs Balbir Singh died in 1994.

Linda Flynn, Paisley Central Library Team Supervisor said: “I was more than a little surprised when I opened the padded envelope and saw what was inside.

“It’s rare to have a book returned after being overdue for so many years. I suspect the book had been lying in a cupboard or a drawer for some time and was only recently discovered.

“It was a lovely gesture from whoever found the book to take the time to send it back with a £20 note as a token gesture for it being so long overdue. We’ll make sure the money goes to a good cause.”

Linda added: “You could see that the book had been well used and some of the marks on the pages suggested that someone had followed the recipes to make a good few dinners.

“Unfortunately, the book isn’t in a condition to put back on our shelves for people to borrow, but since it’s become a talking point among library staff, we’ll keep it in a safe place.”

Daniel Defoe classic to be broadcast at unique theatre and film hybrid commissioned by Paisley Book Festival

A classic 18th Century novel has been transformed into a play for the first time and will be broadcast in a unique performance in Paisley.

Roxana – described as a morality tale like no other – will be available to enjoy online for five days from August 30 in a performance specially-commissioned for Paisley Book Festival.

Described as a “fast-paced and socially critical new play” it has been adapted by playwright Laurie Motherwell from writer and social commentator Daniel Defoe’s novel of the same name.

It had been intended as a live performance to run over several nights at the Secret Collection in Paisley as part of the festival in February.

But, not to be beaten by the Covd-19 pandemic, its cast and crew have brought the production to life in a part-theatre, part-film format shot at the Secret Collection, Paisley Arts Centre and on location in the town, at Bailey’s Antiques on the High Street and at the Architectural Salvage Yard on McGowan Street. 

Roxana follows the life of its title character – a wife, mistress, mother, opportunist and friend – and her maid Amy in what’s billed “as scandalous an adventure as you could find and a morality tale like no other”.

It brings Defoe’s 1724 novel and its surprisingly contemporary debates on marriage, wealth, sexuality and autonomy to the digital stage in a provocative re-telling of their journey as they grapple with the world and the choices they have to make.

Directed by Shilpa T-Hyland this unique online story has been created as a special one-off Paisley Book Festival event as a co-production with Renfrewshire Leisure Arts and Museums and Paisley Book Festival. It is made possible with support from Creative Scotland and Future Paisley. 

Laurie Motherwell said: “The challenge of adapting Roxana doesn’t only come from taking an old, and at times what felt like an impenetrable, novel to adapt it for the stage. But also the complex discussions it brings up. Authorship and narrative are key. It felt strange and vulnerable to be examining my relationship to that as the writer. 

“Shilpa asked me to adapt this novel back in 2015 and I jumped at it – because I wanted to make work; To challenge myself. Who would have known in 2015 that this hybrid version of this play is how it will be seen?

“I don’t think I truly appreciated Roxana being ever-present in my life before now. I will be forever grateful to this incredible team who have given me their support, and the opportunity to bring this re-imagining of Roxana to life. I hope we’ve done Defoe justice. But more importantly that we’ve also done Amy and Roxana justice too.”

Defoe’s original text is surprisingly subversive, including philosophical musings on ethics, and cause and effect. Motherwell’s adaptation takes the novel’s controversial beginnings along with both Defoe’s triumphs and failures in writing a challenging female narrative as inspiration for his play. The result is a raucous adventure tale with a searing commentary on the responsibilities of authorship and what it means to judge a life which is as relevant now as it was 300 years ago. 

Shilpa T-Hyland said: “I read Roxana by Daniel Defoe on a literature course in 2012 and was struck by Defoe’s ambiguous ending. Neither morally smiting of his strong willed protagonist, nor celebratory of her, he settles for a vague cause and effect ending. 

“After reading a variety of other moralistic endings imposed by editors of later additions I became obsessed with a notion of what Defoe might have been close to writing but ultimately couldn’t. What would an ending have looked like which celebrated Roxana and her maid Amy? Enshrining their philosophical conversations and outrageous social climbing in protofeminist fame?

“I asked Laurie to adapt the book for stage. Together I thought we might walk in the footsteps of Defoe and Roxana and create a new ending. Six years and many drafts later, I wonder if my original instinct to re-end the story positively was just as flawed.

“This process of finally finishing and staging the play in a theatre/film hybrid, in a time of such artistic uncertainty, has given me a new appreciation for the right to choice.

