May 092014

With the United Kingdom’s only known resident population of killer whales at risk of imminent extinction, securing new information about this endangered group is one of the ambitions of a new season of marine research expeditions being launched by Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) this week.


The Silurian – Credit G. Leaper

In its 20th anniversary year, HWDT is recruiting volunteers to work alongside marine scientists in surveys running from May to October, to gather crucial data on whales, dolphins and porpoises – collectively known as cetaceans – and basking sharks in western Scotland’s seas.

The new expeditions form part of the only offshore, long-term cetacean monitoring scheme of its type in the UK and will be carried out from HWDT’s specialised research yacht Silurian, previously used in the filming of the BBC’s acclaimed series, The Blue Planet.

Eva Varga, HWDT Operations Manager said:

“Our 2014 surveys offer an excellent volunteering opportunity to help ensure the long-term survival of Scotland’s remarkable cetaceans and basking sharks, while learning new skills and exploring some of the most wild and remote corners of Britain,”

With cetaceans facing increasing stress from human activities such as climate change, entanglement in fishing gear, pollution, underwater noise and habitat degradation, the findings will strengthen knowledge of species’ distribution, habitats and behaviour, and will be used to strengthen future conservation action.

Volunteers will live and work on-board Silurian for up to 12 days, receiving training and working with scientists – conducting visual surveys, acoustic monitoring using hydrophones and specialist software, and identification of individual cetaceans through photography of their dorsal fins. They will also assist with the day-to-day running of Silurian.

Areas covered will depend on weather but will range between the Mull of Kintyre in the south, Cape Wrath in the north and St Kilda in the west. These seas are one of Europe’s most important habitats for cetaceans. The long and complex coastline, mixed ocean currents and wide variety of habitats make the Hebrides one of the most biologically productive areas in the UK.

HWDT research has revealed that Hebridean waters are home to what is thought to be the UK’s only resident group of killer whales – five males and four females known as the ‘West Coast Community’, whose conservation status is believed to be critical. The charity believes that the group is likely to become extinct in our lifetime, as no calves have yet been seen within the group for several years.

The charity’s findings also include the discovery that The Hebrides host what could be the UK’s smallest resident population of bottlenose dolphins and one of Europe’s highest densities of harbour porpoise.


The ‘West Coast Community’ of killer whales – at risk of extinction. Photo by N. Van Geel/HWDT.

Twenty-four species of whales, dolphins and porpoises – including several national and international conservation priorities – have now been recorded in the region.

HWDT is working to secure the future of western Scotland’s cetaceans and The Hebrides’ globally important marine environment by enhancing knowledge and understanding through education, research and engagement with local communities.

Its research data is used to inform policy makers and generate recommendations for effective marine management.

The charity – which is based in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, where it has its main education and research offices and a visitor centre – believes that conservation of our marine environment can bring economic and social benefits to the whole region.

The 2014 surveys run from May to September and depart from Tobermory on the Isle of Mull or Kyle of Lochalsh. Participation costs cover boat expenses, support HWDT’s research programme and include accommodation, food and insurance onboard Silurian.

For details, contact Mark Whitaker at volunteercoordinator@hwdt.org or 01688 302620, or visit www.hwdt.org.

Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust,
28 Main Street,
Isle of Mull,
PA75 6NU

Tel: 01688 302620
Fax: 01688 302728

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May 092014

By Duncan Harley.a4 steam inverurie 17

Inverurie’s historic connection with steam was recalled at the weekend when the LNER Class A4 4488 Union of South Africa stopped at Inverurie Railway Station, en-route south via Aberdeen and Stonehaven, following a week long rail tour of
the UK.

Built for the London and North East Railway Company in 1937, the streamlined green liveried steam locomotive pulled in at Platform One for a one hour stop to allow both rail enthusiasts and interested passers by an opportunity to admire a potent symbol of a bygone age.

