Jun 022017
 

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

With thanks to Emma Brown.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Its mission is:

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

Links:

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

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

Image Credits:

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

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May 052017
 

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

Aberdeen’s world-class sports venue has partnered with national governing body Netball Scotland and VisitAberdeenshire to win the right to host an international netball competition in May, which is expected to bring almost £200,000 into the area.

Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV), which is based in the city’s Linksfield Road, will host Netball Europe, which involves eight national teams, from 11-14th May 2017.

The event is coming to Aberdeen for the third time, with the event having sold out in previous years.

The four-day international Under 21 championship will feature England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, as well as four developing nations Bermuda, Gibraltar, Israel and The Republic of Ireland, competing in the open challenge section.  

Netball Europe will come to Aberdeen in 2017 after a sustained campaign by Aberdeen Sports Village and Netball Scotland, supported by VisitAberdeenshire.

Netball Scotland CEO, Claire Nelson, said:

“We are extremely excited to be back in Aberdeen for the Under 21 Netball Europe Championships 2017 at one of the best facilities in Scotland.

“As we reach the business end of the season, this is a huge event for all of the home nations as this will be our final competition before the Under 21 World Cup in July this year. The players have committed to an intense training programme, both on and off the court, to ensure we have the capability to showcase the sport at international level.”

CEO of ASV, Duncan Sinclair, said:

“It is a superb achievement to bring Netball Europe to Aberdeen. We have worked hard to promote Aberdeen Sports Village as the best venue in Scotland to hold the event. We hosted the event in 2013 and 2015 and it was very popular and sold out quickly.

“There is a huge appetite in Aberdeen for international events and we will work closely with VisitAberdeenshire to attract more such prestigious events to the city.  The netball community in the North East is consistently growing and is very active, and I’m sure they will embrace the opportunity to watch international netball on their doorstep and become part of the event.

“With over 100 participants, Netball Europe is expected to bring a significant economical benefit of almost £200,000 to the area. It is a real honour to welcome the eight national teams to Aberdeen, and we are looking forward to some exciting games. 

“In 2015, the event sold out with more than 300 tickets per match, and we expect to match that success in 2017.”

Jenni Fraser, business development director of VisitAberdeenshire, said:

“We are  pleased that we have  been able to help bring Netball Europe to Aberdeen and put the city and the wider region on the international sporting map.

“Players, coaches, officials and spectators who will visit Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire in May will see that the region offers not only world-class sports facilities, but high quality hotels, bars and restaurants, interesting cultural attractions and beautiful scenery.  This is exactly the type of event that we want to encourage in the city because of the economic spin-off that it brings.”

Tickets for Netball Europe are priced at £5.50 (adult) and £3.30 (concession) for the Under 21 competition and £3.30 (adult) and £2.00 (concession) for the Open/Invitational challenge. Ticket are available now, from the Aberdeen Box Office, or online at http://bit.ly/2powc1b.

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Dec 062016
 

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

nikki-morris-laingAn initiative designed to help tourism businesses across the area attract more visitors has been launched by tourism body VisitAberdeenshire.

The ‘A Shared Story for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’ toolkit is supplied to businesses free of charge so that they can deliver consistent marketing messages to potential visitors in order to inspire them to come to the region.

The toolkit offers suggestions and tips on how businesses can use common themes, words and phrases, imagery and tone in their marketing materials.

It was developed following in-depth research and a series of industry discussions and workshops carried out by independent consultants, Blue Sail.

It is described as a ‘recipe book’ where businesses can follow the recipe word for word or can adapt the recipes to suit the ingredients they have. The toolkit, which contains some example imagery from the local area, will be further augmented by access to a photographic and video library. This will again be supplied free to businesses when it becomes available.

