Feb 072017
 

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

A charity ball will be held this spring in memory of a devoted mum and teacher. Caroline Thomson (pictured), of Portlethen, died last year, after courageously battling cancer for 18 months. She was just 38.

So far her loved ones have already raised nearly £25,000 for CLAN Cancer Support and Brain Tumour Action, and are now determined to add more to the tally with a party that coincides with her 40th birthday weekend.

The Ruby Ball will be held at Pittodrie in Aberdeen on March 3.

Guests will be treated to a drinks reception on arrival, a three-course meal and a disco. There will also be an auction – with prizes ranging from tickets to see comedian John Bishop at the O2 in London to a Manchester United shirt signed by star player Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Local businesses have also kindly donated prizes for the raffle, with treats from the Nicole Porter Gallery and Blueberry Moon in Aberdeen; the Beauty Boutique in Portlethen; and Trump International Golf Links Scotland at Balmedie among those up for grabs.

Caroline’s sister Shona Gossip, from Ellon, who is organising the ball, is urging people to snap up a ticket.

The 30-year-old said:

“Although this is a chance for my family to toast Caroline’s birthday, this is a party for everyone – not just those who knew her. It’s all about raising as much as we can for CLAN and Brain Tumour Action.

“Caroline was devoted to her family – husband David, and sons Callum and Robbie – and her role as head teacher at Cornhill Primary in Aberdeen, but loved to be with her friends too and having fun.

“We’ve all got some great memories of her hen night – when she and her friends dressed as the Village People – and her 30th birthday, which was 80s-themed. I hope we can make some more memories while remembering her in March, while raising money for two great causes.

“The idea for the Ruby Ball just came to me one day on the drive to work as I passed the turn-off for her school and the hospital. Caroline had a love for all things red, and had pretty distinctive red streaks through her hair for years. Combined with it being her 40th this year, it all just fell into place.

“Caroline was really philosophical throughout her illness, and just used to say ‘it is what it is’ but she used to worry about being forgotten. Through the Ruby Ball, and the amazing fundraising efforts of others, we won’t let that happen.”

Mrs Thomson was first diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2014, and underwent gruelling chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a mastectomy.

Sadly the cancer returned in summer 2015, with a scan showing a mass on her brain. Despite surgery and more radiotherapy, doctors broke the news the tumour was inoperable.

Mrs Thomson threw everything into making it to Christmas, and spending as much time as she could with her boys. She was also determined to ensure they were looked after even after her death, and was adamant that CLAN should be involved in offering support.

Dr Colette Backwell, chief executive of CLAN, said:

“Caroline’s family are truly an inspiration and we would like to give our heartfelt thanks for all the money and awareness they have raised so far. To turn such difficult circumstances into such a positive and raising money to help us support other families throughout the north-east, is absolutely incredible.

“The Ruby Ball is sure to be a great success and will be a lovely opportunity for Caroline’s family and friends to celebrate her life with other guests.”

Tickets for the ball are on sale now, priced £49. To find out more, or to buy – or to donate a raffle prize – visit www.facebook.com/rubyballaberdeen, e-mail rubyballaberdeen@gmail.com or call 07515 349890.

CLAN Cancer Support is an independent charity which provides comfort, support and information, free of charge, for anyone, of any age, affected by any type of cancer. CLAN aims to support people to reduce anxiety, stress and to increase their ability to cope with the effects of a serious illness.

Based in Aberdeen, the charity covers the whole of north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland. CLAN has a presence in Ballater, Banchory, 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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Sep 232011
 

Old Susannah looks back at the week that was. By Suzanne Kelly.

Old Susannah is enjoying a glass of ‘Hello… my name is Ingrid’ (a beautiful brew made with cloudberry) at Brewdog, and is reflecting on another busy week in the Deen.
There was the Periurban conference for one thing. This was announced last minute on the City’s website.
It was an international conference on how cities deal with land on the fringes of the urban areas. I guess people from around the world came to see how wonderfully Aberdeen treats Union Terrace Gardens, Tullos Hill, green space at Westhill and Cove, and Loirston Loch.

The two-day conference was opened by the pioneering champion of all things green: Kate Dean.

I sent in an application, and then found myself invited to the second day’s events. For some reason it seemed they didn’t want me on the first day. I heard lots of important speakers, most of whom said urban sprawl is a problem, and we must all use less resources and re-use what we can. Someone even said ‘planting trees is not a solution’ – Cllr HoMalone please take note.

