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Feb 172017
 

By Red Fin Hall.

This rescheduled league game is Aberdeen’s game in hand over the rest of the league. It comes two days after defender Andy Considine became the third player to commit their future to the club, and Derek McInnes telling the media that still has a lot of unfinished business in the North East, and has no interest in The Rangers’ managerial position.

Being unable to field an unchanged team tonight due to the suspension of Graeme Shinnie, Ryan Christie stepped into the breach.

Referee Alan Muir got the game under way in fin not of a crowd of just over 10,600 on a clear and fine evening.

With Andrew Considine having just signed an new contract keeping him at the club for another couple of years, and Derek McInnes reiterating his desire to stay at the club, despite the (by now boring) insistence of certain sections of Main Stream Media that he is certain to be on his way to Govan, the good feeling amongst fans was running high.

That feeling was well and truly justified when the match was but a mere two minutes old when a shot toward Motherwell’s goal from Shay Logan was blocked. It fell to Adam Rooney whose shot also was blocked. The loose ball fell to Jonny Hayes who, from the edge of the area, shot into the goal past all the defenders from a tight angle to make it 1-0 before some fans had even taken their seats.

Motherwell were awarded a corner in the 4th minute, but it troubled no-one.

Setting the tone of the game, Aberdeen were looking sharp and pacy as usual. With ten minutes having elapsed, Logan had a go from the right side of the pitch but his shot was more than wayward, and almost high enough to go over the roof of The Merkland Stand.

As the Dons pressed hard looking for more goals, even this early, Christie had himself in a good position just outside the box, but looking a tad unconfident, dithered about too much and the chance was squandered.

Some nice interplay between Niall McGinn and Hayes and Rooney followed, but the latter’s overhead kick went just wide.

With not even 15 minutes in the clock, Christie again had the ball at the edge of the box, This time he didn’t hesitate but his shot too went wide. Aberdeen were certainly looking hungry for more goals. This piece of action was swiftly followed by a very good pass by McGinn to Christie, who was running through. The ball was just a tad too long and fast for he youngster to reach.

Aberdeen were given he first free kick of the game when Hayes was tripped in his own half.

Still looking strong going forward, Christie became the provider and Hayes the receptor. Taking an example of Logan some minutes previously, he too blootered the ball high and wide. Nevertheless this pair were leading by example and, linking up well, another effort from the loan signing, Christie was the result of this partnership.

finally fulfilling his potential since signing from St Mirren a couple of seasons ago

Lee Lucas for the visitors tripped Kenny McLean. McLean took the kick himself, but it was too far out to cause any concern for Craig Samson in goal.
With even the home defence venturing upfield, an excellent ball in to Ash Taylor from Christie saw the tall Englishman head just wide. Desperately seeking a second goal, Hayes saw another attempt go just wide.

Lucas then found himself being the first player to be booked for committing a second foul; this time on Christie. From 30 yards out, the kick was taken by McLean who seems to be finally fulfilling his potential since signing from St Mirren a couple of seasons ago. He aimed the ball for Considine, but a corner was the only reward.

Coming from the left side, McGinn took said corner kick. He too aimed his shot towards Consi. The defender was standing at the far post, he gratefully got on the end of the ball and headed it downwards and bouncing into the net for Aberdeen’s well deserved second goal.

2-0.

Great persistent play just a wee while later, by Hayes, after a mistake by Motherwell captain, Keith Lasley, as he failed to get the ball clear in his own area, saw the Aberdeen number 11 pass to Rooney, who was situated by the back post. He made no mistake and slotted the ball into the net.

3-0
 
Rooney was through on his own again a few moments later, after he gathered a slack ball from a Motherwell player , but a well timed tackle from Richard Tait prevented another goal.

With 41 minutes gone, McGinn took another corner. He passed the ball to nearby Hayes; he touched over to Considine, he then slipped to Christie who was badly marked just inside the opposition’s box, and with the outside of his left foot chipped it smartly into to top right corner of the net.

4-0, and potential goal of the month.