Blue Sail identifies the key features which are unique and special to the area as:

  • It is ‘true’ – a place which is authentic and real
  • Doric culture – everyday language and music in particular
  • The scale of the place – its landscapes and seascapes
  • Location and latitude – big skies, clarity and changing light
  • Long history – characterised by multitude of castles and royal associations as well as golf and whisky distilleries
  • A proud international city – unique architecture, with global connections
  • Importance of the natural world – the elements, wildlife and plant life

“The most successful tourism destinations have a simple story to tell,” says Nikki Morris-Laing (pictured), marketing director of VisitAberdeenshire.

“The ‘Shared Story’ toolkit gives a way of describing the area with a few simple themes and messages.

“It also uses third party endorsements of the area such as National Geographic describing The Cairngorms as ‘one of the last great places on earth’ and The Scotsman newspaper describing the city of Aberdeen as ‘one of the most architecturally distinctive in Europe’.

“It’s important that we identify and all work towards marking out our unique and special qualities to attract an increasing proportion of Scotland’s visitors to our region. We need to reposition our area in the minds of the travelling public so that they see beyond the ‘oil and gas capital of Europe’ nametag; our area is definitely worth visiting for its own sake and we all need to confidently portray this to potential visitors.”

The toolkit gives one over-arching story for the region and also shared stories for Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and the Banffshire coast, Royal Deeside, castles, whisky, golf, festivals and events, food and drink, and outdoor activities.

Carol Benzie of Aberdeen International Airport says,

“The toolkit is an excellent resource for tourism businesses in the area. It gives everyone a clear direction for how we can all support the key messages being promoted by VisitAberdeenshire by focusing on what is unique and special. We will definitely be using the toolkit to help shape our marketing efforts in the future.”

Giving guidance on tone of voice, the toolkit recommends a conversational tone which is clear and direct; welcoming and approachable; and positive and confident. Businesses are encouraged to use the stories to inspire content in their marketing campaigns including in their websites, across social media platforms, leaflets and brochures and press releases.

Key focuses from the individual shared stories are:

  • Aberdeen – proximity to the sea, a special light, the city’s two old ‘towns’, off the tourist map
  • Aberdeenshire and Banffshire coast – a strong community feel, theme of people and place
  • Royal Deeside – feeling encircled and embraced, majestic scale and natural beauty, royal associations
  • Castles – range of types/settings, famous and inspirational, strong royal connections
  • Whisky – sense of place, bringing natural elements to life, off the tourist track
  • Golf – sense of drama and importance of links and parkland courses, space and light
  • Festivals and Events  – how names of festivals evoke wider themes of latitude, light, royal, coast, nature, culture and belonging
  • Food and Drink – big brand names, top quality, traditional to contemporary, alchemy of resourceful people and bountiful place
  • Outdoor activities – abundance of outdoor pursuits, quality of light and air, roam free in all seasons

VisitAberdeenshire, which was created from the merger of three previous destination management/marketing organisations VisitAberdeen, Banffshire Coast Tourism Partnership and Visit Royal Deeside, as well as the Aberdeen City & Shire Tourism Partnership, in April this year prioritised key segments of visitors. These segments, based on VisitScotland research, include natural advocates, engaged sightseers, curious travellers and business extenders.

Focus will be on those visitors who have direct access, including access by flight routes, from the UK, Norway, Germany and The Netherlands. 

VisitAberdeenshire is funded by Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, and Opportunity North East, with additional support from Scottish Enterprise. For further information or a copy of the toolkit, contact VisitAberdeenshire on 01224 900490, email info@visitabdn.com or visit www.visitabdn.com.

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Nov 282016
 

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

jenni_head-and-shoulders-2A programme designed to encourage professionals and academics to bring high profile conferences and exhibitions to the north east of Scotland will be expanded at an event held on November 30.

The reach of the Aberdeen Ambassador Network (AAN) will be widened at a reception held in the Malmaison Hotel to build on the work undertaken by ambassadors in the region’s business tourism industry.

Industry leaders and academics currently acting as ambassadors promote Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to professional organisations around the world looking for venues and facilities in which to hold conferences and events.

