Sep 232016

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

Tuesday 26th August 2014, Aberdeen, Scotland. Hall Morrice Corporate Portraits (Photo: Ross Johnston / Newsline Scotland)

Shonagh Fraser, partner at Hall Morrice, which has been shortlisted for two categories in the Scotland’s Best Employer Awards.

Aberdeen-based accountancy firm Hall Morrice has been shortlisted for two separate accolades in a high profile awards scheme aimed at recognising the nation’s top employers.

The independent firm, which has a team of 50 staff, has been named as a finalist in the youth investment and training and development categories of the Scotland’s Best Employer Awards.

In addition to having their award applications scrutinised by a panel of HR experts, the entry process included an independently managed survey being conducted with staff.

They were required to give feedback to a number of survey questions covering everything on their thoughts on opportunities for career development within the firm to whether they felt invested in as individuals.

Hall Morrice partner Shonagh Fraser (pictured), who has a responsibility for HR, says the firm is honoured to have made the shortlist.

She adds,

“What makes this particularly special is that it is not just the senior managers putting forward an entry: we have been shortlisted because of the endorsement that we have received from our own staff.

“We are a mid-tier firm in general practice, and we believe that this sets us apart from other accountancy firms. We are small enough that we can focus closely on individual career development to ensure staff have the opportunity to move in the direction they want, but large enough that we can offer experience of the whole range of accountancy disciplines and services.

“The jobs market in the north-east has traditionally been very competitive for employers, as is the graduate market. We are therefore thrilled to have been shortlisted for Scotland’s Best Employer Awards as it underlines what we all believe – that Hall Morrice is a fantastic place to work.”

Hall Morrice has a long and proven track record as a training firm, and puts young people at the heart of its own growth strategy. Last year it took on a record number of new graduates, and around 30% of its team is aged under 24.

It has developed its own bespoke training pathway for young people studying towards Chartered Accountant status which offers a more seamless learning experience for graduates. This allows for all technical learning to be completed within the first 15 months, and leads to better support for students during their studies.

This innovative brand of training is producing improved exam results, with more students passing their exams at the first attempt.

But training does not stop with graduates: all members of staff have their own individual progression plan which is drawn up the moment they join the firm. Hall Morrice is committed to promoting internally and where no vacancy exists, new roles are created to ensure talent is retained.

Scotland’s Best Employer Awards are run by Scottish Business Insider and aim to recognise companies and organisations that put employees at the heart of their business, promoting their development, health and wellbeing.

The awards ceremony takes place in the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow on October 5, where the winners will be announced.

Founded in 1976, Hall Morrice celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. It is one of Scotland’s leading independent firms of chartered accountants and has offices in Aberdeen and Fraserburgh. Based at 6 and 7 Queens Terrace in Aberdeen, Hall Morrice can be contacted on 01224 647394 or at

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Sep 232016

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


Over the river view of Banchory Lodge which has been shortlisted in the category of ‘Most Hospitable Hotel’

The diversity of the north east’s tourism industry and the strength of the role it plays across the region has been highlighted in the shortlist of finalists announced in the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards. From luxury hotels to camper vans, from sports events to cultural festivals, from chefs to shop owners, 45 tourism businesses and individuals are in the running for awards to be announced at a ceremony later this year.

Those who pick up one of the regional titles will go on to represent the area at the national tourism Oscars – the Scottish Thistle Awards – when they next take place in 2017.

Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards chairman Peter Sangster says the shortlist underlines how people from a range of backgrounds and businesses play an essential part in a visitor’s experience.

He adds,

“When we think about tourism, we often think about hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfasts but the reality is that a huge number of different businesses can and do influence the experience of a visitor to the area.

“We are thrilled to be able to showcase the restaurants, events, bars, shops, attractions and people who are so essential to our tourism industry. Whether they are winners on the night or not, they should be proud of the role they play.

“As always, the judging panel has had a very hard task in whittling down the entries. We look forward to celebrating everyone’s success at the awards ceremony in November.”

