DUMFRIES and Galloway's Retired Farming Social Group celebrated its first birthday recently, with the group having expanded from 12 to 34 members over the course of that first year.

Following a unanimous vote at their most recent meeting, the group is now an independently funded organisation with a donation of £500 from NFU Scotland as well as a donation from the Stewartry Discussion Society (which has now disbanded).

The group’s most recent meeting saw 27 members visit the SRUC Barony Campus near Dumfries, where they were welcomed by its director Dr Dave Roberts, and retired principal David Rose gave a talk on the history of the site, followed by farm manager, Paul Kelly, who provided information on the running of their farm.

Group coordinator Jill Rennie said: “I’m delighted that the group is continuing to grow and we get new people contacting us regularly to find out more about the meetings. It is great to see people who may be isolated or lonely coming along to meet others in a similar situation, sharing their farming stories and having a laugh.”

Group chairman Willie Dunlop said: “When I first heard about the Retired Farmers Group I thought it was a good idea and after attending my first meeting I haven’t missed one since. I think the group is amazing.

“There is a lot of comradeship – you get to meet new people and we have a right good blether. We discuss different things about farming and lots of other things. I just enjoy the company and having that opportunity to reminisce a wee bit about farming when we were younger and how things have changed," said Mr Dunlop.

“We’ve had a few trips over the year. We visited a farm in Newton Stewart to see all the old implements we used to use. We have visited an organic farm which was interesting and we have visited the Barony campus which I really enjoyed as well.”

NFUS director of regions and D and G regional manager, Teresa Dougall, said: “It has been a delight to be involved with this group from the start. We are delighted to see them now going independent and look forward to supporting them in the future. As part of this, we have donated £500 to help them progress.

“Jill has done a fantastic job in getting this group off the ground and it provides a great network and social connection for the retired farming community.”