These ambassadors are all highly respected in their fields, and have the potential to influence the organisers of international conferences and events to bring them to the north east. But lead AAN partner VisitAberdeenshire believes there is potential to expand the programme further.

Jenni Fraser (pictured), business development manager at VisitAberdeenshire, says,

“When people think of business tourism in the north east, they often think only of the energy industry – but our ambassadors work across a wide spectrum of fields, and bring an incredible variety of events to the region.

“The world-leading research carried out in the city’s higher education facilities, agencies and institutes makes our area unique in terms of excellence in a wide variety of disciplines. Organisers are attracted to a region which is a centre of excellence in their field where their delegates will also be able to network with our local professionals and academics. Our ambassadors do a brilliant job encouraging and nurturing relationships with key figures to bring these events to the north east.

“By expanding the Aberdeen Ambassador Network, we will  increase the number of ambassadors promoting the region and to bring even more high-profile conferences and events to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. This in turn will have a knock-on benefit not just for conference venues, but also for accommodation providers, restaurateurs and tourist attractions as visitors to the area discover all it has to offer.”

The Aberdeen Ambassador Network will focus on attracting new ambassadors over the coming months, encouraging and supporting them in bringing high-profile business and academic events to the region. Through the AAN, partner organisations will support ambassadors by providing a range of services to help at every stage of the process – from BID support and an accommodation booking portal, to pre-event marketing support and visitor information.

One ambassador who has experienced the benefits of the AAN is Professor John Watson, who for the last 10 years has used his work at the University of Aberdeen to bring numerous conferences and events to the region. Earlier this year he received a special recognition award for his work as an ambassador, having attracted major events including the European Optical Society 2012, 3DTV 2013, EurOCEAN 2007, and IEEE Oceans 2007 and 2017 conferences.

Professor Watson says,

“Organising major international conferences requires support and experience, and the Aberdeen Ambassador Network is incredibly forthcoming with both. They have always been very encouraging, and willing to help when bringing any event to the area.

“It is encouraging to hear that the AAN is actively looking for new ambassadors, as Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have so much to offer and we are currently just scratching the surface. By regularly communicating with colleagues and partners around the world, we can continue to bring international conferences and events to the region.”

The Aberdeen Ambassador Network is a partnership between VisitAberdeenshire, Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University and the James Hutton Institute. For more information, visit www.visitabdn.com/AAN

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Oct 032016
 
ronnie-watt-painting

Ronnie Watt (left) as depicted by celebrated Aberdeen painter, Eric Auld.

By Charlie Abel.

Aberdeen’s famous Karate man Ronnie Watt (9th Dan) will be flying off to Japan on Frday (Oct 7) at the invitation of the Japanese through a fellow martial artist. A Kendo instructor from Japan, Kazuo Yamazaki, who is well known in Aberdeen for setting up the Aberdeen Kendo Club a number of years ago, has invited Ronnie and his wife Gail to accompany him on a tour of Japan.

The highlight of the tour for Ronnie will be visiting the Karate Dojo’s where they have organised displays of three of the traditional Japanese karate styles.

They will also visit Nagasaki where they have been invited by Tomishisa Taue, the Mayor of Nagasaki and some of the most prominent Karate Masters in their area to attend a dinner in his honour.

Ronnie is no stranger to Japan having visited six times to date and training in the world famous Takushoku Dojo, where modern Shotokan Karate was brought to the world by the Japan Karate Association.

Ronnie’s connections with Japan go back a long way. When he started Karate 50 years ago, after being inspired by James Bond movies, very little was known about Karate in Scotland. Few people knew anything other than simple basics and even that was of a questionable standard. The only way to learn was to go to Japan or attend some courses the Japanese masters were running down at Crystal Palace in London. Ronnie did both.

