Oct 132017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Two planning enforcement notices have been served by Aberdeenshire Council on Avant Homes in respect of the former Kingseat Hospital development near Newmachar.
The action by the Council’s planning service follows a report on Kingseat, instigated by East Garioch councillor Martin Ford, that went to the Garioch Area Committee in June.

Cllr Ford has welcomed the decision to serve enforcement notices. He said:

“I am very pleased by the response from the Council’s planning service to the Member Promoted Issue report on Kingseat discussed at the Garioch Area Committee in June. Actions are now being taken that will put real pressure on the main site owner to complete at least some of the outstanding planning requirements.”

The planning enforcement notices served relate to the storage of spoil and materials and failure to install a play park, required from the developers as part of the overall Kingseat planning permission. The developer has 12 weeks from 20 October to clear the spoil storage area and create a new open space including play equipment.

If the developer wishes to appeal the enforcement notices, it must do so by 19 October.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“Under the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, councillors are not allowed to press for particular planning enforcement actions. Such decisions are for officers in the planning service. The decisions officers have now taken regarding Kingseat have my wholehearted support.

“I do think Aberdeenshire Council was far too passive for far too long in dealing with the stalled development at Kingseat. Of course, the Council cannot simply order the developers to complete the whole development, it doesn’t have that power. But the Council can proactively pursue obligations the developers have under the legal agreements associated with planning permissions, and take enforcement action over non-compliance with those permissions.

“There is clearly now a new determination to use the powers the Council does have to try to force the main site owner to undertake further work stipulated by the permissions granted and agreements signed. That has got to be very welcome.”

Aberdeenshire Council hopes Avant Homes will comply with the enforcement notices. In the event of non-compliance, officers in the Council’s planning service will decide what action to take. This could include the Council undertaking the work required and recovering costs from Avant Homes and reporting Avant Homes to the procurator fiscal for non-compliance.

The Council is also reviewing other options for action to get work progressed at Kingseat, including Avant Homes’ obligations under Section 75 legal agreements.

In order to preserve the historically important former hospital site, Aberdeenshire Council granted planning permission for a mixed use development at Kingseat in December 2004. The first new homes at Kingseat were completed on 21 February 2006 – so some residents have now been living in an unfinished development for over eleven years. The lack of a play park is just one very obvious failure by the main site developer.

The Council’s long-standing policy on preserving the historic buildings at Kingseat is reflected in the agreed development brief for the site.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“The goal has to be to get the whole development finished and see the fine buildings that are currently derelict brought back into use.”

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Oct 062017
 

With thanks to Yvette Rayner, PR Account Manager, Frasermedia Ltd.

An Aberdeen sports facility is the first in Scotland to achieve the highest possible standard in the leading UK sports and leisure quality scheme.

Aberdeen Sports Village, which is based on the city’s Linksfield Road, is the first facility in Scotland to have passed the toughest assessment offered by Sport Scotland’s leading national quality scheme, Quest.

Quest is the best-known improvement programme within the leisure industry and its rigorous assessments challenge all leading leisure centres in the UK.

ASV has achieved Quest Stretch, which is only available to high performing centres, and is the highest possible achievement.

In order to qualify for a Quest Stretch assessment, centres must have been rated ‘Excellent’ in their previous Quest assessment. To achieve the top award, ASV went through a two-day assessment plus a mystery visit. To make the process even tougher, managers were not informed when the assessor or mystery visitor would be arriving.

ASV was particularly commended by Quest on its programme for older people, Evergreens, which helps participants remain active for longer, as well as its opportunities for children and disabled people.

Duncan Sinclair, CEO for ASV, said:

“Everyone at ASV is dedicated to providing the best service and facilities for all of our customers. We are delighted to achieve this award, as it is a testament of the high standards we strive to provide.

“Quest is an ongoing programme, which looks not just at our customer service but also the important work we do developing sporting opportunities in the community. Congratulations to all staff and volunteers at ASV, this award is very well deserved.”

Quest’s operations director, Caroline Constantine, said:

“Quest Stretch is the highest accreditation that can be achieved and as such it is an extremely demanding process. By meeting Quest Stretch’s very high standards, ASV has shown its commitment to providing quality facilities and service to its customers. In these tough economic times it is more important than ever that local leisure facilities can demonstrate their value, and Quest Stretch accreditation helps them do just that.”

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Aug 252017
 

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

An Aberdeen-based family support charity has issued an urgent plea for new volunteers to help it achieve its target of recruiting 30 new volunteers within 30 weeks during its 30th anniversary year.

