Mar 172017

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

A north-east charity has launched a major appeal to raise £50,000 that will be used to support the region’s sick, disabled and disadvantaged children.
Cash for Kids is looking to recruit 500 people from across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to be part of its 500 Faces fundraising campaign.

Each person that signs up will commit to raising £100 this year in order that the local children’s charity’s appeal target is reached.

Tradespeople, work colleagues, groups of friends, families and school classes are all encouraged to take part. It is hoped that the option of spreading fundraising over the course of a year will attract a number of participants.

All of the money from the 500 Faces appeal will be used to help fulfil applications to Cash for Kids’ unique grant funding programme. The charity provides grant funding to individuals, families and community groups across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire on a quarterly basis to help improve the quality of children’s lives.

For some families the grant programme is the only option open to them to fund the purchase of specialist equipment for their children, as often there are no other funding mechanisms. Each application made to the grant programme has to be endorsed by a third party such as a social worker or health visitor.

The 500 Faces appeal is taking place to ensure that as many grant applications as possible are fulfilled each quarter.  Currently, the total value of grant applications received by Cash for Kids outweighs the amount donated by the public and business community. The deadline for submitting applications for the next round of grant funding is Friday, 14 April.

Participants have nine months to reach their £100 goal – which equates to £2.50 a week – and can be as creative as they wish with their fundraising. Money can be raised through one-off challenges, a series of events or regular weekly or monthly donations.

People are expected to fundraise by undertaking sponsored running, cycling, swimming and even slimming challenges, beard shavings and leg waxing, or simply foregoing a weekly takeaway coffee and donating the equivalent value. For local businesses and tradespeople it may be as simple as donating their tips or a percentage of a month’s takings to the appeal.

Michelle Ferguson (pictured), Cash for Kids charity manager, said:

“The 500 Faces campaign is a really fun way for people to get involved with Cash for Kids and raise money throughout the year. There is real flexibility in how individuals can fundraise and no limit to how much each person raises.

“We hope that people across the region get behind the appeal and that all of those who sign up can help motivate one another in achieving their goals. The appeal website has individual and collective totalisers which should help to do this – they’re a bit like high-tech versions of the Blue Peter totalisers. 

“We are looking forward to our participants sharing their fundraising ideas, which will no doubt create some friendly competition.

“When £100 is broken down across the nine months to £2.50 a week, it is a relatively small amount and a manageable fundraising target. The impact that £100 can have on the lives of sick, disabled and disadvantaged children living in our communities is transformational. 

“From purchasing bread for breakfast clubs in deprived areas, to providing equipment for art therapy classes for disabled children, each donation does make a real difference.”

To register, visit

Cash for Kids is Northsound Radio’s listeners’ charity. It makes grants to individuals, families, children’s groups, organisations and projects throughout the Northsound transmission area.  All money is raised locally and spent locally to benefit local disabled and disadvantaged children and young people under 18. More information on Cash for Kids can be found at, or telephone 01224 337010.

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Mar 102017

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

Sick, disabled and disadvantaged children living in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire will benefit after six local couples said ‘I do’ to raising thousands of pounds for charity for the chance to win a dream wedding.
The brides and grooms to be were taking part in Aberdeen-based children’s charity Cash for Kids’ annual Win Your Wedding fundraising competition.

On offer for the couple who raised the most money was an exclusive wedding package at a leading four-star Aberdeenshire hotel. 

In total, the six duos raised £57,191.20 in just two weeks. They took on a wide range of fundraising challenges, including a five-a-side football tournament, pub quizzes, coffee mornings, auctions, bucket collections, a duck race, bag-packing and sponsored leg waxing and beard-shavings.

Raising the most money were Ellon couple Natasha Matthew and Grant Reid who collected £12,197.83. The reward for their efforts was a dream wedding day at the award-winning Meldrum Country House Hotel. The winners’ wedding package, which is worth around £25,000, includes a reception in the Oldmeldrum hotel’s new ballroom, which opened last year.

Also included in the wedding package are venue décor, a wedding dress, grooms’ wear, flowers, wedding rings, health, fitness and beauty packages, along with wedding cars, photography and childcare for the big day. All of the items have been donated by local businesses.