After years of training with the visiting Japanese instructors and visiting the source of knowledge in Japan Ronnie became well known as an instructor and an international competitor. Leading the Scottish Karate team and Teaching over 20,000 people karate.

In his Karate career Ronnie has brought many Japanese Instructors to the UK, Germany and Norway. He became good friends with many legendary karate masters such as Nakayama, Kase, Shirai, Enoeda and Ochi. Many would stay at his home in Aberdeen. Ronnie brought a team over from Japan to compete in a friendship tournament and in 2001 organised the WKC World Karate Championships at the Aberdeen Exhibition and conference centre.

His work with the Japanese and the good work Ronnie has contributed to Karate, not only in the UK but in many countries he visits to teach Karate, has not gone unrecognised.

Ronnie is one of the few people to be honoured by the Japanese outside of Japan, with an Order of the Rising Sun – an award not to be taken lightly. He has also since been recognised by the Queen with an OBE and named ‘Sports personality of the year’ by Aberdeen City Council.

the Scottish Samurai Awards have grown into something really special

He also has honours from the government of Slovakia and from other Karate Clubs in Europe. Last year he was entered into the ‘European Hall of Fame for Martial Artists’.

In 2015, in tribute to ‘Scottish Samurai’, Thomas Blake Glover, Ronnie helped to organise the hosting of 22 Japanese students and school children who were doing a pilgrimage visit from Kagoshima to Aberdeen and London. After his arrival in Japan, Glover had sent 22 students to be educated in the ‘modern world’ and is credited with modernising Japan. Glover is also credited with reviving The Order of the Rising Sun.

During the student’s tour of Aberdeen and London, Aberdeen was very proud to be able to host every person with a family including Ronnie and some of his friends. Ronnie is looking forward to seeing some of Kagoshima on his visit. Ronnie was recently awarded his 9th Dan making him one of the highest graded Karateka in the world and one of the worlds most experienced.

As if all this wasn’t already enough to keep him busy, 22 years ago Ronnie Founded a small awards event to help recognise and encourage people in different aspects of life. Initially it was centred round sports but now the Scottish Samurai Awards have grown into something really special. Each year they have grown into a more prestigious date in the Aberdeen social event calendar.

Names like Alex Salmond, Sean Connery, Sir Ian Wood, Tommy Dreelan, Martin Gilbert, Dr Joseph Morrow (Lord Lyon of Scotland) and The Very Reverend Professor Ian Torrance, have added Kudos to the broad spectrum of recipients who are recognised for being ‘people of spirit’ – Scottish Samurai.

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Jul 142016
 

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

Wallace VisitAberdeenshireAberdeen and Aberdeenshire are leading Scotland with more tourism professionals achieving WorldHost accreditation that any other area in the country.
Over 1,300 people working in the tourism industry – from taxi drivers to visitor attraction managers – have now completed the training, which promotes world-class customer service.

In addition, 73 businesses of all sizes in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have attained WorldHost Recognised Business status, including Aberdeen Taxis, Braemar Highland Safaris, the Aberdeen Marriott Hotel and The Spotty Bag Shop.

This means over 50% of staff have undertaken WorldHost training, and owners have signed a commitment to delivering excellent customer service.

While traditionally this kind of training has been aimed squarely at accommodation providers, WorldHost – a renowned customer service training scheme popularised by the London Olympics and Glasgow Commonwealth Games – brings together all those working in the tourism industry. From transport providers to restauranteurs, the course aims to focus operators’ attention on the entire customer journey and experience.

With the support of Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils, all libraries and visitor attractions are now working on gaining accreditation, alongside VisitScotland Information Centres, the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland.

Elaine Booth, business engagement manager at VisitAberdeenshire, says,

“While business travel levels have been lower in the last 12 months, the leisure market has remained constant. Historically leisure travellers saw Aberdeen as a weekend destination, with high midweek room rates pricing them out of the market. The last year, however, has seen this shift somewhat, and now is the perfect time for tourism operators to ensure that all their staff are providing excellent service to all visitors.

