Jul 032017
 

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

A businessman from Moray recently geared up to raise vital funds for a North-east charity by participating in an annual sponsored bike ride.

Mervyn Stanley, from Elgin, took part in the Glen Moray Sportive for the sixth year in a row, in aid of North East Sensory Services (NESS), a charity that supports around 1,100 people in Moray who have significant sight and/or hearing loss by providing a wide range of services.

The Glen Moray Bike Ride, which took place on Sunday, 25 June, featured three cycling options, a 10-mile family friendly route, a 25-mile route and 75-mile sportive.

This was the 18th year that it was hosted by NESS, with support from Moray Council, and was sponsored for the fifth time by Elgin’s Glen Moray Distillery, which was the start and finishing point for riders.

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Jul 032017
 

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

Chapelton residents with Neil Skene from NESS and the Duke and Duchess of Fife.

Organisers of Aberdeenshire’s newest bike ride are hoping to attract record numbers of participants through the launch of a new 5K charity walk.
The Chapelton Bike Ride returns for a second year on Sunday, September 3, with the addition of the new Chapelton 5K Walk sponsored by Liberty Retirement Living, which will coincide with the event’s 42-mile and 12-mile bike rides.

Held in aid of North East Sensory Services (NESS), the event was formerly the Great Stonehaven Bike Ride, before it moved to the village of Chapelton, near Newtonhill.

Last year, over 250 cyclists took part in the first ever Chapelton Bike Ride, raising over £6,500 for NESS.

NESS, which has offices in Elgin, Aberdeen and Dundee, supports over 6,000 people in the North-east who have sight or hearing loss. The charity helps those with a sensory impairment to overcome the practical and emotional effects of serious sight and/or hearing loss, as well as guiding them to achieve more independence.  

Event organisers hope that the launch of the walk will encourage people of all ages and abilities to get involved with the sporting event, especially those who are unable to participate in both the bike rides. Starting and finishing in Chapelton, the 5K route will take participants around the picturesque Aberdeenshire countryside surrounding Chapelton and Elsick.

Neil Skene, fundraising co-ordinator at NESS, said:

“We are all thrilled about the launch of the 5K Chapelton walk, as it opens up the event to a much more diverse group of people who might not have been able to take part in either of the bike rides.

“The first ever Chapelton Bike Ride was a complete success, we were very happy that most cyclists and spectators chose to stay and enjoy the variety of stalls that were available. This year, we hope to turn the event into a fun day for all the family and have improved the range of activities, food and drink options, and music on offer.

“I am proud to be part of an event that aims to involve every single member of the community. There will be something for everyone and I would like to encourage as many people as possible to come along, enjoy the day and help raise vital funds for NESS.”

Liberty Retirement Living, sponsors of the Chapelton Charity 5K Walk, are building a brand new retirement village in Chapelton, as part of the town’s next phase of development.

Karl Hallows, director of development and sales at Liberty Retirement Living, said:

“The first Chapelton Charity 5K walk promises to be a fantastic community event for residents of Chapelton and the surrounding area.

“We’re delighted to be able to support such a fun and inclusive event that promotes healthy, active lifestyles for everyone. Whatever your age, we’re sure there’ll be plenty to enjoy at this year’s inaugural charity walk.”

The Chapelton Bike Ride takes place on Sunday, September 3. Participants have the choice of a 42-mile bike ride, a 12-mile bike ride or a 5K walk.

Registration costs £15 per person for the 42-mile route, £5 per person for the 12-mile route, or £15 for a team of four for the 12-mile cycle. The 5K walk is free to enter, but all participants must register via the website. Register for the Chapelton Bike Ride at www.chapeltonbikeride.co.uk.

North-east Sensory Services (NESS) promotes the needs of people with a sight or hearing loss. 

NESS supports people with serious sight or hearing loss to overcome practical and emotional challenges and achieve independence. 

Formerly Grampian Society for the Blind (GSB), North East Sensory Services (NESS) works with over 6,000 people with a sensory impairment in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Dundee, Elgin and Moray. 

Liberty Retirement Living: Building brand new communities in desirable locations across the country, Liberty Retirement Living is committed to improving the quality and experience of later life.

A Liberty Lifestyle combines good health, opportunities and independence with tailored care available if required – it’s our vision for enjoyable and modern retirement living, delivered with respect.

