Feb 022017

Scottish soprano Jillian Bain Christie

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

A specially arranged version of a classic Robert Burns love song received its Burns Night debut in Aberdeen.
Local soprano Jillian Bain Christie treated guests at Malmaison Aberdeen’s annual Burns Supper to a version of Ae Fond Kiss that has been specially written for her by renowned north-east composer Professor Paul Mealor FRSA.

The song forms part of Jillian’s debut album, Ae Spark o’ Nature’s Fire, a compilation of 14 works penned by Scotland’s national bard, including some of his best-known love songs.

Jillian, who as well as being an acclaimed singer is also a talented visual artist, was taught by Professor Mealor while studying for a music degree at the University of Aberdeen and also sang the soprano solo in his Symphony No 1: Passiontide

To thank Jillian for her involvement in some of his previous musical projects he chose to compose this arrangement of Burns’ most recorded love song to appear on her first album.

Professor Mealor is an admired composer whose works include Ubi Caritas, which premiered at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the 2011 Christmas number one hit Wherever You Are, which was performed by the Military Wives choir.

Ae Spark o’ Nature’s Fire was released last year by independent Aberdeen record label Luckenbooth Music. The album, which also features pianist Catherine Herriott, is a collection of Burns songs that are sung to arrangements by contemporary and 20th century Scottish composers including Rory Boyle and John Maxwell Geddes.

Tracks include Ye Banks and Braes o’ Bonnie Doon, The Deil’s awa’ wi’ the Exciseman and Bonnie Wee Thing. Alongside the specially arranged version of Ae Fond Kiss, other highlights of the album include unaccompanied versions of A Red, Red Rose and John Anderson, My Jo.

Frances Milne, co-founder of Luckenbooth Music, said:

“Robert Burns is revered around the world and many of his songs have achieved iconic status.  Ae Spark o’ Nature’s Fire presents 14 of his songs in a refreshed and new way, providing an album that appeals to fans of both traditional Scottish and classical music

“This new version of Ae Fond Kiss is a beautiful arrangement that illustrates the skill of composer, singer and pianist.  Those attending the Burns Supper at Malmaison will be left in no doubt about the brilliance of Paul Mealor’s arrangement and Jillian’s recital of it.

“Jillian’s unaccompanied, pared-back version of A Red, Red Rose showcases her vocal ability.  The melody was originally written as a fiddle tune and features great leaps in range, which are normally technically difficult for the voice.  However, Jillian’s trained voice copes with the melody with ease.  It is one of the stunning highlight of the album.”

Ae Spark o’ Nature’s Fire is on sale now and can be purchased directly from Luckenbooth Music and Amazon, in selected retailers, or as a download via iTunes and Google Play.  Notes accompanying the CD give a comprehensive insight into Burns as a songwriter and song collector, while a glossary provides an understanding to the many Scots words used in the songs.

Born and raised in Aberdeen, Jillian Bain Christie studied fine print making at Glasgow School of Art, before gaining a masters degree in illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. The former Mile End Primary and Aberdeen Grammar pupil worked as an artist for a number of years before embarking on a music degree at the University of Aberdeen, graduating in 2012 with a first-class honours degree. 

She then studied in London at the Trinity London Conservatoire of Music and Dance, gaining a masters degree in fine art in creative performance practice.

Luckenbooth Music is an independent Scottish record label. Based in Aberdeen, it was established in 2016 by Frances Milne and her brother John Milne. The label’s first release was Ae Spark o’ Nature’s Fire, a collection of songs by Robert Burns which were performed by Aberdeen soprano Jillian Bain Christie and accompanied by pianist Catherine Herriott. 

A luckenbooth is a traditional Scottish wedding brooch given to a bride by her groom on their wedding day. For more information visit www.luckenboothmusic.co.uk or telephone 01224 311468.

A preview of the tracks can be listened to via SoundCloud by visiting https://soundcloud.com/luckenbooth-music

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Feb 022017

With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.

Ace Winches Apprentices.

A specialist training company is calling on employers to adopt an apprentice after a number of young learners were made redundant from a deck machinery company.
ITCA Training, which is based at the Kirkhill Industrial Estate in Dyce, is urging businesses to consider taking on one of the apprentices and providing them with the opportunity to complete their apprenticeship qualifications.

