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 072017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Aberdeenshire Green councillor Martin Ford has welcomed the extra money for local government secured by the Green MSPs in return for supporting the Scottish Government’s budget.
Aberdeenshire Council is set to benefit from an additional £6.309 million revenue funding and an additional capital allocation of £1.88 million – beyond the settlement previously intimated by the Scottish Government.

Budget day this year for Aberdeenshire Council comes on Thursday (9 February) and the agenda for the budget meeting has just been published containing proposals for balancing the 2017/18 revenue budget on the assumption of acceptance of the Scottish Government’s previous position on local government funding. 

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“I am relieved and delighted that, at the eleventh hour, additional government funding has been secured for next year for Aberdeenshire Council.

“For Aberdeenshire Council, Green MSP colleagues have secured a huge improvement.

“Even with £6.3 million extra funding, it is still going to be a tough budget this year for Aberdeenshire Council. But clearly the Council will now be able to re-visit the budget proposals just published and, at the very least, take out some of the proposed cuts to services. This is excellent news. I am so pleased.

“As it stands, the proposed budget includes some staffing reductions in Education and Children’s Services which I certainly don’t want to see implemented. Converting some of the Council’s spending on roads maintenance from revenue to capital, as proposed, is a short term saving, but long term is more expensive. There are good arguments for dropping these measures from next year’s Aberdeenshire budget now the financial pressure on the Council has been eased.”

The proposed Aberdeenshire 2017/18 revenue budget, as published yesterday, does include elements put forward in the Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) draft budget proposals last November – including additional money for active travel, traffic calming and youth work.

DIGG councillor Paul Johnston said:

“We’re pleased some issues we identified as needing support have been taken on board by the administration, but, given the financial squeeze, the amount of extra money was inevitably going to be very limited. There is clearly now scope for a greater investment in these agreed priorities.

“The DIGG will also want to look at the potential for using some of the new money for measures not included at all in the published proposed 2017/18 revenue budget – such as support for businesses affected by the business rates revaluation.”

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Feb 072017
 

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

Four Scottish youngsters with special needs have received play equipment that will help them build their independence and get out and about in their own communities to socialise and play.
Aberdeen Asset Management granted more than £3,900 to purchase two trikes, a standing frame and a walking frame for youngsters living in the Edinburgh and Aberdeen areas.

The global financial management firm responded to an appeal from Handicapped Children’s Action Group to fund the apparatus, which is not available on the NHS, and at purchase costs averaging £1,000 per  item, is usually cost prohibitive for families to purchase.

The charity receives over 800 referrals a year from health professionals, but only has the funding to help around 180-190 of these cases.

The charity  would love to be able to help every single applicant but with no government funding the charity is dependent on fundraising and the support of organisations like Aberdeen Asset Management to help it provide the much-needed equipment.

Carole Davies from Handicapped Children’s Action Group said:

“A trike gives independence and mobility to a child who has had to rely on an adult for every movement; a walking frame gives a child the ability to get up and walk freely without assistance while a buggy enables a family to take their child into the community without fear of safety issues. Play frames enable a child with autism to play safely and explore in a controlled environment.

“All equipment brings fun, movement, mobility and integration to children all over the country and without the help of people like Aberdeen Asset Management we would be unable to achieve this.”

More than £3,900 was spent on the purchase of two trikes, a standing frame and a walking frame for three children in Edinburgh and one in Aberdeen.

Handicapped Children’s Action Group is a registered charity based in Lincolnshire which assists children and families across the UK. When it started in 1988 it helped about a dozen families a year, but now it helps well over 100 with the purchase of equipment varying in price from £500 to £2,500 per item. Requests come from physiotherapists who recommend that the equipment will help the youngster with day to day living. All the items funded by Aberdeen Asset Management were delivered to families just in time for Christmas.

Euan MacNeish of Aberdeen Asset Management’s Edinburgh charity committee said:

“Equipment provided by Handicapped Children’s Action Group will help give children with special needs the independence and mobility they deserve. Through the support of Aberdeen’s Charitable Committee we hope we are able to give these  children the ability to join in with the activities of children their own age and no longer watch from the side-lines. We are proud to support the local communities in which we operate in this way.”