“WorldHost allows tourism businesses the chance to really focus in on the customer journey, and ensure that they are thinking of their guests at every stage of the process. Trainees will learn valuable skills including how to build a rapport with guests, how to empathise with and listen to customers’ concerns, and how to go the extra mile.

“It is so important that everyone working in the tourism industry – from taxi drivers to hotel managers – is well-versed in providing exceptional customer service, and is thinking about every step of a customer’s visit to the region.”

Those business that have gained WorldHost Recognised Business accreditation are already reaping the benefits, with an increase in solid customer satisfaction feedback. Two such businesses are the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, who achieved the status in March this year, and the Station Hotel in Portsoy which has been accredited for a number of months.

Anna MacKenzie, senior sales manager at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC), says that although she feels the venue has always offered good quality service, taking part in WorldHost training has ensured that everyone is working together.

She explains,

“There is now a high level of understanding across all departments of where the customer comes in the whole process – we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. Everyone has a role to play in service delivery, from the person greeting them on arrival at the front desk to the event planning team, and this joined up thinking allows us to present an even better service to our customers.

“We as an organisation often have to sell Aberdeen and the north east as a destination before we can sell the AECC as a venue. It’s in the best interests of everyone working in the tourism and hospitality industries across the region to provide the best customer service possible – we are all ambassadors for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and contribute to a visitor’s enjoyment of their time here.”

Susan Cameron, owner of the Station Hotel in Portsoy, agrees that widespread WorldHost accreditation is the route to a boost in the tourism industry in the north east of Scotland.

She says,

“Through programmes like WorldHost, customer care in the north east of Scotland – and across the country – has really improved. The more businesses across the region that complete the training, the better. If everyone is operating at the same level and to the same high standards, there is more likelihood for visitors to return in the future or extend their stay.

“Whether a guest is visiting from Canada or down the road in Elgin, it’s important for everyone to remember the customer journey and ensure that they have the best experience possible.

“Prior to the WorldHost training, some of our staff had been through external training courses and some had been trained in-house. By putting everyone through the same training, it allowed us to ensure that we were delivering a consistent level of service across the business. It also allows a rare opportunity for the whole team to get together and really think about the service they deliver, and refresh their core customer care skills.”

Those completing their WorldHost training in the north east of Scotland are also entitled to an added bonus: access to Discover Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, a dedicated training course that educates tourism operators in the intricacies of the north east tourism industry.

Complementing the joined-up thinking promoted by WorldHost, the online course will allow tourism organisations a greater understanding of their place in the local industry and how they can work to improve the service they provide.

For more information about WorldHost, and Discover Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, visit www.scotland.worldhost.co.uk/regions/aberdeen-city-shire and www.visitabdn.com/discover-aberdeen-and-aberdeenshire/

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Jun 172016
 

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

Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels’ Association launches new tourism awards at Dunnottar Castle

Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels’ Association tourism awards launch, at Dunnottar, July 2014.

The Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards (ACSTA) are heading into the finishing straight, and those who want to enter the prestigious scheme are being urged to get a sprint on to beat the fast-approaching deadline.
Entries close later this month on June 30, and ACSTA organisers are sounding a final call to businesses and individuals across the region to ensure they are part of the annual showcase of top tourism talent.

The awards – now in their fourth year – celebrate the very best of the area’s tourism offering, from restaurants and pubs to hotels and guest houses.

There are also accolades for top events and visitor attractions, and a brand new category for best sports event.

Individuals who make a real difference to the experience of tourists – whether they are visiting for business or leisure – will also be recognised with sections for hospitality heroes, rising stars and local ambassadors.

ACSTA chairman Peter Sangster says the competition is heating up, but organisers want to see even more entries to ensure those who are making a significant impression on the tourism sector get credit where it is deserved.

