Mar 172017
 

.

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Tricker PR.

North east businesses leaders are being asked for their views on whether a high-profile local procurement initiative should continue and how funding might be generated to enable it to expand.

Russell Borthwick (pictured), chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, will ask delegates at a major exhibition later this month whether there is an appetite to continue with the Buy North East campaign.

Mr Borthwick says the Chamber has been “overwhelmed” by the level of support for Buy North East, which was launched last year in a bid to encourage local firms to do more business with companies based within the region.

He will tell delegates at the Langstane Business Show taking place at the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen on March 22 and 23 that it is important to gather the views of the business community before reaching a decision.

Langstane Press Ltd – one of the first companies to sign up to Buy North East – has changed the format of its biennial business show, which has been running for 25 years, in response to the economic downturn.

It will move away from being a trade show and this year’s event – called Lean and Mean in 17 – will focus on giving delegates information to help get their business into shape by cutting costs and saving money.

Mr Borthwick will be one of the keynote speakers on the second day of the show. He says Buy North East was set up with a number of partner organisations to try and reach a position where local procurement becomes the accepted way that good business in the region works.

He adds,

“At a time when many businesses and individuals are feeling the impact of the oil and gas downturn, it is more important than ever that we collectively do all we can to help the regional economy with the aim of protecting and creating jobs here.

“Reflecting at the end of November, the steering group agreed that the concept had gained remarkable traction in a short period, with over 500 businesses signing up and lots of talk-ability through press coverage.

The general mood of the meeting was that having established the initial stimulus, it would be a shame not to take advantage of the momentum and brand equity that has been created but that any future phases should probably take some new directions rather than simply repeating the recipe.”

Mr Borthwick says the success of the campaign has meant that it is often perceived as an organisation with staff and resources, rather than as a campaign run by five partners.

“We need to understand the level of support out there for continuing the activity in 2017 – what type of activities people believe could be introduced to keep the campaign fresh, relevant and effective, and whether this is an appetite to help fund this,” he adds.

Langstane – Scotland’s largest office supplies company – has been trading for 70 years and has a product range in excess of 30,000 items, from printer paper to toilet paper and from tubs of coffee to packs of lightbulbs. As well as traditional office supplies, the firm has diversified its product range to provide office furniture and patient care furniture.

The show will bring together its leading partners across the office supplies, print, healthcare, interiors and promotional product sectors to share top tips on how to make money-saving changes. All aspects of efficiency will be covered, from overhauling print processes to janitorial supplies to help cut down on staff sick days.

Jason Llewellyn from global IT firm HP will give a talk on both days of the event on how short-term investment in technology could help reduce operating costs in the longer term. On the first day of the show Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP (AAB) will also give a presentation.

John Black, the firm’s partner in charge of audit, and Claire Smith, management consulting associate, will be presenting on the theme of Survive and Thrive.  They both have extensive experience in working with businesses as they adapt to challenging trading conditions, and believe that communication is key.

Mr Black says AAB has carried out more presentations in Aberdeen over the past 18 months on the theme of cost saving and surviving a downturn than at any other point in his career. 

“Events like the Langstane Business Show are excellent platforms to share ideas – face-to-face – that will drive efficiencies and find new practices. Without people talking to each other, that kind of sharing of experience does not happen,” he says.

“I think that the approach Langstane is taking with this year’s show will be very useful to all the delegates who attend. They will be able to see that making savings is not always about cutting the cost and getting a discounted price – it is often about changing behaviours and finding more effective and efficient ways of doing things.”

Miss Smith adds,

“I think the event being staged by Langstane is an outstanding opportunity for businesses to learn from peers and others who will be attending. One of the areas that we will be focusing on is working capital, including managing customers, suppliers and stock– for example, does a company need to hold six months, or even one month, of supplies of stock.

 “John and I will be available after the presentation to meet with anyone who would like to discuss any of the points we raise.”

Lean and Mean in 17 is free to attend, and delegates should register in advance at www.langstane.co.uk. There will be opportunities for networking throughout the two days, and many suppliers can offer allotted appointments.  

Langstane is Scotland’s largest independent office products company and is one of the largest in the UK. Langstane, established in 1947 in Aberdeen remains a family business and has further branches in Dundee and Livingston. Langstane employs over 120 staff and has a turnover of £15m. More about the company can be found at www.langstane.co.uk.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

 

Mar 172017
 

With thanks to Karen Stewart.