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Oct 272016
 

By Duncan Harley, and with thanks to Erica Banks, Communications Officer, Aberdeen Performing Arts.

music_hall_emeli_sande4

Emeli Sandé has pledged her support to the multi-million pound scheme to launch the historic venue into the 21st century and beyond

Built to a design by Archibald Simpson and opened in 1822, performers as diverse as Charles Dickens, Elton John and comedy puppet duo Pinky and Perky have trodden the boards to entertain and amaze Aberdeen audiences. Politicians such as Tony Benn, Winston Churchill, and Lloyd George also put in appearances, and throughout its history the building has played host to everything from concerts and bazaars to theatre and sporting events.

Indeed many Aberdonians can still recall their shock introduction to Glam Rock when in far off 1972 a hopeful David Bowie accompanied by legendary guitarist Mick Ronson brought Spiders from Mars to a Music Hall audience.

As the “A Listed” venue begins an £8m restoration and regeneration uplift, Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA) has announced that Alford-born singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé has pledged her support to the multi-million pound scheme to launch the historic venue into the 21st century and beyond.

“The Music Hall holds so many fond memories for me” said former Alford Academy pupil Emeli,

“From the music festivals in primary school to my first tour, the beautiful atmosphere and stunning acoustics really make this a special place to perform.”

The project is spearheaded by APA, the charitable trust which runs the Music Hall, His Majesty’s Theatre and The Lemon Tree.

To date, fundraising efforts have raised a massive £6.5m towards the transformation, including major contributions from Aberdeen City Council, Creative Scotland, The Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, The Robertson Trust, The Foyle Foundation, Garfield Weston, The Wolfson Foundation and The Hugh Fraser Foundation.

This week a £150,000 sponsorship deal has been agreed between APA and Aberdeen Solicitors’ Property Centre. Aberdeen Inspired has also gifted £50,000, bringing the total funds raised to just over 80 percent of the final total, £7.9m, ahead of re-opening in Autumn/Winter 2018.

Jane Spiers, APA Chief Executive commented:

“We are so thrilled to have begun the next chapter in the life of the Music Hall. This is a huge campaign that has been years in the making – it has taken many months of planning and fundraising. However, this project is about much more than bricks and mortar. The Music Hall is a national treasure with decades of wonderful history behind it.

The range and calibre of artists, musicians and events the Hall has hosted over nearly 200 years is truly astonishing and its place at the heart of community and civic life is unassailable. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has a connection with Aberdeen who doesn’t have a story to tell about the Music Hall – a prize giving, graduation, great concert, school orchestra, a romantic encounter.

We’re delighted that Emeli Sandé is lending her support to the transformation and we are proud to be developing a venue which will be international in outlook and also operate at the heart of the ever-growing arts community in the North-east.”

Plans for the revamped Music Hall include upgrades to the historic auditorium with new seating, flooring and more flexible staging, new performance, rehearsal and education spaces, upgraded artist facilities, a new foyer, box office and café bar and new ramps and lifts to improve access to all areas.

Jane added:

“It really is an ingenious re-imagining of the space. We’re restoring and retaining the Music Hall’s historic fabric and its wonderful acoustic and at the same time we’re adding new features in keeping with the expectations of a 21st century audience … our venues are a vital part of cultural life in the city”

Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing backed up Jane’s comments

“The Music Hall redevelopment is a wonderful example of projects taking place in the city centre which will deliver a positive impact”

and Sean O’Callaghan of main contractor Kier Construction commented that

“It’s a privilege to restore this historic and much loved building. Our expertise and experience in delivering a diverse range of iconic heritage projects across Scotland stands us in good stead as we renovate Aberdeen Music Hall for future generations to enjoy.”

If you would like to support the project via donations, by lending the support of your business or by becoming a Music Hall ambassador contact Aberdeen Performing Arts .

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Sep 012016
 

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

March of the Lonach Highlanders 2016

The Lonach Highlanders set out following in the footsteps of their forefathers on their traditional six-mile march round local six properties.

The history and heritage of one of Scotland oldest and most iconic highland games was celebrated on Saturday (27 Aug) in the Aberdeenshire village of Bellabeg.

