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 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.    

Jun 082017
 

With thanks to Jonathan Russell Chair of Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and member of Aberdeen Climate Action also Duncan Hart who produced the you tube videos.

On March 25th Aberdeen Climate Action and Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament jointly sponsored a meeting on the above.

The idea of the meeting was to share ideas of the challenges faced by diversification and to kick-start change.

This is the fith of five articles being produced for Aberdeen Voice and concerns a talk on the ‘Politics of Diversification’ from  by Myshele Haywood Co-convenor of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Green Party and a Sociologist.

Myshele Haywood puts forward that all the major decisions about how we live are political, whether they be food, health, energy or lifestyle. The Oil and Gas collapse in the North Sea and what we do about it depends on political factors.

Local politicians may see the need to do something about carbon emissions but they are faced with the immediate needs of their constituents. There are also major players such as multi-nationals and financial institutions that have influence and they can be opposed to the Scottish Renewables lobby.

Even Adam Smith the advocate of free markets saw the need for Governments to intervene when competition was not meeting the needs of society. Political parties have been obsessed with the need for Economy’s to grow but growth, growth, growth is not sustainable and will have long term have dire consequences for our planet and the people that live on it.  

The shift of policy from Westminster has however been away from renewables and though Independence would face many of the same challenges she considers that it would open up more doors for positive change.

Below is Myshele Haywoods contribution in her own words.

The Facebook links to Aberdeen Climate Action and Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament:

https://www.facebook.com/aberdeenclimateaction/
https://www.facebook.com/Aberdeen-Campaign-for-Nuclear-Disarmament-CND-116237695080239/

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Jun 082017
 

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP.

Fergus Ewing MSP at Braemar Castle with local councillor Geva Blackett and West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine SNP candidate Stuart Donaldson.

Braemar villagers have been hailed as local heroes by leading politicians as examples of how community empowerment works as they celebrate ten successful years of community management of Braemar Castle.

Braemar Community Limited have seen visitor numbers to the 17th century castle soar by over 277% since they took on a 50-year lease on from Invercauld Estate in 2007.

Raising over £500,000 to renovate the building in the past ten years and – as well as repairing the roof – they now have 12 fully-furnished rooms.

And this weekend the community celebrates a decade of delivery for the iconic tourist attraction with a dinner and hog roast ceilidh.

Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing MSP visited the castle on the eve of the party, with local councillor Geva Blackett and West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine SNP candidate Stuart Donaldson.

Mr Ewing said:

“This fantastic community initiative plays such a huge role in the economy of one of Scotland’s most rural communities and draws visitors from around the world. I am delighted to have been able to pay a short visit and will certainly be back with my wife and daughter in the summer to have a proper tour.”

Stuart Donaldson said:

“It’s always a great pleasure to visit Braemar as there is so much going on.

“It’s a truly vibrant community and the work they have done in restoring and improving the castle typifies that.

“Braemar is a small but historic village and there has been terrific buy-in from a huge section of the community to bring visitors back to the castle.

“They are true local heroes who can be immensely proud of the work they have done to restore, improve and promote Braemar Castle.

“I’m delighted they have brought the community together to celebrate the first ten years of community management and I wish them well for the next ten years.”

Councillor Geva Blackett, whose husband Simon is chair of Braemar Community Ltd the community company who run the castle and other projects, is thrilled at the progress they have made since 2007.

Geva said:

“Braemar Castle plays an important role in the life of the village and Stuart Donaldson is very aware of this. But I also wanted the Cabinet Secretary to see for himself how hard everyone here works to ensure Braemar is a sustainable community working together for an exciting future.”

The Earl of Mar initially used the castle as his Highland hunting lodge but after it was partially burnt down in 1689 after becoming the first casualty of the first Jacobite uprising.

The castle has changed several times over the years with a long-list of high profile owners – including a Russian princess and an MP.

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Jun 022017
 

With thanks to Veronica Tudhope organiser with Scottish CND and Jonathan Russell Chair of Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and member of Aberdeen Climate Action also Duncan Hart who produced the you tube videos.

On March 25th Aberdeen Climate Action and Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament jointly sponsored a meeting on the above.

The idea of the meeting was to share ideas of the challenges faced by diversification and to kick-start change.

This is the fourth of five articles being produced for Aberdeen Voice and concerns a talk on Diversification from Nuclear Weapons by Veronica Tudhope Organiser with Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament who has written the below as an introduction to her talk:

“Everybody was covered with blood and burned and blackened and swollen, and skin and flesh were hanging from their bones. Parts of their bodies were missing. Some were carrying their own eyeballs.”

The words of Satsuko Thurlow, a Japanese Hibakusha (A-bomb survivor) provide the context for the argument that we need Trident for jobs. We cannot set aside the moral issue to just talk about jobs.

