Fred at Aberdeen Voice

Aug 042016

With thanks to Alasdair Scott, Parliamentary Assistant to Stewart Stevenson MSP

inScot005_AccesstoElectedOfficeFundScotland_Asset_Array_Alternate_72dpi_Logo-A2EOFSNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, Stewart Stevenson, has warmly welcomed the opening of a £200,000 fund aimed at encouraging more disabled people to participate in politics and stand as councillors in next year’s local council elections.
The fund – which will help cover additional costs for accessible transport and communications support – underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to ensuring equal opportunities for more people from under-represented groups.

Disabled people are significantly under-represented as local councillors – and the fund will back up wide-ranging support to help correct this imbalance.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said,

“Everyone should have equal access to politics, no matter their own personal background or whether they are disabled or not – and this funding will help ensure this is the case by alleviating some of the additional costs that disabled candidates can encounter.

“It is vital that barriers are broken down to encourage people from all areas of society to get involved in politics – which will help make policies more representative of society as a whole. The fund isn’t about giving anyone an advantage, but rather levelling the playing field and making it fairer for everyone. 

“I hope people from across Aberdeenshire access this funding. It will help create equal access to politics for disabled people who wish to stand for selection or election in next year’s local government polls.”

The £200,000 is be used to help to cover additional costs for accessible transport or communications support for disabled people who wish to stand for selection or election in the 2017 local government elections. This also includes £40,000 delivery costs.

For further information and details on how to apply –

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Jul 302016

Aberdeen may go out on the away goal rule to NK Maribor as it stands, but fought gallantly to equalise, remarks Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

pittodrieThere was fine weather on match night, the sunlight highlighting no imperfections on the pitch whatsoever.

The purple and yellow of the away side perhaps evoked worries that perhaps the Reds were about to face the expertise of a Slovenian equivalent to Italians, Fiorentina.

‘Two Tribes’, by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, blared around Pittodrie, signifying when two tribes go to war or, roughly speaking, Scotland versus Slovenia.

The opening moments before the game also saw red and silver streamers taken from under seats and risen above heads, making a colourful addition to the Merkland Stand.

A point of note is that Celtic, Rangers and Hibernian have all suffered defeat to Maribor.

Come the match, Aberdeen kicked things off quickly, the ball glancing the post and going out for a corner. Later, they again came in close on goal.

Further to that, the ball was knocked over the bar. Aberdeen definitely a team of intention at this point.

Maribor’s Marwan Kabha then went down outside Aberdeen’s box, and looked as if he’d been shot.

Captain Ryan Jack weighed in down the other end, winning a corner.

Adam Rooney then forced keeper, Jasmin Handanović, to spill the ball with the strength of his effort.

Jonny Hayes came with a bombing run down the wing, though seemingly got hustled off the pitch.

Rooney, following that, won a free kick outside Maribor’s box. The tension was palpable in the Merkland Stand, with clapping of hands and pounding of drum. The free kick in question was a duff one, maybe put off by those very vocal fans?

Anyway, Maribor had a slip up themselves, skying an opportunity to earn a rather easy goal. They then won a corner, followed by another. Aberdeen’s Joe Lewis seemed to flake out a bit, and was fortunate not to pay any consequences.

Aberdeen then had a fortuitous free kick, positioned at an angle and just outside and to the left of the box.

Aforementioned diva, Kabha, then got booked. Much satisfaction amongst the Red Army.

Handanović looked, later on, a bit shaky after close quarters with an Aberdeen attack.

Andrew Considine then winged in a ball, the following connection only just off the far post.

Aberdeen then had a melee of chances, just not quite getting there.

Lewis, down the other end, simply opened his arms to receive an incoming Maribor attack.

However, Aberdeen got slack, and were fortunate to live through it unscathed.

Another melee of chances occurred, this time for Maribor.

Shaleum Logan was then caught with an unfortunate handball. He slid with arms out, as done in that motion, flailing slightly as he did so and touching the ball involuntarily. The conceded free kick went over the bar.

Hayes was, again, bombing down the wing but misfired his delivery spectacularly. Not for the want of trying, though.

He later made amends, showing himself as the consummate battler and warrior. Flashes of skill, occasional brilliance, all proving how steadfast an asset he is to the team.

A cheeky moment also saw the winger take ball towards his own half, inciting an attack, before jinking, in an instant, down towards the other end.

Handanović, down said end, made a superb reactionary save to keep Maribor’s clean sheet.

Only moments later Aberdeen glanced the post.