Thousands of visitors from across Scotland and further afield attended the 175th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games and witness the unique and emotive march of the Lonach Highlanders.

An estimated crowd of around 9,000 packed into Bellabeg Park in Strathdon to watch the day’s proceedings, which enjoyed warm dry conditions with long spells of bright sunshine.

Organised by the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games has been held annually since 1832 except during the years of the first and second world wars.

To mark the 175th anniversary games, the Lonach Highlanders, believed to be the largest body of non-military men to carry ceremonial weapons in Britain, were joined on their marches by Europe’s only private army, the Atholl Highlanders.

In total, 210 individuals dressed in full highland regalia, which included members of both highlanders’ pipe bands, took part in the day’s marches. There were 170 members of the Lonach Highlanders armed eight-foot long pikes and Lochaber axes, and 40 Atholl Highlanders carrying Lee-Metford rifles.

The day’s proceedings in Strathdon began at 8am as the Lonach Highlanders set out following in the footsteps of their forefathers on their traditional six-mile march round local six properties. The glen came to life as the still morning air was broken by the strains of the pipes and drums of the bands, the footsteps of marching highlanders and sound of the following horse and cart.

At each of the six stops the highlanders received a dram from the properties owners, continuing a tradition begun by their predecessors.  The highlanders toasted the health of their hosts, the society and the local area, with the cry ‘Ho Ho Lonach’ resounding through the strath.

Five new Lonach Highlanders took part in the march for the first time. Membership of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society currently stands at over 230.  The oldest Lonach Highlander marching was 76-year-old marshalling sergeant George Thomson from Strathdon, while the youngest was 16-year-old Bradley Joss from Kintore, who was among three generations of his family marching.

The 175th anniversary of the gathering was also marked with a display of old photographs, which charted the evolution of the gathering and the changing fashions of its visitors. Some of the photographs dated back to the 1890s. Many had been donated by society members and regulars to the Lonach Gathering who were keen to share their memories of the event.

March of the Lonach Highlanders 2016 (2)Crowds packed the grandstands and stood up to six deep in places around the main arena to watch proceedings, with the heavy events, the hill race and highland dancing receiving enthusiastic support.

The Lonach Highlanders, the Atholl Highlanders and the massed pipe bands received rousing welcomes as they circled the arena.

However, the loudest cheers were reserved for Socks, the Lonach horse, who made his second appearance at the games pulling the traditional ‘cairt’. Owned by Derek Gray of Kildrummy, Socks is a seven-year-old Irish Heavy Cob.

Six pipe bands from across Scotland performed at the gathering. Lonach Pipe Band was joined by the Pipe Band of the Atholl Highlanders, Ballater and District, Huntly and District, Towie and District and the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Guard from 2 SCOTS – the Royal Highland Fusiliers.

The gathering featured a full programme of traditional highland events, including solo and massed piping, highland dancing, children’s races, and light and heavy athletics, with some of the country’s leading athletes competing.

Once again, the heavy events drew a strong field of entrants. Current Scottish Highland Games Association World Heavyweight Champion, Scott Rider from London, competed and continued his exceptional performance this season by finishing first overall in the heavy events.

A field of over 90 lined up to tackle the four-mile hill race. The men’s race was won once again by James Espie of Dinnet, while the first lady home was Aboyne’s Stephanie Provan and the first Lonach Society member to finish was Neil Gauld of Midmar.

A keenly fought contest took place in the ladies tug o’ war, with the Glenbuchat Ladies proving victorious over Lonach Ladies and the team made up of ladies from the Rest of the World.

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said:

“It was a fantastic day from start to finish, with a brilliant atmosphere. The Lonach and Atholl Highlanders created a real spectacle and their combined numbers made it one of the largest marches we have seen. The reaction from those watching was quite something and generated a few tears amongst the crowd.

“Our 175th gathering is a hugely important milestone for the society and it was wonderful to see so many people here to help us celebrate it. The gathering has been a constant in a changing world and this was beautifully documented in our display of old photographs which received a lot of attention from visitors, and generated much laughter at some of the fashions.

“The gathering has always given the local area a huge boost, both socially and economically, and it is important that we maintain that. Our heritage is vitally important to preserve and with a number of young new members joining the society in the past year the future of Lonach looks bright.”