Jackie Baillie’s famous claim that,’’1,000 jobs could be at risk’ without Trident is both morally bankrupt and wrong. In fact, 520 civilian jobs would be lost. The correct context for this is the regular loss of jobs in longstanding Scottish industries such as 7-900 jobs lost when Johnny Walker closed in Kilmarnock, repeated all over the country and widely disregarded. In fact Trident replacement is known to suck jobs away from other parts of the defence sector.

In a spirit of internationalism trade unions, can be expected to be against preparing to bomb workers in other countries but that’s clearly easier for unions without members in the defence sector. In fact, most, apart from the GMB have a clear anti-nuclear stance. The STUC and SCND have called for a Scottish Defence Diversification Agency, “whose main focus will be planning and resourcing the diversification of jobs away from defence projects such as Trident, and promoting the greening or the Scottish economy”

Imminent negotiations at the UN in New York which are expected to result in a new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons on the 7th July 2017. It will prohibit nuclear weapons, and make using, possessing and developing nuclear weapons illegal under international law.

This can be expected to lead, eventually to Trident renewal cancellation, and an end to the erroneous justification of this deadly, inefficient job creation scheme.

The you tube clip below is Veronica Tudhope’s talk at the public meeting.

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Jun 022017
 

With thanks to Clare Scott, Communications Consultant, CJS Communication & Marketing.

An Aberdeen-based family support charity is using Volunteers’ Week (1 – 7 June 2017) as a springboard to successfully conclude its 30th anniversary campaign to recruit 30 new volunteers within 30 weeks.

Home-Start Aberdeen has been supporting families who are vulnerable, or who may be at risk of isolation, for the past three decades.

This support is largely provided by volunteers, who are trained by the charity and matched with a family who they visit on a weekly basis.

Having started life as a small project operating from a box room within Mastrick Church, Home-Start Aberdeen is now one of the largest Home-Start schemes in the UK.

The charity provides over 220 families and 360 children with around 27,500 hours of support each year, however it continues to operate a growing list of those who are in need of help.

“We have had a tremendous response to our 30 in 30 campaign since launching it in February,” said Georgette Cobban, scheme manager (pictured).

“Our second new cohort of volunteers are currently undergoing training, which will bring our tally to 20 out of the 30 new volunteers we would like to recruit by September.

“We plan to run our next volunteer preparation course in August and we would urge anyone who thinks they might be interested to get in touch for an informal chat. Full training is provided by Home-Start Aberdeen – all we ask for is a time commitment of 2-3 hours per week to provide a local family with emotional and practical support in their home setting.”

For further information on volunteering opportunities with Home-Start Aberdeen, email volunteering@homestartaberdeen.org.uk or telephone 01224 693545.

Home-Start Aberdeen is a voluntary organisation, offering support and friendship to vulnerable families. Its small staff team trains and co-ordinates over 100 volunteers who provide families with emotional and practical support in their own homes. Those who are referred to the charity must live within the city and have at least one child under five years old, otherwise there are no barriers to access. To find out more, visit www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk.

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Jun 022017
 

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) adult, covered in dew, resting on grass at dawn, Elmley Marshes N.N.R., Isle of Sheppey, Kent, England, July

With thanks to Emma Brown.

This year’s Scottish Nature Photography Festival will bring together top wildlife and landscape photographers from across the UK and Europe to deliver an outstanding programme of talks at Battleby Centre in Perthshire on 9 and 10 September. German photographer Sandra Bartocha will kick things off on Sat 9 Sept, with the first of two presentations about her latest project, LYS

She will be followed by Robert Canis, marine photographer George Stoyle, Richard Peters, plus landscape photographer Alex Nail.

Norwegian photographers Orsolya and Erlend Haarberg complete the Saturday line-up and will return to open the event on Sunday 10 September with a spectacular presentation about their work in Iceland.

Alex Nail and Sandra Bartocha also return for a second day and will be joined by Andy Parkinson, Robin Moore and Will Burrard-Lucas, who will share some of his adventures in remote photography.

Renowned nature and conservation photographer Peter Cairns, who returns as compère, said:

“SNPF gets better as each year passes, taking both photographers and nature-lovers on a roller-coaster journey through the words and images of the top photographers at work today.”

Several of the speakers will be on hand to deliver a diverse range of lunchtime workshops, which will offer a more in-depth exploration of practical topics, plus Cairngorms-based wildlife photographer Neil McIntyre will give a lunchtime presentation on his stunning new book, The Red Squirrel: A future in the forest.

Taking place at Scottish Natural Heritage’s prestigious Battleby Centre just outside of Perth, the annual event also features exhibitors, including Epson and Perth-based camera retailer JRS Photo Hardware, photographer portfolios, book sales, the ever popular SNPF photo competition, plus the chance to catch up with friends old and new.

State-of-the-art projection and sound, plus easy access, free parking and excellent catering, makes Battleby the perfect venue to enjoy the astonishing images and inspiring stories from some of the best photographers in the business.