Our first retirement village in Scotland will be a vibrant 94-home community with a range of complementary facilities, at the heart of the growing town of Chapelton, Aberdeenshire.

A new Liberty marketing suite will open in Chapelton in September 2017 – in the meantime, please visit www.libertyretirement.co.uk for further details.

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May 052017
 

With thanks to Diane Smith.

The Moray Way Association has received £6000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to support the Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival and a project based along the Moray Way, Moray’s 96 mile long distance walking route.
Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the projects will focus on events that uncover the historical, archaeological, architectural, natural and the landscape heritage of Moray.

This year the festival, which runs from 16 June to 25 June 2017, will have a ‘heritage’ theme with more events than ever exploring Moray’s built and natural landscape.

Highlights of the programme will include two events by Moray based historian and writer of The Making of a Scottish Landscape, Dr John Barrett; Ghost Towns – deserted settlements in Strathavon, where you will be able to explore the remains of a lost culture and, A Royal Burgh: the making of Medieval Forres, a walk tracing the origins and development of the town. 

The events are proving to be popular as an extra date has been arrange for the Ghost Towns walk which was sold out in a week.

The programme has a wealth of other historical and natural heritage events organised by local community groups like Speyside Visitor Centre, Cullen, Deskford & Portknockie Heritage Group, Forres Footpaths Trust, the Dava Way, Belles on Bikes Moray and Findhorn Village Heritage, alongside organisations such as Wild Things!, Outfit Moray, Forestry Commission, Moray Council Ranger Service and Ace Adventures.

Over the 10 days there are 50 plus events right across Moray, from Tomintoul to Lossiemouth.

Back again this year is Moray Way Five Day Challenge in which participants walk the 95 miles of the Moray Way over 5 days.

The walk, which includes the Dava Way, Moray Coastal Trail and the Speyside Way, provides participants with a ‘park and ride’ service to make it easier to complete the long distance walk, with options to just walk sections of the route. Also, returning this year is the famous Dava Way Ghost Train Walk, the Secrets of Pluscarden and Secrets of Spynie which participants rated as excellent last year.

For those who are looking for adrenalin rush then Ace Adventures are running their water sports events every day of the festival at special reduced prices. You can see the River Findhorn from a different view with cliff jumping, canyoning and white water rafting. They are also running their growing activity, Disc Golf.

This year the programme has several firsts;

  • Moray Speyside Film Club are hosting a special “Outdoor” themed evening of films,
  • a Wild Swim event will be taking place in Lochindorb with Vivienne Rickman- Poole, artist, wild swimmer and listed in the top 19 San Miguel Rich List ‘alternative rich’ as well as Calum Maclean, of ‘Wild Swimming in Scotland’.
  • A unique and special opportunity with The British Biathlon Rifle Club to spend several hours learning to shoot small-bore rifles in the marvellously unique Olympic discipline of biathlon. 

As well as supporting events in the Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival the funding will also help the development of a long-term plan to increase awareness of the Moray Way. Funding will support a commission artist to work with communities along the Moray Way to gather stories which can then be used to promote the route. This project will expect to start in the summer.

Commenting on the award, Bea Jefferson, Chairperson of the Moray Way Association said:

“We are thrilled to have received support thanks to National Lottery players. Each year interest in the event flourishes and funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund ensures that we can keep growing. We look forward to celebrating Moray’s natural and built heritage through the Festival and our Moray Way project.”

About Moray Way Association

The Moray Way Association was founded in 2011 with the aim of creating Moray’s long distance walking route, The Moray Way, a 96 mile circular walking trail. Since 2012 the organisation has also organised the Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival with the purpose of encouraging walking and other outdoor pursuits in Moray. www.moraywalkingfestival.co.uk

For further information, images and interviews please contact Diane A Smith at Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival on 07764615517 or info@moraywalkingfestival.co.uk

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Apr 282017
 

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

Local businesses are being encouraged to get behind Aberdeenshire’s newest cycling event by showcasing the best of what the region has to offer.
Organisers of the Chapelton Bike Ride, which takes place on Sunday, 3 September, are looking to expand on last year’s event by increasing the number of stalls and activities on offer.