Established in 1823, by Sir Charles Forbes, 1st Baronet of Newe and Edinglassie, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is a charitable organisation based in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire.

The society organises the annual Lonach Gathering at Bellabeg Park, Strathdon, which is held on the fourth Saturday of August. The main attraction at the gathering is the march of the Lonach Highlanders, a unique body of non-military men. Further information on the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, the Lonach Highlanders and the annual Lonach Highland Gathering can be found at www.lonach.org.

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Aug 262016
 

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

Stars of the show - The Lonach Highlanders are one of the main attractions at the Lonach Gathering (picture credit Ian Halliday)lopro

Stars of the show – The Lonach Highlanders are one of the main attractions at the Lonach Gathering (picture credit Ian Halliday)

Europe’s only private army is heading to Aberdeenshire this Saturday to help celebrate the 175th anniversary of one of Scotland’s oldest and most iconic highland games.

The Atholl Highlanders have been invited to attend this year’s Lonach Highland Gathering and Games as the event takes place for the 175th time.

They will join the local Lonach Highlanders on their three annual games day marches, creating one of the largest marches of highlanders in the event’s long history.

Organised by the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, the Lonach Gathering is one of Scotland’s best known traditional events, attracting up to 10,000 visitors to the Aberdeenshire village of Bellabeg. Held in village’s Bellabeg Park, this year’s gathering takes place on Saturday, 27 August.

The annual event features the unique march of the Lonach Highlanders, who are believed to be the largest body of non-military men to carry ceremonial weapons in Britain. Membership of the Lonach Highlanders currently stands at around 230 men and is drawn from residents of the local area who descend from the Forbes, Wallace and Gordon clans.

Commencing at 8am on the morning of the games, the march of the Lonach Highlanders winds its way through Strathdon in Aberdeenshire, stopping at six local properties. At each stop on the six-mile route the highlanders receive a dram to toast the health of the society and the area.

Dressed in full highland regalia and armed with eight-foot long pikes and Lochaber axes, the Lonach Highlanders bring traffic on the A944 through Strathdon to a standstill. With the similarly attired Atholl Highlanders, who carry Lee-Metford rifles, the spectacle will be even greater for visitors.

This year, with the Atholl Highlanders in attendance, the march is expected to be one of the largest in history, numbering around 220 individuals, which includes members of both highlanders’ pipe bands. Both bodies of men will again march together during the afternoon marches on the games field at 1pm and 3pm, with the 3pm march being led by the massed pipes and drums of a number of pipe bands.

Featuring a full programme of traditional highland events, including individual and massed piping, highland dancing and light and heavy athletics, the Lonach Gathering attracts some of the country’s leading pipers, dancers and athletes. With a children’s race, a hill race, tug o’war, around 50 trade stands and a family funfair, there are many attractions to keep everyone entertained.

Activities on the games field commence at 10:30am with the piping competitions, before the full programme of traditional events commences at noon.

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said:

“The 175th Lonach Gathering is shaping up to be a real showstopper and the presence of Europe’s only private army will only add to that.  This anniversary is a milestone for the society and the gathering, and we hope to welcome visitors from near and far to help us celebrate it.

“We are really looking forward to the Atholl Highlanders joining the Lonach Highlanders on their marches, which are always a fantastic spectacle. In the crisp morning air, the sight and sound of the 8am march winding its way through the valley is magnificent. We don’t think that anywhere else in the world you can witness hundreds of kilted highlanders marching along a main road and bringing the traffic to a halt.

“Also to mark the anniversary, we are charting the history of the Lonach Gathering with a display of fascinating old photographs. It includes some from when the Atholl Highlanders have previously marched here at Lonach.”

The 175th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games takes place on Saturday, 27 August in Bellabeg, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. Tickets are priced from £8 for adults, £4 for children aged between 5 and 15, while entry for children under 4 is free. Car parking is also free.

Established in 1823, by Sir Charles Forbes, 1st Baronet of Newe and Edinglassie, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is a charitable organisation based in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire.