Two minutes later, a superb angled, long ball by McLean found Rooney who proceeded to sky it ala Logan and Hayes.

Just as  half time was upon us, Christie, enjoying his first start, made a great run and cut the ball back to captain Ryan Jack. His shot went marginally wide.

Half time: 4-0. The players left the field as the whole stadium stood and gave them a rousing ovation. Well, apart from the few visiting fans.

The second half got underway, with no changes made by either side, and The Dons starting off just as the completed the previous 45 minutes, with Christie bursting through again. This time his pass found the ever willing Hayes but the Irishman’s shot went wide.

Whatever Motherwell manager Mark McGhee said to his players at half time, it certainly had an effect. For the next 10 -12 minutes they made a bit more effort to try and get something from the game, but without really causing Aberdeen any real cause for concern.

it took five tellings from the ref and the intervention of a police officer

Considine was booked for something unknown, as many fans were expecting the free kick to be awarded the other way for a handball. The resultant free kick was assuredly snatched out of the air by Joe Lewis and the ball promptly dispatched to Christie.

At the end of that move McGinn fired an absolute screamer from around 39 yards out. It was turned out for a Corner by Samson who was having a good game.

The referee then gave a free kick to Motherwell for another mysterious infringement.

On the 60 minute mark, Taylor was rightly booked for for a badly mistimed challenge on Ryan Bowman. Before the free kick was taken, the referee had to go over to the dug-outs and and deal with the Motherwell manager who, apparently was having a right go at the fourth official. He was then summarily dispatched to the stands – although it took five tellings from the ref and the intervention of a police officer before he made his way to a seat amidst of a bunch of Aberdeen fans.

Shortly thereafter, Aberdeen were awarded a penalty when Logan was bundled over in the box. Obviously Rooney stepped up to take it, and obviously he didn’t miss.

5-0

Motherwell introduced the first substitute of the evening in the 67th minute, when Elliot Frear was replaced by Craig Clay.

That didn’t help them though, as they hadn’t had a chance to get into the game, when another McGinn corner found Rooney, who netted his hat trick. 

6-0

Rooney was then taken off and Jayden Stockley came on. McGinn also left the field of play, and Peter Pawlett took his place.

Mark Reynolds proceeded to foul Louis Moult, and a free kick was given. 

Lewis then makes an uncharacteristic error and came off his line to try and pull the ball out of the air and missed. Bowman headed the ball  over him and into the net.

6-1 

Taylor then had a second of carelessness by passing the ball a few feet to Bowman, who, fortunately, didn’t manage to take advantage of the mistake.

Stockley, who has more to his game than just his height, made a great cross to McGinn who’s effort was saved.

There followed a great run by Hayes, who crossed the ball to the far post to Logan, who in turn passed it to Stockley. His overhead kick, like several attempts by others previously, went a tad wide.

Aberdeen made their final substitution of the game, when Miles Storey came on, and Christie went off to a standing ovation.

Motherwell went upfield on a rare foray, and were given a corner. The said corner was missed by every defender to get to the far post, where number 88 for the visitors, Stephen Pearson, scored.

6-2

Aberdeen weren’t finished yet. Enjoying their dominance, and perhaps aggrieved by conceding two poor goals, and with only 8 minutes to go, Hayes led the charge back up field. He slipped the ball to Pawlett, and the substitute put it away.

7-2

This goal was the 7999th goal to be scored since the SPFL was formed 3 1/2 years ago. Stockley had another shot saved by their keeper, who was the only player in their team who can hold his head up, despite the deficit.

He was called into action again, and quite spectacularly so, when Taylor picked up the ball just around his own half and set off on a run, before firing in a fantastic shot from about 35 yards out. Samson reacted brilliantly to what would have been goal of the game, if not goal of the month, and dived and palmed it away.

The match ended soon after with home crowd exceedingly happy with the unexpected result, and the few fans from Lanarkshire anything but. I expect some would have demanded their money back, if they hadn’t been given free admission due to the fact that Aberdeen decided, because of the floodlight failure in the original game, it would be unfair to charge them twice.