Ex Scottish and UK Enduro/Trails Champion Gavin Johnston is gearing up to expand his innovative digital tourism solution UrPal into Glasgow and Edinburgh this April.

UrPal is a unique mobile application to Scotland having already been successful in Inverness with 7,000 users and recently launched in Aberdeen.

The app fills a gap in the market for both tourists and locals alike, giving them comprehensive up to the minute information at their fingertips on everything happening in an area including entertainment, eating out and in, tours, attractions, fitness, accommodation, activities, shops, health, transport and current news.

As well as being valued by users who access the app for free, UrPal is also a valuable source of promotion to local businesses and organisations, statistics say that 70% of online users now use mobile devices to access the web so it’s crucial that businesses are visible on such platforms. Visitors to Scotland are reported to have increased to 15 million annually and UrPal is ideally positioned to serve the growing digital tourism marketplace.

Gavin along with his partner Caren the founders of UrPal met almost 4 years ago in Romania, Gavin had been competing in the Redbull Romaniacs World Extreme Enduro Championship and Caren at the time was travelling for her work in architecture. The couple have now given up these roles to focus solely on UrPal and their other business Aberdeen and Inverness Taxis.

Gavin said

“working on UrPal couldn’t be more different to riding bikes and running a taxi company; I identified the need in the market from hearing  taxi passengers deliberate how to source information they required; Caren and I then put our heads together and planned and launched UrPal in Inverness and Aberdeen in 2016.”

He continued:

“with 7,000 users in Inverness UrPal is proving successful and as well as expanding by location we begin physical tours in April this year, 4 in Aberdeen and 8 in Inverness are already planned to destinations such as Peterhead Prison, Brewdog, Dunnottar and Crathes Castles, Glengarioch Distillery and Castle Fraser; we are really pleased that UrPal is fast becoming the go to place for people looking for things to do, and that it’s having a positive impact on the local economy.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

 

Mar 102017
 

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

The University of Aberdeen rowed to victory on Saturday (March 4) at the 22nd annual Aberdeen Boat Race, which is sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management.
Breaking rival Robert Gordon University’s five-year winning streak, the University of Aberdeen triumphed in a time of 7 minutes 03.8 seconds, winning by 4 lengths.

The Robert Gordon University crew followed close behind, with a time of 7 minutes 16.3 seconds.

The University of Aberdeen also celebrated success in the alumni and second crew races – marking the first ever clean sweep in the event’s history.

Hundreds of spectators braved the weather to line the banks of the city’s River Dee to cheer on the teams as the old opponents battled it out on the river. Due to water levels, the 3.5km course was shortened by 300m.

Fiona Bell (21), president of Aberdeen University Boat Club, said,

“It feels amazing to have brought the Aberdeen Boat Race trophy back to the University of Aberdeen. I think we’re all still in shock a little; we set out to break RGU’s five-year hold over the title and we did it! I’m incredibly proud of my team and their performance today. We’ve been training hard in daylight and darkness, so it’s brilliant that all our hard work has paid off.

“Erin and the RGU crew were formidable opponents, and made things very difficult for us out on the water. It was a fantastic race to row in, and I hope those watching from the banks enjoyed it too. I’d also like to thank Aberdeen Asset Management for their continued support – without their backing the Aberdeen Boat Race couldn’t happen.”

Erin Wyness (20), president of Aberdeen University Boat Club, added,

“Congratulations to all of the University of Aberdeen crew on their win today. It was a hard race with both crews on form beforehand, so it would have been hard to call before we set off. Even though we didn’t win this year, I’m still very proud of all the effort the crew has put in over the last few months, and it doesn’t take away from our five-year streak. We’ll be back next year!

“The whole day has been brilliant both for the rowers and spectators on the shore – from the alumni and second crew races right up until the title race – and I’d like to thank Aberdeen Asset Management for their amazing continued support of this historic event.”

The alumni boat race was won by the University of Aberdeen in a time of 8 minutes 02.5 seconds. The universities’ second crew boat race was also won by the University of Aberdeen in a time of 2 minutes 36.6 seconds. Original 106fm clinched the media challenge title in a time of 1 minute 30.1 seconds over a 300m course.