Natasha and Grant, who met at school and got engaged eight years ago, say they’re really proud of their achievement. Natasha said:

“Grant and I have really enjoyed raising the money for Cash for Kids, but we could not have done it without all of our supporters who have been so generous with their time and money. We really can’t thank everyone enough and we can’t wait to start planning our big day as soon as possible.”

Over the past six years the Win Your Wedding contest has seen couples who are planning to tie the knot raise over £185,000 for Cash for Kids. 

The charity provides grant funding to individuals, families and community groups on a quarterly basis and all of the money that the competition raises is used to help fulfil these grant applications. The deadline for submitting applications for the next round of grant funding is Friday, 14 April.

Michelle Ferguson, Cash for Kids charity manager, said:

“We are very grateful to our couples who have all made such an amazing effort to collectively raise more than £57,000. Our thanks must also go to everyone who has helped them raise this phenomenal amount of money by taking part in their fundraising initiatives and donating to Cash for Kids.

“Every penny that the couples raised is distributed to individual children, families and community groups in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, making a huge difference to their lives. The couples’ hard work and enthusiasm has been second to none.

“The support and generosity shown by the local businesses who helped us put together this fantastic package for Win Your Wedding is very much appreciated.

“Meldrum House is a stunning setting for a wedding and the hotel’s involvement has certainly helped generate interest in the contest. Without the support of all the businesses, we would not be able to run this competition or assist all the children that we do through our unique grant scheme.”

Cash for Kids is Northsound Radio’s listeners’ charity. It makes grants to individuals, families, children’s groups, organisations and projects throughout the Northsound transmission area. All money is raised locally and spent locally to benefit local disabled and disadvantaged children and young people under 18.

More information on Cash for Kids can be found at, or telephone 01224 337010.

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Feb 022017

This driver stopped in the marked disabled bay while he loaded a Christmas tree while two cars with disabled badges had to move on.

By Mark MC.

“I’ll just be two ticks!” A not uncommon response to someone parking where they shouldn’t, but what if that is a disabled parking bay?

The Court has recently ruled on wheelchairs over prams on buses; but is this the right way to go?

Has it gone far enough?

Even now the media and people appear to have different views on what the ruling stated so what is going on?

What has happened to the old-fashioned courtesy, of giving up a seat for someone in more need than yourself….is chivalry dead?

Most of us will get old, some will become disabled, some of us are already there; so should we expect ‘special treatment’, preferential treatment?

This important issue covers far more than just buses or parking bays; there appears to be a basic disregard for people that require more, even if that doesn’t actually cost anything just, simply taking up space that could be used by someone else: the selfish gene?

Unfair appraisal? While it is true that many people would happily give up their seat, how many of those people would take a disabled parking space? The concept behind the aging Goofy cartoon behind the wheel springs to mind; where the perfect gentleman Goofy changes like Jekyll and Hyde.

Whatever your viewpoint there is sufficient concern to raise the question, what is going on? Why do so many feel that it is OK to keep a marked disabled seat or park in a disabled parking space without authority?

These actions can have severe effects on those that need them.

A tent display, clearly far more important than disabled people.

There are too may conditions to list here but lets just look at one, a more generic situation of chronic pain. Chronic pain affects hundreds of thousands of people; that is a pain that is constant over time, it might effect standing, walking, even sitting.

Many sufferers still try to maintain what is as near ‘normal’ lifestyle as they can but in order to do so they need just a little extra help, and that might be in the form of a specialised seat or parking space near to a shop, chemist or doctors. Is that really too much to ask?

A seat and/or a parking space, reserved for someone that needs it, in order for them to be part of the community without being an extra burden?

In the case of the bus court case it should never have gone that far, the bus driver already had the ability to sort it out; the current situation does little to help, the driver can simply wait for others on the bus to get angry about being held up; causing further animosity to either the disabled, elderly or pram pusher.

In the case of the selfish driver taking a disabled bay, even if just for a short time may have caused someone that needs that space to drive on; perhaps even to return home unable to get their shopping or prescription, because their pain to just too much for them to wait or to keep driving around looking for what is often far too few disabled parking spaces close to where they need to be.

Tackle these people at your peril; as even a ‘nice’ approach can be taken as an affront on their liberty, or at least that can be the impression assumed by the verbal abuse or even violent response.