Originally operating from Edinburgh’s Haymarket, this engine later transferred to Aberdeen and hauled the last passenger steam train from Kings Cross on 24th October 1964 before finally being withdrawn from British Railways service in 1966. A similar locomotive the “Mallard” holds the world steam engine speed record having clocked over 125mph (202 km/h) in 1938.

The Union of South Africa’s passengers on Saturday were enjoying the nine day “Great Britain VII” rail tour run by the Railway Touring Company. Leaving London Victoria on April 26th the steam tour had made its way north via Beattock Summit, Mallaig and the Glenfinnan Viaduct of Harry Potter fame before returning via Inverurie to London’s King’s Cross Station on May 4th.

Comfortably seated in Pullman style coaches many passengers were railway enthusiasts and indeed on one carriage window a sign had been posted which read “Caution, this Train Contains Nuts.”

As one traveller explained:

“This is a chance for railway buffs to live out the dream of travelling in the steam age and a sense of humour, as well as an interest in the rolling stock, is essential.”

a4 steam inverurie 7

LNER Class A4 4488 Union of South Africa at Inverurie Railway Station – Credit: Duncan Harley.

It’s hardly surprising that enthusiasts hark back to a golden age when trains not only transported folk around the country, but did so in some style.

Saturday’s visit by the Union of South Africa certainly drew crowds, although one concerned local had seemingly been drawn to attend only because he assumed that the plume of smoke emanating from the station signified a train on fire.

He soon joined excited onlookers however and, after pulling out his phone, began sending pictures to all and sundry.

There are over 100 heritage railways currently operating in the UK including Aberdeenshire’s Alford Valley Narrow Gauge Railway and The Royal Deeside Railway near Banchory. If a nine rail day trip is beyond your reach then perhaps a day trip on a local scenic railway could fill in a very pleasant summer afternoon.

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Mar 062014

Voice’s Old Susannah gets to grips with grippy politicians, law bending bankers, lawless American builders and law enforcement officers who are selective in selecting what laws they enforce, in the second half of a look at how the law works – or doesn’t work – and who laws do and don’t apply to. By Suzanne Kelly.


Alas! There was no time for any BrewDog as I was in London for a few days this past week. They too have a river, but as well as having industrial harbouring and factories on it, they seem to think people should enjoy the waterside.

There was magical acoustic music on the Battersea Barge from Dave Sharp (who opened for Big Country at the Lemon Tree at the end of last year) and the unequalled Kirk Brandon (who you can see in the Moorings on Sunday 9 March; N.B . the Moorings have a new Putin-inspired cocktail as well which I look forward to trying).

Back in the Granite web city, the unaptly named Carpe Diem Trust failed to do anything with the Bon Accord Baths, which are now possibly going back on the market. Perhaps we’ll get something useful like a shopping mall, parking and/or office space. I’m hoping for a nice big glass box of a building to make us look really really modern.

This week saw Martin Ford acquitted of using Shire council property for interviews with the BBC about dear Mr Trump without getting a permission slip in advance; naughty naughty.

At the time I asked Hall Monitor and Chief Executive Colin MacKenzie what the policy was for holding interviews on council property, where it was written, and where a record of requests to do interviews was held. You will be shocked to hear that there was no such policy, so in short they had no business asking Ford to comply with some unwritten rules. I do hope they write the rules up. I also asked MacKenzie whether giving someone the right to allow or deny interviews could lead to abuses of power; he disagreed, you will be surprised to hear. Or not.

It’s clear that some laws apply to some people and not others. You couldn’t make it up. Unless you are MacKenzie of course.

On a related note, don’t you miss Tony Blair’s rule-making regime? He made more rules to keep us safe than almost anyone else and I know you feel as free as you ever did before, just safer.

According to the Independent, Blair had a law-making frenzy. It seems he also had a very good frenzy in Mrs Wendy Deng Murdoch. Tally ho indeed.