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 whom they visit on a weekly basis.

Home-Start Aberdeen now plans to run a further two volunteer induction courses in August before hitting its 30-week deadline in September.

The charity launched the 30 in 30 volunteer recruitment campaign in February this year in a bid to reduce its waiting list of families who are in need of support.

Georgette Cobban (pictured), scheme manager, Home-Start Aberdeen said:

“No formal qualifications are required to become a Home-Start Aberdeen volunteer, however we are looking for people who have a keen interest in the wellbeing of families or who have parenting experience themselves.

“Families who are referred to us may be struggling with a variety of issues such as post-natal depression, isolation, physical health problems or bereavement. We prepare our volunteers – and carefully match them with a family – so that their own life skills and experience can be of benefit to others.

“In addition to the initial preparation course, our volunteers receive ongoing support from their Home-Start Aberdeen co-ordinator, plus regular opportunities for further skills development. All we ask for in return is a commitment of 2-3 hours a week to provide a city-based family with emotional and practical support in their home surroundings.

“Although we are bigger than ever before – with around 100 volunteers – the need for our service continues to grow, as do our waiting lists. I would urge anyone who thinks they might be able to help to get in touch for a no-pressure chat.”

Over the past three decades Home-Start Aberdeen has grown to become one of the UK’s largest Home-Start schemes, providing over 220 families and 360 children with around 27,500 hours of support each year. Families are referred to the charity mainly by health visitors and social workers, however they can also self-refer. The support provided is completely free: families must have an address in the city and one child under five years old, otherwise there are no barriers to access.

Home-Start Aberdeen’s next volunteer induction courses commence on Wednesday, 30 August. Each course incorporates eight weekly sessions, with daytime and evening options to suit different schedules.

For further details, or to arrange an informal chat, email volunteering@homestartaberdeen.org.uk or call 01224 693545. Additional information is also available at www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk.

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Jul 062017
 

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

A local family charity has received a two-year pledge of support from the Aberdeen branch of Rathbones, a leading investment management company.

Home-Start Aberdeen has recently benefited from a £5,000 donation towards its work with vulnerable families in 2017. This donation will be repeated in 2018 after the scheme was selected by the Rathbones Aberdeen as its nominated charity.

Employees from Rathbones also plan to augment the initial donation by getting involved with additional fundraising activities over the next 24 months.

Meera Dennis, investment director at Rathbones said:

“We are aware of the work that Home-Start Aberdeen does to support families in our local communities, who may be struggling as a result of various challenges and circumstances beyond their control.

“The cause resonated with many of our team members and we are looking forward to deepening our involvement with Home-Start Aberdeen – and our understanding of their various support services – over the coming period.”

The support from Rathbones comes at a pivotal point in Home-Start Aberdeen’s history; the charity is currently celebrating 30 years of support for families in the city, however it faces the challenge of a growing waiting list.

Georgette Cobban (pictured), Home-Start Aberdeen’s scheme manager said:

“This new pledge of two years of support from Rathbones is incredibly welcome and very much appreciated.

“Home-Start Aberdeen currently has over 100 volunteers, who are working with more families than ever before, but we still desperately need to recruit and train more. Our third volunteer preparation course of the year is set to take place in August. The amount donated by Rathbones will enable us to deliver this crucial training with a view to helping families on our waiting list as soon as possible.”

Home-Start Aberdeen supports around 220 families and 360 children each year and is one of the largest Home-Start schemes in the UK. Its trained volunteers work with referred families to help them access relevant health and welfare services, manage family budgets and nutrition, engage with their communities and enjoy family life again.

Further information is available at www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk.

 
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Jul 032017
 

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

(L to R) Sarah Harker and Moira Gash of DeeTour and VisitScotland regional director Jo Robinson.

A pair of Aberdeenshire entrepreneurs have launched a new tourist guidebook aimed at attracting more visitors to Royal Deeside.
Moira Gash and Sarah Harker, who run tour and activities business DeeTour alongside their own separate businesses, have created the Royal Deeside PassporTour, a pocketsize guide showcasing things to see and do in the Aberdeenshire valley.

The pair previously worked for tourism body Visit Royal Deeside.

Aimed at national and international visitors and locals alike, the 128-page book highlights the diversity of the area’s tourism offering. The guide was created after local tourism businesses called for this type of publication.

