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During more than a decade of writing the Thought for the Week column for the Campbeltown Courier and Argyllshire Advertiser, Marilyn Shedden never missed a single week.
Marilyn has been giving readers something to think about for the last 11 years – through nearly 600 weekly columns – but has decided it is time to hand-over the role to others.
‘I thought it was time that people had a change – 11 years of the same person is quite a long time and I think folk deserve something else,’ she said.
‘I’ve absolutely loved my time as Thought for the Week contributor. I’ve even made new friends through it; people have been so kind, commenting on different ‘thoughts’ and getting in touch with me about them. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.’
Marilyn took over writing the column in January 2010 as a tribute to her mother, who passed away on Christmas Eve in 2009.
‘I started it as a wee tribute to her and I think she would have been pleased with a lot of them,’ Marilyn said.
‘I decided not to make it a purely Christian ‘thought’. Before I took over, it had been very much a bible-based column, but I wanted it to be a something that could touch people of any faith or none. So, while some weeks had a Christian slant to them, there were others of no persuasion – they were just topics I thought might be helpful for people to think about; nature, stars, planets, things like that.’
Marilyn’s submissions were quite varied, often referencing popular movies and television shows, or subjects of national and international significance.
‘There was a great response to the wee series I did on the Paddington movies,’ she said. ‘A lady arrived at my door one day with beautiful Paddington hand towels and notelets for me because she enjoyed them so much – things like that just made my day!’
Asked if there was one subject in particular which was her favourite to write about, Marilyn said: ‘I really enjoyed the ‘thoughts’ I wrote while we were waiting to get our puppies, and then, after we got them, sharing stories about them.
‘I got lots of comments about those ‘thoughts’ too – pets are also something that touch people across all faiths and none, something many people relate to.’
Marilyn said she tried to avoid expressing overly political opinions in the column and she also tried to focus on the brighter side of life.
‘There was so much bad news, so I tried to look at the positive side of things, without being glib or trite. I very much tried to balance it, dealing with the difficult things but not in a patronising way.’
Although never failing to come up with a column, Marilyn admits the words didn’t always flow easily.
‘Some weeks I wondered what I was going to write about and, when that happened, I’d go to my computer, bring up a blank page, and it just happened – I’d just get the thought,’ she said. ‘I’ve never been let down!’
Marilyn, who lives near Muasdale, is kept busy as mission convener for the Argyll Presbytery and an elder and worship leader at Killean and Kilchenzie Church. She is also chaplain to both Rhunahaorine and Glenbarr primary schools, something which she describes as her ‘greatest joy’.
Asked what she plans to do with any new spare time she may have, she said: ‘I’ve got a new camera and I’d like to get more into my photography, spending more time out and about, learning a bit more about the camera’s advanced features.’
The Thought for the Week column will now be written by different religious leaders from around Kintyre on a rota basis.
Turn to page 14 to read this week’s column which was submitted by Campbeltown’s Springbank Evangelical Church.