Here’s two examples of the much needed legislation we got under Blair (and with Mrs Murdoch also under Blair and a dossier to sex up for war, I guess didn’t leave much time for considering a bill of rights, whatever that is):-

Polish Potatoes (Notification) (England) Order 2004
No person shall, in the course of business, import into England potatoes which he knows to be or has reasonable cause to suspect to be Polish potatoes. [keep an eye peeled for suspicious spuds, won’t you?]

Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001
Knowingly etc selling plates which are not vehicle registration plates. [I may be getting nicked on this; I sold a lovely set of Royal Doulton dinnerware the other week]

So sleep soundly tonight knowing the world is safe from democracy – sorry safe for democracy.

This is also the week that Labour considered banning Alex Salmond from attending any events in Aberdeen’s civic properties.

So sleep soundly tonight knowing the world is safe from democracy

This is apparently going back to the by-election some months ago when Alex showed up, apparently without permission, and did a bit of meet and greet at a local school. It may also be a bit of tit for tat at how COSLA is cutting our funding.

Then again there is an apparent £7 million quid Willie Young allegedly turned away. Confused you will be.

But everyone is impressed with the speed of this proposed ban. Some might say the Horse (or salmon) long since bolted back to Edinburgh, and the stable door (or school door in this case ) has been long closed. The world has moved on.

But is this possibly an attempt to stifle debate on the Independence Referendum? I for one can’t get enough of the scant Facebook posts, letters in the P&J, and tiny bits of fleeting news coverage the debate is getting. If only we had a few more years to hold our quiet, polite conversations.

Some people behind the scenes tell me Salmond wanted the Union Terrace Gardens to be a test of how a referendum would work. Well, we were split down the middle on that one, and friends and families found themselves in bitter arguments. Thankfully the lessons were learnt, and we’re all having a jolly civilised time talking sensibly about the pros and cons of Scotland’s independence.

Oh, and Old Susannah is staying well out of choosing sides. Then again, if there is a side that will stop making big business pay tax, stop feeding struggling families, get lazy scroungers out of hospitals and back to work, build over the remaining greenbelt, stop immigrants coming, then I’ll be backing them.

Just let me know what ACSEF wants to have happen, and I’ll go along with them.

Anyway, it’s past time for a continuation of last week’s legal definitions defining our legal system. If you suspect that the blindfold has fallen off of justice, and she wields her sword while someone has their finger on the scales, you might be onto something.

Data Protection Act 1998: (Modern English legislation) Legislation protecting your personal details.  In brief personal data is  to only be collected and stored if essential, and which are to only be used for the purposes such data was initially collected for.

Well, we’ve got to keep the wheels of government rolling, and oiling the machine costs money. Therefore forget about how the Data Protection Act makes this latest wheeze by Heath Secretary Jeremy Hunt (no sniggering about the cockney rhyming slang, thank you) totally illegal. Some would say it’s immoral as well, but this is the ConDems, and they’re far more moral than you or I, or so they keep telling us.

Your personal medical history and your loved ones’ details will all be sold to private companies, for important medical research of course. These will be kept confidential. Mostly. Well maybe a little.

There will be stringent safeguards in place should the police (or MI6, MI7, MI8, etc.) wish to access your records, too: they’ll have to ask permission of someone first.

I wouldn’t worry too much about your private details; they’ve probably long since been secretly accessed by that policeman you used to date, sold without your consent, or more likely left in a disused computer forgotten on a train.

As to the police misusing information, remember, these are legal professionals we’re talking about. And if on the odd occasion they want to find out how their ex partner is doing medically, I’m sure it will just be because of a genuine loving concern.

It’s not as if police go raking through supposedly confidential, legally protected files for their own ends, is it. If you want some comfort on the point, here you go with an article about a mere 200 police being done – in one area – for illegally accessing private information. Considering this was in 2011, I’m certain once we found out hundreds of police were perusing our private records, it would have been stopped then and there.