With stunning scenery, a wealth of locally produced food and drink, and an array of tourist attractions, golf courses and outdoor activities to enjoy, Royal Deeside has something for visitors of all ages. The book is designed to provide a comprehensive insight for those planning a trip to the area, while also acting as a guide and money saving tool as they explore the region.

Along with highlighting key tourist attractions and profiling the amenities and activities on offer in each of the main towns, the guide features interviews with local artists, tour guides, musicians, sportspeople and tourism professionals, helping to bring the region to life. A golf trail and a tea and cake trail each present further incentives to explore Royal Deeside, with participating businesses offering discounts to customers.

The history, heritage and culture of Royal Deeside and Scotland is also outlined, and a handy summary of Doric words will help visitors to grasp some of the basics of the distinctive north-east dialect.

Priced at £9.95, the Royal Deeside PassporTour provides purchasers with over £200 worth of savings through the 23 vouchers and two trails that it features.

The guidebook is also suitable for local families looking for inspiration for things to do during the summer holidays. Vouchers include 15% off at Go Ape at Crathes Castle, 50% off at Battlegrounds Paintball, two for one entry to Braemar Castle and 20% off day rover tickets at the Deeside Railway.

Co-director of DeeTour, Moira Gash, said:

“The Royal Deeside PassporTour aims to allow travellers to make informed choices as they plan their trip to Aberdeenshire and also act as a reference tool while they are visiting. Thanks to its royal connection, Deeside draws visitors from around the world and we’ve had interest in the guide from far and wide.

“Not only is it suitable for those visiting the area for the first time, but the huge savings offered by the featured businesses makes it a fantastic tool for locals. For families planning day trips during the summer holidays, the savings on offer at Go Ape at Crathes Castle and Battlegrounds’ paintballing, near Banchory, more than cover the cost of the book.”

The initiative has received the backing of VisitScotland, and was showcased at this year’s Royal Highland Show as part of the Aberdeenshire Village display, where it was given an enthusiastic reception from show visitors.

Jo Robinson, VisitScotland regional director, said:

“I think the Royal Deeside PassporTour is a great idea to inform visitors coming to beautiful Royal Deeside of the vast array of attractions, entertainment, locations and handy hints and tips, as well as locals looking for ideas for the summer holidays.

“Partnership and collaboration is at the heart of Scottish tourism and VisitScotland works with local industry to develop and deliver innovative initiatives that grow the regional visitor economy. We need to think big about Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire as a tourism destination to ensure we fulfil our potential – every visitor must get a quality experience, every single time.

“The Royal Deeside PassporTour reveals some of Aberdeenshire’s best-loved places as well as its hidden gems, and is a fantastic celebration of everything that this charming corner of the world has to offer visitors.”

Copies of the Royal Deeside PassporTour can be purchased from a number of businesses in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire or online at www.deetour.co.uk.

DeeTour is an Aberdeenshire-based tour and activities business that was established by business partners Moira Gash and Sarah Harker. The business provides bespoke tour and activity packages to help visitors explore Aberdeenshire. In 2017, DeeTour launched the Royal Deeside PassporTour, a new guidebook highlighting the wealth of things to see, do and sample in the region. The pocketsize book, which costs £9.95, includes over 20 vouchers that provide more than £200 of discounts at local business. 

Further information about DeeTour and the Royal Deeside PassporTour can be found at www.deetour.co.uk.

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Jun 232017
 

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

From left to right: Pat Ramsay, Myles Edwards, Phil Anderson, and Louise Dingwall.

A North-east financial services company has helped to provide Kenyan children with opportunities for a better future through a charitable donation.

Phil Anderson Financial Services, which has offices in Ellon, Aberdeen and Caithness, recently donated £500 to the Gathimba Edwards Foundation, a charity that supports disadvantaged kids in the east African country of Kenya.

Through its sponsorship of the Charity Open at Oldmeldrum Golf Club, the firm selected the Gathimba Edwards Foundation as a beneficiary, due to the charity’s dedication towards improving the lives of almost 250 poverty-stricken Kenyan children.

To date, the Gathimba Edwards Foundation, founded by Aberdonian Myles Edwards and Kenyan international Gideon Gathimba, has built 17 homes for over 70 children and provided education opportunities, shelter, clothing and food to 243 kids across Kenya.

Phil Anderson Financial Services regularly supports numerous charities and community initiatives across the North-east. Last year, the business was recognised for its charitable efforts and was awarded with the Small Business Big Heart Award for its support of the Aberdeen Cyrenians.