Full Time: 7-2

Up next for The Dons is an away trip to Ayrshire on Sunday where they will meet manager-less Kilmarnock. Since Derek McInnes took charge, we have played them 12 times and won every time.

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Feb 172017
 

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP.

Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside SNP councillor Geva Blackett (pictured) has hailed the start of the project to reinstate Ballater’s popular Old Royal Station, destroyed by fire nearly two years ago.

The B-listed building, owned by the council, was historically used by the Royal Family travelling to nearby Balmoral Castle and was hit by a fire which broke out in May 2015.

The building had been leased to VisitScotland for the last 15 years and housed a Visitor Information Centre, restaurant, museum, clothes shop and photography business.

Although much of the building was severely damaged by the fire, a replica Royal carriage survived, as well as various undamaged display cases.

Aberdeenshire Council committed to rebuilding the station and subsequently submitted a successful planning application to the Cairngorms National Park Authority.

There will be changes to how the internal space will be used – both the Visitor Information Centre and the restaurant will return and these will be joined by a library and an enhanced exhibition space. The Royal Carriage will be reinstalled as one of the main attractions.

The project, expected to cost in the region of £3million, is expected to be completed in December of this year, all being well.

The principle elevations of the original building will be reinstated matching the Victorian architecture and detailing, including Queen Victoria’s Waiting Room.

Commenting, Cllr Geva Blackett said:

“This marks the start of the restoration of this iconic building that plays such an important role in Ballater and indeed the whole of Royal Deeside.  Watching the first turf being dug makes me hugely optimistic that the fortunes of this beautiful village have turned a corner.”

Aberdeenshire Provost Hamish Vernal marked the start of the project by cutting the first turf with a ceremonial spade and wheelbarrow used to start the construction of Ballater Railway Station by the Great North of Scotland Railway Company in 1865.

He said:

“Ballater has had a tough time lately. The fire was a terrible tragedy along with the devastation suffered as a consequence of Storm Frank.

“However, I can see real progress with many shops open for business again and more and more residents returned to their homes.  Therefore, it is great to see another milestone achieved through the start of the construction work to redevelop the Old Royal Station.”

Morgan Sindall area director, Mark McBride, said:

“Morgan Sindall has a successful track record of delivering public sector projects and we’re proud to have been selected for one that has such significance to people not only in the local area, but across Scotland as a whole.

“It’s our first contract awarded through Aberdeenshire Council’s main contractor framework and we’re pleased to get work underway. 
 
“Ballater Old Royal Station has a rich cultural history and is integral to the region’s tourism industry. We’re mindful of the need to retain as many of the original heritage features as possible during the restoration process and confident that the finished building will be well received.”

The station was opened in October 1866 by the Great North of Scotland Railway and was the nearest station to Balmoral Castle. It closed in February 1966.

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Feb 172017
 

With thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford.

Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has hit out, after a leaked UK Government document indicated that fishing is not considered a ‘high’ priority in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

The document, reportedly leaked by a UK Government source to The Times, was circulated late last year, and indicates that fishing does not make it into a list of ‘high-priority industries’ which would benefit from firm UK negotiating positions.

This list of high-priority sectors includes banking and finance, automotive industries and textiles.

Other sectors which are set to be relegated along with fishing include chemicals, steel, oil and gas, telecoms, and medical industries.

Speaking after the document’s release, Dr Whiteford said:

“If this leaked memo is genuine, it demonstrates quite definitively that the Conservatives’ attitude to fishing has not changed since Edward Heath’s day. The industry is still very much ‘expendable’. From this document, it is quite clear that all eyes in the negotiations will be on banking and finance, and the automotive and aerospace industries.

“Fishing is, once again, being lined up as a pawn to be traded away by the Tories. I have already written to the Secretary of State, Andrea Leadsom, seeking her own comment on this document and asking for assurances that fishing will not serve as a sacrificial lamb for concessions elsewhere.”

