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Jun 232017
 

With thanks to Craig Chisholm.

Aberdeen’s very own festival in the city returns in September in what promises to be an entertaining weekend. True North, now in its’ third year, has announced another strong line up over the weekend of 7 – 10 September. Kicking off proceedings are highly acclaimed act Public Service Broadcasting

With their new album released in July their date at His Majesty’s Theatre on Thursday 7th September is sure to be a sell-out.

The album, entitled Every Valley, depicts the history of industry in Wales, chronicling the rise and decline of the country’s coal industry.

Following previous concerts at The Lemon Tree, this is Public Service Broadcasting’s biggest date in Aberdeen and, as anyone that has seen them before will testify, they are sure to put on another memorable performance.

If one gig isn’t enough on Thursday night, then be sure to pop past the Lemon Tree afterwards for a late show by art-rockers Wild Beasts. The band are scheduled to release a new album – Boy King – in August so this will provide an early opportunity to see them perform tracks from it.

Friday night again offers two bills in two venues –  cult Scottish indie band Arab Strap at The Tivoli whilst The Lemon Tree plays host to art-pop quartet Dutch Uncles.

The recently reformed Arab Strap recently sold out two nights at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom and at forthcoming events at the Kelvingrove Bandstand. The more intimate settings of The Tivoli will provide a perfect setting for the band’s unique storytelling and singular musical vision.

Manchester band Dutch Uncles take musical inspiration from Low-era Bowie, Kate Bush’s The Red Shoes, East European Techno and, they claim, “some slightly less fashionable records belonging to their Dads”. With inspirations like that how could you afford to miss them?

Saturday night at The Lemon Tree also provides the opportunity to stay up late as Lost Map Records main-man The Pictish Trail, better known to friends and family as Johnny Lynch, brings his unique blend of folk, electro and humour to the stage there once again. Guest DJs will also be on hand to spin tunes into the wee small hours.

It’s His Majesty’s Theatre that provides the most intriguing performance of the weekend – a full band interpretation of Fleetwood Mac’s legendry album Rumours. Start to End provide the musical backing and they will be joined onstage by musicians from Pronto Mama, Fat-Suit, Admiral Fallow and a few special guests still be announced. This should again prove a big draw and will appeal to fans of all ages.

Rounding up the weekend is a double bill of two Scotland’s most talented young performers as The Tivoli plays host to Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison and Kathryn Joseph, who was the winner of 2015 Scottish Album of the Year.

On top of the main performances there’ll also be a Fringe festival over the course the weekend at venues such as The Lemon Tree and intimate sessions at the Maritime Museum.

Tickets go on sale for all concerts on Friday 23rd November – http://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/truenorth

Jun 232017
 

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

From left to right: Pat Ramsay, Myles Edwards, Phil Anderson, and Louise Dingwall.

A North-east financial services company has helped to provide Kenyan children with opportunities for a better future through a charitable donation.

Phil Anderson Financial Services, which has offices in Ellon, Aberdeen and Caithness, recently donated £500 to the Gathimba Edwards Foundation, a charity that supports disadvantaged kids in the east African country of Kenya.

Through its sponsorship of the Charity Open at Oldmeldrum Golf Club, the firm selected the Gathimba Edwards Foundation as a beneficiary, due to the charity’s dedication towards improving the lives of almost 250 poverty-stricken Kenyan children.

To date, the Gathimba Edwards Foundation, founded by Aberdonian Myles Edwards and Kenyan international Gideon Gathimba, has built 17 homes for over 70 children and provided education opportunities, shelter, clothing and food to 243 kids across Kenya.

Phil Anderson Financial Services regularly supports numerous charities and community initiatives across the North-east. Last year, the business was recognised for its charitable efforts and was awarded with the Small Business Big Heart Award for its support of the Aberdeen Cyrenians.

Since the firm was launched in 2011, its staff has raised over £10,000 for a large number of local charities and causes, including Diabetes Scotland, Aspire and Aberdeen Cyrenians.

Phil Anderson, managing director of Phil Anderson Financial Services, said:

“After hearing about the Gathimba Edwards Foundation and all the fantastic work they’ve managed to achieve in such a short space of time, I thought it was only right to get behind this truly worthwhile cause.

“Supporting those that are less fortunate is something that both myself and my staff are all very passionate about. We are all looking forward to hearing about the charity’s next project and how the donation will help make a difference to the lives of many disadvantaged children across Kenya.”

Founder of the Gathimba Edwards Foundation, Myles Edwards, said:

“We are hugely grateful for the incredibly generous support from Phil and his team, as it is going to be life-changing for our children.