The society organises the annual Lonach Gathering at Bellabeg Park, Strathdon, which is held on the fourth Saturday of August. The main attraction at the gathering is the march of the Lonach Highlanders, a unique body of non-military men. Further information on the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, the Lonach Highlanders and the annual Lonach Highland Gathering can be found at www.lonach.org.

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Aug 182016
 

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

quarriersHousehold essentials that help make a house a home are being provided to young homeless people in Scotland who are overcoming significant challenges and taking up their first tenancies.

Starter packs containing the basics like curtains, bedding, pots and pans, towels and cleaning items are being provided to young people who have experienced homelessness when they move into their first homes through an initiative by leading social care charity Quarriers.

Aberdeen Asset Management’s Charitable Foundation has given £2,000 to provide starter packs to help 40 young people kit out their new home, giving them a more comfortable start to life in their first secured tenancy.

Youth homelessness remains a real issue in Scotland and young people supported by Quarriers’ youth housing services have often travelled a harrowing road with exposure to neglect, violence, abuse, relationship breakdowns with family and friends, and substance misuse which has affected their health, emotional and psychological development, confidence and self-esteem.

A number of young people have also experienced the care system at some point in their lives.

Many have encountered difficulties at school which has hindered their progression and acquisition of basic literacy and numeracy skills.

Increasingly, Quarriers is also supporting young refugees and asylum seekers whose extreme experiences and negligible resources severely limit their ability to survive, let alone thrive, in their new country.

Young people speak of their feelings of despair, abandonment and isolation; many have turned to alcohol, drugs and high risk behaviours to try to escape their situations and feelings.

Quarriers last year supported over 300 young people to regain their confidence and get their lives back on track, providing them with the means and skills to live independently and successfully within their community. These youngsters, often referred by social work or related services, receive up to two years support from the charity, depending on their circumstances.

Moving into their own tenancy – be it in mainstream or supported accommodation – is a significant step forward full of challenges for young people with few belongings, let alone basic furniture.

Providing basic household items including bedding, curtains or blinds, towels, cutlery and dishes, a kettle, toaster and pots, cleaning goods and other items when possible and funding permits helps young people get settled in and feel like they are in their own home, rather than just a safe room with a roof.

Alice Harper, Quarriers Chief Executive, said:

“Quarriers is committed to providing high quality services to help young people experiencing homelessness. Practical support such as providing these starter packs makes a real difference and we would like to thank Aberdeen Asset Management wholeheartedly for their support.

“Together, we are helping the young people we support to develop essential life skills and work towards a brighter future.”

Dominic Kite of Aberdeen’s Charitable Foundation, added:

“Having a place to call your own is a milestone in any young person’s life but for anyone who has faced homelessness it must be all the more significant. Quarriers has recognised the difference it makes to provide an assortment of basic home items right at the start of a new tenancy and we’re pleased to be able to provide starter packs for 40 young people.”

Aberdeen Asset Charitable Foundation was established in 2012 to formalise and develop the Group’s charitable giving globally. It seeks partnerships with smaller 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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Aug 042016
 

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

Lynx Juniors2

Lynx Juniors.

One of Aberdeen’s biggest sports clubs is looking for companies to support youth development in the city.
The Aberdeen Lynx Ice Hockey Club, which is the second most supported sports team in the city after Aberdeen Football Club, is looking for sponsorship from local businesses for the 2016-17 season, which starts in September.

As well as its SNL league team, the Lynx are also extremely focused on junior development, and have teams from ages 12 and up, as well as a Mini Lynx Learn to Play programme.

Securing sponsorship ensures that youngsters in the North-east have access to first-class coaching and facilities, providing them with the opportunity to pursue the sport as a hobby or a career in the future.

The Club – which recently lost its main sponsorship deal due to the slump in the oil and gas industry – is starting to think outside the box when it comes to funding and is introducing smaller sponsorship opportunities.

All the support from sponsors goes straight back into the club, which helps to keep costs down for junior players, fund equipment, and enables the team to travel around the country to play in SNL games.

Martin Hill, chair of the Aberdeen Lynx Ice Hockey Team, said:

“Unfortunately, we have just lost our main sponsorship deal due to the downturn in Aberdeen. We had anticipated it was going to happen and are sympathetic, but it still comes as a real blow to both our adult and junior teams.