Halftime 0-0.

Maibor started brightly, lacing together a series of slick passes.

Lewis then dived to palm out a shot for a corner.

Aberdeen were also fortunate to scurry away the ball before any damage was inflicted.

Jayden Stockley did a fine job holding up play, and winning a throw.

Logan, down the other end, made sure the ball went out for a goal kick, doing his best to get in the way of the Maribor forward.

Hayes, ever present in this game, instigated a foray into the Maribor box.

Lewis then scooped a low drive comfortably.

There were also swift moves by both Logan and the referee himself, Norwegian, Tore Hansen. The latter obviously keen for play not to stop start as the former latched expertly to a tricky ball.

Stockley, surely poised to score, hit the rebound and the ball went out for an unsuccessful corner.

The Red Army were up in arms about liberties taken with a questionable run up taken for a Maribor throw. Thankfully, Hansen whistled to put it right.

Stockley, beginning to get in amidst proceedings, fared with a superb layoff header into the box.

Hayes then had a crack on goal, in towards the post with a low drive.

Niall McGinn also had a, seemingly volleyed, attempt. Not too far off from goal, either.

Ashton Taylor, in turn, weighed in with an attempt of his own.

Hayes, all over the game so far, teamed up with McGinn for a set piece. Aberdeen heads in the box were only scratches away from connecting.

A plethora of purple shirts in box absorbed a subsequent McGinn cross.

Graeme Shinnie was taken off, with Wes Burns coming on after 72 minutes. That same minute, Kenny McLean was put on, with Stockley coming off.

Burns immediately came in with a good delivery, but there was nobody there to exploit it.

Aberdeen were then lucky that a Maribor advance happened to peter out.

It seemed there was reticence on the part of McLean to, next, cost Aberdeen an excellent chance on goal.

The moment came, though, and Rooney scored. A false dawn, however, as this goal was chalked off for offside.

Dreams seemed hammered away, down the other end, as Maribor pounced mercilessly. Taylor seemed largely at fault.

0-1 (Milivoje Novaković) after 83 minutes.

There was a sense that hope was gone, especially when the home side hadn’t exploited scoring outwith next week’s Slovenian stronghold.

Handanović was in for some punishment, too, though. He dropped to the floor, having saved an Aberdeen lash at goal.

McLean then skied a ridiculous ball, well away from any of his teammates, either in the box or the surrounding area.

Fellow substitute, Burns, took a crack on goal, which seemed easily caught by the aforementioned keeper.

Then came an emphatic equaliser, via previous guilty party, Taylor, from Hayes after 88 minutes.


McGinn then fared with a quite a poor free kick, the ball not even elevating above the Maribor wall.

There followed several attempts at goal, Maribor truly besieged.

It will be a tough call for Aberdeen to get any further in this competition, though an exemplary and disciplined performance in Slovenia might squeeze them through. To be fair, this was an excellent team performance, and it was maybe a tad unfair that they lost that goal, considering the onslaught they delivered upon their seasoned opponents.

Final score:  1-1.

Jul 292016

Aberdeen in 100 Dates Elma McMenemy book launch2By Duncan Harley.

Aberdeen’s Gordon Highlander Museum was the setting for the launch of Mearns author Elma McMenemy’s new book ‘Aberdeen in 100 Dates’.

A professional Blue Badge Tourist Guide, Elma has more than 30 years experience of working with Scotland’s visitors and has built up a vast repertoire of tales showcasing the rich and varied history of both Aberdeen City and the hinterland of the North east.

Her previous book focussed on the often macabre and bloody history of Aberdeen and in this new collection of local tales Elma leads the reader on a journey through 100 of the key dates which have shaped the development of the city.

Aimed, as Elma explains, at “people who would not normally open a history book” the publication has already proved popular especially with fellow tour guides who plan to use it as a research tool when preparing guided tours around Aberdeen and the North east.

“Its easy to talk to a coach full of tourists” she says,

“but putting words down on paper is quite another thing. Aberdeen is such a brilliant and helpful place. No-one I have asked has so far refused to help me in my research!”

The book presents as a sound-bite tour-de-force of popular folk and historical tales. With one story per page and illustrated throughout with line drawings, there’s plenty to interest even the most informed reader and visitors unfamiliar with the North east will undoubtedly be tempted to delve deeper into many of the stories highlighted within the 124pp.