Some countries don’t suffer from the same issues.

Some countries carry real fines, big fines if people disobey, plus they have law enforcers willing to issue fines. In a few countries the locals would never even dream of taking a disabled space. How have they done it?

It would be nice if legislation was not required, but in our current modern selfish age, the situation is unlikely to improve without a big stick….lets hope those people wont need it to get around!

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Jan 062017

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

NESS CEO, Graham Findlay

A 137-year-old north-east charity is looking forward to continued success after celebrating its best year ever in 2016.  North East Sensory Services (NESS), which has centres in Aberdeen, Dundee and Elgin, won four new contracts in 2016 to offer its services to over a thousand additional blind and deaf people across Scotland, bringing the number of people it supports to over 5,500.

In Dundee, NESS has provided support to deaf people since April 2013, and in October the charity won a tender to expand its services to blind people, enabling it to offer a joint sensory service, including rehabilitation and practical advice, under one roof.

As a result, those with both hearing and sight loss will be able to access help in one visit. NESS will also offer additional services to Dundee and Angus in 2017, including IT support and employment advice.

Additionally, NESS successfully tendered to continue its popular service for blind and deaf people in Moray, as well as winning two separate contracts to provide blind and deaf services on behalf of Angus Council.

In July, the charity won the Investors in People, ‘Excellence in the Third Sector’ international award after achieving the Investors in People Gold Standard in March, following a comprehensive analysis of the charity’s people management.

NESS has also recently launched a revolutionary new website designed for easy use by those who have very poor vision, offering advice on living with sensory loss and detailed information on support services available across the North-east.

Furthermore, NESS played an important role in sight loss research by hosting the Aberdeen Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) Information Day in September, which saw scientists share the latest RP genetic research advances.

NESS CEO, Graham Findlay, said:

“Despite challenging times, 2016 was a milestone year for NESS. We are delighted to have won four competitive tenders, which are the result of a great deal of hard work and dedication by every member of staff and volunteer at NESS. 

“Joint sensory services are a major step forward and NESS has been a pioneer in providing help and advice for blind and deaf people under one roof. Many older people have difficulties with both vision and hearing, so being able to access support for both senses in one place is a major advantage.

“Demand for our services is increasing due to an ageing population, so it is important that we continue to develop our services and expand.

“Blind and deaf people rely upon the support we provide, to help them achieve greater independence, so the charity is constantly evolving to ensure we are able to help service users lead life to the full. In 2017, we will continue to look for new ways to support our service users and help as many people as we can.”

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Nov 282016

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

asv-santa-1Budding Santas are being urged to don their festive gear to bring some cheer to a children’s charity.

Christmas is all about giving and a fun-filled festive event at Aberdeen’s world-class sports facility is offering people of all ages the chance to join lots of cheery Santas to give something back.

Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV), in Linksfield Road, is hosting its first ever Santa Run and Obstacle Course, in aid of Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS).

The seasonal sporting extravaganza will take place at the Chris Anderson Stadium at ASV on Saturday, 10th December 2016.

The entry fee of £12.50 for adults and £7 for children includes a Santa suit with a hat, and sporty Santas can run, jog or walk the one-mile race and/or the one-mile obstacle course. No previous experience or fitness level is required and the event is open to fun-filled Aberdonians of all ages, from children to grandparents.

CEO of ASV, Duncan Sinclair, said:

“Christmas is coming and it is time to don our Santa hats and get festive! The Santa run is the ideal way to kick off your Christmas season and gift donations to a very worthy children’s charity. The one-mile race and short obstacle course will not be too tough but are the perfect opportunity to get some exercise while celebrating the most wonderful time of the year.

“ASV is delighted to be supporting CHAS as they do a fantastic job caring for babies and children with life-shortening conditions. It is important to think of others at Christmas so we urge as many people to come along to our Santa Run as possible.”

Emma Moore, community fundraiser at CHAS, said:

“We’re really excited that Aberdeen Sports Village has chosen to support CHAS with proceeds from their first ever Santa run event. It is shaping up to be a really fun day out for runners and non-runners alike, and we’re definitely looking forward to seeing everyone in their Santa suits!