The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony and gala dinner at Ardoe House Hotel in Aberdeen on November 25, 2016. Information about tickets and sponsorship opportunities is available at

The full list of finalists is as follows:

  • Most Hospitable Hotel – Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course; Banchory Lodge; Holiday Inn Aberdeen West.
  • Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House – Lys-Na-Greyne; Shorehead Guesthouse; Callater Lodge.
  • Best Accommodation Provider (previously Best Holiday Accommodation) – Deeside Classic Campers; Mill of Nethermill Holidays; High Seas Hobbits.
  • Best Informal Eating Experience – Merchant Bistro; No.10 Bar & Restaurant; Mains of Drum
  • Best Restaurant Experience – Eat on the Green; Banchory Lodge; Luigi’s Italian Restaurant, Holiday Inn Aberdeen West.
  • Friendliest Pub/Bar – Feughside Inn; McGinty’s Meal An’ Ale; The Grill.
  • Best Cultural Event or Festival – Celebrate Aberdeen; Scottish Traditional Boat Festival; Taste of Grampian.
  • Best Sporting Event – Aboyne Highland Games; Braemar Gathering; Baker Hughes 10K Running Festival.
  • Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience – Go Ape Crathes Castle; Glen Tanar Estate; Deeside Activity Park.
  • Working Together for Tourism – Aberdeen Art Gallery and NTS at Drum Castle; VisitAberdeenshire; The Spotty Bag Shop.
  • Best Visitor Attraction – Royal Lochnagar Distillery; Braemar Castle; Museum of Scottish Lighthouses.
  • Tourism and Hospitality Hero – Jean Ryrie, Jurys Inn Aberdeen Airport; Aamir Mir – Ardoe House Hotel; Elma McMenemy – Elma McMenemy Tourism.
  • Innovation in Tourism Award – The World’s Only Aberdeen Angus Trail; NTS Drum Castle Gardens and Estate; High Seas Hobbits.
  • Regional Rising Star (age -30) – Craig Rochester – Eat on the Green; Kadri Soerunurk – Sound Festival; Gemma Cruickshank, VisitAberdeenshire.
  • Regional Ambassador (age 31+) – Des Cheyne -Spotty Shop; Claire Bruce – Glen Tanar Estate; Elma McMenemy – Elma McMenemy Tourism.
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Jun 242016

James Dickson2With thanks to Aberdeen Magical Society Media Team.

An Aberdeen-based magician has scooped two prestigious prizes in a hard-fought magic competition. James Dickson was awarded the Ulster Cup for Close-Up Magic and the President’s Plate by a panel of his peers at the Aberdeen Magical Society.

James, a prolific magical inventor whose tricks are used by magicians around the world, triumphed with a creative act which culminated with a signed coin appearing inside a sealed tin of peas.

He says,

“Magic is an art form that has helped me find my place in the world. Competitions are an opportunity for me to create and collate ideas, and it means a lot to me when other people like one of my performances.”

The Ulster Cup is presented to the magician who displays the best technical skill and entertainment value in Aberdeen Magical Society’s annual close-up magic competition. The President’s Plate is awarded by the society’s current president to his favourite act of the competition.

Although James has won the President’s Plate on two previous occasions, this is the first time he has lifted the Ulster Cup as he wowed the judges with his creative magic and comedic timing. He says,

“Magic is an art form at its heart and all art is an expression of the individual. The more I perform and study magic the more I end up learning about myself.

“When I create a trick I do not sit down and think what I can do that is unique or individual to me; instead I explore ideas that I find interesting and it can lead to some unusual places.

“Even if it means investing two years of work to find a solution to a problem I am willing to go that far – and what’s more, I have. This open approach to magic and commitment has allowed my work to be picked up by others who can see the value of my efforts.

“I have no idea where magic might take me but if the experiences, travel, friendships, discoveries and fulfilment that I have experienced so far are anything to go by, I am looking forward with excitement.”

James, who cites his early influences as TV stars Paul Daniels, David Copperfield and David Blaine, has always been fascinated by the challenge presented by magic, likening it to the finest ‘whodunit’ mystery. But it was joining Aberdeen Magical Society that he feels really allowed him to hone his craft.

He explains,

“Before I joined Aberdeen Magical Society I was happy self-studying magic, but upon joining I discovered why being part of a magic club is so important for a magician.

