THEY say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

But some of Renfrew’s most elderly citizens have made a mockery of that suggestion.

Almost three decades ago, community-minded residents set up a swimming club for those aged over 50.

The aim was to tackle social isolation and offer a safe space for ‘golden oldies’ to stay fit and active.

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Now the club’s co-founders have been honoured with a national award.

When Effie McGachie – known to many as ‘Mrs Renfrew’ – was swimming in the town’s Victory Baths back in 1991, she was asked if she had considered setting up a club for the area’s older people.

The idea was ‘floated’ around the community shortly afterwards and the Renfrew Over-50s Swimming Club was born.

Since its inception, the group has grown from around 30 swimmers to nearly 100.

And while not every member is able to join in the swimming fun, the local group also offers bus runs, regular meet-ups, water aerobics and dances for its members.

Effie, 89, who was the long-standing chair of Renfrew Community Council, collected the National Inspiration Award from Age Scotland, along with Isobel Marshall, 83, and 90-year-old Meg Maine.

Club treasurer Effie told The Gazette: “The group is all about the camaraderie and the togetherness of all of the members.

“We never set it up for the recognition but it was wonderful to win the award and we were treated like royalty on the day.

“It is unbelievable how much the club has grown from such a little acorn into a mighty oak.

“It was such a big shock to the three of us to win the award and we later found out we had been nominated by the members.

“We are really quite active still and thankful to the members who support us.”

Fellow committee member Bill Caird added: “I first came to the club about 1997 and discovered that everyone seemed to know each other.

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“I then decided to join the club and have found it wonderful. I was on my own and it was a good place to come to.”

Honouring the award winners, Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s chief executive, said: “Their tireless work and commitment is a true inspiration." 

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