“At CHAS, we put a huge emphasis on producing memories, so that families make the most of the precious moments they have together. This event is no exception, we hope people in and around Aberdeen will get behind it and sign up to take part!

“CHAS is the only national hospice charity in Scotland, which provides care to babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions. Our CHAS at Home service operates across Aberdeenshire and we have two hospices, Rachel House in Kinross and Robin House in Balloch.”

Entries for the Aberdeen Santa run and obstacle race can be made at


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Nov 172016

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

michelle-ferguson-charity-manager-cash-for-kids-launching-mission-christmasA North-east charity has launched its annual festive gift appeal as it aims to ensure thousands of local underprivileged children receive a present this Christmas.
Cash for Kids has launched its Mission Christmas gift appeal which is once again being supported by The Wood Foundation, the philanthropic organisation founded by Sir Ian Wood.

Last year, Mission Christmas guaranteed that over 6,800 children living in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire had a present to open on Christmas morning.

With recent estimates suggesting that 18% of children in Aberdeen and 13% of children in Aberdeenshire live in poverty, Cash for Kids anticipates a similar volume of applications this year.

The children’s charity is calling on north-east residents to purchase one extra child’s gift when shopping this Christmas and donate it to the Mission Christmas appeal or donate money which the charity will use to fill any gift gaps. Buying shopping centre vouchers is also recommended as this can provide teenagers with the freedom to choose items they prefer.

Over 120 donation points have been set up across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire where people can drop off new, unwrapped gifts. The deadline for donating items is Friday, 16 December, however the public are encouraged to donate items prior to this to ensure all gift applications are fulfilled in time.

In order to cope with the anticipated volume of donations and number of applications, the appeal is being coordinated from a new warehouse this year. The modern facility has been donated free of charge by Knight Property Group and M&G Real Estate for the duration of the appeal.

For a sixth consecutive year, Aberdeen-based haulier Colin Lawson Transport is supporting the appeal. The firm is providing a dedicated driver and vehicle to collect the gifts from donation points across the north-east.

An army of volunteers will be giving their time to sort through donations and allocate them against applications to provide each child with three gifts with a combined value of approximately £50. With at least 20,000 items expected to be required to meet demand, the scale of the task ahead for Mission Christmas 2017 is clear.

To help raise funds for the appeal Cash for Kids is holding its Christmas Jumper Day on Friday, 09 December. The day encourages local businesses and schools to persuade their employees and pupils to don their favourite festive knits and donate £1 per person to Mission Christmas.

Michelle Ferguson, Cash for Kids charity manager (pictured), said:

“Mission Christmas generates a huge response each year and we are extremely grateful to everyone who donates a gift, time or resources. We are very pleased to have The Wood Foundation supporting the appeal once more, helping to highlight the issue and causes of child poverty in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

“Gift and voucher donations are fantastic, but monetary donations can also make a huge difference. They allow us to purchase items for age groups where there are gaps.  A monetary donation of £10 is equivalent to foregoing two extra tubs of chocolates this Christmas or a week’s worth of take-away coffee and would help to ensure no child in the north-east goes without this Christmas. Every little help, really does help.”

Sir Ian Wood, chairman of The Wood Foundation, said:

“To know that there are children right now, living in the north-east of Scotland who may not experience the excitement of receiving a special gift on Christmas morning is incredibly sad. In Aberdeen city and Aberdeenshire, poverty is often not as apparent as in other parts of Scotland, with the result that it often goes unrecognised and unaddressed.

“By supporting the work Cash for Kids does with the Mission Christmas appeal for the second year, The Wood Foundation hopes that every child across the north-east will feel the magic of Christmas this year.”

More information on the appeal, including a full list of donation points and information on the Christmas jumper day, can be found at

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Oct 272016
Michelle Ferguson, charity manager, Cash for Kids

Michelle Ferguson, charity manager, Cash for Kids

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

North-east residents are being encouraged to dig deep and bid for a range of items as a local charity holds its popular autumn fundraising event.

Aberdeen-based Cash for Kids is once again holding its annual online auction, which runs until Sunday, 30 October. 

The money raised will be used by the charity to support sick, disabled and disadvantaged children and young people living in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

Cash for Kids provides quarterly grant funding to individuals, families and community groups to help improve the lives of local children and young people under the age of 18. 