The inaugural Chapelton Bike Ride took place last year and welcomed hundreds of cyclists and spectators to the village of Chapelton, near Newtonhill.

The event featured stalls from local businesses such as Serenity Scented Candles, and local artist, Bee Struthers, as well as food and drink from The Bay Fish & Chips, Cav & Co and Bannerman Butchers.

Held in aid of North East Sensory Services (NESS), a charity that supports over 6,000 people with sensory impairments across the North-east, last year’s bike ride raised over £6,500 for the charity, enabling it to continue to provide life-enhancing services to people with sight and/or hearing loss. 

Alastair Struthers, sales executive at ZeroC Homes, an organiser of the event, said:

“The first ever Chapelton Bike Ride was a huge success, so we’re looking forward to making this year’s event even bigger and better, with more stalls, food stands and activities for everyone to get involved with.

“As well as raising money for NESS, we are committed to creating a sporting event for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy. Involving local businesses will help to establish the Chapelton Bike Ride as a real community event that people will continue to look forward to year after year.”

Neil Skene, fundraising co-ordinator at NESS, said:

“We’re very pleased to hear that there are plans to increase what is on offer at the next Chapelton Bike Ride, as it should encourage even more people to attend this year’s event.

“It looks set to be a very enjoyable day for all of the community and we’re very thankful to everyone who is participating and raising funds for NESS on the day.”

If you are interested in becoming a stallholder at this year’s Chapelton Bike Ride, please contact Alastair Struthers on a.struthers@zeroc.co.uk. More information about the bike ride can be found at www.chapeltonbikeride.co.uk.

Registration costs £15 per person for the 42-mile route, £5 per person for the 12-mile route, or £15 for a team of four for the 12-mile cycle. Register for the Chapelton Bike Ride at https://www.q-buster.co.uk/chapelton.

North East Sensory Services (NESS) promotes the needs of people with a sight or hearing loss.   

NESS supports people with serious sight or hearing loss to overcome practical and emotional challenges and achieve independence.   

Formerly Grampian Society for the Blind (GSB), North East Sensory Services (NESS) works with over 6,000 people with a sensory impairment in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Dundee, Angus and Perth & Kinross.   

Awards:   

2016: Winner, IIP Award Excellence in Third Sector   
Finalist Elevator Awards and Trend Awards   
2015: Winner, Elevator Award, Winner, Trend Award 

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Apr 072017
 

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

Mark Milne, who will be taking part in Etape Loch Ness, to raise money for a trust set up for his son, Alfie. The youngster has a rare and incurable disease and the fund provides support to other patients with the condition.

The father of a young boy with a rare and incurable disease is saddling up and getting on his bike to
help parents around the world
whose children have also been struck down by the same debilitating condition.
Mark Milne, whose son, Alfie, is one of an estimated 250 people worldwide to have been diagnosed with lymphangiomatosis, will take on Etape Loch Ness to raise money for research into the disease and to fund patient support services.

The Alfie Milne Trust was launched by Mark and his wife, Tracy, after their son was diagnosed with lymphangiomatosis at less than a year old.

The condition leads to the formation of benign tumours of the lymphatic system which can grow anywhere in the body, and due to their massive expansion can cause severe and life-threatening complications.

Mark (48) will join thousands of other cyclists in completing a 66-mile route around the iconic loch on April 23 – and in doing so he hopes to spread the word about the condition and give patients better access to support services.

The couple from Aberdeen found it hard to get any information about the disease because it is so rare: it is thought that Alfie is one of only 250 estimated cases in the world and one of only 15 in the UK.

They want their fund-raising, which currently stands at over £200,000, will help other patients living with lymphangiomatosis by raising awareness of support services and by providing grants to medical bodies.

Mark says,

“Before we launched the Trust, I would be the one who would be standing at the finish line at sporting events, smoking a cigarette and watching everyone else do the hard work. But we’ve done lots of events to raise money since 2012 and although I am still no fitness freak, I’ve completed a couple of bike rides,10Ks and half marathons.

“I’m actually going to be doing a 10K the day before Etape Loch Ness, so I’m not sure how I will be feeling for the event. I’ve always fancied doing this one because it is so beautiful up there, and I think the fact that it is on closed roads will make it really special.”