He adds,

“The awards are not just for large operators and hotels that are part of a national or multi-national chains – this is about recognising those who go the extra mile to provide excellent service regardless of their size.

“We sometimes hear that operators have not entered because they are small in comparison to other entrants. That’s irrelevant, as what we are interested in hearing about is what they do improve the tourism offering, not how many covers they seat or what their turnover is.

“Over the past three years we have had a wide variety of winners, from charities and community groups to national chains. There is a huge benefit to taking part as even being shortlisted shows customers that a very high quality experience is being offered.

“The awards are completely free to enter, so there is absolutely nothing to lose. With the addition of the new category this year for sporting events, there is now even wider scope for operators to showcase what they provide. I would urge anyone who has not already entered not to delay and make sure their nomination is with us before the June 30 deadline.”

Entrants in each category will be shortlisted, and those who are finalists will go before an interview panel or have an undercover visit from the judging panel. ACSTA is a regional heat for the national tourism Oscars – the Scottish Thistle Awards – and winners will go on to represent the north east in that event in 2017.

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 www.acsta.co.uk. The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony and gala dinner at Ardoe House Hotel in Aberdeen on November 25, 2016.

Apr 292016
 

A team of apprentices from Scottish fund management firm, Aberdeen Asset Management have been rewarded for their efforts in raising thousands of pounds for Scotland’s National Children’s Charity, Children 1st. With thanks to Beverley Tricker, Tricker PR.

Dragons Glen raises £150K for Children 1st Charity

(L to R) Scottish Entrepreneur Josh Littlejohn presents AAM apprentices, Constance Barelle, Maja Omorczyk, Stevie Low, Abbie Skene with their award in Edinburgh.

Five dedicated apprentices raised over £13,000 in just 6 weeks of fundraising as part of the Children 1st’s Dragons’ Glen initiative.

Dragon’s Glen is an entrepreneurial challenge for Scottish businesses which sees teams from across Scotland pitch for an investment of £500 and mentoring from a selected Dragon, who include some of Scotland’s most influential business leaders.

The team, comprising of Stevie Low, Maja Omorczyk, Abbie Skene, Constance Barelle and Phoenix Megginson received a special commendation for raising the largest amount of money in the shortest amount of time, collecting their award from Scottish entrepreneur Josh Littlejohn at a ceremony in Edinburgh on 20th April.

The Aberdeen Asset Management team reached their total of £13,527 by rolling out a number of fundraising activities in both their Aberdeen and Edinburgh offices. These included a Bonfire Night sponsored Fire Walk in Aberdeen, Office Bake Offs, Pub Quizzes, Friday Breakfast Rolls and a Team Piggybank Challenge. The funds raised by Aberdeen Asset Management, combined with the efforts of 16 other leading Scottish organisations, reached a grand total of £150,703.

Constance Barelle, one of the Aberdeen Asset Management apprentices, said:

“This whole experience has been an incredibly valuable and rewarding one for the whole team. To raise that much money in such a short space of time has been a real challenge, so we are really proud to have won this award and helped contribute to a fantastic total going to a great charity.”

The money raised will go towards supporting the work of Children 1st across Scotland. Children 1st provides practical advice and support to families in tough times and, when the worst happens, supports the survivors of abuse, neglect and other traumatic events in childhood to recover.

Lynn Brown, Apprentice Advisor at Aberdeen Asset Management, said:

“This challenge has been a great opportunity for the apprentices to work together towards a common goal.  They raised an amazing amount in such a short time and everyone in the office is very proud of their achievement”

Dragons’ Glen is a unique opportunity for companies to engage employees and support them to develop a range of skills. 92% of participants report an improvement in communication and 95% an improvement in entrepreneurship.

Barbara Kidd, Director of Fundraising for Children 1st said:

“The amount raised by Dragons’ Glen is phenomenal – enough to provide six months of support for 250 children and families who need help to overcome abuse or make homes safer for children. We could not do this work without our corporate partners.”