Martin Gilbert, chief executive of sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management, commented,

“On behalf of all at Aberdeen Asset Management, I would like to congratulate the winning crew from the University of Aberdeen. I would also like to recognise the effort of the Robert Gordon University Boat Club rowers, who put in a sterling effort on the water. Both teams should be rightfully proud of their achievements today.

“The university experience is about more than classroom learning, and the boat clubs are a real testament to that. Being founded in Aberdeen, we are very proud to continue to support the Aberdeen Boat Race in what is our 17th year.”

Follow the Aberdeen Boat Race on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aamboatrace, on Twitter @2017boatrace or Instagram @aamboatrace

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Mar 102017
 

Organisers of Celebrate Aberdeen are aiming to hold their largest ever parade in the city this year and are urging a range of new groups to sign up for the weekend event. With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

As well as local third sector organisations, social enterprises and voluntary groups, musicians and city sports groups have been invited to take part in the event which will be held on Saturday, August 26 and Sunday, August 27, alongside the Great Aberdeen Run.

More than 70 third sector organisations have already ensured their place in the celebratory parade since the date was announced last month, but organisers are urging others to ensure they don’t miss their chance to take part.

The parade was first held in 2011 and has brought together more than 3,500 people from 130 diverse third sector organisations for each event in recent years. The cut off-date for third sector registration is Friday, April 28.

Morven Mackenzie, director of event management company 46 Degrees, and the leading force behind Celebrate Aberdeen, said:

“Preparations are well underway for this year’s event already which we hope will be the biggest and best yet. To ensure that it is, we need as many third sector groups, sports groups and musicians as possible, so I would urge them all to sign up soon.

“The organisations that are on board already are truly remarkable in the work they carry out, and being able to offer them an opportunity to celebrate and gather support is great. We are delighted to have another parade this year as well as a range of activities and performances throughout the weekend, which will be fun for all the family.”

The Lord Provost of Aberdeen, councillor George Adam, said:

“Celebrate Aberdeen is a fantastic event, which provides an excellent platform for local third sector organisations and clubs to be seen and to promote their work in a carnival atmosphere. 

“The city has many third sector organisations, which provide first-rate services because of the dedication of their volunteers. With the event being held alongside the Great Aberdeen Run the whole Celebrate Aberdeen weekend is guaranteed to be entertaining, informative and fun so I would encourage organisations to sign up as soon as possible.”

Third sector organisations wishing to take part in the Celebrate Aberdeen weekend can sign-up at: www.celebrateaberdeen.org

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Mar 102017
 

On of Juane’s artworks at the Union Bar, Luxembourg City. Pic used with kind permission.

By Red Fin Hall.

With only about a month to go until the ‘Nuart’ event comes to Aberdeen, the final selection of artists have been added to the added to the roster.

I am particularly looking forward to seeing Belgium born artist, Juane. 
Hailing form Brussels, the stencil artist uses ordinary people, mainly sanitation workers, as his prime subjects.

His work examines the invisibility of this profession despite the fact that their job keeps them in the public eye.

He displays them in unusual situations, always in their work gear, such as walking tightropes over washing lines, marching as Roman legions etc.

Since he used to work in said profession, one may wonder how he day-dreamed of being in the position of some of his subjects. Or, is that, like his pieces, fantasy? 

Martin Whatson comes from Norway, was born in 1984 and studied graphic art in Oslo and has exhibited, both in solo and joint exhibitions in Tokyo, London, Paris, Australia, and also in the USA. His graffiti and stencil work, using urban decay as part of his inspiration. Thirteen years into his career he will be making his Scotland debut, in Aberdeen, thanks to Nuart.

Gdynia born Mariusz Waras, aka M-City is another stencil artist. But this time with a difference.

He uses hundreds of small cut outs to make larger constructions, again using the urban environment he grew up in as his main inspiration. Being an industrial city, his work features images of mechanical origin as well as natural origin. Often his pieces are made on a grand scale, one of the largest being 85 metres in size. This very prolific artist, having created well over 700 works, is currently a lecturer in art in Gdansk.

From her first show in Loughborough in 2000 through to her latest in Madrid this year, Alice Pasquini has exhibited and worked in various cities throughout Europe as well as The Americas and China. Not only is she a graffiti artist, painter, set designer and illustrator, she also works in the 3D medium and sculptures using found objects.

