Dec 062016

CLAN logo2With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

People from across the north-east joined forces at the weekend to raise thousands of pounds for a leading cancer support charity at its largest fundraising event of the year.

A total of 230 guests raised £38,600.00 at CLAN Cancer Support’s Christmas Cracker which was held at Ardoe House Hotel and Spa on Saturday, November 26.

The annual fundraising event, which sees individuals and businesses from across the north-east come together in support of the charity, included a drinks reception, three-course dinner, entertainment and dancing.

The Kilted Chef Craig Wilson from one of Aberdeenshire’s leading fine-dining restaurants, Eat on the Green, donated one of the main prizes for auction on the evening.

His VIP Pop-up Party package raised £7,500 and the winner will be treated to a luxury meal prepared by Craig at a location and date of their choice. The prize also includes a butler service as well as a singer and a piper.

The money raised on the evening will go towards the continued development of the wellbeing and support services offered by CLAN, free of charge, to anyone affected by cancer across north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland.

Dr Colette Backwell, CLAN’s chief executive, said:

“Our annual Christmas Cracker Ball is always very popular and it was great to see such a great turnout at Ardoe House Hotel and Spa on the night.

“It was a terrific evening, with the event bringing the magic of Christmas alive, and we are truly grateful to each individual and organisation that supported the event and helped to raise such a fantastic total by the end of the night.

“The money raised will help us deliver vital cancer support services right in the heart of communities from Stonehaven in the south to Orkney and Shetland in the north.

“We are committed to providing this support as close to the heart of communities as we can so that we make a difference to as many people as possible who are affected by a cancer diagnosis. The continued support of our fundraising events by so many people and businesses across the region means so much to us all at CLAN.”

CLAN Cancer Support is an independent charity which provides comfort, support and information, free of charge, for anyone, of any age, affected by any type of cancer. CLAN aims to support people to reduce anxiety, stress and to increase their ability to cope with the effects of a serious illness.

Based in Aberdeen, the charity covers the whole of north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland. CLAN has a presence in Ballater, Banchory, Elgin, Buckie, Inverurie, Fraserburgh, Lossiemouth, Peterhead, Stonehaven, Turriff, Kirkwall and Lerwick.

For more information about CLAN Cancer Support, please call (01224) 647 000 or visit

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Nov 162012

The silver anniversary of an Aberdeen Grades Cricket tour of India has been commemorated by the release of a slim volume JALDI, JALDI – 25 not out. The booklet was officially launched on 9th November at the annual Grades dinner and trophy presentation. Alan Barron takes guard as Voice’s David Innes applies the chin music by digging in a few questions short of a length.

“Fourteen of the 22 players who toured attended the reunion. Matthew Cohen was there to represent his parents. Sadly, three players have passed away in recent years and three more are currently working in far-flung places, proving there is life beyond the far boundaries of the Duthie Park and the Links. Two UK-based players were unable to attend due to work commitments but a good night was had by all.”

JALDI, JALDI – 25 not out chronicles the 1987 Grades Tour of India during the cricket world cup, when the Aberdonians played nine fixtures against carefully selected opposition.

As well as the 22 players in the party, four matriarchs made the trip which took in Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Bombay and Goa.

The book was such a success the first print run has completely sold out.

Heavy stewarding had to be employed to deal with the throng clamouring for autographed copies”, claims Barron.

This has left Von Trapp Publications with a twin dilemma, he explains:

We’re considering organising a second print run, but that would adversely impact on the eBay value of first edition copies, already escalating in value. A Kindle edition is also a possibility but we fear this may confuse our ageing target readership, still reliant on coal fires.”

All proceeds after covering printing costs were said to be going to the little-known local aid agency Save the Hapless, Innocuous Trundlers which was, says Barron,

“Set up to ensure adequate lubrication for ageing participants in the activities of the Aberdeenshire Cricket Association.”

If and when the book is reprinted, Voice will carry details of how to obtain a copy.