Dedicated to a godson “who loved all sort of trivia”, the 100 dates kick off with an examination of the arrival in Aberdeen of Christianity courtesy of St Machar, a 6th century disciple of St Columba. Given that each tale is restricted in length to approximately 230 words, the author manages to pack in a good amount of information and leads the reader quickly from St Machar’s arrival on Iona on to the miraculous tale of St Machar’s Well and the eventual founding of Aberdeen’s St Machar’s Cathedral.

On June 5th 1815 we learn that a large mob “not falling short of half a thousand, attacked the White Ship, a house of ill repute run by Meggie Dickie”. The military were seemingly summoned to arrest the ringleaders one of whom was transported for seven years. Resurrectionists feature in the story of another Aberdeen riot, this time dated 19th December 1831.

Seemingly a mob burned down the local anatomy theatre after discarded human remains were found nearby. Who said Aberdeen was a boring city?

Bloody Harlaw, the founding of Aberdeen Golf Club, the epic tale of the Scottish Samurai and the Royal connections of William McCombie and his prize Aberdeen Angus Bull, Jeremy Eric, feature alongside the “crushing defeat of Rangers in the 1982 Scottish Cup” and the tragic gas explosion which, in 1983, destroyed the Royal Darroch Hotel in Cults.

Aberdeen_in_100_Dates_coverThe two concluding stories are bang up to date and describe the charity auction of Aberdeen’s Dolphin Sculptures and the 2016 discovery of 92 bodies buried beneath Aberdeen Art Gallery. Art critics perhaps?

In short, from quirky to gruesome, there’s plenty here to interest everyone.

Inevitably in a work of this complexity there are debatable issues. Fitting 100 tales onto 124 pages is no mean feat. The Aberdeen typhoid description is a case in point and includes the oft repeated line that there were no deaths.

However given that most local histories mirror this notion, the contention is perhaps forgivable and the three folk who died as a result the epidemic will no doubt forgive the repetition.

A slight criticism is however due, regarding the lack of chapter headings or even an index. Apart from the chronology of year, month and date there is little to inform the reader regarding the content of each section and although Elma’s general introduction clearly sets out the parameters of the book’s historical context, the lack of a formal navigation structure restricts the reader to a dipping in and out approach.

Aberdeen in 100 Dates is published in paperback by The History Press at £7.99
ISBN 978-0750-960311

First published in the Summer 2016 edition of Leopard Magazine.

Jul 292016

Last Bus CanteenBy Fin Hall.

I am neither a vegetarian nor a vegan; but the North East of Scotland is certainly not the best place to be if any of those ideologies are your choice. Especially the latter.
Many years ago, however, I was a vegetarian and it was even worse. I had macaroni cheese coming out of my lugs.

However, if you are willing to travel a little out of the city, up to the village of New Pitsligo a.k.a. ‘Cyaak’, you will find an absolute treasure of a restaurant.

The Last Bus Worker’s Canteen, is situated off the beaten track, or more precisely up a beaten track, just north of said village. It is run by an ex oil worker, Mike and his partner, Jessica.

They always welcome people with a hearty smile, and even it the place is busy, they move things about to find a space for you.

Down the hill from the cafe, is situated their residence and a large building in which is situated two, old double decker buses which are in a constant state of renovation. It has been known, that in times of extreme busyness, one of the aforementioned buses will be driven up the hill and parked outside, and used as an additional sitting area.

Once inside you may be seated at old bus seats before Jessica, who is always dashing about between tables taking orders with that ever present smile on her face. Don’t be excepting a vast choice on the menu, as their is only ever 1 soup choice and one main course, but there is always a fine selection of puddings; crumbles, cheesecakes, muffins, smoothies etc. All home made and very delicious.

Some of you maybe hesitating reading this, thinking, “Vegan? Not for me.”

Perish that thought. You don’t have to be vegan to eat here, and nor will you be made unwelcome just because you eat meat. All are welcome. If you don’t fancy the main course, have a pudding. Go on, have a pudding.

I give this five stars, not in the usual, Chester Hotel, type five star, but the service, taste of food and ambiance, makes it thus.

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Jul 292016

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWith thanks to Kenneth Hutchison,
Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford.

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has given her wholehearted backing to NFU Scotland and the Press and Journal’s campaign to ensure the ongoing viability of the north-east dairy industry.

Adding her name to the list of supporters, Dr Whiteford stressed the need for a vibrant dairy sector in the north-east, and urged shoppers to buy local milk, and to lobby supermarkets to support local farmers.

Speaking after a meeting with NFUS representatives and farmers at new Deer Show, Dr Whiteford said:

“The closure of the Muller plant has undoubtedly been a blow to our north-east dairy farmers, and it’s difficult to overstate the challenges the industry faces.