She rarely sits still in her pursuit of work, constantly keeping herself busy in more than 100 cities world wide. This also is her first time working in Scotland.

The final artist participating is Isaac Cordal.

Born in 1974, this sculpture graduate was born and studied in Pontevedra in Spain. His sculptures generally are usually not on a grand scale. An examples of his work can be found on tops of bus shelter and on cornices and windows , averaging only 15cm in size. This makes the viewer work to see them. He has many strings to his bow. Playing guitar in a rock band, publishing a heavy metal fanzine and heading a digital art collective. He has also worked in the photography medium.

As well as these guests coming to Aberdeen, local artists and schools will be involved in the project during and before the Easter Weekend special event.

Note of Correction:

In my last article on Nuart, I intimated that James Finucane was the man behind this art group. This is not so.

Although he is the public face of the Aberdeen venture, he actually heads up the day to day running of the company, a position he took up two years ago. Nuart is actually the brainchild of Martyn Reed who relocated to Stavanger from Leeds over 20 years ago. Apologies for any misunderstanding relating to this.

Mar 102017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

The confidence and supply agreement between Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors – Martin Ford and Paul Johnston – and their council’s Partnership administration has delivered significant benefits for Aberdeenshire residents. That is the view of both the DIGG and the Partnership.

The agreement was struck in 2015. The DIGG remained an independent opposition group but guaranteed limited support to the minority Partnership administration, allowing it to take office and bringing stability to the Council.

In return, the Partnership committed to supporting a range of specific policies and other changes put forward by the DIGG. 

The agreement has worked well and been adhered to by both sides. It is the first such arrangement in Aberdeenshire.

One provision in the agreement is that an annual, objective, assessment of progress with it be requested from the Council’s chief executive. The assessment for 2017 has now been received. 

The assessment shows the specific provisions in the confidence and supply agreement have either been delivered or are ‘work in progress’.

In addition to the policy changes in the confidence and supply agreement, the Partnership has adopted suggestions from the DIGG in the Council budget put forward by the Partnership.

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“The DIGG’s aims in reaching a limited agreement with the Partnership were to bring stability to the Council at a time when no grouping could form an administration by itself, and to secure policy changes and service improvements for residents.

“The DIGG has remained an independent opposition group – but one that has been able to deliver significant policy change. I’ve been particularly pleased that the Council has taken steps towards genuine budget consultation and is working towards further improving links with the third sector, charities and voluntary oganisations.”

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“The cross-party co-operation between the DIGG and the Partnership has brought some significant progress. There have been been specific improvements, such as the investment in active travel.

“The adoption of the carbon budget is a governance measure of genuine significance – a Scottish first – that should deliver long-term benefits, and may provide a model for other councils.”

Council co-leader Cllr Richard Thomson added:

“The willingness of the DIG Group to offer political support to the Partnership where they could and constructive criticism where they couldn’t, has made this an extremely effective administration. Their willingness to engage and negotiate has shown just what can be achieved where politicians decide to concentrate on meaningful outcomes rather than just headlines.

“I hope that Aberdeeenshire is able to continue benefitting from this constructive approach to politics after May’s elections.”

Council co-leader Cllr Alison Evison said:

“We have fundamental aims in common with the DIGG – to provide quality public services to all residents in Aberdeenshire and in consultation with residents, and to develop effective partnership work with others in order to achieve this.

“Our agreement with the DIGG has in particular helped us to develop links with local credit unions. It has enabled our aspirations to develop more cycling and walking routes to become real projects.

In 2015 it was crucial for services in Aberdeenshire, and for the people dependent on these services, that we were able to form a stable Administration after a long, unsettled period. The Confidence and Supply Agreement secured this.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Mar 102017
 

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

Businesses that need to shape up and shed pounds in response to the north east’s challenging economic landscape can learn how to get lean at a major two-day exhibition being held in Aberdeen later this month.

Langstane Press Ltd is bringing together its leading partners across the office supplies, print, healthcare, interiors and promotional product sectors to share top tips on how to make money-saving changes.

Langstane – Scotland’s largest independent office supplies company – will host Lean and Mean in 17 at the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen on March 22 and 23.