Jun 222012

The Olympic Torch may have left the Granite City but this week an Aberdeen-based charity will recognise the worthy efforts of 25,000 unpaid carers who ‘carry a torch’ for someone who is ill, frail or disabled in the city and shire. With thanks to Claire McBain.

Aberdeen City Council, VSA’s Carers’ Service and NHS Grampian hosted an Olympic-themed celebratory lunch on 19th June to mark Carers Week 2012 and to honour the personalities behind Aberdeen’s thousands of hardworking and unpaid carers who metaphorically ‘carry a torch’ for a relative or friend.  Carers’ Week runs from 18th – 24th June, 2012.

VSA will also reach out to local carers with pop-up information stalls across the city, highlighting services that help balance vital caring roles with other commitments. 

A recent Carers’ Trust poll revealed that 60% of unpaid carers found their mental health was affected by their role.  Fittingly, the theme for this year’s Carers’ Week is In Sickness and Health.

Diane McCabe, Director of Social Care and Wellbeing at VSA, said:

“Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire carers deserve gold medals for their hard work.  There’s not just one local champion, they’re all our local heroes.

“By getting involved in Carers’ Week 2012, we can highlight and improve conditions for the 25,000 unpaid carers in Aberdeen city and shire, some suffering health and career problems as they try to look after sick or disabled relatives without help.

“We want to make life easier for these torchbearers and those they look after.”

According to Carers UK, there are nearly 6 million carers in the country.  The Scottish Household Survey, conducted by The Scottish Government in 2010 reported 657,300 carers north of the border, more than 25,000 of which live in Aberdeen City.  Within this, there are an estimated 2,240 Young Carers in Aberdeen and far more ‘hidden carers,’ both adult and child.

Diane continued:

“Many suffer due to a lack of understanding about what they do.  Some don’t even recognise themselves as carers.”

Christine Carle has used VSA’s Carers’ Services for more than 16 years.  When caring for her daughter with additional support needs, her son fell into the role of ‘mummy’s help.’  The Young Carers’ service, for her son, was her first contact with VSA.

She said:

“All children rely on their parents to look after them so you don’t realise you need the help.  You think it’s just part of ‘being mum.’  You just get on with it.

“I wouldn’t be where I am now without VSA’s Carers’ Service.  I’ve reached several milestones I didn’t think would be possible.  I’ve now got a job for the first time since my daughter was born.  Help and support makes such a difference to your own health.  The happier you are in yourself the better you are for looking after someone.

“It can be a big step picking up the phone, or walking through the door for the first time.  But I’d urge other carers to get in touch.  It will open so many doors.  It’s been a godsend to me.”

Christine’s son, a local councillor, is now 22.  Her daughter is 18 and, along with Christine, will continue to use VSA’s Carers’ Service for a long time.

Aberdeen Lord Provost George Adam, who was a speaker at the Olympic-themed lunch said:

“Carers are the unsung and unpaid heroes in our community.  All face different circumstances looking after relatives, loved ones and children who have needs that must be met in different ways.

“The two things they all have common are a selfless devotion to those they care for and determination to make lives as good as possible for the people who rely on them.

“We, as a city, can’t hold carers in a high enough regard.  It is vitally important that we raise awareness of the work they do and highlight the support and representation that is out there for them.”

For more information about Carers’ Week events visit

More information about VSA’s Carers Services, can be obtained by visiting their headquarters at 38 Castle Street, Aberdeen, calling them on 01224 212021, or visiting their website at  

Jun 142012

Aberdeen Voice’s Old Susannah continues her romp through Aberdeen City Council’s A to Z of services, and  considers two very different ‘Mr Smiths’, and dog’s dinners.  By Suzanne Kelly.

Tally Ho!  The burning issues of the past week include Olympic torches and scorching internet debate following Annie Lennox’s article in the Guardian.  In this piece Lennox suggests that Aberdeen might have some issues  and that the City Garden Project is ‘a dog’s dinner.’