“There are a number of families who desperately need houses built for them, as they are currently living in iron sheet structures with no walls. We are able to build two-bedroom houses with furniture and electricity for under £3,000, so £500 is absolutely huge for us.

“Phil does so much for numerous charities and causes in both the North-east and abroad, so it really is a big honour that he has chosen to support our kids.”

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Jun 232017
 

With thanks to  Jonathan Russell from Aberdeen and District CND, and Maya Evans.

Aberdeen and District CND will host a public meeting on July 17 focusing on the ongoing Afghan conflict.
At the end of 2014 NATO/US forces declared ‘Mission Complete’ in Afghanistan.
Two years on, foreign forces remain within Afghanistan while the Taliban are thought to have gained control of at least 40% of the country. ISIS are now also carrying out attacks.

Today Afghan people have to contend with crushing poverty, mass drug addiction, climate crisis catastrophe and huge internal displacement.

With no faith in the Government people are turning to the grassroots for real change.

One such group are the Afghan Peace Volunteers – young non-violent peace activists who run the ‘Borderfree Peace Centre’ in Kabul; with 18 projects on the go they include: a Street Kids School, the Women’s Duvet Project, Permaculture and the non-violence dance troop and football team.

They are an inspiring group comprised of young Afghans who have known nothing but war and violence, but want to respond and rebuild peace in a creative non-violent way.

This talk will give a political overview on the ‘forgotten war’, the internal problems that people face, and the foreign. Most recently the US unleashed the largest non nuclear bomb in its arsenal on Nangarhar Province, East Afghanistan. The immediate consequences have so far seen the Taliban retaliate by slaughtering over 150 Afghan soldiers during an ambush on a military base.

Speaker Maya Evans, UK Co-ordinator of ‘Voices for Creative non-violence’, has visited Kabul 8 times over the last 6 years. She has seen first hand how the war has worsened and how the Afghan Peace Volunteers have developed and expanded. Her talks are full of funny, moving and uplifting stories, as well as up to date facts.

Hear how the Afghan Peace Volunteers cope and respond to the deepening crisis, being inspired and moved by their relentless work and daily lives.

THE AFGHANISTAN CONFLICT ‘VOICES FOR PEACE’
Meeting taking place on July 10th at 7.30pm at UNITE, 42-44 King Street. 

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Jun 232017
 

Duncan Harley reviews The Wedding Singer at His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen.

Once you get to grips with the schmaltzy ‘girls just wanna get married’ portrayal of the eighties which haunts this musical from the very start, The Wedding Singer is actually a whole load of fun.

Despite a story-line thin enough to gladden the heart of a coronary bypass surgeon and sufficient cheesy humour to keep McDonalds going in triple cheeseburger’s for a month, the entertainment value more than makes up for this sugar-sweet take on the Reagan decade.

Based on the hit 1998 film of the same name, the musical tells the tale of wedding singer and emcee Robbie Hart.

Robbie and his band ‘Simply Wed’ – yes you read that correctly – play the New Jersey wedding circuit making a precarious living on the back of those who have popped the question. Jilted and depressed he abandons the wedding gigs and comes of age on the bar mitzvah circuit. Predictably he gets the girl and equally predictably he gets invited to sing at his own wedding.

Starring Jon Robyns as the multi-talented Robbie Hart and X Factor/singer songwriter Cassie Compton as love interest Julia Sullivan, it would be difficult to imagine this production going far wrong really. Well known for roles including secretly-gay Rod in Avenue Q and Sir Galahad in Spamalot Jon’s performance literally shines.

Add in a mix of stars including Ray Quinn, as Glen Gulia, and Barbara Rafferty in the role of Rosie the rapping-granny and The Wedding Singer is off like the clappers.  A clutch of iconic dance-numbers including Saturday Night in the City and All About the Green plus some pretty dang impressive lighting and audio complete the line-up.

Alongside the main characters, the cast list includes a motley crew of ‘fake’ characters including Ronnie Reagan, Billy Idol, Tina Turner and Cyndi Lauper. Additionally, and I could be wrong, amongst the line-up in the bar scene I swear I spotted a suitably inebriated Charles Bukowski

As a feel-good, Aspartame sweetened heart-warming trip into the past, The Wedding Singer works really well although the story-line does pose awkward questions for those who were actually around at the time.

Will Hart get the girl? And does Julia really want to be Mrs Gulia? For a definitive answer or two you will just have to join the audience. Oh! And watch out for those brick-size cell-phones and, of course, that singing cake!