The Scottish Nature Photography Festival is coordinated by the Wild Media Foundation, a group of photographers and visual media specialists who have come together to bring nature’s stories closer to people’s lives.

It operates as a company limited by guarantee, set up as a Social Enterprise, which means that all profits are put aside to further the objectives of the company.

Its mission is:

“To bring nature’s stories to life through the development of innovative visual media products, which will engage, inform and inspire a wide audience.”

Links:

Tickets and more information available from www.snpf.co.uk

Scottish Nature Photography Festival on Facebook 
Scottish Nature Photography Festival on Twitter
Wild Media Foundation

Image Credits:

African wild dog, Zimbabwe © Will Burrard-Lucas.jpg
Arctic Terns, Iceland © Orsolya Haarberg.jpg
Dragonfly, England © Robert Canis.jpg

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May 252017
 

With thanks to Jonathan Russell, Chair of Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and member of Aberdeen Climate Action and Duncan Hart  who produced the youtube videos.

On March 25th Aberdeen Climate Action and Aberdeen And District CND jointly sponsored a meeting on the above.

The idea of the meeting was to share ideas of the challenges faced by diversification and to kick-start change. 

This is the third of five articles being produced for Aberdeen Voice and concerns a talk on Community Renewables by Jelte Harnmeajer who works for the Hutton Institute and also runs his own consultancy in Community Renewables.

Jelte’s talk was entitled ‘Resilience through renewables’ and he gives examples of where local communities by running their own energy concerns can greatly benefit their local communities. In Denmark 86% of renewable projects are owned by local communities yet in the UK it is only 4%.

However, it is now the fastest growing means of developing renewables and has huge potential in the Aberdeen and surrounding areas if we start getting our act together.

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May 252017
 

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

Former Oil and gas worker Mark Cran undertook a barbering course at the Scottish Barbering School.

A former oil and gas worker has made the cut in a new barbering role at an Aberdeen-based luxury gents barber after being made redundant from his previous job.

Formerly a workshop technician at an oil and gas company, Marc Cran, from Insch, now works at Huntsman Barber after completing a specialist six-month course in barbering.

The 27-year-old is now a stylist at the city centre barbers, after he approached owner, Kyle Ross, on completion of the course.

Mr Cran worked in oil and gas for seven years, but lost confidence in the industry after he was made redundant from two separate companies within the space of six months. When deciding what career to pursue next, barbering immediately stood out to him, due to its creative and hands-on nature. 

To help improve his employability and skillset, he then undertook a barbering course at the Scottish Barbering School.

This involved living in Glasgow for three days a week and spending the remaining four days working at a local supermarket in Huntly.

Remarkably, he managed to juggle this heavy workload for four months without any days off, alongside looking after his two-year-old daughter. It was this hard work and dedication that impressed future employer, Mr Ross, and subsequently landed him the job at Huntsman.

Mr Cran said:

“I have really enjoyed my first couple of months at Huntsman, I am getting busier with clients every week and learning new skills on a daily basis. I am very grateful to Kyle for giving me the opportunity to progress within the barbering industry.

“It was the impact of the downturn that gave me the final push to try something different and take up a completely new career. I am actually really thankful that it did, as I am enjoying work a lot more and meeting new people every day. I get such satisfaction from seeing people leave my chair with a new-found confidence after getting their hair cut, I have never had that before.”

Mr Ross said:

“Marc is getting on really well at Huntsman, as he is both confident and competent in the role. I am very impressed with everything he has displayed so far and how quick he is to learn new skills.

“He has an eye for detail and is a complete perfectionist, which serves him very well in his new career as a barber. Our clients have really warmed to him and he is certainly a welcome addition to the Huntsman team.”

Huntsman is open from Tuesday to Saturday.  For more information on the hair salon visit:   

www.facebook.com/HuntsmanAberdeen 
www.twitter.com/huntsman_abrdn 
www.instagram.com/huntsman_aberdeen

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May 252017
 

Scott Findlay, Managing Director at CFF Contractors who have been awarded a £1.4m contract.

With thanks to Karen Stewart.

Local developer LOJJ Scotland has awarded a £1.4 million contract for the development of Loch Street property to local firm CFF Contractors.
The 30 bedroom student accommodation development is due for completion this year and will provide much needed accommodation in the heart of Aberdeen city centre.

LOJJ Scotland who have a number of other developments in the area is run by Aberdeen local Alana Stott who is passionate about supporting the local economy and fellow businesses.

Alana said:

“Having worked with CFF Contractors previously we are delighted to award them this contract; knowing their workmanship and reliability made choosing them an easy decision”.

Scott Findlay, Managing Director at CFF Contractors said:

“it’s a pleasure to be working with LOJJ Scotland on this exciting project”

“Aberdeen has seen more than its fair share of challenges recently so it’s great to see new developments taking place which will have a positive impact on the city and surrounding areas.”

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