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Feb 172017
 

Duncan Harley reviews The Woman in Black – at His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen

If you enjoy being scared of things which go thump in the night, then this play-within-a-play is a must see.

Essentially a two man show, The Woman in Black gets off to what appears to be a slow start. As an elderly Arthur Kipps hums and haws hilariously over his acting ability, the theatre audience may wonder if the bigging-up of the production as a celebration of nerve shredding horror is, perhaps, simply a publicist’s whim.

However, and with a nerve shattering bang, the tone soon changes from that of gentle hilarity to one of spine-tingling terror and, thanks to some splendid pre-recorded screams and a ton or two of dry-ice, theatre-goers are soon transported along Nine Lives Causeway to Eel Marsh House, home of the late Mrs Drablow.

The set is simple and quite bare and the tale is set “in this theatre about one hundred years ago”.

Retired solicitor Arthur Kipps has engaged The Actor in the hope of shedding the phantoms of his past. He seeks closure and is intent on presenting his disturbing story to a theatre audience in the form of what must be considered a blatant act of exorcism.

Early on David Acton, as the elderly Kipps, assures both audience and The Actor, played ably by Matthew Spencer, “Forgive me, I’m not an actor.” However this is patently not the case.

Both performers are master storytellers, and the audience quickly becomes engaged. As the tension builds, there are moments of terror interspersed with some very wry humour indeed.

For example, just as things begin to look pretty damn serious for The Actor, who by this time is playing a much younger Mr Kipps, on trots Spider the invisible dog. This is not at all as absurd as it may sound, since the audience have by this time become accustomed to suspension of disbelief: minimalist multi-purpose props have by this point become quite acceptable and they have, after all, just seen an imaginary pony.

Alongside some unmistakable shades of a much darker than normal Miss Havisham, Bram Stoker’s Dracula inspiration Sir Henry Irving gets a brief but well noted mention or three. The play is, after all a Gothic Horror feast.

This is an entertaining piece of theatre and there are many startling moments. While the play might not be for everyone, the slick timing and understated dialogue may well challenge the preconceptions of those not normally drawn to the genre.

There is of course a strange twist at the end of the tale, how could there not be after all? As to the nature of this curveball, my lips are, naturally, completely sealed.

Directed by Robin Herford and adapted from Susan Hill’s novel by Stephen Mallatratt, The Woman in Black plays at HMT Aberdeen until Saturday February 18th.

Tickets from Aberdeen Performing Arts Tel: 01224- 641122

Words © Duncan Harley and Images © APA

Feb 172017
 

With thanks to Yvette Rayner, PR Account Manager, Frasermedia.

A football-mad Aberdeen family firm is helping local youngster to gear up for local football festivals. Greenwell Equipment (Greenwell), which is based in East Tullos, has provided high quality track-suit tops and bottoms to 27 boys at Newmachar United Football Club. 

The boys, aged 6-8 years, attend football festivals across the North-east and train at the Newmachar Axis Centre.

Mark Turnbull, managing director of Greenwell, is a big supporter of the club, and his son Cal, age 6, has been playing with Newmachar United FC for over two years.

Greenwell Equipment supplies modular buildings, containers, warehouse shelving and pallet racking and office furniture across the world, and the family run firm employs 15 people.

Managing director Mark is a keen football fan, and played himself as a boy and young man. He has recently started assisting the coaches at the club, with a view to training to becoming a qualified coach.

Mr Turnbull said:

“I am delighted to help out Newmachar United FC. It is a great, local club, which gives youngsters the chance to get some exercise, acquire new skills and learn how to work well in a team. Greenwell Equipment also supports Aberdeen Football Club’s Youth Academy, as we see football as an important local activity and also a great discipline and training ground for young people.”

Derek Reid, one of the coaches for the club said:

“We are really grateful for Mark and Greenwell for their support. We often attend football festivals and the other teams all look great in their kit, so we are thrilled to see our boys all now looking professional. It gives the players a real sense of pride and belonging. Newmachar United FC is an inclusive club, there are no try-outs, and we are open to every child of any ability, so we try to keep our costs to a minimum.