Lighting Designer Ben Cracknell/Sound Designer Ben Harrison.
The Wedding Singer plays at HMT Aberdeen until Saturday 24 June
Tickets from Aberdeen Performing Arts Tel: 01224- 641122
Words © Duncan Harley and Images © APA

Jun 232017
 

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) in autumn colours, Scotland

With thanks to Chris Aldridge.

A new book, The Red Squirrel: A Future in the Forest, by award-winning wildlife photographer Neil McIntyre and author Polly Pullar, is helping to support the return of one of Scotland’s best loved animals to the Highlands of Scotland.

The book’s publisher, Highlands-based social enterprise SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, has pledged to donate £10 from books purchased with a special code to Trees for Life’s work to re-introduce red squirrels to the western Highlands. 

Peter Cairns of SCOTLAND: The Big Picture hopes the book will raise fresh awareness about the plight of the reds as well as cash to help save them.

He said:

“Neil’s beautiful images and Polly’s words have helped to highlight how important the wild forest is to squirrels. We love what Trees for Life is doing to bring back both the forest and the squirrels and are pleased to be able to support them in this way.”

Trees for Life is an award-winning charity working to restore the native Caledonian Forest and its unique wildlife to the Highlands of Scotland. Conservation experts at the charity have been carefully relocating red squirrels from healthy populations in Inverness-shire and Moray to forests in northwest Scotland, where the species is currently absent despite suitable habitat. The Red Squirrel Reintroduction 

Project has so far established four new populations in the northwest Highlands, significantly increasing both the numbers and range of the red squirrel in the UK.

Becky Priestly, Wildlife Officer with Trees for Life, said:

“We’re hugely thankful to SCOTLAND: The Big Picture for its generous offer to donate to our Red Squirrel Appeal from sales of the book. These donations will help us continue our work to reintroduce this much-loved animal. Local communities are monitoring the introduced squirrels and are now reporting sightings of young squirrels for the second year running, so we know they’re doing well.” 

To obtain a copy of The Red Squirrel: A Future in the Forest and help support Trees for Life, order online at Scotlandbigpicture.com. Use the special code STBPTFL10 to have £10 donated to Trees for Life and to save 10 percent. Alternatively, you can donate to the appeal directly at Treesforlife.org.uk/donate  

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Jun 232017
 

A leading north-east cancer charity is launching a new event in the heart of Royal Deeside. With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

CLAN at the Castle will take place in the grounds of Crathes Castle on Sunday, September 10, to raise funds for north-east cancer support charity CLAN Cancer Support.
On the day, the historic castle will provide the backdrop for three sponsored walk routes and a fun day with inflatables, entertainment and refreshments.

The sponsored walks will cover one mile, 5.7 miles and 13 miles taking in woodland tracks around the castle grounds and local area.

The fun day will be open to all, with members of the public encouraged to come along, enjoy the day and support those taking part in the three walks.

CLAN Cancer Support Fundraising Team Manager, Steph Dowling, is looking forward to the new look event, which she hopes will become a firm favourite.

She said:

“For CLAN’s 30th birthday we celebrated with the first CLAN Landmark Walk, taking in various landmarks throughout Aberdeen city. Since then the event continued to grow in popularity but we felt it was time to open a new chapter and build on its success.

“CLAN provides support and wellbeing services throughout many communities in Aberdeenshire, Moray, Orkney and Shetland and we felt it was important to mirror this in the location of what is one of our main fundraising events. After looking throughout the area Crathes Castle stood out as such a popular landmark in Aberdeenshire and one which was ideal for our revamped event.

“We really wanted to create a day which had something for everyone, whether you are taking part as an individual, families and groups or corporate teams. As part of taking on one of these challenges, walkers will get a free wristband for the fun day, with additional bands available for anyone coming along to support them.”

CLAN Cancer Support Chief Executive, Dr Colette Backwell, said:

“I am delighted that we are able to take such a fantastic event to the heart of Deeside, which is one of the areas supported by CLAN’s wellbeing and support services through our bases in Banchory and Ballater.

“Thanks to the dedication of individuals, groups of friends and corporate teams who raise crucial funds for CLAN at events like these, we are able to continue to develop the wellbeing and support services needed for people affected by cancer right in the heart of local communities.

“We are already looking forward to CLAN at the Castle and I look forward to welcoming many old and new faces to the event.”

For full event details, to register for the walk or purchase wristbands for the fun day, please visit www.clanhouse.org. The event also requires a number of volunteers, full details of how you can help can be found on the website.