The firm has been staging its biennial business show for 25 years, but the impact of the economic downturn has led to the format being overhauled.

The emphasis for this year’s event will be to give delegates information to help get their business into shape, whether that is through outsourcing paper shredding or reviewing janitorial hygiene supplies to reduce staff sick days.

There will be presentations from Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce on the benefits of buying local, chartered accountants Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP will give a talk on why cash is king, and global IT firm HP will explain how investment in new technology can reduce print costs.

Langstane managing director Colin Campbell (pictured) says the exhibition will show how businesses can more effectively use ever-decreasing budgets.

“The north east is facing some very challenging times, and the impact of the North Sea downturn has reverberated across many industries in the region and beyond,” he says.

“Businesses are asking suppliers to be more and more competitive with their prices, but there comes a point where the prices simply cannot be trimmed back any further. What we hope Lean and Mean in 17 will do is show companies of all shapes and sizes there are other ways to identify and implement efficiencies.

“For example, we recently helped one company to make savings with their paper shredding requirements. They have now outsourced that service to Langstane, freeing up the valuable time of one employee who was spending hours of their working week performing this task.

“Saving money and getting lean is not just about how much you pay for products and services – it’s about changing the way you approach efficiencies and streamline operations. Cost saving has been such a strong theme for our customers over the past 18 months, so I believe there will be a real appetite within the business community of the north east to attend this event and learn more.”

Lean and Mean in 17 will feature 32 different suppliers, including a range of household names such as Bic, Pukka Pads and 3M, as well Langstane’s own divisions in office supplies, office interiors, promotional products and print.

The show runs from 10am until 4pm on March 22, with John Black, head of audit at Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP, and Jason Llewellyn of HP both delivering presentations. The session on March 23 runs from 10am until 3.30pm, when Mr Llewellyn will once again be taking to the stage along with Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

Lean and Mean in 17 is free to attend, and delegates should register in advance at www.langstane.co.uk. There will be opportunities for networking throughout the two days, and many suppliers can offer allotted appointments.  

Family-run firm Langstane celebrates 70 years of trading in 2017, and has a product range in excess of 30,000 items, from printer paper to toilet paper and from tubs of coffee to packs of lightbulbs. As well as traditional office supplies, the firm has diversified its product range to provide office furniture and patient care furniture.

Langstane is Scotland’s largest independent office products company and is one of the largest in the UK. Langstane, established in 1947 in Aberdeen remains a family business and has further branches in Dundee and Livingston. Langstane employs over 120 staff and has a turnover of £15m. More about the company can be found at www.langstane.co.uk.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

 

Mar 022017
 

With thanks to Suz Reid.

The growth in dog rescues from Abroad into the UK has rocketed, thank to social media. Heart wrenching pictures of dogs in kill shelters, injured on the streets and being abused fill the pages.

You can’t fail to be moved by the plight of each case.

As part of the EU passports for dogs it is deemed an easy route into the UK between £250 – £400 and your rescue dog is delivered.

Many dogs come from Spain, Romania, Poland and Croatia to name a few. This could all change once Brexit is in place.

According to The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) spokesperson Jennifer Cornish:

“Leaving the EU may affect some movement from current passport methods, until exit negotiations are concluded, the UK remains a full member of the European Union and all the rights and obligations of EU membership remain in force. During this time the government will continue to negotiate, implement and apply EU Legislation’”

There are a number of rescuers involved with charities that appear to have good set up. The money that they receive cover main transport cost and vaccinations. They offer a full assessments before rehoming the dog. Along with backup, which is vital if the dog is not settling in its new environment. 

“The dogs are fully assessed in Romania, but also we do bring some dogs to our experienced foster team if we feel that they need, confidence & to adjust to UK domestic routine & lifestyle this is usually maximum 30 days  Always home foster based not kennels” – Snoopy Rescue UK

Sadly as in the UK with any individual rescuer there is no current legislation to help separate the good rescuer from the bad. Not all stories are real when a dogs is advertised, they may well have more wrong than you can handle. I took on as an urgent foster of a medium mixed breed dog called Robin. He has been brought over by a local lady from a Spanish rescue.

His passport claimed he had Leishmania. It stated he was 5 years old. Sadly not all information you get is accurate.