Alfie, who is now aged nine, was a happy and healthy boy for the first eight months of his life. However, his parents noticed that one of his legs was swollen and after x-rays were carried out, doctors also identified a curve in his spine.

After an MRI scan, the family travelled to Great Ormand Street Hospital in London where the diagnosis of lymphangiomatosis was made. The disease was in Alfie’s right leg, pelvic area and in the marrow of some bones, and it was also preventing his blood from clotting.

His health rapidly deteriorated: while he was still in London he suffered internal bleeding, frequently high temperatures and had to undergo countless blood transfusions – he was so poorly that his parents and doctors feared the worst. However, he battled through and some weeks later was well enough to return to Aberdeen to undergo chemotherapy.

From there on, the family has had to watch as Alfie – who was five by the time he took his first steps – has endured numerous stays in hospital, blood transfusions, drug therapies and various treatment plans.

His leg has deteriorated and Alfie has not been able to walk unaided since 2012. However, the family hope there will be a drastic improvement in his mobility after undergoing specialist surgery at the start of the year.

Mark explains,

“Last year we learned about a procedure that could be performed on Alfie’s leg to try and straighten it, with the hope of allowing him to walk unaided.

“Surgery is always very difficult with Alfie’s condition because of the high risks of infection and lymphatic leakage, but after undergoing lots of physiotherapy to prepare him for the surgery, we went ahead with it.

“The surgery was carried out at Great Ormand Street and it went really, really well. It was a success but it’s down to Alfie now to work on the physiotherapy and battle through it to get up on his own feet. As with any condition like this, we have good days and we have bad days.

“When Alfie was diagnosed we really struggled to find out information about his condition because it is so rare. We hope that other families, regardless of where they are in the world, will be able to benefit from the work of the Alfie Milne Trust, so that getting the support they need becomes easier.”

Further details about Alfie’s Trust are available at www.alfiemilne.org.uk and donations to Mark’s fund-raising efforts can be made on uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MarkMilne  

Thousands of cyclists, many of them raising money for good causes including official charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support, are gearing up to take part in Etape Loch Ness on April 23.

Starting and finishing in Inverness, the 66-mile route follows the north side of the loch and then loops round at Fort Augustus to return via the south side. Once past Fort Augustus, cyclists face the toughest challenge of the course – a 4.8 mile climb rising to 380m in height at the Glendoe Summit.

Etape Loch Ness has grown to become one of the nation’s best loved cycling events and places this year sold out in a record 50 hours. Further information about the event is available at www.etapelochness.com and regular updates also appear on social media at facebook.com/etapelochness and @EtapeLochNess on Twitter.

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Jan 132017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

East Garioch councillor Martin Ford has welcomed progress being made towards a cycle route between Inverurie, Kintore, Blackburn and Aberdeen.

“I’m keen to see a cycle route in place all the way between Inverurie and Aberdeen,” said Cllr Ford.

Aberdeen City Council is working towards provision of a cycle route between Bucksburn and its boundary at Blackburn.

Councillor Ford has been pressing Aberdeenshire Council for a cycle route between Inverurie and Kintore so cyclists do not have to cross or use the A96 dual carriageway.

More recently, he has called on the Council to identify then deliver a cycle route between Kintore and Blackburn. And Cllr Ford along with Cllr Paul Johnston (as the Democratic Independent and Green Group of Aberdeenshire councillors) secured an extra £250,000 per year for active travel (cycling and walking) in Aberdeenshire Council’s revenue budget from 2016/17.

Between Port Elphinstone and Kintore, a good cycle route was put in place some years ago between Port Elphinstone and the Thainstone roundabout.

Last year (2016), a new cycle path was constructed between Kintore and Kintore Business Park. Cllr Ford has been pressing for the ‘missing link’ section of cycle path (between the Thainstone roundabout and Kintore Business Park) to be constructed as soon as possible, thus providing a cycle route all the way between Kintore and Port Elphinstone which does not involve using or crossing the A96.

In response to enquiries from Cllr Ford, Council officers have advised the construction of the Thainstone roundabout to Kintore Business Park section of cycle path should go out to tender this month, with the new length of path due to be complete by May 2017 at the latest.