Proceeds of the auction will be used to fulfil these application. During each round of funding the charity distributes over £30,000 in order to meet the range of applications it receives.

Businesses across north-east Scotland have already thrown their weight behind the initiative. Local butchers, florists, photographers, garages, gyms, beauticians and attractions are among those who have donated goods and services to feature in the auction.

Each year, the online auction provides north-east residents with the opportunity to bid on a range of items, including one-off objects and unique experiences. This year it features pop and sporting memorabilia, portraiture sessions, car servicing packages, sports lessons, hotel stays, theatre tickets and dinner packages. Bidding closes at 8pm on Sunday, 30 October.

Auction highlights include an Aberdeen Football Club shirt signed by the first team, a One Direction T-shirt signed by band members Niall Horan and Harry Styles, and framed drum skins signed by One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer and James Morrison.

A number of hotels have provided accommodation packages. Bids can be placed on one night’s bed and breakfast, with arrival champagne, for two at Meldrum House Hotel, dinner, bed and breakfast for two at Ardoe House Hotel, and dinner, bed and breakfast for two at the Marriott Aberdeen. Further afield, the King Robert Hotel at Bannockburn has donated a two-night stay with dinner, bed and breakfast.

Food fans have the chance to bid on Sunday brunch for four at Malmaison Aberdeen, afternoon tea for two at 210 Bistro, a voucher from Da Giorgio Trattoria, and meat packages from butchers Andrew Gordon and J&G Dossett. Also on offer are fourballs at Newburgh Golf Course, gym membership at Aberdeen Sports Village and a snow sport lesson at Aberdeen Snowsports Centre.

Michelle Ferguson, Cash for Kids charity manager, said:

“Our annual auction is always really popular with the public. Once again, we’ve had a great response from local businesses who have been very generous with the items that they have donated. The auction really is an example of how the whole local community can pull together and make a difference to lives of sick, disabled and disadvantaged north-east children.

“We have a diverse range of items in the auction again this year, so there is something to suit all ages, tastes and budgets. If you are looking for a bit of pampering so that you are ready for your festive nights out there are a number of beauty treatments on offer, or some fantastic family experiences including trips on the Royal Deeside Railway and visits to The Den and The Glen. Some items still have low starting bids, so they might be secured very reasonably.”

To see the full list of auction items and place bids, visit Bidding closes at 8pm on Sunday, 30 October.

Cash for Kids is Northsound Radio’s listeners’ charity. It makes grants to individuals, families, children’s groups, organisations and projects throughout the Northsound transmission area. All money is raised locally and spent locally to benefit local disabled and disadvantaged children and young people under 18. More information on Cash for Kids can be found at, or telephone 01224 337010.


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Oct 062016

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

As the days shorten and the first signs of autumn begin to appear, a north-east charity is fundraising to ensure children in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are kitted out with warm winter outdoor clothing.
Cash for Kids is running its annual Coats for Kids appeal with the aim of raising enough money to purchase warm outdoor clothing for 600 underprivileged children living in the north-east.

The local children’s charity requires £30,000 to meet the expected demand, with the money being used to provide each child with a £50 clothing voucher to cover the cost of a coat, hat, scarf, gloves and a pair of boots.

This is the fourth successive year that Cash for Kids has organised the Coats for Kids appeal. The winter clothing appeal’s continuation reflects the level of child poverty that exists in the region – one in six children in Aberdeen and one in seven in Aberdeenshire live in poverty.

Cash for Kids works with support workers, social workers and community groups to improve the quality of life of sick, disabled and disadvantaged children and young people under the age of 18 living in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. It is through these working relationships that applications will be made on behalf of the children most in need of winter clothing vouchers.

The charity has once again struck a deal with a leading clothing retailer to provide the vouchers for the children. These vouchers can be redeemed against the purchase of new winter outdoor wear, with the children themselves being given the opportunity to select the items.

A number of companies across the north-east have already backed the appeal, but Cash for Kids is calling for others to lend their support. Staff in the Aberdeen office of Richard Irvin, which provides energy solutions and services across Scotland, have pledged to raise £500 for the appeal. This is enough to fund winter outdoor clothing packs for 10 children.