“Aberdeen Magical Society has a library of magic that covers many topics, and has rare and out-of-print materials that can help conjurors advance in their magic. Moreover, the wealth of knowledge amongst the members is staggering and the advice I have received over the years has helped me tremendously.

“The society is established enough to attract many of the greatest magicians in the world to come and lecture, and at every meeting there is magic to see and opportunities to perform tricks that you are working on. And to top it all – it’s fun! I have made great friends and it’s fantastic that every couple of weeks I can hang around with people who share the same passion in life.

“I would recommend anyone with an interest in performing or studying magic – who can keep a secret – to join.”

Aberdeen Magical Society was founded in 1926, and is one of the most active magical societies in the country. With a membership ranging from full time professionals to amateur hobbyists, all those with a genuine interest in magic are welcome to join. Providing a warm and welcoming environment for magicians in the north east of Scotland, Aberdeen Magical Society is dedicated to developing the art of magic. In 2016, the society celebrates its 90th anniversary.

For more information, visit or like Aberdeen Magical Society on Facebook at

May 192016

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

Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards 2015. Pic (L to R)

Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards 2015.

Tourism operators who make visits to the north east of Scotland memorable and magical are being urged to step into the spotlight with the launch of the 2016 Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards.

The awards, which are now in their fourth year and celebrate the very best of the region’s tourism offering, are now open for entry.

There are 15 different categories, recognising hotels, bars, restaurants, visitor attractions, events and individuals.

And those who are lucky enough to pick up one of the accolades will also have the honour of representing the area at the national tourism Oscars – the Scottish Thistle Awards – which next take place in 2017.

The Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards have gone from strength to strength since their inception, with the number of entries growing year on year. Awards chairman Peter Sangster says organisers are expecting another record number of submissions.

He adds,

“The fact that we are now a regional final for the Scottish Thistle Awards has added a further string to our bow and has consolidated the work we did in the initial years to get the awards off the ground.

“This means that our winners go on to represent the area in the national finals against other regional finalists from all over Scotland. I know those who travelled to the Scottish Thistle Awards earlier this year were immensely proud to represent the north east.

“I think the awards are becoming more popular because tourism businesses and individuals can really see the benefit of entering. Being shortlisted alone can help to raise their profile, and can be used as a marketing tool to show visitors that they offer a high quality experience.”

Entries will remain open until June 30, 2016 when all of the submissions will be whittled down to a shortlist in each category. Finalists will be interviewed by a judging panel, and there will also be secret judges’ visits to establishments.

Peter says,

“The end of June may seem like a long way away, but it is only a matter of weeks. We would urge people to enter now – not leave it to the last minute – and not to be shy in telling us why they deserve to win.”

The full list of awards categories is:

1.            Most Hospitable Hotel
2.            Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House
3.            Best Accommodation Provider (previously Best Holiday Accommodation)
4.            Best Informal Eating Experience
5.            Best Restaurant Experience
6.            Friendliest Pub/Bar
7.            Best Cultural Event or Festival
8.            Best Sporting Event
9.            Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience
10.          Working Together for Tourism
11.          Best Visitor Attraction
12.          Tourism and Hospitality Hero
13.          Innovation in Tourism Award
14.          Regional Rising Star (age -30)
15.          Regional Ambassador (age 31+)

Entry into the awards is free and can be made at The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony and gala dinner at Ardoe House Hotel in Aberdeen on November 25, 2016.

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May 132016

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

Ambassador Awards - Prof John Watson

Professor John Watson recieved a special recognition award at the Team Aberdeen Ambassador Awards for his efforts in bringing conferences to the north east of Scotland.

Ambassadors responsible for bringing high profile conferences to the north east were on Wednesday (11 May) recognised at an award ceremony in Aberdeen’s Chester Hotel. The annual Team Aberdeen Ambassador Awards celebrated the efforts of those who brought conferences on a diverse range of topics – including gene regulation, translation, rural sociology and marine technology – to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire over the past 12 months.

Twenty individuals received awards for their efforts in promoting the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to their associations, successfully bidding for and hosting 18 conferences in Aberdeen City and Shire over the past year.

Such events have highlighted local organisations’ expertise within a diverse range of subject areas, and have helped to promote the north east as an attractive conferencing destination.