Commenting, Cllr Ford said:

“I will be delighted to finally see cycling provision in place all the way between Kintore and Port Elphinstone. Certainly, cycling on the A96 itself is not a good experience, so having a cycle route available instead will be a significant improvement for cyclists wanting to travel between Kintore and Inverurie.”

Council officers have also confirmed to Cllr Ford that Aberdeenshire Council has appointed infrastructure consultancy firm AECOM to progress delivering a cycle route between Kintore and Blackburn.

AECOM will look at feasible options for the route, from the site of the planned railway station in Kintore to the south end of Blackburn at the boundary between Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City. They have been asked to consider cyclists of all abilities when looking at the options. A report on the feasibility of possible routes, their respective advantages and disadvantages and indicative costs will be prepared by 31 March 2017.

Council officers anticipate a report to the Garioch Area Committee will follow on 18 April 2017 for councillors to take a decision on the preferred route. Detailed design will then proceed during financial year 2017/18 so bids for funding for construction can be made in financial year 2018/19.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“I’m very pleased to see progress on a cycle route between Kintore and Blackburn. I look forward to engaging with the consultants working on the project over the choice of route, and agreeing a preferred option in the spring. I certainly want to see a route put in place as soon as possible.”

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Sep 292016
 

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

tour-de-vardy-charity-cycle

Gavin Fairweather (left) and Richie Cooper will pedal for charity

Two members of staff from motor specialist Peter Vardy Vauxhall are preparing to tackle a self-styled Tour de Vardy in aid of charity following an inspiring summer of British cycling.

Richie Cooper, managing partner and Gavin Fairweather, new car sales manager, will pedal 230 miles from 1-3 October 2016 to raise funds for family support charity Home-Start Aberdeen.

The pair, both of whom are keen cyclists, have been in training for the challenge, which forms part of Peter Vardy Aberdeen’s year-long CSR (corporate social responsibility) partnership with Home-Start Aberdeen.

The cyclists’ 230-mile route commences from the Peter Vardy CarStore in Glasgow and incorporates stopping points over the weekend at the company’s showrooms in Motherwell, Edinburgh, Dalgety Bay, Kirkcaldy, Perth and Dundee. They will be followed by two colleagues in a liveried support vehicle and hope to receive lots of additional moral support during their stops along the route.

They are due to reach their final destination – the Peter Vardy Vauxhall showroom on Aberdeen’s Lang Stracht – late afternoon on Monday, 3 October.

“All of our colleagues throughout Peter Vardy in Scotland are aware of what we are doing and we are looking forward to seeing as many of them as possible during our scheduled stops on the Tour de Vardy,” says Richie.

“It’s a pretty challenging route so the friendly faces and encouragement will spur us on – along with the knowledge that we are raising funds for local families in need of help.”

Home-Start Aberdeen is a volunteer-led organisation, which provides vulnerable families with emotional and practical support in their own homes. Georgette Cobban, scheme manager, Home-Start Aberdeen says:

“We are thrilled that Richie and Gavin have chosen to raise funds for us in this way. The Tour de Vardy is an amazing challenge in itself, however we are aware that a lot of planning and training has also gone into this event.
 
“Although we have recruited a record number of volunteers this year, demand for our services continues to increase, so we desperately need to attract and train additional people.  The money raised by the Peter Vardy cyclists will help to support this work so that we, in turn, can support a greater number of families.”

The Tour de Vardy is one of a series of fundraising events planned by Peter Vardy staff throughout their year of joint working with Home-Start Aberdeen. The cyclists’ appeal has already received a boost in the form of a £2000 pledge from their employer. Anyone who wishes to support their efforts can donate at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/PeterVardyVauxhallAberdeen.

Further information on Home-Start Aberdeen’s support services for families is available at www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk, telephone 01224 693545.

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Sep 092016
 

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

bike-ride_32lo

Aberdeenshire’s newest bike ride has been hailed as a huge success, after hundreds of cyclists and spectators attended the event on Sunday 4 September.

A total of 238 participants took part in the Chapelton Bike Ride, which took place in the new town of Chapelton, near Newtonhill. Hundreds of spectators flocked to the town’s Hume Square to watch as cyclists returned from the 12 and 42-mile routes.

The bike ride was held in aid of North East Sensory Services (NESS), a sensory impairment charity that supports over 4800 people in the North-east. Over £6000 was raised for NESS through the Chapelton Bike Ride, which will help the charity provide social work and life-enhancing services to people who have sight or hearing loss.