We heard about city centres emptying out if there is too much urban sprawl, with shops closing and crime and social deprivation becoming a problem. I was just surprised no one from Aberdeen explained how our ‘improving’ Union Terrace Gardens into a car park, ‘cosmopolitan cafe’, the hoped-for monorail and building in the greenbelt were going to save the day. I would have loved to have heard it. 

One City Council official kept turning around in their seat to look at me; for some reason they almost looked worried I was there. Could it have been the ‘Save the Tullos Deer’ t-shirt I wore under my suit jacket?

Someone was there from a local green charity, and somehow I brought up the deer cull situation (my t-shirt might have helped). The person had no idea why the Scottish SPCA was against the cull and what the other issues were. I happily explained.

Elsewhere in the Deen, someone has decided to leave a cat in a wheelie bin. Perhaps they want as much media attention as the woman from Coventry got? You may remember Mary Bale who cruelly left a cat in a bin for hours on end and was caught out. Let’s see if we can’t find the Aberdeen copycat cat botherer and do for them what the press did for Bale.

It would likewise be a shame if shamed Banff Brothers David and Colin Reid of 22 Boyndie Street West, Banff, got any bad press for their dogfighting activity conviction and jail sentences.

This is the Scottish SPCA’s first major dogfighting conviction in Aberdeenshire (where officials denied there was a problem, you may recall), and it is cause for celebration.  The Reids must know something about other dog fighters – let’s hope they roll over.  Thankfully, some of the dogs they were abusing have been rescued.

But anyway, here I am in Brewdog wondering what to write about this week.

I am looking at a recent Press & Journal headline which screams in giant letters: ‘IS THIS THE MOST HATED MAN IN SCOTLAND?‘ As I am always happy to follow where the P&J leads, so let’s skip definitions this week and take a look at the most hated man in Scotland instead. 

Imagine one man using the legal system to the maximum for his own self-interested ends. Imagine him standing alone, unwilling to listen to the thousands of people who want him to abandon the battle.

Imagine for a minute how much taxpayer money and court time he is willing to use up.

Yes, Mr Milne may well be the most hated man in Scotland. For openers there is the legal battle which he’s taking all the way to the highest court in the UK. For those who don’t know, Milne bought land from the City Council – 11 acres in Westhill – for some £335,000. (By the way, who do the rest of us have to know to get deals like that? Jane – can you help?). The land is worth millions.

Apparently Milne agreed with the City to pay a portion of any sale/rental profit to the City. In a really sharp, not at all transparent move, the land was sold from one arm of the vast Milne empire to another Milne company. As you’d expect, such a deal cost over £500,000 to do. Or so Milne claims when his companies say there was no profit left after the sale.  Seems pretty clear to me.

Yes, Milne is appealing (but not to most of us).

You’d have thought that our very generous Council wouldn’t go bothering Stew for a mere 1.7 million pounds (goodness knows the City can waste that much with ease), but it seems the City will be trying to claw back the money.

The courts found in the City’s favour – but Milne would rather drag us on through the legal system and cost the taxpayer more money than shell out.

Yes, Milne is appealing (but not to most of us). Of course if you weigh this against all the associated costs, then there probably won’t be much financial gain. Here’s a clever idea: let’s stop selling our assets at less money than they are worth. Who knows?  We might wind up less than the £50 million in debt we currently are.  But back to Milne.

We come to the subject of the once-beautiful game. Someone’s decided it’s much better to do land deals than try and win matches.

Milne will develop Pittodrie (which could have been rennovated – this has been done elsewhere in the UK) and build in the greenbelt well out of town.  Loirston Loch will be greatly improved by the new stadium. What the remaining wildlife will make of the lack of land, the cars, the additional pollution and inevitable trash is another matter.

I wonder what it’s like to be less popular than the Donald? Will the Dons become the Donalds?

The bottom line is the stadium will glow in the dark (!) and we can have Elton John and Rod Stewart concerts!. (Who cares that two BBC stories this week prove another link between ill health and car exhaust fumes, and Scotland’s wildlife continues to diminish?)

You would have thought that AFC fans would be jumping for joy at the chance to drive/bus/walk to Loirston. Instead, many of them want Milne to jump ship. Things are so desperate that some fans are actively inviting Donald Trump to invest in the club.  Ouch.

I wonder what it’s like to be less popular than the Donald? Will the Dons become the Donalds? Mr Milne might want to stay away from Facebook or AFC fan sites for a wee while, where there is just a hint of dissatisfaction. Such ingratitude – and after all he’s done to us. Sorry – I mean ‘for us’.