A special recognition award was also given to Professor John Watson of the University of Aberdeen. Throughout his career, Professor Watson has been an incredible ambassador for the region. This special award recognises the wide range of academic events he has brought to Aberdeen over the years, including the European Optical Society 2012, 3DTV 2013 and IEEE Oceans 2007 and 2017 conferences.

Professor Watson says,

“I am absolutely thrilled to receive this special recognition award, and it is fantastic to see so many of my peers’ efforts being recognised as well. Organising conferences on this scale requires the support of a strong team, and we are all grateful for the hard work of our colleagues in helping bring them to fruition.

“As academics, we have wide networks of contacts that span the globe and it is important that we use these to bring our international colleagues to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire for high-profile conferences and events. This not only benefits our own academic institutes by bringing world-renowned experts to Aberdeen, but benefits also the conference venues and has a knock on effect to the leisure tourism industry as visitors discover just what the region has to offer.”

Steve Harris, chief executive of VisitAberdeenshire, adds,

“Aberdeen is often called the oil capital of Europe, and many know about the large energy industry events which take place in the city. While the energy industry is obviously valuable to the region, it is important to realise and celebrate the diverse range of academic events that also take place.

Ambassador Awards - Winners“From Latin American studies to cement and concrete technology, the breadth of conferences held in the north east over the past year is staggering. It shows that Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have a lot to offer in a diverse range of important research fields. 

The success of these conferences highlights the excellent facilities that the north east has to offer.

“From the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre for large-scale conferences to the hotels and exclusive use venues which host smaller meetings and events, the region has a lot to offer those looking for somewhere to hold a successful conference.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Team Aberdeen Ambassadors for all of the work they have put into promoting the region to their academic colleagues, and we look forward to working with them over the next twelve months to bring even more conferences to the area.”

The full list of winners is:

  • Dr Raif Yuecel & Linda Duncan, University of Aberdeen – Scottish Society of Cytomics Meeting 2014
  • Dr Shauna Cunningham, Robert Gordon University – Diet, Gene Regulation and Metabolic Disease Conference 2015
  • Professor Patience Schell, University of Aberdeen – Society for Latin American Studies Conference 2015
  • Yasa Ratnayeke, Aberdeen City Council – Energy Cities Annual Conference 2015
  • Dr Graham Wilson, Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital – Association of Paediatric Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland Scientific Meeting 2015
  • Karen Orchard, Aberdeen City Council – HyTrEc Conference 2015
  • Dr Alastair McKinlay, NHS Grampian & Dr Umesh Basavaraju, University of Aberdeen  – Scottish  Society of Gastroenterology Spring Meeting 2015
  • Professor Peter Reid, Robert Gordon University – i3 information: interactions and impact 2015
  • Dr Berndt Müller, University of Aberdeen – Translation UK 2015 Conference
  • Professor Bernadette Connolly, University of Aberdeen – International Student Research Forum 2015
  • Professor David Lurie, University of Aberdeen – 9th Conference on Fast Field Cycling NMR Relaxometry 2015
  • Dr Lee-Ann Sutherland, James Hutton Institute – European Society for Rural Sociology Congress
  • Dr Mohammed Imbabi, University of Aberdeen – Cement and Concrete Science Conference 2015
  • Dr Alasdair Mackenzie, University of Aberdeen – Neuropeptides 2015 Conference
  • Dr Barry O’Neill, University of Aberdeen – 12th International Workshops Methods for the Development and Evaluation of Maritime Technologies
  • Dr Ejaz Pathan & Dr Neil Basu,, NHS Grampian – Scottish Society for Rheumatology Autumn Meeting 2015
  • Elaine Cleary, Junior Chamber International – Junior Chamber International European Presidents Conference 2016
  • Professor John Watson, University of Aberdeen – Special Recognition Award – European Optical Society 2012, 3DTV 2013, IEEE Oceans 2007 and 2017

Team Aberdeen Ambassadors is a collaboration between VisitAberdeenshire, University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University, James Hutton Institute and Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, working together to increase the level of national and international association conferences being held in Aberdeen City and Shire. The Team supports individuals who can influence their own professional association in bringing events to the north east.