In the first place as Mr Tom Smith (ACSEF, City Garden Trust, guru of truth, etc. etc.) points out, Annie doesn’t have all the facts.  Mr Smith will be happy to supply them to her.  This will be a historic first, considering ACSEF’s previous economy with said facts.   But what a result!  Tom Smith’s kindly offered to meet Annie!  I bet she’s wondering what to wear to any such meeting and is all nervous and excited.  Who could blame a girl? (Do I get a meeting invite as well, Tom, seeing as I was head of one of the official referendum campaign groups?).

I’m happy to admit I don’t have all the facts, either –  I keep asking for them, but I still don’t have them.  For one thing, I don’t know what comments people wrote on the voting slips when the six shortlisted designs were on show.  At the time comments and votes were requested (and paid for by the taxpayer).  Somehow, a private company, Aberdeen City Gardens Trust, seems to have the votes.  Tom is one of the people with access to them, and won’t let us see the results.  It wouldn’t be helpful, you see, to release this information.

I also don’t know the concrete web’s final business plan and its financial projections.  I also don’t know what the architectural drawings specify in any detail.  I don’t know what went on at the many meetings held to further the web.  I only  have ‘redacted’ (that’s with the details hidden) minutes of all those City Gardens Projects meetings you and I paid for (we’ve spent at least £600k on consultants and services for the granite web – you know, the project which won’t cost us a penny).  Call me over-cautious, but before I’d agree to borrow £90 million and commit to spending £140 million on a plan with no details, I’d want something a bit more concrete (excuse the expression).

I also don’t know the latest on Mr Smith’s front page P&J story from when he claimed UTG supporters were ‘harassing’ him and his family, and illegally hacking into his email.  You would have thought that had laws been broken, he’d have raced to the papers with the update. Otherwise, it just looks like a cynical manipulation of the press close to the referendum vote.    But all in all, I admit I don’t have these minor little facts.

But never mind the facts (which we’ve been asked to do so far) – once Tom’s had a word with Annie Lennox, she’ll be joining ACSEF, moving to Union Terrace and supporting the web.  Rumours that she has switched PR companies to Aberdeen’s BiG remain unconfirmed.

But Ms Lennox’ calling the Granite Web ‘a dog’s dinner’ in the Guardian was hardly fair.  Firstly, if you tried to feed such slop to a poor dog, it would slink away howling into the night, and the Scottish SPCA would step in, like they did to Dumfries & Galloway’s NHS supremo, one Mr Michael Keggens.  Because of his busy job and busy life, Keggens left his elderly dog without food and water, locked in the house for days.  Easy mistake to make I’m sure.

The Scottish SPCA were alerted to the dog barking, and found the poor thing alone in the house, caked in muck with not even water to drink.  Feeding the dog and returning a day later, the Scottish SPCA found the situation hadn’t changed.  Apparently living things need food and water, but you can’t expect someone high up in the NHS to know details like that.  Remember this the next time you hear of an elderly or infirm patient suffering dehydration. (PS – the Scottish SPCA is desperate for help just now, as are New Arc and Willows – if you can spare anything, please think about it).

Back to Mr Smith, well a Mr Smith anyway.  Old Susannah had a sudden urge this week to re-watch the old Jimmy Stewart film, ‘Mr Smith goes to Washington.’  Yes, it’s heavy on the sentiment and American values.  But the gist of the plot is this:  a corrupt, wealthy circle of small town businessmen and elected officials are milking the taxpayers; they have a crooked construction scheme (for a dam – a granite web would have been too far-fetched even for Hollywood).  These crooks have been sucking up public money, conspiring, and hiding the facts of their self-serving plans from the electorate.  This somehow sounds familiar.

In comes naive, honest Mr Smith, newly elected to the Senate, where people expect he will just do as the villains tell him to do.  He eventually finds out about all the corruption, and fights it (and he wins).  By the way, one of the most powerful weapons which the wealthiest crooked businessman has is his ability to dictate to the local press what to cover, how to cover it, and what to leave out of the news.