Also participating in the event were housebuilders from Chapelton developers ZeroC, A&J Stephen and AJC Homes, as well as David Carnegie, the Duke of Fife, from Elsick Development Company. After a friendly competition against one another, Alistair Gordon, Earl of Aboyne and managing director of AJC Homes, came out on top, as he crossed the finish line with a time of 2 hours 45 minutes across the 42-mile route.

Neil Skene, fundraising co-ordinator at NESS, said:

“All of us here at NESS are thrilled with the number of cyclists and spectators who attended the Chapelton Bike Ride. A lot of organisation and planning went into the event, as it’s only in its first year, so it’s great to see that all the hard work has paid off.

“It was a fantastic day and we received lots of positive feedback from the cyclists, who said that both the 12 and 42-mile routes were great fun to take on.

“The atmosphere in Chapelton was buzzing, as the square was packed full of residents and visitors who turned out to enjoy the wonderful local music and food and drink that was on offer – as well as cheering on the cyclists throughout the day.

“We’re extremely thankful to everyone who participated and raised vital funds for NESS, as well as the main sponsors, Savills and Burness Paull. Thanks to their support we can continue to help people with a sensory impairment achieve independence and overcome any challenges they may face in day-to-day life.”

Caroline Fife, the Duchess of Fife, director of Elsick Development company, the developer behind Chapelton, said:

“It was a great feeling welcoming everyone to Chapelton for our first ever major event. The day was a huge success and we’re proud to have worked alongside NESS to help raise funds for such a worthwhile cause.

“Chapelton’s sense of community was really evident on Sunday and the spectators did a brilliant job of cheering on the cyclists, which helped to significantly boost their morale.

“The live music, entertainment and delicious food available were all extremely well received and everyone who came along had a great day out.

“There was lots of healthy competition between the Chapelton housebuilders and they had a good laugh joking about who would finish first, so it was very entertaining watching Alistair from AJC Homes cross the finish line first.

“I’ve also been really impressed by everyone’s fundraising efforts for NESS and fully embracing this charity initiative within the community where they work.

“We’re also very thankful to the participants and spectators for all their support and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to Chapelton next year.”

NESS supports people with serious sight or hearing loss to overcome practical and emotional challenges and achieve independence.

Formerly Grampian Society for the Blind (GSB), North East Sensory Services (NESS) works with over 4,500 people with a sensory impairment in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Dundee, Angus and Perth & Kinross.

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Sep 012016
 

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

Mark & DFP Ballater - Copy2

Mark Beaumont is getting on his bike to Ballater for the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale with David Fox Pitt of Wildfox Events

If you’ve been inspired by Team GB’s achievements in the Rio 2016 Olympics then get on your bike and head to Ballater which, with a bumper crop of top cycle events about to take place, has become the region’s self-styled home of cycling.

The Deeside village is gearing up for a series of cycling highs catering for all abilities –  from  families seeking a weekend of fun to competitive cyclists looking to be challenged on testing long distance routes.

The September cycling season kicks off with the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale which takes place on Sunday 18 September and has been endorsed by record-breaking long-distance cyclist and adventurer Mark Beaumont who has tested the 100 mile closed road route.

The Royal Deeside Family Cycling Festival takes places over the same weekend, from 16 -18 September to complement the Etape, regarded as one of Scotland’s most scenic and challenging closed route cycle sportives and which starts and finishes in Ballater.

The 100-mile circular route takes participants on a traffic-free journey through historic Royal Deeside and Aberdeenshire, Moray’s Whisky Country, and back along the banks of the picturesque River Dee, allowing cyclists to take in the breathtaking scenery present throughout the region. For those who don’t feel quite up to the full distance, there are also 45 and 65 mile routes available.

A series of family-friendly events and activities are on offer over the course of the weekend, including a mountain bike skills circuit and a bike roadshow featuring weird, wonderful and wacky bikes from the past and the present, body zorbing and a climbing wall.

Those participating in the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale are encouraged to bring their families along to enjoy the festivities, including a family ceilidh, showings of cycling themed films and talks and presentations by Mark Beaumont and former Scottish Rugby captain Rob Wainwright and see what the rest of what Ballater has to offer.