For more information, visit

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Apr 082016

Colin CampbellWith thanks to Gemma Setter, Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Aberdeen-based Langstane, Scotland’s largest independent office supplies company, has achieved the Investors in Young People Accreditation, the only people management standard that focuses on an employer’s recruitment and retention of young people.

This represents a true commitment to the training and development of young people and demonstrates Langstane as an employer of choice for young people.

Launched in July 2014, Investors in Young People originated through a key recommendation from the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, led by Sir Ian Wood.

The accreditation is offered to all businesses across Scotland and exists to recognise and support organisations across Scotland in the employment of young people.

Having now achieved the accreditation, Langstane is now eligible to use and display the Investors in Young People logo and plaque, and enjoy its benefits.

Commenting on the award, Colin Campbell (pictured), managing director of Langstane, said:

“Langstane is extremely committed to attracting and retaining young talent in all areas of the business. Young people play a huge part in the future of our company, so it is vital that we provide them with all the training, support and advice they need to truly excel in the workplace.

“We are honoured to be awarded the Investors in Young People Accreditation, as it reflects our dedication towards helping those just out of school, college or university into a worthwhile career with Langstane.”

Peter Russian, chief executive of Investors in People Scotland, said:

“This is a fantastic achievement for Langstane, and I and the whole IIYP team would like to wholeheartedly congratulate them. The Investors in Young People framework not only recognises and supports organisations in the employment of young people, but marks them out as an employer of choice. 

“I envisage that many more organisations will wish to follow in the footsteps of Langstane and demonstrate their commitment to young people by working with the Investors in Young People framework.”

He continued:

“The benefits of recruiting and developing young people are countless. These include the creation of a talent pool for the future, new and increased skills in areas such as IT and social media, fresh eyes and mind-sets into business operations along with enthusiasm and unique talents.”

James Bream, research and policy director at Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce added on behalf of Developing the Young Workforce North East Scotland, added:

“It is exciting to see another North-east business taking real action to help create a bright future for the young people in the area. We work closely with business and schools to help promote the benefits of supporting young talent, so it’s superb to hear that Langstane have received an Investors in Young People Accreditation to reward their efforts.”

Established in 1947 as a family business, Langstane is now Scotland’s largest independent office products company and one of the largest in the UK. It employs 158 staff from its head office in Aberdeen, as well as offices in Dundee, Livingston, and Inverurie.

Specialising in a wide variety of office products, Langstane also supplies print services, furniture, catering, business gifts, and janitorial supplies to locations throughout Scotland.

For more information about Langstane, its products and career opportunities visit Like them on Facebook at and follow them on Twitter at

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Mar 112016

David Forbes5With thanks to Future Choices.

Local Voluntary Charity Chairman, David Forbes, has been shortlisted for a prestigious award under the category of Male Role Model of the Year on behalf of local events company Wobia Entertainment House.
The purpose of the awards ceremony is to recognise achievement from all sectors.

Charity Boss David said:

“I simply cannot believe it. Again I have been nominated and now shortlisted. Last year I was lucky enough to win and this year I have again been shortlisted.

“I’m so honoured as I only set out to make the lives of disabled people better as much as I can” 

David runs a local voluntary charity called Future Choices, the charity provides vital social inclusion and recreational activities to those who have a physical disability. They provide sessions every Tuesday from 11-1 from their base at Inchgarth Community Centre in Garthdee.

The charity boss added:

“If I win, it will push me even more to help those who really need it and will be dedicated to my dear mother, whom I do this work for, and her pals.”

The results are down to the public voting, so if you feel David deserves your vote, follow the link, you need to Register, confirm email and select David Forbes for Male Role Model of the Year

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Jan 072016
Aberdeen Asset Management/Glover Scholarship Winner Bar Soba, 104 Hanover Street, Edinburgh Aberdeen Asset Management has announced that Caroline Marshall (20) is the winner of its prestigious Glover Scholarship scheme whereby a Scottish student is granted the opportunity to maximise their career opportunities by studying in Japan. Neil Hanna Photography 07702 246823

Photo: Caroline Marshall, winner of the 2015 Thomas Glover Scholarship.