But if you think Big Brother is watching; if you feel like you’re being observed when you’re skyping or sending saucy shots on Yahoo!, you may be right.  And I’m sure you’ll agree what a comforting thought it is that the authorities care so deeply for our welfare.

Optic Nerve: 1. (English Modern Medical – noun) the pathway for images to the brain; 2. (English Modern Spying – noun) the pathway for images to the government

The left wingers at the Guardian seem a bit put out that the government is routinely collecting pictures from your Yahoo! account because you could be a terrorist.

if you have nothing to hide, then you have no real reason to object to being spied on

Edward Snowden, who’s clearly endangered many civil servants (who could be done for spying), was for some reason upset to know how deeply the government cares for you and keeps close watch. A few people, some 1.8 million Yahoo! users, had the government store a wee bit of data from their personal communications.

Just remember, if you have nothing to hide, then you have no real reason to object to being spied on. Old Susannah for one obviously lives the life of a cloistered nun who does nothing more exotic than collecting postage stamps, and therefore is happy to be monitored.

As Oscar Wilde would have said: ‘the only thing worse than being spied on is not being spied on’.

Unfortunately, millions of these images contain nudity. Did you know that some people send their lovers intimate photos? Well, you do now – and so does the government. So be safe in the knowledge that if you ever lose your computer files, some man in a trench coat in a government cubicle will possibly be pouring over them. 

Scottish Planning Law: (Scottish legal) Legislation which controls how construction work is carried out.

Before I run out of space, I’d just like to take a moment on behalf of the Menie Estate residents, to thank the men and mice – sorry women – of Aberdeenshire’s planning department for so bravely standing up to Donald Trump, and ensuring that his many works on the world’s greatest golf course stuck to the original plan and followed the law.

Susan Munro and her family look paler every time I see them. Could this have anything to be with a giant mound of earth covered with dead and dying trees Trump had built blocking their view of the sea and the vista to the south? I doubt it.

Any day now, the planning department will think about the ‘bund’ of earth, and do something about it. Probably the sort of thing an ostrich is wrongly supposed to do – stick its head in the sand.  And what better place for ostriches and planning officials to bury their heads than in the world’s largest sandunes (says Mr Trump) on the Menie Estate.

For the record, here’s what the Shire’s website has to say as it proudly proclaims planning law:-

“In the case of dwelling houses, if the height of any fence or other ‘means of enclosure’ (including a gate or wall) exceeds 2 metres in height, or 1 metre where it fronts a road ; is within a Conservation area or the curtilage of a Listed Building, then planning permission is required. For flatted properties, permission is required if the fence exceeds 1 metre in height within 20 metres of a road. For a property specific answer, please contact us.”

I’m sure the above paragraph from the shire’s website doesn’t apply to what Donald Trump wants.  If I had world enough and time, I’d mention the possibly illegal sign at the entrance, the parking lot’s beautiful, subtle lighting system, and the charming aluminium-clad shed where a historic steading once stood – all of which seem to have come into existence without our planners batting an eyelid. But I haven’t time, so I’ll move on.

I was also going to thank the medical mandarins at ATOS for upholding the principles of the Hippocratic Oath “I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.”

I was also going to tell you how the University of Florida is using a technique favoured by Mr Trump and is suing some unwashed rabble hippies who object to the University tearing primates to pieces for science; the law is there to protect the powerful of course, and if it comes in conflict with the rights to protest and of free speech, then there you go.

I was also going to tell you how the banks we the taxpayer bailed out have sidestepped plans to have their annual, deserved bonuses capped, but alas!  No time for that, either.

Alas! That’s all the time I’ve got. Next week – more of the same (if they’ve not come for me yet)

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Mar 062014

Peacock Visual Arts to host a moving exhibition documenting histories, stories and memories of military conflict in Northern Europe.

