A LIVELY discussion ensued when local historian and Advertiser columnist Valerie Forsyth offered a talk for members of Breathe Easy Clackmannanshire.

There was a great turnout at the monthly meeting in St Mungo’s RC Church Hall last Thursday, August 8, with the author of A Walk in the Past, found in today’s archives pages as usual, swapping readers for a live audience.

Valerie, who was born and bred in Tillicoultry but also lived in the highlands for some years, shed light on her work behind the scenes which revolves around researching interesting places right on the doorstep and the people connected to them.

She developed a deep interest in history when her family moved to a small village in Caithness; one day her children came home to ask whether she knew their home was near a former prisoner of war camp.

Her research took her on an interesting journey and culminated in the book Camp 165 Watten with more works published in the years to follow, for instance Camp 21 Comrie about the Cultybraggan POW installation which is one of, if not the, best preserved such camps in the UK.

Valerie also spoke about her work locally, which has seen her explore the story of now-gone local industries and mineworks.

Or, as published in the Advertiser recently, she also explored the story of the McSwans, a family originating from Menstrie who were victims of John George Haigh, also known as the Acid Bath Murderer.

It is a gruesomely captivating story, best told by the author herself.

Many of the local historical stories resonated with members who enjoyed lively discussions with the historian, offering their own knowledge and anecdotes.

Some discussions focused on the preservation of listed buildings and it was clear that Greenfield House is still a hot topic in town.