“A senior vet from Ashgrove Veterinary Centre, along with two vets who had been working with me on his care, clearly noted that he was a senior dog 10+ years old. All the blood works showed he did not have Leishmania.” confirms Suz Reid.

Thankfully, there are genuine rescuers that are available, they are trying to changes the lives of these dogs. They have been discussing Brexit and what impact it could have on the charities in these countries rather that the passport issue.

The bigger concern is changing local government in their own countries and the welfare standards for the animals. Educating local people in caring for the animals and proper health care including neutering programmes. Hundreds of dogs are living in squalor while being beaten and poorly treated in makeshift pounds. A large number are killed.

Dog Rescuer, Wendy Simpson commented:

“I hope that it doesn’t and it can continue as having been to volunteer and help rescuers in some of these countries and seeing first hand the appalling conditions they are kept in and the abuse they have suffered it would break my heart.”

The numbers of dogs entering the UK have steadily increased over the last two years. As the current system stands there is no set number of animals that can be transported by an individual or charity. The main policy for welfare is the animal must stay at the address registered on the Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate for 48 hours. After that, unless a case is highlighted by the police or welfare agencies, no further checks are done.

Jennifer Cornish of APHA added:

“Estimated numbers of dogs brought into the UK in 2016 was 34,017 and 845 mixed cats and dogs’ state”

While we wait on the Brexit outcome, I would urge anyone thinking of offering a home to a rescue dog from abroad to thoroughly check out the rescuer before you commit. Ask questions; do they have legal documents for rehoming the dog? Did you get a receipt and full breakdown of where your donation goes? What back up do they offer including behavioural support.

Don’t just take one person’s word for it, research as you would with any dog you are taking on. And please do weigh up the need in your own rescues too.

Wendy Simpson added:

“Advice I would give to someone who wants to adopt from abroad is to ask all the questions they need to regarding welfare of the dog / puppy until they are able to travel.  To ask for copies of the pet passport and vaccinations and vet receipts particularly if they are involved enough with the rescuer to be paying for the “Pension” and vaccinations.”

Further info on policies for animals coming into the country – https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/guidance-on-importing-and-exporting-live-animals-or-animal-products

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Mar 022017
 

After battling with necrotizing fasciitis, Robin Grant ran in the Ness 10K in 2016 and will return in 2017.

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

An Aberdeenshire man who suffered from a rare flesh-eating bacteria has recovered to discover a passion for running.

After battling with necrotizing fasciitis, Robin Grant has developed a love of exploring the great outdoors on foot and will compete in the Baxters River Ness 10k in September.

It was an ordinary day at work in August 2014 for Robin (43) – originally from Old Rayne in Aberdeenshire and now living in Inverness – when he began to notice the first symptoms of the illness.

He says,

“I suddenly felt an intense pain in my arm. It felt like I had overstretched and trapped a nerve in my shoulder – only multiplied by a hundred. But after about half an hour, the pain went away and I thought I was okay.”

For Robin, a visit to the doctor is usually out of the question – but as the pain returned and the severity increased – he had little option.

He continues,

“The pain came back and it was excruciating. Although I don’t usually visit the doctor – I wasn’t even registered at the GP – I walked up to casualty and was given some painkillers.

“The next day I visited the GP who gave me some more painkillers. I had to register, but I could barely lift my arm due to the pain and they had to fill in all the forms for me.

“As the week went on I got progressively worse, to the point where I couldn’t get to the end of the road without feeling violently sick.”

Struggling on his own, Robin’s father took him to the family home in Aberdeenshire to offer some support. But over the weekend, Robin’s condition deteriorated.

Robin says,

“I was getting worse and worse, so my dad took me to see his GP in Insch. He took one look at me and asked, ‘Have you got transport or do you need me to call an ambulance?’”

Robin was rushed to A&E in Aberdeen where, after just four hours, he was taken into surgery. He was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis – a rare condition that is known as a flesh-eating bacteria. The illness causes tissue death in affected areas, resulting in incredible pain.

Robin explains,

“When I came out of surgery, I was in intensive care for about two weeks and on a ventilator for a week. The only way to treat the bug is to cut it out – the flesh is essentially dead – so I also required plastic surgery.”

Frustrated by the constraints of his hospital bed, Robin’s thoughts turned to an old hobby – running. He says, “For me, hospital was an incredibly boring place. I signed up to take part in a local 10k event while I was still admitted, and completed it the next year.”