“Roxana is an incredibly flawed character; sometimes brilliant, sometimes cruel, ever human. She is not necessarily a good human or a good feminist but I hope that what we have inherited from Defoe and enshrined in this adaptation is that freedom is the right to choice. The outcome of those choices are up to the individual, society and a little bit of fate.”

Speaking of the process of experimenting with theatre and film hybridity as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions it has posted on the performing arts, the director added: “I hope if nothing else the joy of collaboration and experimentation shows in this work, filmed over a single week in an empty theatre, an antique shop, a salvage yard, and a museum archive. We have all wrestled with Roxana’s complicated story, I hope you will enjoy doing so as much as we did.” 

Roxana’s creation is in itself a story of resilience, being artistically stubborn in the face of overwhelming challenge, and an experiment in how to continue to create work, employ artists and offer cultural content in the context of the ongoing pandemic. 

Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, Chair of Renfrewshire Leisure, said:  “I am very much looking forward to seeing this performance and commend how the cast and crew have acted so innovatively – and safely – to create this production in once unthinkable circumstances. I take my hat off to their incredible determination.

“The fact that we have been able to commission this work – whether it had been on stage or as it is now – stands as tremendous testament to the high regard with which Paisley Book Festival is now held.”

 Paisley Book Festival was staged as an online showcase in February, selling out events enjoyed by more than 8,700 people.

 Registration to view the Roxana broadcast will be free and can be booked online via https://paisleybookfest.com/ . The broadcast will go live from 3pm on August 30 and will be available to view until Saturday, September 4th.

Transition to level 0 allows for further gradual expansion of cultural, leisure and sport services for the local community.

Renfrewshire Leisure is making plans to further expand its range of services in the wake of the Scottish Government’s confirmation that Renfrewshire moves to level 0 COVID restrictions. With the long period of restrictions gradually easing, the charity wants to extend delivery gradually to support local people in living lives which are healthy, happy and fulfilled.

The return will be aiming to reinforce community well-being as the charity’s priority. Ever since COVID restrictions were introduced, the organisation has maintained safety as its top priority for those using its facilities or benefiting from its services. 

The latest extension of services provided will be phased in over the coming weeks and follows a gradual reopening of facilities since the most recent period of enforced lockdown closure came to an end on April 26th.

The next developments will be:

  • Indoor leisure services further expanding to include the recommencement of indoor contact sports in line with information from Sporting Governing Bodies
  • Swimming pool capacity constraints easing to allow us to introduce a 25% increase at the Lagoon and ON-X leisure centers in booking slot availability next month, although COVID precautions will remain in place. 
  • The Active Schools programme and the schools’ library service is set to recommence at the start of the new school term.


Locals are being urged to monitor the charity’s social media channels and website (www.renfrewshireleisure.com) for up to date confirmation on individual activities.


Victoria Hollows, Chief Executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, emphasised the importance of moving to build capacity to meet the needs of local people and help them rebuild their physical and mental health after the long period of restrictions since March of last year. She said:


“We take very seriously our commitment to local people who depend on our range of services to support their wellbeing, so we are gradually and carefully expanding provision to meet that need. However, it will inevitably take time to do so in a way which ensures that members and users of our services and facilities can continue to do so safely, whilst we monitor infection rates in the community.


“We know how much local people have missed our wide range of activities, and how important it is to their physical and mental welfare so we will be constantly reviewing demand, usage and local infection rates to meet people’s needs as quickly as we can.


“We look forward to continuing to welcome you back, safely.”


Information about all Renfrewshire Leisure services and how they are operating can be found at www.renfrewshireleisure.com, where details can also be found about the innovative programme of online services, which staff have been running help people stay fit and healthy during all phases of lockdown and the route map out of it.

Increased support for older people in region amid concerns about increased social isolation as a result of Covid-19 pandemic

Jo Dallas who volunteers for The Food Train.
Jo calls a core group of seven people who live on their own or who feel isolated.
The talking is something Food Train offer as well as help with shopping.
Often Jo and the people she calls will talk about food and what they are cooking.
Jo regularly talks to a retired home economics teacher and they share tips for making scones.

A scheme tackling loneliness among older people is being expanded to reach more in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire.

Food Train has opened its Phone Friends service to the general public after work to support its members during the pandemic highlighted the strong need for it.

It connects an older person with a volunteer who regularly phones them for a chat – giving them someone with whom they can share how they are and enjoy a laugh.