Newburgh I, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. 2012 500

© Marc Wilson Newburgh I, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, 2012.

Terry O’Neill Award winner Marc Wilson is bringing his stunning series of photographs ‘The Last Stand’ to Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen. The exhibition will open to the public on Friday 28 March 2014 at 6pm.

So far 53 of the 80 images in the series have been photographed, focusing on military defence structures that remain and their place in the shifting landscape that surrounds them.

Over the years many of the wartime defence locations have disappeared from view, either subsumed or submerged by the changing sands and waters or by more human intervention. At the same time others have re-emerged from their shrouds.

Marc has so far travelled over 15,000 miles to 109 locations to capture these images along the coastlines of the UK, The Channel Islands, Northern France and Belgium. He has recently spent 8 days photographing in Orkney and Shetland and is soon to visit the Western coast of France down to the Spanish border, Holland, Denmark, and Norway.

This poignant exhibition at Peacock Visual Arts follows on from shows at The Anise Gallery, London and The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds. The work has been featured on BBC online, TV and Radio and The Guardian.

The objects and zones of defence Wilson photographs serve as ‘a visual marker to the shadows of conflict’ (Wayne Ford) and are as such an important part of the fabric of our recent histories and memories.

Over the intervening years some of these ‘markers’ have been lost to the passage of time and shifting sands. Very recently on the Northern coast of France, at Wissant, the vast wartime defences were pulled apart and removed by the authorities. Marc was lucky to have photographed these defences last year but today there is nothing but the sand and tides in this place. No physical reminder of the past remains.

Yet at the same time in late 2013 some defences along the coast of the UK have re-emerged from the dunes after an extreme storm. These defences, although often submerged by waters or subsumed by sands are never really lost to us.

The exhibition at Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen will show a selection of 22 images from the series, including those from locations in Scotland, The Northern Isles, Northern France and England.

Exhibition Runs: 29 March – 10 May 2014.
Opening Times: Tuesday – Saturday 9:30 – 5:30pm
Exhibition Opening on Friday 28th March, 6 – 8pm.

Free entry. All welcome.

Mar 062014

With thanks to Clinton Maxson.


Two RGU teams heading to the final of a Project Management competition

What is happening? “The Voice”, a team of six MSc Project Management students of The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen is currently taking part in a National competition sponsored by the Association for Project Management (APM) Scottish PM Challenge 2013-2104.

The team is organising a Charity fund raiser Football match with the aim of raising £1500.00 for Rape Crisis Scotland.

Why is it happening? To create public awareness on the negative impact of sexual violence against men and women and press for attitudinal and legal change, as well as encourage the unfortunate victims of the crime to seek professional counselling from Rape Crisis Scotland and its affiliates. The Scottish Sun reported, as of November 5th 2013, an average of five incidents daily.

How is it happening? Two teams will be playing in the football match and they are the Project Management students (MSc) and the Oil & Gas Engineering students (MSc). Attendance of the match is free; however, donations will be taken from well-meaning attendees. Donations are already on-going via https://rapecrisis.workwithus.org/Fundraising/Donate.aspx?page=8185.

“No matter the excuse it is an unacceptable crime” – Clinton

Kathryn Russell, Chair of RAS (Rape & Abuse Support), who support local survivors of rape and sexual assault and are members of Rape Crisis Scotland, commented:

“We are delighted to hear that The Voice has chosen to organise this event to challenge the many misconceptions surrounding rape and raise awareness of the support services available locally through our helpline and one to one support.”

In addition, a raffle draw will be conducted at the end of the football match for the first 500 people who have made donations and prizes include an annual Tastecard voucher, one semester peak student membership of RGU:Sports Gym, Molton Brown pampering treatment vouchers, Arthi’s food and drink vouchers and books courtesy of Waterstones.