Since the firm was launched in 2011, its staff has raised over £10,000 for a large number of local charities and causes, including Diabetes Scotland, Aspire and Aberdeen Cyrenians.

Phil Anderson, managing director of Phil Anderson Financial Services, said:

“After hearing about the Gathimba Edwards Foundation and all the fantastic work they’ve managed to achieve in such a short space of time, I thought it was only right to get behind this truly worthwhile cause.

“Supporting those that are less fortunate is something that both myself and my staff are all very passionate about. We are all looking forward to hearing about the charity’s next project and how the donation will help make a difference to the lives of many disadvantaged children across Kenya.”

Founder of the Gathimba Edwards Foundation, Myles Edwards, said:

“We are hugely grateful for the incredibly generous support from Phil and his team, as it is going to be life-changing for our children.

“There are a number of families who desperately need houses built for them, as they are currently living in iron sheet structures with no walls. We are able to build two-bedroom houses with furniture and electricity for under £3,000, so £500 is absolutely huge for us.

“Phil does so much for numerous charities and causes in both the North-east and abroad, so it really is a big honour that he has chosen to support our kids.”

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Jun 162017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

Primary school pupils have been working to add their own splash of colour in Aberdeen by sowing seeds for a city centre wildflower meadow. Alongside representatives from Aberdeen Inspired, a class of 22 P6 pupils from Hanover Street School have planted wildflower seeds on the grassy area where Bridge Street becomes College Street.

The aim of the session was to create greater biodiversity in the area while also encouraging community involvement in city centre activities.

Last year, children from Hanover Street Nursery also planted crocuses at the St Nicholas Centre rooftop garden.

Following the seed sowing, it is hoped that the school will take over looking after the wildflower meadow as part of Aberdeen Inspired’s ‘Adopt an Area’ initiative.

The organisation has played a key role in identifying areas within the city centre which could benefit from a refresh with the hope of making them more visually attractive and appealing to use.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We were delighted to invite children from Hanover Street Primary School to help us plant a wildflower meadow beside College Street which will brighten up the space in the coming weeks.

“As well as teaching them a bit about nature, this session was important to introduce a variety of wild flowers to the area. Increasing biodiversity in the city centre is very important and we are keen to encourage more projects like this.

“We are passionate about creating a more vibrant and appealing city centre and believe efforts like this, which involve working with school children, are hugely important in achieving that.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district and drive increased footfall to the area.

More information about Aberdeen Inspired is available online at: www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Jun 022017
 

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

Andy Buchan and James Farquhar of Hiretech with Michelle Ferguson from Cash for Kids.

An Aberdeenshire man has raised over £1,000 to help support sick, disabled and disadvantaged children living in north-east Scotland.
Andy Buchan, managing director of oil and gas equipment rental, service and maintenance firm Hiretech Limited, presented Aberdeen-based charity Cash for Kids with £1,076.50 following a series of fundraising events.

The big-hearted businessman used the occasion of his 50th birthday to raise money for the local children’s charity, requesting donations in lieu of presents. 

A subsequent fundraising motorcycle ride with friends and colleagues to the west coast helped to swell the final total.

Eight fellow bikers joined Andy on the return trip from Hiretech’s office at Hatton of Fintray to Applecross, with the route also taking in Ullapool and the Bealach na Ba. On the 450-mile journey the bikers received light-hearted fines for any misdemeanours and breakdowns. Andy stipulated that all bikes should be pre-1979 models, a rule he himself broke – and was fined for – by choosing to ride a 1986 Yamaha RD125LC.

The group was supported on the trip by Hiretech apprentice engineer James Farquhar. His services were put to use within minutes of the journey commencing when one of the bikes broke down around two miles outside Hatton of Fintray.

A keen motorcyclist, Andy has supported many charitable causes in recent years and was inspired to support Cash for Kids due to its local nature, with all funds being raised and distributed in the north-east. Andy first became aware of Cash for Kids 20 years ago when he played the guitar in a friend’s punk band at an event that raised money for the children’s charity.

Cash for Kids will use the donation to help fulfil applications to its unique quarterly grant funding programme. The scheme provides grants to individuals, families and community groups to support children and improve their quality of life. Applications need to be endorsed by a third party, such as a social worker or health visitor, and the deadline for applications in the current quarter is Wednesday, 19 July.