Sharon Walker, Richard Irvin social committee member, said:

“We were very shocked to hear that last year Cash for Kids had over 600 applications to provide children with coats and other winter clothing.

“It’s heartbreaking to hear that just on our doorstep there are families who have to make the stark choice of whether to provide their kids with food or heating.  The Coats for Kids appeal really makes a difference to families and I’m confident that the Richard Irvin team will rise to the challenge.”

Michelle Ferguson, Cash for Kids charity manager, said:

“The Coats for Kids appeal is very emotive. It highlights the issue of child poverty, but delivers many positive outcomes for the children who benefit, some of whom have never before had the opportunity to choose new clothes for themselves and have always previously relied on hand-me-downs.

“We are very grateful too all those who have supported the appeal this year, including the staff at Richard Irvin. The importance of warm winter clothing can’t be underestimated, particularly for health reasons. A donation of £50 would ensure that one child is kitted out for whatever this coming winter throws at us. With an estimated 600 applications to fulfil, every donation really will make a huge difference.”

In addition to running specific appeals, Cash for Kids provides quarterly grant funding to support sick, disabled and disadvantaged children and young people under the age of 18 throughout Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. Funding is distributed at the end of January, April, July and October every year and is available to individuals, families and community groups. All applications must be endorsed by a third party, such as a social worker or health visitor.

Any individuals, organisations or businesses that wish to support this year’s Coats for Kids appeal should contact Michelle Ferguson on 01224 337010 or, or visit

Cash for Kids is Northsound Radio’s listeners’ charity. It makes grants to individuals, families, children’s groups, organisations and projects throughout the Northsound transmission area. All money is raised locally and spent locally to benefit local disabled and disadvantaged children and young people under 18.

More information on Cash for Kids can be found at, or telephone 01224 337010.

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Sep 232016

future-choices-16With thanks to Future Choices.

Future Choices is a local voluntary run Charity which provides social inclusion and recreational activities to some of the most vulnerable adults within the city.

To Celebrate this Anniversary, the Charity has teamed up with Fashion Guru, Lydia Kemunto, Director of Aberdeen Fashion Week to showcase some amazing fashion as well as putting on some amazing entertainment.

Lydia said:

“At Aberdeen Fashion Week, we are very passionate about supporting our community, that’s why we decided to be part of Future Choices 8th birthday celebrations. We will be doing a fashion show with 4 of our designers. We are very proud to be associated.”

Charity Vice Chairman, Devon Thompson added:

“Future Choices Celebrating 8 years of Voluntary work within the community touching so many lives in such a positive way is an amazing achievement. Without the support from the people of the city, we wouldnt be where we are now, so I thank you all so much.”

The Charity has also launched a TEXT giving service,so to donate to Help Future Choices raise much needed funds to help them carry on their voluntary work.

Text: FCIS08 £5 to 70070

Visit for updates.

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Sep 092016

Aberdeen FC Ladies have three senior teams: Aberdeen FC Ladies (premier team), Aberdeen FCL Reserves and Aberdeen FCL. Can a 26 year-old man possibly serve as a successful head coach for this organisation? After a conversation with Head Coach Stefan Laird, Suzanne Kelly is absolutely convinced he’ll be taking the AFC Ladies to the top.

stefan-laird-megan-reidStefan and I meet for a coffee.

Stefan’s amazingly self-possessed, confident, convinced and balanced; he comes across as someone who’s had decades of experience dealing with the media – and he’s not even 30.

By the time we’re done speaking, an hour has passed, and I know he’s still got more to say.

I conclude he wants to make Aberdeen FC the most desirable club to play for because the club will think about your future on and off the pitch.

It’s a long-term strategy but he’s convinced me he and his ideas will help the women, the club, and ultimately the game. I am genuinely impressed.

The interview flies past; I’m riveted, and he’s far from finished explaining his theories and recounting incidents. Here are a few selections of his thoughts on some of the topics we covered.

On his footballing past:

I was at Rangers youth academy. I left at 16 and signed full time professional for Blackpool. On my debut, after 20 minutes I tore my cruciate ligament and that was the start of a series of unfortunate injures. I came back to rangers after my 2 ½ years and after 3 months did my knee and that was me finished.