“That’s why it’s more important than ever for consumers to support farmers in the north-east. It’s also why supermarkets have to do their bit by ensuring that these same farmers receive a fair payment for the top-quality milk they supply.

“Agriculture is the mainstay of many rural towns and villages in Banff and Buchan, and I am very happy to support this campaign.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]
Jul 292016

With thanks to Georgette Cobban, scheme manager, Home-Start Aberdeen.

Pic 3

Back Row: Alison Chandler (ACVO), Georgette Cobban (Home-Start Aberdeen), Mark Smith (Piper), Cllr Neil Clooney. Front Row: Angus McKay, Murray Scott, Brodie Passell.

A project to encourage engagement between Aberdeen organisations and their communities burst into life on Wednesday as the finishing touches were put to the city’s first Blooming Big Aberdeen friendly bench.
Representatives from Blooming Big Aberdeen and family support charity Home-Start Aberdeen came together in Hazlehead Park to celebrate the colourful addition of a freshly-painted Home-Start Aberdeen bench.

The friendly bench project is one of the most recent initiatives to have arisen from the Big Aberdeen Event in September 2014 and is supported by ACVO TSI in partnership with Aberdeen City Council.

It invites third sector organisations to claim and design a bench in the city to raise awareness of the support and services that they provide.

Participating organisations are encouraged to create an eye-catching bench design that reflects their identity and activities, then work jointly with the other project partners to implement it.

“The big messages from the Big Aberdeen Event were ‘Let’s do something about the gaps between rich and poor’ and ‘Let’s celebrate our green spaces’,” said Alison Chandler, enterprise & sustainability lead, ACVO TSI.

“The Blooming Big Aberdeen bench project will get people talking and finding out about the great work being done around the city.

“We hope people will have fun out and about, tracking down the dozens of other friendly benches that will be popping up around Aberdeen over the months ahead in playparks, playgrounds and green spaces.”

The sunshine shone over Hazlehead Park as the final touches were put to the Home-Start Aberdeen bench accompanied by the celebratory skirl of bagpipes.

Staff and volunteers from Home-Start Aberdeen were joined by families who are supported by the charity to celebrate completion of the bench. While the adults busied themselves stencilling the charity’s helping hands logo onto the bench, some of the group’s younger members were entertained with outdoor activities organised by Home-Start Aberdeen’s co-ordinators.

“We first heard about the friendly bench project some months ago and were instantly captivated by the idea,” says Georgette Cobban, scheme manager, Home-Start Aberdeen.

“Our raison d’être is to provide city-based families who may be suffering from isolation with emotional and practical support. We hope that the bench will encourage parents who didn’t know about our services to consider getting in touch.

“I also anticipate that the bench will become a popular meeting point for our existing families and their volunteers, as many of them like to make use of the fantastic community spaces that we have here in the city.

“It’s wonderful for both the charity – and for those who need our help – that there is another physical reminder of our presence in such a popular family area.”

Over the coming weeks other Blooming Big Aberdeen friendly benches will appear in popular city spaces – including Seaton Park and the Beach Esplanade – and along walking routes such as the former Deeside railway line.

Pic 1

Mr Bear (Home-Start Aberdeen Mascot) – painting the bench with Peter Gunn watching.

Plaques for each of the benches are being produced and donated by corporate branding specialists, Recognition Express Scotland Ltd.

Further information on the friendly bench project and other Blooming Big Aberdeen initiatives is available here

For more information on the family support services provided by Home-Start Aberdeen visit

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Jul 292016

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

2. Lonach Highlanders (L to R) George Thomson and Willie Coutts with a poster promoting the 1958 Lonach Highland Gathering and Games

Lonach Highlanders (L to R) George Thomson and Willie Coutts with a poster promoting the 1958 Lonach Highland Gathering and Games

One of the oldest traditional events in north-east Scotland is calling on the public to help celebrate a milestone anniversary next month.

On Saturday, 27 August, the 175th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games will be held in Strathdon and the event’s organisers are asking the public to contribute old pictures and videos of the event to help mark the occasion. The Lonach Highland and Friendly Society was founded in 1823 to preserve highland culture and promote community cohesion and charitable giving.

To help achieve this, it staged its first highland games in 1832, an event that has become an annual fixture. 

During the first and second world wars the gathering was put in abeyance.