“The Lynx are now on the lookout for new sponsorship deals. We completely understand that it’s currently a very difficult climate for businesses in Aberdeen, so we’re willing to negotiate, as we know how many companies are struggling.

“Since we were re-established in 2009, the club has grown to extraordinary heights and regularly sells out games. We often have around 1,100 people coming to watch the team at home, so sponsoring The Lynx is a really cost-effective way of advertising, as the exposure we’re able to give businesses is huge.

“Last season we won the SNL Play Off Final, which was a fantastic achievement for the club. We’re already beginning to see that demand for tickets is going to be high, so to thank the fans for their continued support, we’ve frozen our ticket prices.”

For more information about the Aberdeen Lynx and the SNL fixtures search Aberdeen Lynx Ice Hockey Team on Facebook, visit the website www.aberdeenlynx.com, or email contactus@aberdeenlynx.com.

 

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Jul 212016
 

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

Lonach Hall defibrillator - Jennifer Stewart, Lonach Society, and Paul Hicks, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

Jennifer Stewart  with Paul Hicks of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and members of the Lonach Highlanders and local firefighters.

The organisers of the annual Lonach Highland Gathering and Games, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, have launched a fundraising campaign to install lifesaving equipment in upper Strathdon.

The society has launched an appeal to raise nearly £7,000 to fund the purchase of four public access defibrillators that will be installed at venues in the Aberdeenshire valley.

It follows the installation of a defibrillator, funded by the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, at the Lonach Hall.

Defibrillators give someone suffering a cardiac arrest more time while ambulances get to a patient’s location. It is estimated that every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces a person’s chance of survival by 10 per cent. In remote, rural locations such as Strathdon, where the nearest major hospital is over 40 miles away in Aberdeen, access to defibrillation could prove vital.

Retained firefighters from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Strathdon fire station, which is made up mainly of Lonach Highland and Friendly Society members, were on hand at the unveiling of the Lonach Hall defibrillator.

The Strathdon fire station, like Scotland’s other 355 fire stations, acts as a base for local people to learn vital CPR skills that can potentially save someone’s life. The training is provided in partnership with British Heart Foundation Scotland, which has donated Call Push Rescue training kits to the stations. Anyone interested in this free CPR training should contact their local fire station.

To provide the rural community with the potentially lifesaving defibrillators, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is seeking support from local businesses, organisations and local benefactors to help fund the purchase. The four bright green ‘shock boxes’ will be placed in prominent public locations throughout the rural Aberdeenshire community.

Public access defibrillators are designed for anyone to use on someone in cardiac arrest. The devices talk users through the steps required, including CPR and patient analysis, and will only deliver a shock to the patient if it detects that one is required. This means that there is no chance of malicious or accidental usage.

The sites earmarked to host one of the devices are Glenbuchat Hall, Corgarff Hall and locations in Glenkindie and Kildrummy.

Lonach Hall was chosen to host Strathdon’s first defibrillator due to its role as an important community facility. The well-used venue has been a fixture of the Bellabeg area since 1845 and hosts a range of functions, including weddings, concerts, meetings, dances and corporate events. It is also the venue for the annual Lonach Highland Ball which is organised by the society and is held the week following the annual Lonach Highland Gathering.

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said:

“The society was founded to preserve highland culture and promote community cohesion and charitable giving, all of which still run through its core today. Supporting the local community is imperative to the society and our annual gathering continues to make a significant contribution to the local economy. We always strive to increase the scope of that contribution and this fundraising initiative is part of that.

“Strathdon is a beautiful, rural location, but one that can take some time for emergency services to get to. Defibrillators can prove crucial to increasing the chances of a patient’s survival in the minutes before an ambulance arrives. With a predominately older population, installing these pieces of lifesaving kit in the local area makes a lot of sense, particularly as no such provision currently exists.

“Applications for grant funding have been made, but any contribution from businesses, organisations or individuals would be warmly received. Our aim is to raise enough funding to have the additional four defibrillators installed by the end of 2016.”