A group of ten apprentices are now looking for employment after being made redundant from Ace Winches in Turriff earlier this month.

The boys, who are aged between 17 and 20, were all working as apprentice engineers, with the exception of one fabricator/welder.

The head count reduction at the firm is another major blow for vulnerable apprentices in the region, as it comes just seven months after 17 apprentices were made redundant from the now defunct Enterprise Engineering Services (EES).

ITCA is hoping that a £5000 incentive from the Scottish Government will encourage employers to recognise the benefits of training young talent. The incentive is part of the Adopt an Apprentice scheme, which aims to get redundant apprentices back into work as quickly as possible.

Recent figures show that the North-east currently has the highest number of redundancies for apprentices in Scotland. As well as this, the number of new apprenticeship starts in 2016 dropped by 40% in Aberdeen and 14% in Aberdeenshire compared to the year before.

June Jones, managing director of ITCA, said:

“It is very alarming that another business is shedding a large number of apprentices that have yet to complete their training.

“The figures indicating the high percentage of apprenticeship redundancies in the North-east, as well as the drop in the number of new starts, are extremely concerning. If this carries on much longer then it will result in a skills gap and a severe shortage of skilled workers in the future.

“We appreciate that the market is incredibly tough at the moment, but it is the responsibility of businesses to employ and grow their own talent.

“We hope that employers will come forward to claim the £5000 incentive by taking on an apprentice. By doing so, they will enable a young learner to complete their apprenticeship and will help to safeguard the future of home-grown talent in the North-east.”

ITCA Training, which is one of the largest engineering apprenticeship-training firms in Scotland, is situated at Howe Moss Drive in the  Kirkhill  Industrial Estate, Dyce. The base, which spans almost 22,000sq feet, includes offices, classrooms, a storage yard, and workshop space. The company has been in operation in the  North-east  since 1989, and provides training for young employees in various sectors including welding, fabrication, mechanical engineering, business administration and logistics.     

To find out more about ITCA visit www.itca-training.com

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Jan 272017

By Wendy McEwan

Shelter Scotland is a charity that supports many people who are struggling with homelessness and bad housing.

We offer advice and support through our online services and face to face in our many advice centres.

We campaign to make homelessness a thing of the past.

If you would like to be part of this charity, we are looking for volunteers to help in our charity shops in Aberdeen.

No experience is needed as we will provide all necessary training until you are confident with the work involved. All that we ask is that you give us a few hours of your free time on a regular basis.

Although we are looking for general helpers, we are actually in great need of Volunteer Supervisors. People who will be willing to take on that little bit extra and be trained up on everything from opening the shop, all till procedures including refunds and voids, sorting donations, pricing stock, displays, cashing up at the end of the day and just general supervision of the shop.

As we are a charity who only employs a Manager, we count on our volunteers to keep the shop running smoothly and would never manage without them.

They are the heart of the shop and all contribute towards the charity with their gift of time.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or would like to find out more information then please pop into our shop at 179 George Street, Aberdeen and speak to Wendy or email Abergeorgeshop@shelter.org.uk

Thank You, I look forward to meeting you.

Jan 272017

With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.

ITCA’s new fabrication/welding instructor and assessor, Richard Femister.

A leading North-east apprenticeship-training centre has strengthened its team with two key appointments.

ITCA Training, which is headquartered in the Kirkhill Industrial Estate in Dyce, has recruited Stewart Caie as a business development executive and Richard Femister as a fabrication/welding instructor and assessor.

Mr Caie, 51, of Portlethen, has over 25 years experience in sales roles across a number of industries, including medicine and engineering, and previously worked in business development at a hydraulic engineering firm before joining ITCA.

Mr Femister, 34, from Aberdeen, originally started his career at ITCA, where he trained for his fabrication and welding certificates. Since then, he has gained 15 years experience in welding and fabrication and has two years of experience in inspection. He joins the firm from an oil and gas valve services company.

ITCA, which is one of the largest engineering apprenticeship-training firms in Scotland, works with a wide range of businesses across the North-east to provide training for young employees, with both traditional hands-on and business-focused courses and apprenticeships.

Mr Caie said:

“It is very rewarding to be working for a company that focuses on the development of the future workforce. It is my responsibility to develop existing business, as well as expanding ITCA’s current portfolio, and I am looking forward to building strong relationships with our clients.”