On how he became the Head Coach of Aberdeen FC Ladies:

The coaching began during my first rehab at Blackpool. They put me through the first of my English coaching badges. I can remember clear as day now standing in the manager’s office and telling him it was a waste of time, I would never use them, I didn’t like it; I wasn’t good at it. It was Colin Hendry, the ex-Scotland captain who was managing them; he and Gary Parkinson put me through it under the FA’s tutorship.

They took me all the way through my B license and then when I came back, used it briefly at the Blackpool centre of excellence – but I was still fully cantered on the football and when I came back to Aberdeen I thought ‘I can’t play anymore; might as well use it’.

To be honest, for about a year I fell out of love with football completely. I had the attitude of ‘why has this happened to me?’

I made all the sacrifices – didn’t drink a drop of alcohol until I was 20; went home early; never had a new year’s out with my friends, never did all the standard stuff.

‘Why has this happened to me?’ I thought when I saw people playing who I didn’t think were as good as I was I was in the stand watching them– effectively wearing my shirt. To a certain extent I still struggle with it.

On disability coaching experiences:

To be perfectly honest when I went there [disability coaching] on my first night I thought ‘what is this going to be like?’ I had no idea what the standard was going to be. There’s a whole range of disabilities. You can have people in the class with six different disabilities some mental, some physical. I left that training session that night and on every night I’ve taken them on top of the world.

It’s a feeling I’d never experienced before. I make a difference in people’s lives by going out coaching kids in less advantaged areas. Giving them things, opportunities and access to players and people they never thought they’d meet. But leaving a disability session at night, you genuinely come away feeling great because the kids are there because they are in love football. And there’s a lot of coaches that don’t want to deal with that side of things and don’t want to coach that level of foot ball – and acknowledge it. They’re afraid. They don’t want to deal. And on the other side there’s no fear.

Special abilities is the right word because I do think they have special abilities. If people who are more mentally advantaged and more able bodied attacked life with the same attitude as these people I coach– well, we’d have a better world – and as individuals would be a hell of a lot more successful. If everyone attacked obstacles in their daily life like these people do – it reminds me that we don’t really have anything to worry about.

Everybody’s selfish. No matter what you say out here, when you go home at night the majority of people are just concerned about one person – themselves. You can go and help other people – but I will never lose that feeling if I’m honest of ‘why me?’

I see the disabled players – and it all pales into insignificance. I’m still going home after a session, jumping into my nice car, and going home to my nice house where I can have a moan about my own life –which football has got me as well – and when you re’ in that room with them – nothing else in the world matters. You’re involved in the game and the enjoyment of that game.

When you’re in that room with them, the game is all that matters.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve got one leg, one arm, three eyes, a ten million pound house. It doesn’t matter what colour/religion you are – you’re entrenched in the sport and everyone is there to enjoy the sport, to get out of it what they can.

On lessons to be learned from sport:

I would go to training at night and have two Swedish boys on my team. A guy from Turkey. A boy from Estonia. Four English guys. The two Turkish boys did not speak a word of English but you didn’t have a problem communicating with them. I probably still can’t explain it – you could just understand each other through the game.

You see it just now in the Olympics – not just football – sport can do things that I just don’t think people fully understand and I don’t think it’s utilised enough. You learn lessons for your life from Sport. You can pretty much teach every principle there is in a dressing room and take it into an office and into the street. We’re trying to win games, but we’re trying to create a certain kind of person at the same time.

On working with people with addiction issues:

People say to me ‘you don’t understand what it’s like to be a drug addict’ and I’ll say ‘well, I’ll never understand the pain hopefully’ – but I do understand they are addicted to something, because I’m addicted to the dressing room atmosphere. Now that’s a completely different thing from football. And this is probably what I craved more than anything.

I spent probably about 75% of my day laughing when I was a footballer because you’re in the comaraderie of a group, a team.

I’m no longer able to play. I sometimes think the younger kids are spoilt. They’ll get released. They’ll be sat down at 12 years old and be told they’re not good enough.

I still believe in my own experiences when I’m sitting on my death bed I won’t remember beating Celtic or getting into the Blackpool team. What I’ll remember most though is the guys who were sitting next to me. The camaraderie, the slagging each other off – that’s what I’m addicted to. So football players – people don’t know this – Paul Gascoigne – people like him are used to having that every day and then suddenly one day you’re on your own.