“Kit sponsorship is important as it makes the boys proud to belong to Newmachar United FC, and encourages them to try their best for the team. The cost of football strips, equipment and transport can add up, so we welcome all the support we can get. The boys are delighted with the new, warm track-suits which they are wearing with pride.”

Greenwell Equipment comprises of four divisions, encompassing: Greenwell Warehousing, a supplier of high quality shelving and pallet racking; Greenwell Cabins, a distributor of accommodation and welfare modules; Greenwell Office, a supplier of a wide range of business furniture both new and second-hand, and Greenwell Containers, a supplier of high-quality shipping containers.

Family-run business Greenwell, which has 15 employees, is the North of Scotland official trading partner for Containex modular buildings. Greenwell holds a large stock at its depots across Aberdeen and Angus, enabling the firm to respond quickly to customers’ demands.

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Feb 102017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

In a ground-breaking move, Aberdeenshire Council today became the first local authority in Scotland to set a carbon budget alongside its revenue, housing and capital budgets. All four budgets for 2017/18 were set at the meeting of the full Aberdeenshire Council yesterday (9 February).

The idea of a Council carbon budget was put forward last year by Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors Martin Ford and Paul Johnston.

The aim of the budget is to promote the effective management and delivery of reductions in Aberdeenshire Council’s own carbon emissions – and so contribute to the wider efforts to prevent more serious man-made climate change.

Aberdeenshire’s first carbon budget, agreeing to limit total Council emissions to 74007 tonnes CO2e for 2017/18, was backed unanimously by councillors. The new total represents a five per cent cut in emissions relative to emissions in 2014/15 (the most recent year for which data were available when the budget was being calculated). 

Speaking in support of the carbon budget at today’s meeting, Green councillor Martin Ford said:

“This is a very important improvement to the Council’s governance. It will change the way the Council takes decisions.

“Despite very considerable effort, the Council has only been managing to cut the carbon emissions arising from its operations by about one per cent per year – nowhere near enough to meet its own or national targets. I have held the view for some time that this is partly down to the governance arrangements in place in the Council for taking decisions with climate change implications.

“The adoption of an annual carbon budget should make it impossible to ‘forget’ in future that, as well as its intended consequences, a decision may also, unintentionally, increase carbon emissions.

“There is overwhelming scientific evidence for man-made climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. It’s the most serious threat we face.

“Aberdeenshire Council must play its part in tackling the problem, and get better at reducing its own emissions.”

DIGG councillor Paul Johnston said:

“The carbon budget will allow the Council to achieve the necessary carbon emission reductions as efficiently as possible. We can use it as a tool to ensure the Council gets best value, the maximum carbon bang for our bucks.

“We should never lose sight of the fact that carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels is pollution.”

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Feb 102017
 

With thanks to Andrew Linklater, Director of Buckny Hydro

The new regime of business rates in Scotland has marked out hydropower for “special punishment”, threatening to end independent development of schemes north of the border, Scottish industry representatives at Alba Energy have warned.

Small hydro-businesses now face an increase in rates of up to 650%, with bills on some sites rising to as much as a quarter of their total turnover.
With some operators facing insolvency, others have been left to calculate the cost of a future in which renewable energy ceases to be financially sustainable.

An average hydro scheme such as the 500kW Buckny Hydro in Perthshire has seen its draft valuation rise from £32,000 to £93,000, a sum that represents 29% of its overall turnover.

The worst hit schemes have seen increases up to seven times their original value, with rateable valuations of up to 50% of turnover. The 1.9MW Ederline scheme on the banks of Loch Awe had a previous valuation of £98,000, now revised upwards to £405,000.

Many in the hydro industry fear that the Scottish Government has abandoned its green agenda. In 2015, while attacking the UK Government for removing subsidies for renewable energy, SNP ministers removed their own system of support. Alba Energy, representing hydro operators in Scotland, accepted the loss of rates relief and argued that the industry should pay its fair share, in line with other businesses.