Michelle Ferguson, Cash for Kids charity manager, said:

“We are very grateful to Andy and his family, friends and colleagues for their generosity. The bike trip sounds like it was an eventful journey from the outset and illustrates how fun and imaginative fundraising can be.

“Andy’s efforts will enable Cash for Kids to continue to support a wide range of children, families and community groups in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.  Our aim is to improve the life quality of these children, whether that is a result of disability, illness or poverty.”

Andy added:

“Cash for Kids makes a positive impact on the lives of thousands of children and their families in the north-east every year. The funding it provides can be invaluable. I am very thankful to everyone who has helped me to fundraise for the charity over the past month, particularly those who were penalised for their unknown misdemeanours on our bike ride.”

To help fulfil future applications to its grant funding programme, Cash for Kids is running a major appeal throughout 2017. It is encouraging 500 people in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to sign up to its 500 Faces campaign and commit to each raising £100 before the end of December 2017. Further information is available at www.northsound1.com/faces.

Cash for Kids is an Aberdeen-based charity that works to improve the lives of sick, disabled and disadvantaged children and young people under 18 living in north-east Scotland. The community-focused organisation is Northsound Radio’s listeners’ charity. Along with running a number of campaigns throughout the year, including its annual Mission Christmas children’s gift appeal, Cash for Kids operates a unique quarterly grant giving programme. 

Grants are made to individuals, families, children’s groups, organisations and projects throughout the Northsound transmission area. All of the money that is distributed to these local families and projects has been raised locally.

More information on Cash for Kids can be found at www.northsound1.com/cashforkids or telephone 01224 337010.

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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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May 122017
 

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

Disengaged young people living in Aberdeen are being supported to reach their potential through a range of award-winning urban sports and culture programmes that have received a four figure boost from Aberdeen Asset Management’s Charitable Foundation.

Transition Extreme’s renowned youth projects combine its extreme sports and arts offering with essential skills and offer a spring board for disengaged and disadvantaged young people to move their lives onwards in a positive direction.

The donation from the Aberdeen Charity Committee of the global finance management company will support Transition Extreme in delivering its youth and community programmes like its Alternative, Outreach and Extreme Arts Academies.

The youth charity provides coaching in activities like BMX biking, skating, climbing wall, high ropes and art and design and adds in valuable life skills training, which helps increase confidence and motivation among young people who have become disengaged from traditional forms of education.

One of its longest running programmes, the Alternative Academy, works with 15-18 year olds that have become disconnected with mainstream education, training or employment. Working with agencies including social work, police and education, the Academy is designed to provide supports coaching which supports physical and mental health, complemented by soft skills workshops where employers provide support with essential skills like how to prepare for an interview, CV writing, applying for a job and fitting into a team.

Sam Begg (pictured above), fundraising manager for Transition Extreme said:

“Aberdeen Asset Management’s kind donation will help our youth work team deliver vital work and programmes tailored towards helping  disadvantaged and disengaged youngsters make positive life transitions.

“Our facility has a cool dynamic and buzz that appeals to young people who feel comfortable about coming here. As well as the sports side which is fun, we help deliver soft skills which helps towards future employability. People learn in different ways, not just sitting at a desk, and it’s encouraging to have young people come here and gain new skills. We practice what we preach as 25% of our workforce has joined us from these academies.”

Claire Drummond, head of charitable giving at Aberdeen Asset Management said:

“Transition Extreme is a well-known Aberdeen centre which offers a whole range of urban sports and is a real focus for the youth of the city.

“The programmes delivered by its Youth Work Teams are helping to build up self-belief and confidence among young people and offer an important part in the process towards helping them into further education, training or work.

“The support from our Aberdeen Charity Committee will help continue the good work of investing in positive life transitions for young people of Aberdeen.”

The Aberdeen Asset Charitable Foundation was established in 2012 to formalise and develop the Group’s charitable giving globally. The Foundation seeks partnerships with smaller charities around the world, where funds can be seen to have a meaningful and measurable impact and the firm encourages its employees to use their time and skills to support its charitable projects.

The main focus of the Foundation is around emerging markets and local communities, reflecting the desire to give back to those areas which are a key strategic focus of the business and to build on the historic pattern of giving to communities in which Aberdeen employees live and work. For more information visit http://www.aberdeen-asset.co.uk/aam.nsf/foundation/home

Transition Extreme is located at Aberdeen Beachfront and  its facilities are open to the public. As well as a range of training programmes for young people, it runs outreach  projects in Aberdeen communities.

More information is available from its website http://www.transition-extreme.com

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