In the end ‘people power’ and truth win out over greed, corruption and manipulation.  I guess that’s Hollywood for you.  I’m still stumped as to why I thought of this film and wanted to see it again, but it will come to me.

Before I continue with my search through Aberdeen City Council’s A to Z of ‘services’, I’d like to say that I’m greatly looking forward to next Saturday’s (23 June) party in Union Terrace Gardens, courtesy of Common Good Aberdeen.  Hope to see you there.  And congratulations on the unanimous decision for a cafe in UTG to be run by Common Good Aberdeen volunteers, with 100% of profits going to improving the gardens.  A result in the truest sense.

I would also like to say a sincere thank you to the Guardian for its investigations, and to Ms Lennox (who can’t win – she gets it in the neck if she says anything, and gets it in the neck if she doesn’t.  But I dare say she knows what’s important and what she’s doing, and petty, small-minded criticism can’t stop her.  More power to her, as they say).

Now back to Aberdeen City’s A to Z of services.

M is for Marischal College: – Result!  ACC gutted this building, fitted it out with new furniture for some of the council staff, and boasted widely how wonderful it was – it only cost around £60,000,000 and it ‘came in on time and under budget’.  You can’t say fairer than that, can you?

Of course we never got to see a list of what the alternatives for council office space were (Old Susannah did do a FOI, knowing there is a ton of empty space owned by ACC out there – but was told this information was top secret).  Marischal may have been under budget, but what the budget was for other solutions was never disclosed.

Marischal workers are also under something else, and it’s not budget.  The problem I reported earlier with leaking toilet pipes hasn’t entirely been solved.  It must be kind of stimulating – you never know what’s going to land on your desk if you work at Marischal.

N is for National Fraud Initiative: – No, it’s not an initiative to strip the taxpayer of as much money as possible, it means that:-

“…Aberdeen City Council is required by law to protect the public funds it administers. We may share information provided to us with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds, in order to prevent and detect fraud.”

We’ll have to wait and see if the new administration can do as well as the previous one at preventing fraud.  Let’s see – we had Councillor Cassie and his little financial embarrassment.  We had ‘care’ workers stealing from their elderly clients, we’ve had social workers buying themselves goods with our money;  we’ve had people at the council offices taking their work home with them (in the form of embezzled funds).

There is a saying: steal something small and you’ll go to jail; steal something big and they’ll make you a legend.  Steal an entire Victorian Park and put it into private hands to manage?  They’ll make you an ACSEF member.

O is for Open Data: – As the Council tells us,

“Open data is about increased transparency, about sharing the information we hold with the wider community to build useful applications.”

There is a link to this open data –

“We now have a linked data repository, available at: which provides a number of data sets as linked data. “

Please do be my guest and visit this link.  But if you’re looking for any controversial data, I’m not sure this will be much help to you.

P is for Package Holidays: – the City is giving us advice on consumer protection regarding package holidays.   Result!

I wonder whether the previous Lord Provost did a package holiday when he went on some of his essential world-wide trips in order to save the city some money.  His visit to Nagasaki clearly worked wonders, and I hear the Japanese want to get rid of some of their tedious green space to build granite webs.

There was a tartan created to commemorate the visit as well.  While we were spending all this money on his designer jeans, clothes, travel, portraits and so on, we sensibly have just auctioned off some of the artefacts from Thomas Glover House.  Glover, you may recall, was for all intents the man who most helped to open up Japan to the outside world, and his house in Aberdeen was a monument to him and his travels.

I wonder if they’ve sold the doorknobs, light bulbs and light switches from the Glover house yet?

Q is for…. nothing:  There are no entries.  Nothing about quality of services, quality of life, nothing.  That’s because things are so good, there’s nothing left to say.  (X has no listings, either, FYI).

R is for Rats:  If any of you have read the previous columns about the city’s A to Z of services, you will suspect correctly that this link takes you back to the city’s exterminator services.  The city will happily kill rats, rodents, insects, and a whole host of critters for you, for a fee.  And as we sadly know, they’ll shoot deer.