The fun day will run between 10am and 4pm with wristbands available at the venue for £5 or in advance from www.clanhouse.org

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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Jun 232017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

A donation from a global financial firm will provide access to audiobooks for people in the north east of Scotland suffering from visual, physical and learning difficulties. Aberdeen Asset Management’s Charitable Foundation has donated £1,350 to Listening Books, which
will be used to fully fund access for the charity’s users in
Aberdeen.

Offering over 7,000 titles, Listening Books provides audiobooks as downloads, mp3 CDs and via streaming services for anyone who struggles to read print due to conditions including arthritis, dyslexia or glaucoma.

Around 50,000 people across the UK use its services. In addition to supplying the most popular fiction titles, the charity also provides educational texts across a range of subject areas, ensuring pupils who experience difficulties reading can keep up with their studies.

Robert Marchant, development and office manager at Listening Books, says,

“For many of our older members with physical or visual impairments, our service not only provides a link to the wonderful world of books but is often a relief from pain, boredom and loneliness. The service helps many of our young members to realise their full academic potential and can foster a lifelong love of reading.

“We charge a subsidised membership fee to those who can afford it, but many cannot. We are very grateful to everyone at Aberdeen Asset Management for their support in fully funding free access to our service for Listening Books members in Aberdeen.”

As part of its Sound Learning initiative, Listening Books uses its in-house recording facilities to produce educational titles which are not commercially available in an audio format. The charity also commercially produces books for authors and publishers, the profits from which are funnelled straight back into its services.

Claire Drummond, head of charitable giving at Aberdeen Asset Management, says,

“Aberdeen Asset Management is committed to helping improve the lives of the people who live in the communities in which we operate. It’s easy to take for granted the simple pleasure of reading a good book, but thousands of people around the UK are unable to do so due to illness, disability or learning difficulties.

“Getting lost in a good book is a joy that no-one should be denied, and Aberdeen Asset Management is pleased to be able to support Listening Books users in Aberdeen.”

The Aberdeen Asset Management Charitable Foundation was established in 2012 to formalise and develop the Group’s charitable giving globally. The Foundation 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 about Listening Books, visit www.listening-books.org.uk  

For more information about the Aberdeen Asset Management Charitable Foundation, visit www.aberdeen-asset.co.uk/aam.nsf/foundation/home

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Jun 162017
 

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

Following the soaraway success of a festival launched last year to celebrate one of Scotland’s most fruitful food and drink regions, Spirt of Speyside: Distilled is to return – with an even greater range of home-grown flavours.

World leading drinks brands will join small artisan producers for the weekend festival at Elgin Town Hall on September 1 and 2 in a showcase of Speyside’s finest whisky, gin, beer and food.

Classic drams will be served up alongside contemporary cocktails with speciality coffee to try alongside grown-up fudge.

This year’s event has been extended to cover two floors of the venue with even more opportunities to sample food and drink and meet the producers passionate about Speyside and its produce.

It’s not just about the tastes that makes the Speyside region  – home to more than half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries – renowned across the world for its food and drink. Distilled gives opportunities to experience and learn more about the flavours, through a range of tutorials or ‘masterclasses’ staged by experts.

Tickets for Distilled go on sale on at 9am on Friday, June 16 and with limited places available, food and drink lovers are urged to get in quick to ensure they don’t miss out.

Distilled is delivered by the same team behind the world-famous Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival and the inaugural mini-festival went down a treat with audiences last year.

Festival manager Pery Zakeri says,

“Distilled is a melting pot of fantastic flavours and wonderful personalities sharing their enthusiasm for fine food and drink. It offers the chance to enjoy so many different tastes, as well as broadening knowledge of food and drink through our menu of masterclasses.

“We were delighted with the feedback from our inaugural event last year, which introduced a much younger audience to Speyside’s food and drink offering, and we are building on that with this year’s offering.

“We are proud to be playing a lead role in championing the region’s booming food and drink industry by bringing producers and the public together under one roof in celebration of the Speyside larder.”

Distilled drew gastronomes from all over Scotland as well as  visitors from overseas who wanted to be part of first festival of this kind to be held in Speyside. The big global players of the drinks industry stood shoulder to shoulder with small, up-and-coming producers in a mix that went down well with audiences.

Masterclasses ranged from the chance to sample rare and cask strength drams, to cocktail making and food pairing. A range of masterclasses are being offered again this year, costing an additional £15 per person, with full details of the range and times to be announced on the event website.