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

A prestigious annual scholarship which offers a student from a Scottish university the opportunity to visit Japan to study the country’s language, business and culture has attracted a record level of interest. Applications to the 2016 Thomas Blake Glover Aberdeen Asset Scholarship have eclipsed all previous entry levels.

With 68 entries, it is double the number who applied last year and is the highest number of applications on record, according to the Japan Society of Scotland which runs the scholarship sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management.

The judging panel will have the tough task of drawing up a short list in the run up to Christmas, with interviews likely to take place in mid to late January.

A spokesman from the Japan Society of Scotland commented:

“At 68 the number of applicants this year has more than doubled compared with last and has risen steeply compared to previous years. The gender split is fairly even and there are applications from students attending a variety of Scottish universities.

“It seems there is growing awareness among the student fraternity about the tremendous opportunities this scholarship offers up to its winner.”

The Thomas Blake Glover Aberdeen Asset Scholarship is a charitable fund which enables young people with an interest in Japanese culture and a clear business focus the chance to apply.

It funds travel to Japan for intensive study of the Japanese language at the International Christian University (ICU) Summer Programme, with preference to candidate whose interest in Japan has a business focus.

The scholarship is named after the Scottish entrepreneur Thomas Blake Glover, born in Aberdeenshire in 1838. Glover settled in Nagasaki in 1859 and played a critically important role in opening Japan to the west. Known as the Scottish Samurai, he introduced the first railway locomotive, started the Kirin brewery and influenced the industrial development of Mitsubishi.

This year’s winner, Caroline Marshall, spent the summer in Tokyo and described the experience as a dream come true.

Caroline (21), a former pupil of Trinity High School and Stonelaw High School, both Rutherglen, Glasgow is studying law at the University of Edinburgh and wants to pursue a career in international commercial law.

Of her experiences Caroline said:

“I can’t imagine gaining this kind of experience anywhere else.

“The programme is designed to teach a year of university level Japanese in six weeks. While this sounds daunting, it’s been an exciting and unique opportunity. Attending classes were only part of the experience. ICU runs a cultural programme alongside the course, meaning that students are given the opportunity to experience many traditional Japanese activities or places with Japanese students to guide us. 

Through this scholarship, Aberdeen Asset Management and the Japan Society of Scotland have created a milestone in my life that I feel has already set me on a new and exciting path.”

The scholarship has grown in status and reputation over the years, evident by the rising tide of applications.

Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, said: “It is encouraging to see a marked increase in the number of applications for this scholarship which offers an exceptional opportunity to experience Japanese education, industries and lifestyle and an opportunity to forge new partnerships with the country, which has one of the world’s largest economies.

“With such a high number of entries, no doubt the judging panel will have a tough time in the weeks ahead choosing the winning candidate.”

More about the scholarship can be found at,  and


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Dec 082015

The University of Aberdeen’s Elphinstone Institute has launched the 2016 Toulmin Prize, with a cash prize of £500 for the winning entry. Courtesy of Leopard Magazine.

David_Toulmin2The competition, now in its eighth year, commemorates the work of one of the North-East’s finest exponents of the short story. John Reid (1913-1998) was an Aberdeenshire farm labourer from Rathen, near Fraserburgh, who spent most of his life working long hours for very small rewards.

In odd moments, he jotted down short stories, character studies and bothy tales.

Eventually, as David Toulmin, he had a few articles printed in local newspapers. The first of his ten books was published when he was 59.

The books consist mostly of short stories and reminiscences, with his one novel, Blown Seed, painting a harsh picture of farm life.

In the later years of his life, Reid moved to Pittodrie Place, Aberdeen, and later to Westhill. He was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Aberdeen in 1986.

The Toulmin Prize is open to all amateur writers over the age of 16. The short story, up to 4000 words in length, should be concerned with some aspect of life in North-East Scotland and may be written in Scots, including Doric, or English, or a mixture of the two. Previous prize-winners cannot submit an entry.

In addition to the cash prize, the winning entry will be published in Leopard Magazine and subsequently featured on the website of the Scots Language Centre.

The award for the best entry will be made at the University of Aberdeen’s May Festival 2016, when the winning story will be read aloud by the well-known North-East writer, Sheena Blackhall.