Food Train is best known in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire for its shopping services, which have faced sustained high demand to deliver groceries to the homes of over-65s since Covid-19 took hold.

Morna O’May, who is overseeing Food Train’s Phone Friends service, said: “Covid has had a huge impact on older people who have had to shield and isolate. Because of the length of time this is going on for, they are losing confidence in being able to get back out and about again in public.

“It is creating a situation where people who had a connection to their community are losing that and those who were already isolated are feeling it even more keenly.

“The Phone Friend service is an ideal way to make connections again from the safe environment of your own home.”

Food Train first opened its Phone Friends to members after volunteers made check-in calls to older people during lockdown – to ensure people were well and had all they needed – when many of its members were unable to enjoy the social side of shopping deliveries or days out organised by the charity.

That service to members across the country has seen volunteers make 1,550 calls – chatting to older people for 28,000 minutes.

The response to it has been so positive that the service – which costs £5 per month to join – is being made available to non-members too. Phone calls can be weekly, fortnightly or less often if people wish.

Morna added: “Phone Friends allows a friendship to develop without having to involve any travelling or visiting which suits many older people and volunteers.

“We have volunteers vetted, trained and ready to be matched.”

For more information about Phone Friends, call 0800 048 9945 or email phonefriends@foodtrainconnects.org.uk.

We began last week with a fantastic turnout and are looking forward to getting going again this week in the lovely sunshine!

Our 4:30pm – 6:30pm workshop will now be taking place from 4pm – 6pm.

We have updated our flyers and our plain text which I have attached below to be shared.

RIG Arts are super excited to announce the launch of the EVOLVE project with 2 FREE weekly outdoor arts workshops, open to all. Join artists Marie and Seamus and the RIG Arts team to get creative in Seedhill.

McKerrell Street Playpark

Every Friday starting 9th July for 6 months.

– 1pm-3pm

– 4pm-6pm
What to expect:
– arts, crafts and fun!
– masks and costumes
– creative map-making
– exploring Seedhill in a new way
– creative planning for the future
– have your voice heard – your thoughts count!
Just drop in and get involved. Stay for as long as you like.
Covid precautions will be in place and we’ll have plenty of hand sanitiser and surface cleanser on hand.
For more info, contact Rebecca on rebecca@rigarts.org or info@rigarts.org

Find us on FB: @RIGArtsInverclyde, IG and T: @RIGArtsGreenock
@CultureColSco @CreativeScots #EvolveSeedhill #CultureCollective

YOUNGSTERS are being encouraged to go wild… and read lots of books this summer.

When they sign up for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge at any Renfrewshire library, they can also find out how they can help to save the planet and receive a colourful poster pack with stickers.

This year’s Reading Challenge theme is Wild World Heroes and local libraries have partnered with the Reading Agency and WWF – one of the world’s biggest nature conservation charities – to give children between the ages of four and 11 an exciting summer of reading and fun activities that are centred around environmental issues.

There’s also the chance to learn even more about the nature with access to a Wild World Heroes online platform.

Youngsters are being asked to read six books during the summer holidays to complete the challenge and when they do, they’ll be entered into a prize draw to win cinema tickets thanks to local IT consultancy, Consilium.

When youngsters are halfway through the challenge having read three books, they’ll receive a free swim pass from Renfrewshire Leisure.

Ambassadors for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge are teenage naturalist, writer and broadcaster, Dara McAnulty and explorer, presenter and writer, Steve Backshall.

Andrew Givan, Renfrewshire Libraries’ Children and Young People Co-ordinator said: “We’re thrilled to be welcoming children back to our libraries to take part in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.

“It’s a really exciting challenge this year with lots of reading and activities about the environment the children can take part in.”

Go to www.renfrewshirelibraries.co.uk for lots more fun online activities and book recommendations.

Social Security Scotland is encouraging families who have welcomed a new arrival during Scotland’s peak baby season to find out if they are eligible for family payments.

According to figures from National Records of Scotland, July is the month most of Scotland’s babies are born in Scotland. 4,266 babies were born in July 2020 despite there being an overall decline in babies born in Scotland in 2020. December was the quietest month with 3692 babies born.

Parents who get tax credits or certain benefits could be eligible for family payments including Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Scottish Child Payment and Best Start Foods.

The Pregnancy and Baby Payment is open to parents from the 24th week of pregnancy up to the day a baby is six months old and Scottish Child Payment is a recurring payment of £40 every four weeks for eligible children.