Next week:  Expect an update on the Tullos Hill deer slaughter story, the remainder of the alphabet, and a return to definitions as normal.

PS – I have learnt a great deal from the online debate sparked from the Guardian’s Annie Lennox story.  But most importantly, I’ve learnt you are not allowed to criticise a place unless you live in it.  Therefore, let’s have no more carping on about the situations in Syria, Iraq, Tibet, Myanmar, DRC, and so on.  Glad that’s settled.

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Jan 132012

With thanks to Norman  Fiddes.

Meldrum House Hotel  is hosting a Burns Night on  Saturday 28th January 2012 – with a Twist.

Entertainment  on offer will include a piper, traditional addressing of the haggis, a live band, dancers, speeches, and a surprise singing sensation – with a twist.

Guests should arrive for 7.30pm and a buffet dinner will be served at 8.00pm. Carriages at 12.30am

Traditional/Modern Casual
Tickets – £40 ( inclusive arrival drink)

To book, email Lucy on
Reduced accommodation rate of £99 per couple, B&B

Further info:
Set amidst beautiful countryside, The 4 Star Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course offers unrivalled quality. Only a few miles from Aberdeen, this is one of the finest luxury hotels Scotland has to offer.

Oct 132011

By Bob Smith.

A weel myn o Jimmy’s Cafe
‘Twis a placie in John Street
Faar fowk fae aa waaks o life
Fer denner they wid meet

There wis larry an van drivers
Quines fae local shops
Office loons jist like me
Wifies faa war Mrs Mops

Nae falderals an funcy decor
Jist  plain wa’s o pinted plaster
If ye winted fite tablecloths
Ye war in for a stammygaster

It wis maistly widden tables
Aa covered wi a gweed  ile cloth
Iss wis affa easily wippit ower
If ye happen’t ti spill yer broth

Doon a step wis anither roomie
Ye wint if the placie wis pakkit
Wi lang widden tables an benches
On fit fowk’s doups war parkit

Halesome  maet wis aye served up
Mince an tatties wi a mealie puddin
Or fine stew wi a doughball or twa
As fowk throwe the door war floodin

Fer puddin ye aye hid a choice
Custard wi aipples or a tart
Ice cream an fine jeely as weel
Fegs ye didna ken far ti start

Nooadays wi iss health an safety
Jimmy’s micht nae hiv passed the test
Bit at servin up gweed tastin fare
Jimmy’s Cafe wis amang the best

  ©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011

Sep 302011

A Charity Dinner Dance in aid of Future Choices  is being held on Saturday 8th October 2011 at Pittodrie Stadium.With thanks to David Forbes.

Future Choices is a local charity set up to support Disabled people in the City of Aberdeen, with a range of social and recreational activities already established for it’s members.

The charity is geared towards encouraging and enabling disabled individuals to get out of there homes to meet up and interact, and have many more classes and activities  lined up for the future.

This is the second year in which the dinner dance has been organised to raise funds for Future choices. 

Last year,  £1,500 was raised  towards setting up activities and resources. This year it is hoped that much more will be raised enabling the charity to realise a long standing ambition to acquire a vehicle so that they can provide a greater level of basic support to disabled people in Aberdeen.

The event includes a 3 course meal, live singer and some special guests.

There will also be  a raffle and auction.  Future Choices are very grateful to the News team at STV for the gift of a signed football which will be going to the auction prize pool.  The group are also very grateful for the help and support from Staff Members at Mecca Bingo in Berryden – every bit of help makes a huge difference.

Charity Dinner Dance in aid of Future Choices.
Saturday 8th October 2011
Pittodrie Stadium
6.30pm – 00.30am

Call 07821700046 to book ticket(s)

If you wish to support this event but will be unable to attend, please call and pledge a donation, or purchase raffles or merchandise.

More info.

Following the closure of the Choices Day Centre in 2008, a group of former users of the Centre , their  friends and families  came together to form “Future Choices” which is now registered with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).   ( Registered charity number 040085  )

Future Choices gives disabled people and able-bodied people choices for their future together.