Emeritus Professor Ian Russell, former director of the Elphinstone Institute at  the University of Aberdeen, says:

“We’re proud to be able to honour John Reid and his work in this way. His writing is powerful, evocative and witty, and he is one of the finest exponents of writing in the North-East. We have had a terrific response to the previous competitions and the standard of entries has been superb.”

The closing date for entries is the 31st  March 2016. For entry details and a form, please visit:

Text and photo courtesy of Leopard Magazine.

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Dec 032015

By Charlie Abel.

Ronnie Watt 11Aberdonian karate students will have great cause to celebrate this week with the news that their very own Ronnie Watt OBE ORS, chief instructor of the NKF (national karate federation) and director of Shotokan for the WKC (world karate confederation) has been awarded a 9th Dan black belt (Kudan). It is believed to be the highest ever Dan grade awarded to an Aberdonian or a Scotsman.

This is a major achievement for Ronnie and for karate in Scotland.

Ronnie Watt’s name is already famous and well respected throughout the city of Aberdeen and the karate world. Being graded a 9th Dan Ronnie joins the elite ranks of the worlds most repected Karate masters.

Obtaining a black belt is very difficult, very few people manage to train hard enough, it takes at least three years and most people give up, perhaps one in a hundred achieve a black belt. Some will go on and get a 2nd Dan or higher. However, it is almost unheard of to achieve a 9th Dan in karate. Very few manage to reach this level, most are Japanese and it takes a lifetime of training.

This is a first for Scottish Shotokan Karate and it’s a great honour for the city having a home grown 9th Dan teaching and training karate, here in Aberdeen, Ronnie’s home town.

The 9th Dan will be presented to Ronnie by the International Shotokan-ryu Karate–do Shihankai (ISKS). The ISKS was set up in 2004 by an international group of world karate masters to protect and maintain the tradition of karate, which they see is sadly being diluted by many outside ‘fashionable’ influences. The ISKS is one of the most respected orders in the world of Karate today.

Karate has been a way of life for Ronnie and his family. He has won many competitions both home and internationally. To date he has trained over 25,000 students in his 50 years, many of them achieving black belt and going on to higher Dan grades, his students are well known for returning from World Championship tournaments laden with medals and golden trophies.

His wife Gail has been indispensible in running Ronnie’s NKF Karate Academy and his children, now adults are also very much following in his footsteps with Son Reeve (5th Dan) and Daughter Roxy (5th Dan) training karate regularly and teaching classes. Grandson Cooper (age 4) has also recently started training, keen to join his grandpa in the dojo.

Ronnie who has trained karate ‘religiously’ as a way of life for 50 years was recently entered into the European Hall of fame for Martial Arts (November 2015).

Ronnie has previously been awarded an OBE from the Queen. In 2010 was recognised by the Emperor of Japan with an Order of the Rising Sun – a very special award rarely given to foreigners. Ronnie joins good company with famous people such as Clint Eastwood, Gustav Eiffel of France, George Takei (Sulu, Helmsman of the Starship enterprise on Star Trek) Bobby Charlton, and ex UK Prime minister Sir John Major.

In 2014, Ronnie was awarded a Commemorative Medal of the Trnava Self-Governing Region (TSGR) of Slovakia by the TSGR’s president, Tibor Mikus for promotion of friendship between Scotland and Slovakia. Ronnie is also a Free Burgess of Guild member of the city of Aberdeen, (Freedom of the city) and is a banner bearer to the Knights of the Most Holy Trinity, who are a heraldic based charity organisation raising funds for good causes.

When asked about his 50 years in Karate and his 9th Dan Ronnie says,

“I’ve just loved karate, being karate. It’s what I’ve always done.

“I see a lot of people and see what it can do for them.  The discipline, the training, the Budo (the way) it changes them. It changed me. Karate improves people. It’s beautiful….My 50 years have not been easy, but I’d do it again tomorrow..”

“ I’m very happy and really humbled to receive the 9th Dan. It’s amazing…I’m still learning!”

Having one of the worlds most decorated and respected Karate masters living and teaching in Aberdeen is a massive advantage to anyone wishing to learn more about Karate-do.

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