Minister for Social Security Ben Macpherson said:

“If this year mirrors previous trends, many families will be welcoming a newborn into their lives. This will be a very exciting time for parents – but it can also be expensive.

“Scottish Child Payment and Best Start Grant payments can help ease some of the financial pressure – especially at a time when many people have been hit hard economically by Covid-19.

“At a busy time for expectant and new mums, we wanted the application to be accessible and straightforward. Parents and carers can use the same form to apply for Scottish Child Payment, Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods and it only takes an average of 12 minutes for those applying online.

“Social Security Scotland also offers a pre-paid Best Start Foods card for eligible families that can be used to buy healthy foods for children under three.

“I’d encourage anyone who thinks they might be eligible for these payments to find out more and apply today.”

Jane Brumpton, Chief Executive of Early Years Scotland, said:

“We support and recognise the vital role that Scottish family payments play in helping to alleviate financial pressures for eligible parents and carers nationally.

“The peace of mind that comes with knowing there is additional financial support available for children and families is incredibly important, and it is crucial in supporting their wellbeing as we exit the pandemic during these very challenging times.”


  • Scottish Child Payment is payment of £40 every four weeks for each eligible child under the age of six, there is no limit on the number of children a family can claim for.
  • The payment will be rolled out to under 16s by the end of 2022 subject to the Scottish Government receiving the necessary data from the UK Government.
  • In the meantime, the Scottish Government will introduce bridging payments of £520 to be paid in both 2021 and 2022 for those receiving Free School Meals due to low income.
  • Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment is a £606 payment for a first child and £303 for other children.
  • Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment is a £252.50 payment when a child is between the ages of 2 and 3.5 years.
  • Best Start Grant School Age Payment is a £252.50 payment to help eligible families with the costs of starting school.
  • Best Start Foods is money every four weeks on a pre-paid chip and pin Mastercard. The amount is £17.00 every four weeks during pregnancy and for any children between one and three years old. The card can be used to buy healthy food including eggs, milk, fruit, vegetables and pulses.
  • People can apply online at mygov.scot/benefits or by calling Social Security Scotland on 0800 182 2222
  • National Records of Scotland birth rates publications can be found at https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/vital-events/general-publications/weekly-and-monthly-data-on-births-and-deaths/monthly-data-on-births-and-deaths-registered-in-scotland
  • *The following is an extract from  Table 6 accessed via the link above

Residents of Cochrane Castle are being urged to find out if they have Covid19 at a temporary testing site for people with no symptoms of the virus is set up in the area.

The testing site will be open from Wednesday 14 July and aims to slow the spread of the virus in the area.

The facility will be in Cochrane Castle Community Centre and will be run on a drop-in basis – no booking is needed.

It is being targeted at anyone who lives, works or goes to school in Cochrane Castle and is only for those who are not displaying any symptoms.

Anyone who does have Covid19 symptoms (new persistent cough – high temperature – a loss of, or change in, taste or smell) should book a test for an NHS-run centre instead.

The facility will use lateral flow tests – which are quick tests that will be processed on site and people will get their results by text message within 45 minutes.

It is being run and staffed by Renfrewshire Council as part of the national rollout of community testing sites.

It follows a successful deployment of temporary COVID-19 test sites in Ferguslie, Linwood and Renfrew.

The testing site will be open on these dates and times:

  • Wednesday 14 July – 9am to 5pm
  • Thursday 15 July – 11am to 7pm
  • Friday 16 July – 9am to 5pm
  • Saturday 17 July – 11am to 3.30pm
  • Sunday 18 July – 11am to 3.30pm
  • Monday 19 July – 9am to 5pm
  • Tuesday 20 July – 9am to 5pm

Councillor Jacqueline Cameron, chair of the Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Integration Joint Board, said: “Now that the restrictions are easing and we have universal testing, it’s important that we all get tested as often as we can. Temporary testing sites, like Cochrane Castle Community Centre, play an important part in helping to keep cases low and further reduce the spread of the virus. Anyone who lives, works or who goes to school in the Cochrane Castle area should drop into the centre and take a test. By doing this, you are helping yourself, your loved ones and your community.”

Anyone who tests positive will be required to self-isolate – along with the rest of their household – for ten days.

Financial support is available – you may be eligible for a Self-Isolation Support Grant and can apply for this through the council.

Residents can visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/coronavirus-testing-centres for more information.