What Alba says it cannot accept, however, is the “sudden, exponential increase” in valuations now being applied to hydro by assessors – out of all proportion to the economic realities of these sites. While many businesses in Scotland have suffered relative increases, hydro operators are preparing for bills to double, treble, or quadruple.

Martin Foster, Chairman of Alba Energy, said:

“We are not seeking special treatment. We want to know why we have been singled out for special punishment. Hydro is the original renewable energy source: the cleanest, most efficient, least obtrusive and longest-lasting. Yet the Scottish Government has facilitated a rates regime that will cripple the independent hydro industry it once claimed to support – while leaving the big energy companies unaffected.”

Alex Linklater, director of Buckny Hydro, said:

“The new rates regime contradicts the Scottish Government’s own energy strategy. Hydropower is not merely crucial to this strategy; it has brought significant growth to some of our remotest rural communities. As independent operators find themselves threatened with punitive levels of  taxation, we are seeking Government support, until a longer term solution is agreed.

“All Alba is asking for is an equitable model of valuation, one that will allow our industry to remain financially viable, while paying its fair share of rates.”

Scottish Assessors responsible for the revaluation have refused to publish a clear account of the method they are using to calculate the new valuations for hydro. Alba is calling on the SNP Government to rectify an indefensible lack of transparency in the light of “extreme perversities” resulting from the assessors’ system.

Alba will be assisting members to pursue formal appeals against valuations for hydros which have been hit by “off the scale” increases. But Government attempts to deflect criticism onto the appeals system, administered by the independent assessors and funded by local authorities, are being met with skepticism.

An appeal against the Tayside Valuation Board, brought in 2012 (which argued that the assessor had, even then, applied a flawed approach to small hydro) is still awaiting a second determination by the Tayside Appeals Committee – after nearly five years.

For further information contact Martin Foster at Alba Energy, pelton242@icloud.com, 07500 902531, or Alex Linklater, alexlinklater@mac.com, 07956 303 580

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Feb 102017
 

With thanks to Richard Bunting, Director, Richard Bunting PR.

Record numbers of three dolphin species off Scotland’s west coast were recorded by conservation charity Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust in its marine research expeditions in 2016. 
From the trust’s specialized research yacht Silurian, volunteers and scientists recorded 2,303 individual common dolphins, 42 bottlenose dolphins and 94 Risso’s dolphins – the figures for all three species being the highest ever recorded in its annual survey seasons.

Average annual figures documented over the previous 14 years were 463 individual common dolphins, 14 bottlenose dolphins and 12 Risso’s dolphins. 

For common dolphins, these records range from 0 individuals encountered in a couple of the earlier field seasons to 1,862 during the 2007 season. 

Dr. Lauren Hartny-Mills, Science Officer of Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, said:

“The reasons for the high number of sightings of these charismatic dolphin species – and the broader effects on the marine environment and other species – remain unclear. But the intriguing findings highlight the importance of on-going monitoring and research – to strengthen our understanding of what is taking place in Hebridean waters, and to ensure well-informed conservation action.”

The latest findings were made in a research season lasting from May to October 2016, as part of the trust’s unique long-term citizen science project monitoring whales, dolphins and porpoises – collectively known as cetaceans – as well as basking sharks in the Hebrides.

These annual research surveys depend on paying volunteers, with 71 welcomed aboard in 2016 – working with marine scientists on visual surveys and acoustic monitoring with underwater microphones or hydrophones, and identifying individual cetaceans through photography.

The Isle of Mull-based organisation now holds data from more than 95,000km of survey effort. It aims to pass the 100,000km milestone during 2017, and it is currently recruiting volunteers to support this by working as citizen scientists onboard Silurian for periods of almost two weeks from April to September.

Alison Lomax, Director of Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, said: “The impressive range of species documented in our at-sea surveys last year is a powerful reminder that Scotland’s west coast ocean environment is home to remarkable marine life. Long-term scientific studies of this globally-important habitat and its inhabitants are crucial if we are to ensure a secure future for the Hebrides’ spectacular cetaceans.”