Six months after his ordeal in hospital, Robin was back in Inverness and back at work as driver supervisor at Arnold Clark Car and Van Rental. But he couldn’t shake his passion for running – despite having to adapt to new limitations. Robin explains,

“I had to develop a different style of running. My right side was hit hard by the bug – I lost my shoulder muscles and part of my bicep – so it really affected my balance. I couldn’t swing my right arm, and I still can’t lift it properly to this day.

“I noticed that I had begun to compensate with the left side of my body, but I actually feel like I’m running better now than I ever did before. It might be because I’m running more now, but I think that I’m also improving because I’m thinking more about how I need to run.”

After his first race, Robin began to enter a number of 10ks across the country – including the River Ness 10k, part of the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running. And despite having run in some incredible locations across the country, Robin counts his local race as one of the best.

He says,

“I was back living in Inverness and decided to run the River Ness 10K. It was tough – it was roasting hot that day – but I absolutely loved it. The course is great, and the energy around the whole event is really uplifting.

“This year I’m looking to up my distance and run a few half marathons. I’d run a few before I was ill, but this will be the first time I’ve attempted it recently. And I’ll definitely be back to run in the River Ness 10K. The year wouldn’t feel complete without it.

“I’ve got my sights set on the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon, though. One day soon, you’ll find me on the starting line.”

The River Ness 10k takes place on September 24, and is part of the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running. The event, which draws thousands of people from across the world, also comprises the title marathon, 10K Corporate Challenge, River Ness 5K and a Wee Nessie fun-run for pre-school children.

The finish line is based around the Event Village at the Bught Park in Inverness, where runners and spectators can enjoy the Baxters Food and Drink Fayre, a Sports Expo, live music and activities for children.

Entries are still open at www.lochnessmarathon.com The event is also active on Facebook at facebook.com/lochnessmarathon and on Twitter @nessmarathon

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Mar 022017
 

A landmark law to tackle violence against women passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons on Friday with an overwhelming majority of 138 in favour to just 1 against. With thanks to Banff & Buchan SNP.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP with campaigners and MPs after the vote.

Local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford’s Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill 2017, requires the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention – a far-reaching new law that puts legal obligations on the state to prevent violence against women, protect
women and prosecute the perpetrators.

The Convention encompasses many forms of sexual violence and domestic abuse including stalking, harassment, sexual assault and rape, physical and psychological abuse by a partner, forced marriage, forced abortion or sterilisation and female genital mutilation.

The UK signed the treaty in 2012 but has yet to ratify it to make it part of UK law.

The SNP MP for Banff & Buchan, who is the party’s Westminster spokesperson for Social Justice, secured cross-party support for her Bill, which has been championed by women’s equality organisations including IC Change, Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland, White Ribbon, End Violence Against Women, Scottish Women’s convention, NUS, Girlguiding, and the Fawcett Society.

The Bill also received strong support from the actor and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, who this week wrote to all MPs urging them to vote for the Bill.

Commenting after the Bill passed its Third Reading, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“I am delighted that this landmark legislation to combat gender-based violence has received such overwhelming cross-party support and now looks set to become UK law.

“This is a huge and historic step forward in efforts to tackle violence against women and has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of women right across the country.

“Women’s equality organisations and activists have been campaigning for the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention for many years now – so today’s vote is a cause for celebration and a testament to their sustained efforts.

“The Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive and far-reaching framework that exists to tackle violence against women in its many forms and manifestations, and critically, it provides the legal apparatus to hold governments accountable for their progress. This is a powerful vehicle for improving policy, practices and services on an ongoing basis.

“Sexual violence and domestic abuse are neither natural nor inevitable. We can prevent it, we can challenge it and we can hold perpetrators to account. We need to do all these things if we are to end this systematic abuse of women’s basic human rights, and ratifying the Istanbul Convention is a big step in the right direction.

“We have travelled some distance in this struggle but we still have such long way still to go and we need to recognise that Ratification of the Istanbul Convention is a milestone on the journey to equality and justice for women, not an end point.”

Further reading:

 Emma Watson backs SNP MP’s bid to combat domestic abuse.
 Theresa May urges MPs to back Whiteford bill and stamp out violence against women.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.