West College Scotland August Clearing Days: 2-7pm – Pre-Register Now!

Greenock (Finnart): 10 August

Clydebank: 11 August

Paisley: 12 August

Whether you are a school leaver or an adult returner looking to upskill or retrain, West College Scotland’s Clearing Days are the perfect opportunity to chat with staff and sign up for an August Start course that’s right for you!

Over the three events they have over 25 curriculum departments attending alongside our Student Services Department, who can guide you through your application.

They’ll also have representatives from Student Funding, the Student Association, Student Wellbeing, Enabling Services and  Digital Device Support, who’ll be able to give further advice and support available to you whilst you study at College.

If you’re a school pupil in the Senior Phase they have some options available to you to enhance your school experience. Go along and chat to their Schools Programme and Foundation Apprenticeship Team!

To minimise queuing on the day and to receive Clearing Day updates direct to your inbox:


Just wanted to flag this fab competition our sponsor Scottish Friendly is currently running that may interest your readers:


 ‘For your chance to win, invent your very own dragon and tell us all about it using the form below. The lucky winner will receive an e-reader, the entire collection of Cressida Cowell’s books, and a one year Historic Scotland family membership, granting free access to all Historic Scotland sites and other discounts across the UK. Entries close at midnight on August 2, 2021.

To find out more about the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour and how we bring books to life, check out our virtual tour videos on our on demand library. If you’d like to receive updates on when the tour is visiting your area, please sign up to our schools newsletter.’


A number of retail outlets at Glasgow Airport have reopened.

Following discussions with business partners at Scotland’s major transport hub, Victoria Secret and Discover Glasgow have opened once again to passengers.

The two outlets join a number of stores that are now trading again as the airport continues its recovery from the covid-19 pandemic.

  • Beardmore (Bar & Restaurant)
  • Boots
  • Celtic
  • Discover Glasgow
  • JD Sports
  • Jo Malone
  • Luggage Point
  • Starbucks
  • The Fashion Place
  • Victoria Secret
  • WHSmith
  • World Duty Free

Our retail partners have put safety measures in stores so passengers can browse freely and safely. This includes signage to help passengers respect physical distancing and screens being installed.

Ronald Leitch, Operations Director at Glasgow Airport, said: “As we ease out of lockdown we have continued our focus on maintaining public safety and that of our staff through enhanced safety measures at Glasgow Airport.

“Bringing back business safely remains a key priority and we are delighted our business partners are reopening at our terminal. While it is critical that Glasgow re-emerges with strong connectivity for Scotland, it is also key that the passengers using our airport have access to as many of the facilities as possible within Glasgow Airport and that they feel safe to do so.”

Denise Gilmour, Head of Retail at Glasgow Airport, said: “We have been working extremely hard with our retail partners to support them through the pandemic and their restart plans at our terminal.

“This will offer more choice to passengers while continuing to keep them safe throughout the airport.

“I am delighted to be welcoming them back to Glasgow Airport and know they have all been working non-stop over the past number of weeks and months to reopen.”

Openreach engineers in Paisley have joined forces to support anti-poverty charity the Trussell Trust, which supports a network of food banks across the UK.

During a day of action, volunteers from the digital network business collected more than 15,700 essential goods for around 50 UK food banks.

Hundreds of priority items on the Trust’s shopping list, like cereal, soup, tinned and dried foods, biscuits, drinks and toiletries, were handed in at the Paisley exchange collection point and dropped off at the Renfrewshire food bank.

Greg Fleming, engineering area manager for the West of Scotland, said: “Openreach has been focusing on wellbeing in our workforce during June. We know giving to others is one of the best ways we can do this, and we decided to run a special volunteering day in support of the Trussell Trust.

“There’s been a large increase in demand for food banks during the pandemic, with food banks within the Trussell Trust network providing a record 2.5 million emergency food parcels. We’ve arranged a drive across the UK to help provide emergency food for the 14 million people living in poverty.

“Our people have really got behind it, donating 63 shopping bagfuls across the West of Scotland. We’re very pleased to play a small part in helping the Trussell Trust with the vital work they do to make sure no-one in the west of Scotland goes hungry.”

The Trussell Trust supports a network of more than 1,300 food banks across the UK, providing emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, while campaigning for change to end the need for food banks.

It aims to provide a minimum of three days’ nutritionally-balanced emergency food to people who have been referred in crisis, as well as support to help people resolve the crises they face.