This year sees the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society’s showpiece event reach a major milestone. The 175th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games will take place in Bellabeg on Saturday, 27 August. To mark the anniversary, the Lonach Highlanders will be joined at the games and on their march round the local area prior to the games commencing by the Atholl Highlanders, Europe’s only private army.

Established in 1823, by Sir Charles Forbes, 1st Baronet of Newe and Edinglassie, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is a charitable organisation based in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. The society organises the annual Lonach Gathering at Bellabeg Park, Strathdon, which is held on the fourth Saturday of August. The main attraction at the gathering is the march of the Lonach Highlanders, a unique body of non-military men.

Further information on the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, the Lonach Highlanders and the annual Lonach Highland Gathering can be found at www.lonach.org.

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Jul 082016
 

The Homeless World Cup changes lives; David Duke, Founder and Chief Executive of Street Soccer Scotland, is living proof. Aberdeen man Austin Leslie is expected to take part. With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

2/7/16 EMIRATES ARENA Glasgow Homeless world cup volunteers. Jacqueline Allen, Sheila Steinan, James Sloan , Graham Buchan, Martin Bilsland, Maiana Mercado

Glasgow Homeless world cup volunteers. Jacqueline Allen, Sheila Steinan, James Sloan , Graham Buchan, Martin Bilsland, Maiana Mercado

The Homeless World Cup Foundation has announced that over 350 volunteers will be involved in the delivery of the Homeless World Cup, which kicks-off this Sunday (10 July 2016).

Today’s final training session, held at the Emirates Arena, brought together many of the volunteers who have willingly given up their time to support the global tournament.

A group from Glasgow posed for a set-piece picture (available royalty free, captions embedded) outside the venue as the seven day countdown begins.

With building work starting today on George Square, anticipation is rising ahead of the 14th Homeless World Cup. Scotland’s men and women take on Hong Kong and Norway, respectively, in their opening fixtures, following the opening ceremony which starts at 12.30pm.

Volunteers will work in four key areas: Team Relations, Sport & Tournament Management, Media & Content Services, and Spectator Services.

Many of the Spectator Services volunteers will come from a strand of legacy activity funded by the Big Lottery Fund. This will see about 120 participants who have previous or current experience of homelessness supported as part of a long term strategy to support them to build a life they want for themselves. Around 40 of the group have also travelled from all across the world – at their own expense – to be in Glasgow to support the competition.

100,000 spectators are expected to visit the Homeless World Cup during the week-long festival. Entry is free & no tickets are required, albeit it is expected at key times (particularly when Scotland play) it will be very busy so spectators should arrive in plenty of time for games they wish to see.

The Homeless World Cup arrives in Glasgow as part of a three way partnership between the Homeless World Cup Foundation, the Scottish Government (delivered via EventScotland), and Glasgow City Council (delivered via Glasgow Life). Homeless World Cup volunteer manager Mariana Mercado comments:

“The Homeless World Cup tournament wouldn’t be possible without the support from all of our volunteers, they are the ones that make it happen. This year’s response has been amazing and we have engaged 350 volunteers. All these volunteers are donating their time and energy to help us deliver this world class event, and we couldn’t be more grateful.” 

Councillor Archie Graham OBE, Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow Life, said Glasgow Life:

“We’re providing a life-changing opportunity for an army of volunteers, many of whom have been affected by homelessness themselves, with a package of support and opportunities which will continue long after the last ball has been kicked. The Homeless World Cup not only shines an issue on the problem, but inspires people to do what they can to tackle the problem.

“With the support of the Big Lottery Fund and our partners, I have no doubt that our volunteers will be equally inspired – and be the heart and soul of what promises to be yet another outstanding event for the city.” 

The legacy project will not only support volunteers who have faced homelessness during the event, but will continue with sport and cultural opportunities on offer to those participating. Maureen McGinn, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund in Scotland added:

“The Homeless World Cup inspires people to change their life for the better. That is an aim shared with us at the Big Lottery Fund as we want our funding to make a truly life-changing and inspirational difference to people across Scotland. This volunteering initiative is unique not just for the impact it will have on people during the event but afterwards as well through a range of sports and cultural activities.

“We know from our previous funding that Glasgow Life has a proud record of delivering volunteering opportunities at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and this is another legacy project which we are delighted to support.”

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