During 2016, Silurian – previously used in filming of the BBC’s The Blue Planet series – covered more than 5,000 nautical miles, compared to an average of almost 4,000 miles annually over the previous 14 years. Its crew documented more than 1,300 cetaceans and basking sharks, and recorded almost 700 hours of underwater detections of cetaceans using specialist listening equipment.

Notable highlights included a wonderful encounter with a humpback whale in the northern Minch – an hour was spent with the massive creature lunge feeding, tail slapping and swimming under Silurian, alongside a large group of common dolphins.

2016 also saw Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust’s first expeditions running out of Ullapool, allowing for surveys in the more northern and western parts of the charity’s study area.

Western Scotland’s seas are one of Europe’s most important cetacean habitats. With a long, complex coastline, strong ocean currents and a variety of habitats, the Hebrides is one of the UK’s most biologically productive areas. So far 24 of the world’s estimated 92 cetacean species have been recorded in the region – many being national and international conservation priority species.

Yet marine ecosystems are fragile, and cetaceans face increasing stress from human activities – including climate change, entanglement, pollution, underwater noise and habitat degradation.

Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust has been monitoring marine mega fauna in the Hebrides since 1994, and from Silurian since 2002. Its surveys are partly funded by a generous grant from Scottish Natural Heritage, which supports the training of future mammal scientists.

The charity is the only organisation collecting long-term data on such a large scale on Scotland’s west coast, and its volunteers and scientists have now recorded more than 12,000 cetaceans. A short film about surveys can be seen at https://youtu.be/M_3r-GKfh8o.

Participation costs for the forthcoming 2017 surveys cover boat expenses, accommodation, training, food and insurance, and support the trust’s research. For details of how to take part, contact volunteercoordinator@hwdt.org, call 01688 302620, or visit www.hwdt.org.

 

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Feb 102017
 

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

CLAN Cancer Support has announced the appointment of a new Head of Fundraising. Alastair Brookes has been chosen for the key role and brings with him more than 20 years’ of experience in the third sector.

Alastair has strong links throughout the business community and north-east Scotland, and has previously held roles in a variety of organisations including Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDFR) and Tay/Northsound Radio.

While at JDRF, he was responsible for the strategic development of the organisation’s fundraising strategy throughout Scotland, driving forward awareness of the charity and financial support.

He also led the development and delivery of a number of high profile fundraising events.

In his new position Alastair will spearhead income generation for CLAN, developing fundraising activities throughout the CLAN in the community network, and be a key member of the senior management team.

Dr Colette Backwell, chief executive of CLAN, said:

“Alastair’s wealth of experience and expertise in the charitable sector are a fantastic fit for CLAN and I am delighted to welcome him to the role.

“This is an exciting time for us as we continue to work towards our aim of bringing CLAN’s services closer to the heart of communities in Aberdeen and the north-east, providing support to anyone affected by cancer whenever it is needed.

“In the current economic climate, how organisations approach fundraising activity is crucial. The dedication of our team ensures we can continue to develop our services and help anyone affected by a cancer diagnosis. Alastair will lead the way on the progression of our fundraising activity and I look forward to working closely with him and building on CLAN’s success.”

Alastair Brookes added:

“I’m delighted to be joining CLAN at an important time for the organisation. CLAN is held in the highest regard throughout the north-east and Northern Isles and I am looking forward to helping the charity to further develop its successful fundraising activity.

“CLAN’s support of those affected by cancer and their families is essential, and the charity has ambition to reach and help even more people in years ahead. In order to achieve that we must continually develop our fundraising streams, engaging with supporters past and present and developing our range of events and initiatives.

“I look forward to bringing my 20 years’ of experience to the role and help raise vital funds and awareness for CLAN, as well as being part of an inspirational team that go above and beyond to help anyone affected by cancer.”

Based in Aberdeen, CLAN covers the whole of north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland. The charity has a presence in Ballater, Banchory, Buckie, Elgin, Buckie, Inverurie, Fraserburgh, Lossiemouth, Peterhead, Stonehaven, Turriff, Kirkwall and Lerwick.