Contact for further information: Clinton Maxson
Email: 1013327@rgu.ac.uk
Phone: 07867 244848

For more information about APM please visit http://www.apm.org.uk/news/scotland-pm-challenge-2013-2014#.UxdRNqNFA-U

Mar 062014

David Innes updates us on all things Dickens.


Professor Malcolm Andrews, introduced by Fellowship chairman Paul Schlicke as one of his oldest friends in the UK, visited and gave a fascinating talk on his two artistic passions, Dickens and Turner, the renowned landscape and marine artist.

Our guest has been Professor of Victorian and Visual Studies at the University of Kent and edits The Dickensian, the journal of the Dickens Fellowship.

Like Dickens, Turner was familiar with Kent and its coastline and had a fascination for the sea. Professor Andrews demonstrated how, although they differed in temperament and outlook, both men’s prodigious imaginations were fired by the Channel and Medway sea-going traffic, the urban developments and burgeoning tourist industry and the powerful force exerted by nature and brine combined.

Professor Andrews illustrated his talk with Turner’s marine paintings, immense and powerful in their colour, movement and energy, evoking the irresistible violent power of the waves and storms crashing overhead. Comparing this with Dickens’s stirring paragraphs describing the shipwreck at Yarmouth from David Copperfield, our guest showed both artists’ abilities to capture the violence of nature and the terrifying destructive force of the sea.

In so doing, he pointed out that Turner continually surmounted the age-old difficulty of capturing the single chance fleeting attention of the viewer without the poet’s tools of embellishment and amplification.

Although they did spend a short time in each other’s company, they were not friends. They were too dissimilar, it seems, and Turner does not seem to have had many friends at all. Dickens, garrulous, gregarious and with finely-honed dramatic and humorous sensibilities was in many ways the opposite of the more insular, introspective and intolerant Turner, who seemed to reserve respect for men of the sea. Their timelines did overlap, but the painter was 37 years the author’s senior.

Professor Andrews’ ability to bestride two often-disparate artistic genres and distil the similarities into a riveting hour’s talk was a triumph and we are owe him our thanks for contextualising and analysing the not-dissimilar effects of two masters of their craft.

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Mar 062014
Mathias Jung 2014

John McInnes – Silver kumite

By Charlie Abel.

Aberdeen’s own National Karate Federation have done it again.

They represented NKF Scotland on the world stage during the open World Karate Confederation (WKC) Championships held in Munich, Germany on 24th and 25th January.

While many of us folks back home were tucking into their traditional Burns haggis, the Aberdonian athletes were burning off the calories and fighting their way through some really tough competition.

Facing over 400 competitors from 14 countries the self-funded NKF had some great results, against giant competition from the USA (who had some 400,000 karate students and government funding to draw from) and Russia who even had members of their military taking part.

Participants travelled from Norway, Lithuania, Northern Ireland, Italy, Serbia, Germany, France and many more. Team coach and chief NKF instructor Ronnie Watt 8th Dan (O.B.E. & order of the rising sun) said:

“The team were outstanding. I’m absolutely delighted! It’s one of the best results we ever had. All the team have been training really hard, some since the age of 7. To get so many medals against such fierce and overwhelming competition from around the world is remarkable. We were vastly outnumbered but these results show we were not out-classed. For such a small club from a small country we proved we have big hearts, brave hearts and dedication to our Karate.”

 Invitations for the NKF squad to perform and teach Karate have been coming in from around the world. 25 MSP’s at the Scottish Parliament have signed a motion to formally thank the NKF. Many letters of congratulations from politicians and diplomats have been arriving on Ronnie’s door step.


Mathias Jung 2014

Nissara Kirk – Bronze kumite

Aberdeen based NKF managed to bag an incredible 16 medals for Scotland.

John McInnes (18) won silver in male Kumite (sparring) narrowly missing out on a gold due to being forced by judges to withdraw during the fight due to the blood flowing from his brow after a punch struck him, needing several stitches.