ITCA’s new business development executive, Stewart Caie.

Mr Femister said:

“Training at ITCA as an apprentice gave me the opportunity to learn and develop important skills in welding and fabrication, as well as the importance of health and safety.

“I am enjoying being back at the company where it all began, as I get the opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise with the range of learners who attend the courses at ITCA and the apprentices who are just at the beginning of their careers.”

Managing director of ITCA Training, June Jones, said:

“I am very pleased to welcome two highly skilled individuals to the ITCA team. Stewart and Richard each bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience, which will prove extremely beneficial to ITCA clients and our learners.

“Having Stewart on board will enable us to continue to develop, whilst Richard will help train the next generation to the highest of standards.”

ITCA Training, which is one of the largest engineering apprenticeship-training firms in Scotland, is situated at Howe Moss Drive in the  Kirkhill  Industrial Estate, Dyce. The base, which spans almost 22,000sq feet, includes offices, classrooms, a storage yard, and workshop space.

The company has been in operation in the  North-east  since 1989, and provides training for young employees in various sectors including welding, fabrication, mechanical engineering, business administration and logistics.    

To find out more about ITCA visit www.itca-training.com 

Jan 272017

With thanks to James Soars Media Services. 

“An epidemic is sweeping the world: an epidemic of loneliness. Never before have we, the supremely social mammal, been so isolated. The results are devastating: a collapse of common purpose, the replacement of civic life with a fug of consumerism, insecurity and alienation. We cannot carry on like this.” – George Monbiot

So how do we respond to this trend towards social breakdown?

Breaking The Spell of Loneliness is a remarkable collaboration between writer George Monbiot and musician Ewan McLennan.

They launched their project because they believe that nothing has greater potential to unite and delight than music. They seek to use the music to open up the issue of loneliness, and their performances to help address it.

The project began with an article that the journalist George Monbiot wrote in the Guardian, about the age of loneliness. The article went viral, and several publishers asked him to write books about it. But George had a different idea.

He approached Ewan McLennan – a musician whose work he greatly admired – and proposed a collaboration. Together they would write an album, a mixture of ballads and anthems, some sad, some stirring, whose aim was to try to break the spell that appears to have been cast upon us; the spell of separation.

It would touch upon issues as varied as our relationship with nature, our capacity for altruism and co-operation, the politics that lie behind loneliness, and the ways people are together overcoming this social scourge.

Around the time of the album’s release George and Ewan will perform a small number of special concerts. George will narrate the show, describe the ideas behind the songs, and encourage members of the audience to engage with each other, both then and beyond the concert. Ewan will sing the songs and perform the music that has emerged from this innovative collaboration.

Tour dates:

2 February Eden Court, Inverness
3 February Celtic Connections, Glasgow
4 February The Reid Concert Hall, Edinburgh
5 February The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen
8 February MAC, Birmingham
11 February Aberystwyth Arts Centre

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Jan 272017

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

Megan Davies of Maggie’s Centre in Aberdeen welcomes a four-figure donation from Aberdeen Asset Management.

A cancer support centre has received a four figure sum from Aberdeen Asset Management – at a time when an increasing number of people whose lives are affected by cancer are turning to it for help and support.
Since its launch in 2014, Maggie’s Centre in Aberdeen has provided a warm and welcoming space for people with cancer and their families to drop in with around 40 visitors a day walking through its doors to make use of its support services.

More and more people are using the centre’s facilities to help them cope with the challenges they face and last year the total number of visitors rose to 9,149, up by 16% on the previous year.

This figure is forecast to increase again in 2017, demonstrating the continued and growing need for the services it offers.

From the newly diagnosed seeking answers about their treatment plan or lifestyle changes they have to make, to those in remission and struggling with the physical and emotional after effects of cancer, or the bereaved looking for social support and people who understand what they are going through, the centre is there for everyone affected by cancer, at any stage of their journey.

It offers a unique programme of information, practical and emotional support to people affected by cancer through services like psychological counselling, nutrition workshops, advice around benefits and finances, exercise classes, creative writing workshops and networking and support groups.

While every day is different one thing remains the same – the positive impact that Maggie’s Centre has on the lives of those who call in to access support. The centre relies on fundraising and donations like the one given by Aberdeen Asset Management’s Charitable Foundation, to be able to provide a welcome refuge and supportive environment for people who are living with cancer.

