A new side to North East Fife’s Lib Dem candidate

If you were at the Conference rally in Brighton, you’ll have seen the fantastic speech given by our amazing candidate for North East Fife, Wendy Chamberlain. She hopes to take the seat, currently held by the SNP’s Stephen Gethins. He and his wife account for his entire majority.

Wendy has many talents and was featured in this week’s Scotland on Sunday for her work on Scotland’s governing body for the sport of Shinty. It’s a world which has, until fairly recently, excluded women from its management.

When Wendy Chamberlain became the first woman to join the board of the Camanachd Association (the body that governs Scottish shinty), people kept telling her how proud her grandfather would have been.

It seemed like a safe assumption: Celly Paterson was a legend of the sport, a chieftain of the association during the 1980s as well as a well-kent writer of Scottish songs such as Home To The Kyles.

But Chamberlain is not so sure. “My father reminded me my grandfather once donated a cup for a competition at Tighnabruaich Primary School with the stipulation that girls were not allowed to play,” she says. “And when his son produced two daughters, he wasn’t best pleased. There was a real patriarchal strain running through shinty that has only changed in the last 25 years.”

Perhaps it has something to do with Highland Presbyterianism, but, until the late 1990s, the idea of women playing shinty was unthinkable. Chamberlain is 41; shinty is in her blood. Her father, Billy Paterson, also played for Kyles Athletic and one of her earliest memories is of him playing in the Camanachd Cup final in 1983.

“My dad was a police officer in Greenock and he once rescued a man from drowning in the James Watt dock,” she says. “I remember the newspapers made a big thing of him being this big, brave shinty player. I was really proud of him. My cousins, who are all boys, played shinty too, but I don’t remember any encouragement to play myself. Boys did boy things and girls did girl things: that’s just how it was.”

Read the whole article here.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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