Three sisters from Inverurie, Sara, Chloe and Lisa Calder took home an incredible 8 medals between them.

Their father Jock Calder, (Senior NKF squad coach, 5th Dan) is very proud of them and after their hard training they have now taken a total of 18 medals at world championships, one being a Gold for Lisa Calder in 2006.

Sara (14) won a bronze medal in the kumite (sparring). Chloe (18) reached the finals for Kata winning a bronze medal and faced the Serbian champion in kumite where she won Silver. Lisa (21) reached fourth place in the seniors kata and faced the Lithuanian WKC world champion in the final and won silver.

The two older sisters also took part in the team event for Kata along with Nissara Kirk, the team winning bronze in the kata and silver in the kumite.

Hamish Barclay, John Willis, Mike Smialowski and Kai Thompson all performed well reaching the semi-finals in the individuals and fourth in the team events.

In the examinations section, congratulations to Paddy Jamieson who was promoted to senior referee, Chris Davidson to Judge, Jock Calder 5th Dan and Roxy Watt 4th Dan who were promoted to senior coach.

The NKF squad are back in training now and are aiming for success at the next festival. One which they will host themselves in Aberdeen in May. The International Karate Festival.

Anyone interested in training Karate should call Aberdeen 734607 for more information. The club meet in Aberdeen, Cults, Kintore and Inverurie.

Ronnie Watt adds:

“ We are always keen to attract new members of all ages.”

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Mar 062014
Christian Allard at Instant Neighbour foodbank

Christian Allard at Instant Neighbour foodbank

North East MSP, Christian Allard made a speech on 4th March 2014 in the Scottish Parliament where he blamed the rising use of foodbanks in Aberdeen on the implementation of Westminster welfare cuts.

Speaking in the chamber about a recent visit he made to a foodbank in Aberdeen run by Instant Neighbour, Mr Allard said:

“In 2012 the organisation [Instant Neighbour] gave 1,343 food parcels to people in Aberdeen. The following year, this had increased by 127% to 3,051 food parcels.”

“What explanation is there for such an increase, if not for the implementation of the welfare cuts from Westminster?”

The SNP MSP explained that when he visited the foodbank it had run out of food due to high demand. Mr Allard also pointed out Aberdeen is the oil capital of Europe and asked members to imagine how it would feel to be destitute in one of Europe’s richest cities.

He went on to say:

“This year we have the opportunity to vote Yes for a better society, a fairer society, one that doesn’t waste taxpayers’ money on a programme of welfare cuts, but a society that recognises that we contribute and that we require support at different points in our lives.”

Christian Allard’s speech begins at 45.30: http://www.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/scotland-26432864

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Mar 062014

With thanks to Jennifer Kelly, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Inaugural North East Conference Gives Platform for 200 Local Businesses To Improve Their Customers’ Journey

Marischal RegOnline v2_crVisitScotland Chairman, Mike Cantlay, will be one of three keynote speakers at a tourism conference in the north east for 200 delegates on 26th March 2014. Tourism businesses from across Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire will attend the inaugural Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Conference which will be held at the Thistle Altens Aberdeen hotel.

The event will inspire businesses to improve their customer’s journey through a series of keynote speeches and interactive workshops on topics as diverse as Finance for Growth, Small Business Marketing with Google Analytics and Digital Marketing with Social Media.

Mike Cantlay’s fellow keynote speakers will be Robert Gordon, head of European Golf Tour tickets and Susan Crawford, Director of the Institute of Innovation, Design and Sustainability at Robert Gordon University.

Commenting on his presence at the event, Mike Cantlay says,

“As Scotland prepares to welcome the world this year, with a range of global events including the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, The Ryder Cup and Homecoming. The North East is playing host to a wide variety of Homecoming events as well as the Scottish Open taking place at Royal Aberdeen this year, therefore I would encourage tourism businesses across the North East to sign up for this event.”