Maggie’s Centre fundraising organiser Megan Davies said:

“The generous gift we have received from the Aberdeen Asset Management Charitable Foundation will go towards the running costs of the centre.

“This will make a meaningful, lasting impact upon the lives of people from across Aberdeen who visit their local Maggie’s Centre. This could be a visitor coming into Maggie’s for the first time and having a chat with a cancer support specialist, a visitor having an appointment with our benefits advisor, attending a workshop or popping in for a cup of tea. Every day we provide a wide range of support that directly benefits people with cancer and their friends and family.”

One visitor summed up the benefit of being able to freely call in to Maggie’s Centre, commenting:

“The help and support I gained last week when I dropped into the centre on a very low day, for me, was so valuable. The staff made me feel welcome and normal and helped me to work through some feelings that had surfaced out of the blue.”   

Dominic Kite, representing Aberdeen Asset Management Charities Committee in Aberdeen said:

“Maggie’s Centre is there for everyone affected by cancer, at any stage of their journey. People with cancer and their families and friends can engage with various aspects of its programme and choose from a variety of elements to meet their emotional and practical needs.”

Maggie’s Centre is based near Aberdeen Royal Infirmary but receives no NHS funding. It has professional staff on hand to offer free, practical, emotional and social support of people need – practical advice about benefits and eating well; a place where qualified experts provide emotional support, somewhere to meet other people; a place to simply sit back and enjoy a cup of tea. The Aberdeen centre is one of 19 centres at major NHS cancer hospitals in the UK.

Aberdeen Asset’s Charitable Foundation seeks partnerships with charities around the world, where funds can be seen to have a meaningful and measurable impact and the firm encourages its employees to use their time and skills to support its charitable projects.

The main focus of the Foundation is around emerging markets and local communities, reflecting the desire to give back to those areas which are a key strategic focus of the business and to build on the historic pattern of giving to communities in which Aberdeen employees live and work. For more information visit http://www.aberdeen-asset.co.uk/aam.nsf/foundation/home

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Jan 272017

With thanks to Clare Scott, Communications Consultant, CJS Communication & Marketing.

Family support charity Home-Start Aberdeen has issued a plea for new volunteers as it prepares to celebrate its thirtieth year of support and friendship for vulnerable city families.

The Aberdeen scheme, which has grown to become one of the largest Home-Starts in the UK, is aiming to recruit 30 new volunteers in 30 weeks in order to drive down numbers on its waiting list.

Home-Start Aberdeen provides local families who may be vulnerable, or suffering from isolation, with emotional and practical support in their own homes.

This support is delivered by trained home visiting volunteers, who are carefully matched with a local family by their Home-Start Aberdeen co-ordinator. The charity’s small staff team currently supervises the efforts of over 100 volunteers who, in turn, provide around 200 families and 300 children with weekly home-based support.

“Home-Start Aberdeen has come a long way since its beginnings as a small project operating from a box room in the Mastrick area of the city,” says Georgette Cobban (pictured), scheme manager, Home-Start Aberdeen.

“Our formula of allocating families a home visiting volunteer, who normally has parenting experience themselves, is proven to be of genuine benefit to those who, through no fault of their own, may be struggling to cope with family life.

“We receive family referrals on an ongoing basis from health visitors and social workers, who see first-hand the positive difference that Home-Start Aberdeen can make. At present, we have a waiting list of over thirty families and we are desperate to give them the help they need as quickly as possible.

“No qualifications are required to become a Home-Start Aberdeen volunteer – we provide full training and ongoing co-ordinator support. All that is required in return is a willingness to help and a time commitment of 2-3 hours per week.”

Home-Start Aberdeen’s next preparation course for new volunteers starts on Thursday, 16 February 2017. Additional training courses will take place throughout the year to support the charity’s ‘30 in 30’ target. To find out more email volunteering@homestartaberdeen.org.uk or call 01224 693545.

Home-Start Aberdeen provides vulnerable local families with emotional and practical support in their own homes. The charity has been working with communities in the city for 30 years. Its team of trained home visiting volunteers work with referred families to help them access relevant health and welfare services, manage family budgets and nutrition, engage with their own communities and enjoy family life again. Further information is available at www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk.