Over the past two centuries the Lonach Gathering has grown to become a popular annual event that attracts up to 10,000 visitors each year. A large number of photographs documenting the evolution of the gathering and the local area are held by the society, but it knows thousands more images exist.

In order to stage a display of old photographs at this year’s gathering, organisers are keen to hear from locals and visitors who have attended the event over the decades and captured still images or video footage of the annual spectacle. The society would also be eager to see old photographs of the Lonach Highland Ball, which it also organises and is held in the Lonach Hall on the Friday following the gathering.

Held in the small, picturesque Aberdeenshire village of Bellabeg, the Lonach Highland Gathering features the unique march of the Lonach Highlanders.  With around 220 men, the Lonach Highlanders are believed to be the largest body of non-military men to carry ceremonial weapons in Britain. Membership of the Lonach Highlanders is drawn from residents of the local area who are descended from the Forbes, Wallace and Gordon clans.

Featuring a full programme of traditional highland events, including solo and massed piping, highland dancing and light and heavy athletics, the gathering attracts some of the country’s leading pipers, dancers and athletes. Having already completed a march round the local area in the morning, the arrival onto the games field at 1pm of the Lonach Highlanders, armed with traditional Loachaber axes and pikes, is a highlight of the day.

This year, to help mark the 175th gathering the Lonach Highlanders will be joined on their marches by the Atholl Highlanders, Europe’s only private army. The Atholl Highlanders last marched at the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games in 2000.

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

“The 175th Lonach Gathering is a major milestone for the society and the event itself.  It remains an important community event and the many thousands of visitors we welcome to the gathering each year gives the local area a major boost.

“This year’s event is shaping up to a great occasion and will feature the traditional mix of dancing, piping and light and heavy athletics. We are keen for locals and visitors to really get involved by sharing their memories of past gatherings and also help us to document the event’s evolution.

“Whether the pictures or videos were taken in recent years or decades ago, it would be fantastic to see them all. If any company can help us to display these pictures at the gathering, or is interested in sponsoring part of the event, we’d be interested to hear from them.

“One constant at each games has been the Lonach Highlanders. They create a stirring sight and sound as they depart Bellabeg at 8am to begin their march around the local area and always receive a rousing welcome as they enter the games arena at 1pm. We are honoured that the Atholl Highlanders will be marching with the Lonach men this year to help us mark our 175th gathering.”

1. Looking through some of the Lonach archive (L to R) George Thomson, Jennifer Stewart, Willie Coutts and Scott Anderson

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, looks through some of the society’s archive, which includes photographs, programmes and posters, with Lonach Highlanders (L to R) George Thomson, Willie Coutts and Scott Anderson

Anyone with old photographs or videos of the Lonach Gathering should e-mail them to Where possible, old photographs should be scanned to 300dpi and any video footage should be provided as a WMV file.

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

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Jul 212016

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

Chapelton Bike Ride

Chapelton builders are to swap hard hats for helmets as they gear up to raise money for local charity

Four housebuilding and development firms are gearing up to take part in the Chapelton Bike Ride on Sunday September 4 to raise money for North East Sensory Services (NESS).

Builders from ZeroC, AJC Homes, Elsick Development Company, and A&J Stephen, will be competing against one another at the Chapelton Bike Ride to raise funds for NESS.

North East Sensory Services (NESS), which has offices in Aberdeen, Dundee and Elgin, supports over 4800 people in the North-east who have sight or hearing loss. By providing both social work and life-enhancing services, NESS is able to help those with a sensory impairment overcome challenges and achieve independence.

All three of the teams are hoping raise a substantial amount of money for NESS by taking on the 42-mile bike ride, which will raise vital funds for the charity, which helps those with sight or hearing loss achieve independence.

This is the first year that the Chapelton Bike Ride, formerly the Great Stonehaven Bike Ride, has taken place in the new town, which is situated near Newtonhill.

Starting and finishing at Teacake coffee shop in Chapelton, the bike ride takes cyclists into the seaside town of Stonehaven, through Fetteresso and Durris Forests’, before leading them towards Maryculter and the picturesque banks of the River Dee, then looping back round towards Chapelton.

Caroline Fife, the Duchess of Fife, landowner and developer of Chapelton, said:

“All three housebuilders working on Chapelton are really committed to making the bike ride a big success and putting it on the map.

“Each is gathering a team together for a good-natured competition, so there will certainly be a great deal of secret training involved. There’s a lot of friendly banter between the groups, but it’s all in jest as the real reason they’re all taking part is to raise money for a worthwhile cause.