This celebration of Speyside’s food and drink features four different sessions and these take place from 1-5pm and 6-10pm each day. Tickets are priced at £20 which includes entry, six vouchers for tasting samples of gin, whisky or beer, a lanyard and a Glencairn crystal nosing and tasting glass.

All whisky, gin, beer and foods on offer will have a Speyside provenance and there will be the chance to purchase products from stand holders. There will also be festival merchandise available to buy.

For more information and to book tickets  visit www.distilled.scot

Distilled is active on social media at www.facebook.com/distilledscot on Twitter and Instagram @distilledscot. Follow the festival at #distilled17

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Jun 162017
 

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Account Manager, Jasmine Ltd.

A north-east charity’s flagship shop is urging shoppers to make the most of a special sale as it prepares for a new look.

CLAN Cancer Support’s shop on Aberdeen’s Rosemount Place has launched a 50% off sale as it prepares to close for internal and external work.

It will close on Friday (June 16) to allow the charity’s team of staff and volunteers to transfer stock to CLAN’s other shops. 

Anyone wishing to donate new goods to CLAN should take contributions to the charity’s shop on Chapel Street, Aberdeen.

CLAN Cancer Support Senior Shop Manager, Kirsty MacDonald, is looking forward to revealing Rosemount’s new look later in the summer.

She said:

“We now have a network of five shops which provide CLAN with a vital income stream, directly supporting the delivery and development of the wellbeing and support services we provide for anyone affected by cancer.

“Our shops thrive thanks to the fantastic volume of donations we receive and the generosity of our customers who understand the importance of their support. Donations really are the life blood of our shops, so I encourage people to continue to drop any donations at our Chapel Street shop.

“Rosemount is our flagship store, it’s very popular with Aberdeen shoppers, in an area surrounded by fantastic independent retailers. The building has had a number of setbacks recently due to flooding, and with this now resolved it is an ideal opportunity to create a more enjoyable environment for our valued and loyal customers and supporters.

“The new look shop will be the first to take on a new image for CLAN shops which will, in time, be rolled out across others in Ballater, Orkney and Shetland.

“In the meantime there is still a fantastic range of clothes, ornaments, jewellery, books and equipment in stock, so please visit the shop before the 16th June and you might just grab yourself a special bargain.”

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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Jun 162017
 

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

The Lonach Hall set for the Annual Highland Ball.

Highland ball aficionados from across Scotland are being invited to attend one of Aberdeenshire’s oldest and most popular social gatherings.

The Lonach Highland Ball has been held in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire since 1833, and provides an opportunity for guests to celebrate the achievements of competitors at the annual Lonach Highland Gathering and Games.

Tickets for the black-tie event have just gone on sale and organisers, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, are keen to encourage a whole new generation of traditional Scottish dance enthusiasts to come along and sample the unique hospitality on offer.

Around 140 people attend the formal annual event. However, a press cutting from 1927 illustrates how popular the ball was 90 years ago, when it was reported that around 500 people attended that year’s event.

Held in the magnificent barrel-vaulted Lonach Hall in Strathdon, the Lonach Highland Ball is one of the highlights of the Strathdon social calendar. Along with guests from the local area, the evening attracts people from across north-east Scotland and further afield.

Guests to this year’s ball on Friday, 01 September will enjoy a four-course meal served by Harry Fraser Catering and dancing to the Graeme Mitchell Scottish Dance Band.  Tickets are priced at £40 per person.

The black-tie event sees some of the trophies that were contested at the previous week’s Lonach Highland Gathering and Games presented to competition winners.  Featuring the impressive march of the Lonach Highlanders, Lonach Highland Gathering and Games is one of Scotland’s most iconic highland games.

Staged annually on the fourth Saturday in August in the Aberdeenshire village of Bellabeg, the gathering features over 75 competitions in highland dancing, piping, light and heavy athletics and tug o’ war. This year’s gathering takes place on Saturday, 26 August.

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

“The Lonach Highland Ball is a fantastic night and an important part of the fabric of the society and the local community. We are keen to ensure it continues to be for decades to come, in the same way it has since the 1830s.

“It provides an opportunity for everyone to celebrate the achievements of competitors at the previous week’s gathering and the success of the gathering itself. Guests from across the north-east attend the ball, with some travelling out from Aberdeen for the evening, which is testament to the calibre of the event.

“The Lonach Hall is a brilliant, atmospheric venue which has a sprung dancefloor, meaning there is a great bounce for Scottish dancing. For keen dancers that is part of the appeal of the Lonach Ball.”

Anyone interested in attending the Lonach Highland Ball should contact Jennifer Stewart by e-mailing secretary@lonach.org.

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.