Home-Start Aberdeen’s thirtieth anniversary year commences on Monday, 13 February 2017

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Jan 192017

With thanks to Charlie Abel.

Joanna Lumley has become the first award recipients of the 2017 Scottish Samurai

Besides being a well known BAFTA TV award winning actress, former model, author and voice over artist, Joanna has been a great advocate for human rights for Survival International and the Ghurka Justice

She is also a great supporter of Animal welfare charities such as Compassion in World Farming and Vegetarians International Voice for Animals.

Her recent documentary ‘Joanna Lumley’s Japan’ was a great hit with the Samurai Award’s membership and U.K. audience. 

The Scottish Samurai awards were founded in Aberdeen by Culter resident and international 9th Dan Karate instructor Ronnie Watt OBE, ORS to celebrate those who serve and excel. The award of Great Shogun recognises those who have reached the ultimate achievement in their field.

Joanna Lumley has said she is very proud and very humbled to receive the honour and she is:

“thrilled to be a Scottish Samurai.”

Ronnie Watt is delighted to add Joanna to the ever-growing list of Samurai.

Some of the previous award winners include Sean Connery, Billy Connolly, Alex Salmond, Aberdeen City Council, Sir Ian Wood, Lord Charles Bruce, Compton Ross, Tommy Dreelan and the current and former Japanese Consul Generals of Japan in Edinburgh.

Each year the Scottish Samurai awards grow and continues to encourage and recognise people from different walks of life for their positive contributions to society and those around them.

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Jan 192017

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

A new outreach service will be launched in Aberdeen this month by one of the north-east’s most established charities.

CLAN Cancer Support has a permanent presence in 13 towns and cities across north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland, ensuring communities have local access to emotional and practical support for those affected by cancer.

The charity is now embarking on a drive to reach the heart of the community in Aberdeen by holding drop-in sessions in a number of health centres across the city from Monday January 16.

The relaxed and informal sessions are open to anyone and will enable the public to get information and support from trained CLAN volunteers. Visitors do not have to be a patient at the health centre to access the charity’s new offering.

Dr Colette Backwell, chief executive of CLAN, said:

“CLAN is keen to reach out to people in Aberdeen who might be unsure about what we offer as a charity, or who could feel initially that CLAN is not for them.

“We want to bring CLAN to the people and be a supportive and listening ear whenever it is needed. These sessions will offer information and support as well as a signposting service to other organisations or to ourselves at CLAN House, in what we hope is a very accessible option for the public.

“This is working hand-in-hand with our presence in communities across the north-east and all sessions are open to anyone affected by cancer. The health centres we are piloting this initiative with have been incredibly supportive as we worked hard to make this a reality and I would like to thank them for all of their assistance.

“We want people to know that if they need emotional support and advice, it is available and we are here to help in whatever way we can.”

Sessions will be held once a week at three health centres in Aberdeen at the following times: Garthdee Medical Group, Tuesday, 9.30am to 12.30pm, Calsayseat Medical Practice, Wednesday, 9.30am to 12.30pm, Kincorth Medical Practice, Wednesday, 1pm to 4pm.

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

Issued by Citrus:Mix on behalf of CLAN Cancer Support. For more information please contact Jessica Murphy on 01224 063010 or e-mail jessica@citrusmix.com

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Jan 192017

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

CLAN Cancer Support is appealing to members of the public to help it raise extra funds by donating any unwanted Christmas presents.

The charity is on the hunt for donations, which can be handed in at CLAN House on Westburn Road in Aberdeen, or at any of its charity shops throughout the north-east.

Steph Dowling, CLAN Senior Fundraising Coordinator, said:

“We would love people to think of us if they have received either duplicate or unwanted gifts at Christmas and are having a clear-out.

“Donating these to CLAN gives them a new lease of life and helps us with raffle prizes for events or stock for our charity shops. We had a great level of support to our request last year and hope that this year will be no different.

“From books and clothing to toys, decorations, shoes and household items; we are searching for a wide variety of items. While the majority of the goods we sell are second-hand, they are always of a high quality and people can find real one-offs without spending a lot of money.”

All funds raised in the charity’s shops support the provision of free support and wellbeing services for anyone affected by cancer across north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland.

Based in Aberdeen, the charity covers the whole of north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland. CLAN 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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