The following weekend, on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September Cycle Highlands is running a demo weekend with guided rides and the chance to trial the latest Santa Cruz and Juliana bike models.

The busy month of biking in and around Ballater will be followed by a bespoke conference which is expected to further reinforce Cairngorm’s  growing reputation as one of the places to visit in the UK to enjoy the booming sport of mountain biking. The Scottish Mountain Bike Conference – Innovation Edition will be held from 17 to 19 November in Aviemore, recognising the region’s popularity for the sport, and including some of the programme being delivered in and about Ballater.

etaperoyale2-hill cimbRichard Watts, chairman of Ballater Business Association runs a specialist cycle shop in the village and says that after London 2012 Olympics there was a growth in Scottish cycling with the number of competitive events and female participants increasing.

He expects that the historic achievements of British cyclists competing Rio 2016 to also impact positively in take-up of the sport – and hopes that the Ballater region will see the benefits.

Mr Watts says:

“Riders from all over the UK, and overseas come to the Cairngorms to enjoy cycling in all its forms and who could blame them?

“Ballater is an ideal location from which to explore natural trails and various purpose-built centres and is surrounded by terrain suitable for all abilities.

“From easy forest trails to single-track descents cyclists can explore for an hour, day or week.

“The quiet roads and former railway, now the Deeside Way, give a spectacular window into local nature and history and there are offer and the stunning landscapes to enjoy.

“The cycling opportunities we’re able to offer in this part of the world, provide cyclists stunning landscapes to soak in on two wheels and are a real asset to the area.

“We hope to  reap the benefits of the success of Team GB’s cycling stars in Rio 2016 who are a real inspiration and may well  encourage others to to give cycling a try and to come and do so exploring our wonderful region on two wheels.”

The Royal Deeside Cycling Festival takes place from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 September in Ballater. Supported by EventScotland and official charity sponsor Marie Curie, the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale gets underway on Sunday 18 September, the cycle sportive covers 100-miles and an ascent of 2,996m. For more information, visit: www.etaperoyale.com

Further details of the Demo Weekend from 24-25 September is available at http://www.cyclehighlands.com/events/

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Aug 182016
 
GazaIsraelBigRide (5)

The Big Ride has set out to draw attention to the 547 children verified as killed during the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in 2014.

With thanks to Greg Challis, The Big Ride.

Hundreds of cyclists and their supporters who blockaded a Midlands factory in protest at its sale of drones used by the Israeli military have vowed: “We’ll be back.”
The Big Ride for Palestine staged four feeder rides from London, Bristol, Manchester and Sheffield which converged on Birmingham for a festival in Sparkhill Park.

The peloton then moved off en masse to a rally at the factory gates of UAV engines, in Shenstone near Lichfield.

UAV is part of the Elbit group and has been the target of repeated protests by activists, appalled at the way drones have been used against Palestinian civilians.

The Big Ride has set out to draw attention to the 547 children verified as killed during the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in 2014.

Protesters pinned photographs of child victims on the fence surrounding the factory and, during a two hour peaceful action,heard first hand testimony from a Palestinian doctor working with children in Gaza.

The event also created a minor internet sensation with ten of thousands of views of a video posted by the Friends of Al Aqsa group and You Tube footage of Tom from Manchester performing his rap composition, There’s Nothing new about the News.

Dr Mona El Farra, who lost nine members of her extended family in 2014, told the crowd:

“With your support and solidarity, we are helping some of the thousands of children who are traumatised by the loss of the families, their homes, their schools. Even though Gaza has been reduced to rubble in places with the support of arms manufacturers like Elbit, who own UAV, we are doing everything we can to rebuild lives.

“The children are all our futures, and they are so brave, but I can’t tell you how damaged they are. They have to learn how to play again, to be children. This is nothing more than collective punishment of the Palestinian people by the Israel and we say that it is a war crime.”

The Big Ride drew support from MPs, MEPs, trade unions and celebrities, including film director Ken Loach and campaign and charity groups including War on Want and Campaign Against the Arms Trade. They have set a target of £20,770 to help the Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance, which funds projects on the ground in Gaza.

Activists are now meeting with other grass roots groups to step up their campaign against UAV and the Government supported arms trade with Israel.

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