Since its launch in 2012, Dragons’ Glen has raised over £280,000. It continues to grow in popularity and now takes part in five cities across Scotland: Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. Children 1st is now accepting entries for the 2016-17 challenge, which starts in September.

To find out more about Dragons’ Glen, please visit www.children1st.org.uk/dragons-glen

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Feb 292016
 
mini

Lesley Mitchell (centre right) defies the odds to drive off the top prize in a UK wide draw organised by hotel group Village Hotels.

With thanks to Esther Green, Tricker PR.

Lesley Mitchell has never won a prize in a competition before. So when her name was selected to win a Mini Cooper in a UK wide draw that attracted tens of thousands of entries she simply could not believe it – and little wonder. Statistics show she had a greater chance of scoring a hole in one at golf or being injured by a firework than winning the brand new motor.

Lesley’s ticket was selected from more than 100,000 entries to the Village Hotel Club’s promotion to win a dream car.

The chance of winning a striking Mini One 1.2 Petrol attracted a massive swell of interest from revellers at each of the hotel group’s 28 hotels across the UK, from Aberdeen to Bournemouth,  Edinburgh to Cardiff, and Glasgow to Blackpool.

When Village Hotels called Lesley by phone to break the fantastic news that she had won the car – worth £14,000 – she thought it was a workmate playing a prank. She and her colleagues had entered the draw while enjoying their office Christmas lunch at the Village Hotel in Westhill, Aberdeenshire, but none of them expected to be among the prize winners.

“When I got the call saying I had won I just automatically assumed it was some kind of hoax,” explains Lesley.

“We all entered the draw but never in a million years did I expect to win – I thought this can’t be right.

“It was a total shock as I have never won anything before, but after several conversations and emails from Lynn Fraser at the Village Hotel Group I realised it was true, it was a lovely surprise. To have won dinner, or a weekend break, would have been really nice but to win the Mini is the icing on the cake.”

The Mini prize looks set to bring maximum benefits for Lesley, who lives in Insch, Aberdeenshire, and is company secretary and office administrator for a chemical business in Bucksburn.

“Many years ago, in my youth, I had a Mini and this will be a lovely run-around,” Lesley continued.

“I’m calling this my ‘Mini Me’ and it will be my weekend car.

“I moved house last year and had the perfect Christmas in my new home, and then to find out I had won a car was just lovely. “

Lynn Fraser from Village Hotels said:

“It was wonderful to break the news to Lesley that her ticket had been picked at random as the winner of our nationwide draw which attracted over 100,000 entries from customers at our hotels the length and breadth of Britain.

“It’s not every day you hear that you have won a prize, let alone won a Mini, so it’s hardly surprising that Lesley was rather taken aback by her good news and that it took some time to sink in.

“It’s a wonderful car and everyone at Village Hotels hopes Lesley really enjoys her new driving experience.”

Village Hotels has 28 hotels located in towns and cities across the UK, boasting modern and friendly accommodation and excellent facilities. For more information, visit https://www.village-hotels.co.uk/

 

 

Feb 252016
 

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

!cid_09815cd1948a4527a96e35e13ba3e785@Open-XchangeFred the Aberdeen Voice editor is furious that we didn’t win a single award at the North Press ball thingy that Sarah Malone went to earlier this month, and he’s making some changes around here. We’re going to follow Aberdeen Journals Ltd’s lead, and start having a smart, successful newpaper. In that spirit, before we get to this week’s definitions, just a few words.

I am pleased to announce the Old Susannah column now has an official spokesperson. Buff McCracker, pictured, is our newest hiring. He is last year’s winner of the ‘Face of Moneymusk’ competition.

Buff has a high school diploma (nearly) and has worked as a personal fitness trainer at ‘Fancy a Kip?’ Lodge. Personal trainers from Kip Lodge have gone on to get into all sorts of fascinating positions, and I am sure Buff will do the same.