“As well as hearing from some digital experts, this event offers a great opportunity for businesses to learn how they can improve their customers’ journey and in turn benefit from this exceptional year for Scottish tourism.”

Bookings are now open for the event which is being organised by the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Partnership. Businesses pay just £30 (ex VAT) to attend the full day conference. However, fifty free places are available to microbusinesses which are below the VAT registration threshold.  Online booking for the conference and individual workshops is available.

In addition to the key note speakers, delegates will have the opportunity to choose two workshops from a menu of eight sessions.  The event will be chaired by Claire Bruce, Chair of Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Partnership.

Claire Bruce who says,

“There has never been a more opportune time for tourism businesses in the north east to maximise their opportunities. We have unprecedented new development of hotels in the city and a significant increase in regional UK and international flights including from Germany and Scandinavia. Aberdeen is a gateway to Royal Deeside, castle and whisky country as well as to the rich and diverse coastline. However, tourism businesses need to grasp these opportunities and to ensure that their customers are receiving the highest quality of services from the start of their ‘journey’ to the end.”

“Marketing needs to be more focused …and more electronic! Customer service has to be world class and our guests expect to sample the best of our fabulous local produce. We have brought together speakers and workshop hosts who will all help north east businesses to realise their full potential along with a welcome chance to network with others in the tourism industry and learn skills from industry professionals.”

The day will also include opportunities for networking during the breaks and over a hot buffet lunch. Attendees will also have the chance to pick up useful literature and tourism related publications.

Follow the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Conference on Twitter @acsatp2014 for regular updates.

For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Kelly, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR
01224 646491, jkelly@trickerpr.com

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Mar 032014

With thanks to Jennifer Kelly, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.


Robert Gordon University has won the 2014 Aberdeen Asset Management Boat Race for the third consecutive year.

They won with a record breaking time of seven minutes and 47 seconds, beating rivals Aberdeen University by two lengths.

Despite losing the race, Aberdeen University also broke the original record of eight minutes and one second with their time of seven minutes and 54 seconds.

Encouraging cheers could be heard from the Bridge of Dee to the Aberdeen Boat Club as supporters lined the banks of the River Dee to watch the universities battle it out on the water.

Gillian Paterson, president of Robert Gordon University Boat Club, says,

“Yes we did it! We secured a hat trick for Robert Gordon University with three consecutive wins! I am so proud of everyone who rowed this year, there were a lot of cold early mornings and late nights but we got there. Thank you for the continued support of Aberdeen Asset Management, Bob Newton on the Boat Race committee, our coach and crew members for making our success possible. Lauren is a fantastic president and her crew were excellent challengers as always. The whole experience was so much fun and I am already looking forward to doing it all again next year.”

The Alumni boat race was won by Robert Gordon University by two and a half lengths in a time of eight minutes and 15 seconds. The Universities’ second crew boat race was won by Aberdeen University with a time of two minutes and 18 seconds.

The media challenge cup was won by the Evening Depress in a time of one minute and 20 seconds, beating Original FM by three lengths. They raced 300m in coxed ‘tub’ pairs for the media challenge cup.

Hugh Little, Head of Acquisitions at Aberdeen Asset Management says,

“I would like to give our huge congratulations to the winning crew, Robert Gordon University. I would also like to express my admiration for each of the crew members who continue, year after year, to show dedication and determination in the lead up to, and on the day, of the race. As always, each crew put their heart and soul into the competition and both are truly worthy competitors. The atmosphere on the banks of the River Dee was electric with supporters uniting to cheer on their respective university. At Aberdeen Asset Management, we are proud to continue supporting Scotland’s oldest and possibly most fiercely competitive boat race.”

For further information contact:
Jennifer Kelly, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR
Email: jkelly@trickerpr.com
Telephone: 01224 646491

Follow the 2014 Aberdeen Boat Race on www.facebook.com/AAMBoatRace or on Twitter @2014BoatRace.