Stew’s not very popular in the city centre either. In his proposal for Triple Kirks, he’s promised us more office buildings. Result!

So who’d have thought that putting two glass box buildings next to the Triple Kirk spire (and probably chasing those pesky peregrine falcons away in the process) could make you unpopular? There will be office space – and who wants anything more than more office space?

I’m afraid to say Mr Milne is now as popular with golfers as fox-batterer Forbes would be at an animal rights meeting.

The only problem is parking (not that that is hindering him developing Pittodrie or in creating the stadium – neither has adequate parking in their plans). Where on earth will Stew find any parking solutions close to Triple Kirks? If only there was some empty, under-used space nearby – maybe something that ‘only has grass’ in it. He could have car parking, the offices would go ahead without a hitch, he’d rake in some money.

People would be amazingly grateful: we would get parking, shopping and ‘cosmopolitan cafes’ – where we can sit and drink coffee year round and be, er, cosmopolitan. If only Stew or his pal Ian could think of some solution to the problem, it would mean more money for Milne. There are some people who think the consultation should have been handled by the city with a lengthy consultation, and that the listed status of Triple Kirks carried a bit of weight.  These people were of course wrong.

And let’s face it: Milne could be low on cash.  Am I alone in thinking he’s short?  He’s chasing a mere 1.7 million through the courts (when he’s supposedly worth about 60 million). He’s about to lay off workers up and down Scotland – he says he can’t afford them.

Perhaps he expanded a bit too quickly? Perhaps he thought new building would continue for ever? Well – with our City Council it just might.

It seems a little ironic that the City is giving Milne contracts (some recent ones total over ten million) while he is both dragging the city through the courts and firing Aberdonians in the building trade. But the people who are in charge know best. 

For reasons of space, I’ll limit this to just one more aspect of the man’s popularity. I’m afraid to say Mr Milne is now as popular with golfers as fox-batterer Forbes would be at an animal rights meeting. It seems that the Portlethen community council and those who use Portlethen Golf Club are up in arms over Milne’s plans to build 153 houses so close to the course that there may be a few problems. Safe to say, people are teed off.

There you have it. The Press & Journal had their own front-page suggestion for ‘the most hated man in Scotland.’ Some of us have a different candidate for that title.

Last word: City Council employees: stop criticising your wonderful employers and managers on the Intranet. First: they don’t like it and are drafting all kinds of means to stop your free speech. Second: that’s my job. I understand they may participate in a 24-hour ‘tweeting’ session to say what excellent services they’ve got going. You are cordially uninvited to tweet back.

Sep 152010
 

With thanks to the Aberdeen Branch of SPSC.

On Saturday 18th September, the Aberdeen branch of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) are going to walk a 40km route along the Aberdeenshire coast – a distance equivalent to the length of the coastline of the Gaza Strip.

This walk is to draw attention to the fact that 1.5 million Palestinians live in a strip of land so small that it can easily be walked in about 10 hours, that they are virtual prisoners, denied the right to trade by land or sea, to have access to employment or education, or even to receive basic humanitarian aid.

Starting at Portlethen at 7:45am those taking part will follow the Aberdeenshire Coastal Path as far as Newburgh. The route will pass through Cove, round Aberdeen Harbour and through a section of the city centre, up the beach to the Bridge of Don, then onwards to Balmedie, finally arriving at Newburgh – no doubt with a few blisters!

As well as raising awareness of the injustice of Gaza, the SPSC are raising funds through sponsorship for PalestineConnect (www.palestineconnect.org), a small grassroots charity that operates computer-aided learning centres in three of the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip.

Anyone who wishes to join us on the walk is very welcome, as are all donations. And if anyone sees us en route, give us a wave!
For further details contact aberdeen@scottishpsc.org.uk
To make a donation, visit the “Donate” page at http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/ and select PalestineConnect from the campaign options.

Jul 302010
 

By Dave Innes.

Attack Of The Herbals is a low-budget and independently-produced horror comedy film – think Shaun of the Dead meets Evil Dead – set in NE Scotland, shooting primarily in Newtonhill and Johnshaven.

Portlethen-based David Keith, the film’s director, told Aberdeen Voice, “Last year we won the London Horror Festival’s 2 Days Later short film competition. Our Dead-Funny won five out of the seven categories – Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Sound. Our Demonic was also shortlisted for the Jim Pool Scottish Screen Short Film Awards in 2009. Continue reading »