For more information about CLAN Cancer Support, please call (01224) 647 000 or visit www.clanhouse.org.

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Feb 102017
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

As cybercrime continues to be a real and growing menace to business, data backup must become a greater part of continuity planning, according to a Scottish IT business leader.

Data backup is one of the most important areas of IT and yet is also one of the most ignored, Austen Clark of Clark Integrated Technologies has warned ahead of World Backup Day on March 31.

A study last year found that while 36% backup their business data entirely there are 36% who back nothing up at all.

“It is the time put a clear focus on data backup, with man-made cybercrime threats adding another dimension to the risk of data being destroyed or deleted” says Mr Clark.

“We are living in a data-driven society and data is crucial to the smooth running of any business.

“As such backing up data is an essential security measure in today’s computing world. The rise in ransomware attacks which effectively take data hostage from business is just one example of how data loss can happen.  An attack can has financial implications and can cost hundreds or thousands of pounds to businesses.

“Data has gained intrinsic value, either in the staff time needed to generate it or in its relevance to your clients. Data loss, both accidental and due to theft, costs millions of pounds to businesses every year.”

Mr Clark answers some of the most commonly posed questions around the subject.

What is backing up?

Quite simply, backing up is making a copy of your most important files which can be used if the original copy is lost, with the second copy ideally held at different location to the original and be kept in a secure environment.

It is usual for data to be saved to just one place, like ‘My Documents’ on a PC’s hard drive but if this data were accidentally changed or deleted it would take considerable time and expense to restore, with the possibility it may never to be recovered.

Growing numbers of computer viruses have become a risk to business information, and once they have infected your machine they may delete or corrupt your data.

Other common causes of date loss are physical failure of a PC or Server, accidental error, theft or disasters like fire, flood or even simply a dropped glass of water.

Data backup should be specifically tailored for your business.

What data should I backup?

When choosing what data to back up think about what you would need to continue working if your network was damaged.

Clients address, telephone details, your account information, important documents. How long has it taken you to collate all this information and what would happen if you couldn’t get it back once lost? These are the key questions to think about around backing up.

What types of backup are there?

There are various types of backup available and the one you choose will generally depend on time, security and budget. There are a number of frequently used backup solutions to suit business needs.

Memory stick devices tend to be used for smaller backups or mobile users. These are usually removable hard drives and are very popular. The disadvantages of these cheaper devices are that they are at times unreliable and easy to lose or damage due to their small size. The data which is held on them is usually unsecured, meaning if customer details or financial information is held on them this is a greater risk if they were to be lost or used by unauthorised personnel.

When a backup is done the previous backup is overwritten, meaning that only one version of the backup can be stored.

Tape backup is an old industry standard backup medium for businesses with a reasonable amount of data to backup. Daily, weekly and monthly backups can be carried out and as long as you have a managed tape rotation and store the tapes offsite it is a possibility to use this backup solution.

The disadvantages of tape are that it is slow, both to backup and to restore. As it is a manual process it can be subject to error and unless you remember to take the tapes offsite on a daily basis it is subject to the same threats as the original backup.

Online data backup is an efficient choice for small and medium businesses. There is no need to purchase hardware or software, just  a monthly service. Select the data you want to backup and it is transferred in an encrypted format to a high security data centre.

Backups are fully automated, meaning no user intervention is required and you can restore single files or full backups at the click of a mouse. Full protection and availability make this an attractive option. Different versions of backups are available, covering accidental changes made or deletions.

What other considerations are there?

Always test your recovery data – a backup is useless if it cannot restore correctly. Backup regularly, you don’t want to find out the last copy you made is several months old. Keep your backups off site, that way if you do lose data to a fire, flood or theft you know you can retrieve your information.

What about personal devices?

Research shows that 30% of people have never backed up but with 113 phones lost or stolen every two minutes and one in 10 computers infected with a virus each month it is just as important to back up data here too which means it can be saved in the event of a disaster or accident.

 

 

 

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