Edinburgh group for multiple-birth families celebrates 40th birthday

When Aileen Crosbie gave birth to her twin sons in 1972, baby number two was a very unexpected delivery.

Aileen Crosbie (centre), founder of the Double Trouble Club, with her twins Kenny (left) and Mike (right) and a picture published in the local press to promote the club in its early days
Aileen Crosbie (centre), founder of the Double Trouble Club, with her twins Kenny (left) and Mike (right) and a picture published in the local press to promote the club in its early days

After being admitted to hospital at 31 weeks because of breathing difficulties, she went into labour two days later.

She said: “I went into labour and a 3lb baby was born. The doctor then said: ‘There’s something funny here, I think there might be another one.’

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“I thought he was joking but twin two arrived three minutes later, weighing 4lbs.”

Twins Finlay (left) and Hamish (right) Taylor, age 2.5, celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Edinburgh & Lothians Twins & Multiples Club

When her sons, Mike and Kenny, were six, the retired nurse and health visitor set up The Double Trouble Club in her Blackhall Living Room in a bid to support other families raising twins.

Now known as the Edinburgh and Lothians Twins and Multiples Club, membership has reached 550 and is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Aileen said: “It was a total surprise ... and we were totally unprepared for such a shock.

“The first year was hard. We had no family help and I felt very isolated and exhausted.

The first Double Trouble Club picnic in June 1979

“My husband was exceptionally supportive and a huge help to me, but it was the practical aspects I had to cope with daily on my own that were most difficult.”

“My twin buggy was too wide to go through shop doorways and it was impossible to go on a bus. But I survived and so did the babies.”

When she was pregnant with her third child two years later, Aileen’s husband bought her a book on how to cope with twins. It was then that she discovered the popularity of support groups for mothers of twins in America.

She said: “I vowed that one day I would start one up in Edinburgh.”

Busy with her young family, Aileen’s dreams of setting up a network for other mums took a back seat but when a new neighbour, also a mum of twins, moved in, the idea began to bloom.

She said: “When Marleen moved in we talked about it and in 1978 the Double Trouble Club was born.”

Membership grew quickly with the mums meeting monthly in Aileen or Marleen’s homes to listen to a variety of speakers, before the growing group graduated to a local hall to accommodate its new 

To mark the club’s 40th birthday, Aileen met with some of its current members and their children who have benefitted from the community she dreamed up.

Baby groups, social events, activities, multiple-birth specific antenatal classes and breast-feeding workshops are all offered by the club which supports the needs of parents of twins, triplets and higher order multiples.

Aileen said: “Raising twins comes with all sorts of challenges. My twins didn’t speak until they were four-and-a-half.

“I’m so pleased the support group has continued to exist. It seems to have confirmed the old saying that a trouble shared is a trouble halved.

“I wish it had been there for me in the early years that I found so hard to cope with.”