I am sure you will welcome him to the column, and in his role as spokesperson, you will look forward to hearing his in-depth analysis of local, national and world socio-political issues of the day.

Reader Offer: 

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Sprinting home in your Mazarati, no doubt you want to see your delightful wife greet you at the door with glasses, a bottle, and this exclusive bottle opener.

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CRW_0279Reader Travel Offer: 

7 night tour of Mintlaw’s finest combine harvesters

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We start our trip on the A96 in a bus, and will stop at some of the finest B&Bs in the area, while looking at fields of rapeseed, and what kinds of farm vehicles we can spot from the bus.

Meals not included.

£1,999 per person.

Showbiz Exclusive!  Local sleaze merchant shares lift for 2 minutes in Los Angeles with Rock god David Grohl.

Tony Cockroach says he’s met every A-List celebrity there is, possibly even Sarah Malone. Gosh I’m jealous. He’s been in the same lift as David Grohl! Result!!!! Did they have a conversation? No, but. Did they have anything in common? No, but. Was Grohl impressed that the man in the lift was from Aberdeen AND owned strip joints? No.

Singha SteveBut he was from Aberdeen, and he was in the same lift as David Grohl.

Full story and pictures on pages 2,3,4,5 and 27.

(Old Susannah was formally introduced to Mr Grohl on the occasion of the first ever Foo Fighters UK show, at the Brixton Academy, quite a while ago. He was cool. Old Susannah was – until now – being cool by not making a big deal of it. But we did briefly speak. In today’s modern newsroom, clearly this is big stuff by EE standards. So now you know. And no, I wasn’t so crass as to start photographing or filming the man).

Read more about it here! Really! Tally ho!

Send us your story – sheep on the road?

Did your daughter come in 7th place in a spelling competition? Did you get your heid stuck in a bin? Did you find the image of Kate Dean in your buttery? Anything like that with pictures – call us and we’ll put it in the next paper. Up to £2 per story paid.

RowiesRollsPancakesthmCompetition! Aberdeen’s Prettiest Rowie!

Send in your Rowie photos, and the most beautiful Rowie will be bronzed, and kept forever as a beautiful keepsake! Your photo with your Rowie will appear in the next issue!

You can vote for your favourite Rowie by calling our special hotline – calls charged £0.99 per minute!

And with that, one or two definitions

Pro Lifers:

Who’s against life? Why no one I know, except for some zombie films, it’s safe to say many people are in favour of living. But the pro-lifers have some ideas they want the rest of us to sign up to, and I thought I’d best get their unbiased, professional advice.

I looked for them at the anti-war demonstration. But they weren’t there.

I tried to find them protesting the nuclear weaponry we’ve stockpiled which would wipe out half the planet. But they weren’t there.

I thought I’d find them helping to save the refugees drowning in the Med, but there was no sign of them there.

I thought they must surely be protesting the death sentences carried out in some countries, but there was no trace.

I thought they would be in the drought-stricken countries trying to feed the starving, but they were not there.

They were at the abortion clinic. They were at the family planning centres. They were at the chemists where women can get the morning after pill.

It’s not the living they want to save. They want to tell women not to have sex. They want to tell people not to use contraception. They want women to bear children whether or not the women are able to look after these children, can afford them, are adult enough to be responsible for new lives. They want the raped women to carry their children.

They don’t want you to do anything that doesn’t adhere to the moral codes they have signed up to, and they want to make you bend to their will. They don’t acknowledge that each and every single pregnancy is life-threatening to the mother. They don’t want you to know that women from prehistory to the current day engaged in family planning by taking herbal medicines to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

Pro life? Absolutely! Some might think this lot are a bunch of would be controlling, nosy, women-hating dictators who were not interested in the living whatsoever and hated sex and didn’t want anyone to have any. But they’re just telling us what the right thing to do is, and I’m sure you’ll give their message all the attention it is due. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14210094.display/

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]