“Chapelton residents have also expressed an interest in registering for the ride to raise money for NESS. It’s great to see so many people getting involved in the bike ride to fundraise for such an important charity.

“The Chapelton Bike Ride is going to be the first in a long line of community events, so we’re all thrilled to see the housebuilders really taking an interest in the area by signing up for the event. They’ve all really risen to the challenge and it’s so inspiring to see building companies get involved with local communities and causes.”

Neil Skene, fundraising co-ordinator at NESS, said:

“We’re so thankful to the teams at Stephen, ZeroC, and AJC Homes for getting on their bikes to raise money for NESS. Their fundraising enables us to continue providing much-needed support and assistance to people with sight or hearing loss.

“All of us at NESS are really excited about the new route and all the events available on the day. There will be something for everyone, from cyclists and walkers, to foodies and music fans. We hope that lots of people come along to either participate in the bike ride, or help cheer the riders on and enjoy the variety of food and drink, crafts, and music on offer.”

The Chapelton Bike Ride takes place on Sunday, September 4. Cyclists have the choice of either a 42-mile or 12-mile bike route, whilst a three-mile walk is also available for those wishing to participate without having to get on their bikes.

Registration costs £15 per person for the 42-mile route, £5 per person for the 12-mile route, or £10 for a team of four for the 12-mile cycle.

Register for the Chapelton Bike Ride at

  • North-east Sensory Services (NESS) promotes the needs of people with a sight or hearing loss.

NESS supports people with serious sight or hearing loss to overcome practical and emotional challenges and achieve independence.

Formerly Grampian Society for the Blind (GSB), North East Sensory Services (NESS) works with over 4,500 people with a sensory impairment in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Dundee, Angus and Perth & Kinross.

2016: Winner, IIP Award Excellence in Third Sector
Finalist Elevator Awards and Trend Awards.
2015: Winner, Elevator Award, Winner, Trend Award.

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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

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Jul 212016

With thanks to Phil Moar, Account Manager, Citrus:Mix.

CLAN Landmark Walk

Walkers will get the chance to explore Aberdeen in the name of charity later this year as a popular fundraising event was officially confirmed to return. CLAN Cancer Support’s Landmark Walk will take place in and around Aberdeen on Saturday, September 24, with the charity appealing for walkers to take part on its behalf.

Now in its fourth year, the event will see participants tackle either a 13 or 7.8 mile walk which will take in various landmarks across Aberdeen – from the charity’s own CLAN House, King’s College, St Machar Cathedral, Pittodrie and many others – before participants are welcomed back at the city’s Westburn Park.

Within Westburn Park itself will be a family fun day, with food and entertainment keeping supporters going until their family member or friend makes it back on the day.

Last year’s event saw more than 800 walkers and marshals don a purple t-shirt in support of the charity, with a sea of walkers taking to the streets of Aberdeen to help raise nearly £50,000.

This year’s walk is generously supported by Macduff Shellfish with various other sponsorship opportunities also available for businesses looking to get involved. All profit from the day will go towards CLAN’s provision of free support services to anyone affected by cancer across the north-east of Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland.

There are also various volunteering opportunities on offer for the event, with more than 300 marshals required to ensure the walk goes ahead.

Susan Crighton, CLAN’s fundraising manager, said:

“We’ve been busy putting the final touches to this year’s Landmark Walk and we’re delighted to have confirmation that the event will return again in September; it’s one of our biggest fundraisers of the year so its importance to the charity as a whole is pivotal.

“Like previous years, participants will have the chance to take part in either the 13 or 7.8 mile walk with both routes fully signposted and staffed by our helpful team of marshals – it really is open to anyone of all abilities!

“Given the current economic climate within the north-east, our public fundraising events have taken on an even greater importance than before and we’ve been so lucky to benefit from people’s generosity in previous events. We’re looking for sponsored walkers and volunteers to sign up and help us make this the biggest and best Landmark Walk to date.

“We’re delighted to receive the support from Macduff Shellfish as without support like this from the business community, the event simply wouldn’t go ahead. Funds raised are integral to our provision of free services to those affected by cancer so your involvement on the day could make a massive difference to an individual, their family and their friends.”

Entry costs £10 for adults (plus £1.50 admin fee) and £5 for children (plus £1.50 admin fee). Registration can be made online here: Entries close on September 21 and 12-16 year olds may only participate in the 7.8 mile route and must be accompanied by an adult.

To register an interest in volunteering or for more details on taking part, please contact a member of CLAN’s fundraising team on 01224 647000 or email

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