It becomes very isolated. You’ve been living life on a high – same as a drug addict – then bang – nobody cares about you any more. The guys that surrounded you are no longer there – you’ve gone from being in a family to being on your own effectively.

Laird on team spirit:

So I try to say to the players ‘listen –whatever happens on the pitch today, it’s about the person sitting next to you, and if you see them in trouble, you must help them. We’re not just a team.

The most successful team in the league last year – Leicester – they’re not the best team in the league – but they are the best team in that dressing room. Those guys will die for each other and that’s why they’ll go the extra mile. And they can overcome things. That will last their whole life – those guys will never forget it.

At our girls academy just now we have about 120 players. If I’m realistic, maybe about four of them will play for our first team. So I want all of them to play, but I want them to leave Aberdeen Ladies better equipped for life than when they arrived.

The likelihood is you’re not going to be a footballer because there’s about 100 million people trying to do it. So the reality is you’ll play to a high level until you’re about 20.

How can I maximise that experience for you over that time and how can you get the most out of it? We’re in the biggest club in the district. So how can we help other teams? 99% of our players will never play for Aberdeen’s first side. So we want them to leave as good a player as possible so they can go elsewhere in their football career and succeed.

So if they don’t succeed with us – and that’s just one man’s opinion which happens to be mine just now – I would love them to prove me wrong so I have to go knock on their door and try to get them back.

On women’s football:

People keep saying to me ‘is women’s football taking off?’ I say – ‘it’s happened’. It’s just not at the level in this country just now as it is in other countries. You could argue that’s the same for men too. Players in this country are getting paid £3k a week; players in France are getting paid 200k/week. You could argue it’s not taken off men-wise here.

Three or four months ago it became the world’s fastest growing sport by a long distance. The women’s world cup did a lot for that. It’s huge in US; I was lucky enough to spend time away with Scottish first team’s manager.

She took a group of coaches over to France five months ago and we spent a week at Paris St Germaine and a week at Lyon. Now their players are getting paid. It’s full time professional women – fully integrated – there are 7,000 fans there; the PSG team took 5,000 fans with them. Their players were on Euros 3,000 – 9,000 a week.

Manchester City have their own fully integrated women’s stadium, I think it holds 15,000, all their players are full-time, professional. Arsenal is one of the biggest women’s’ teams in Europe. So all across Europe, the money is big. In Scotland we are not there yet, but we are nearly there, and it won’t be long before similar figures are bandied around here.

On the winning attitude:

Some Aberdeen people tend to go down there [to international training camps] and stick to the Aberdeen people; some of them can be very quiet and they will never stand up and say ‘I’m the best’ – whereas the Glasgow person is raised to believe ‘I’m the best’ and they think ‘you might beat me, but you’re going to take a hell of a beating doing it so much so you won’t come back for seconds’.

That’s the attitude – that‘s the kind of spirit – I have to create in Aberdeen. I dealt with a lot of Scousesrs and they treated their area as if it were a national area. They played to defend their area their principles, their beliefs. They have a mentality that people are not going to come up there and take anything from them easily.

We need to develop the same mentality here. I was raised by Rangers to believe that I was at Rangers because I was better than anyone else in the country. I was told we were going up on the bus to Aberdeen that we were coming up to TAKE the three points. There was never any discussion of losing.  ‘How many will we win by?’ Was the question, never ‘Are we going to win?’ People up here need to look at people like me and say that they will not let people take things for free.

Fear in general is your enemy more so than your opponent. But up here… I look at guys like leBron James, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan. These guys go on TV and say ‘we’re going to win because we’re better – we’re the best.’

Now, not only are they driving their own ego and pushing their own team up, they are planting the idea in their opponent’s mind ‘we are going to beat you.’ I look at that and the Floyd Mayweathers of the world – who everyone hates – as soon as people punch the code into sky to buy, then his job is done. The thing is to put bums on seats.

I have that attitude – I am the same. At my first interview at Aberdeen I was asked ‘how do you feel about getting this job?’

I said it should be my job, I am the best person. They kept saying to me are you nervous coming down here, you’re only 26? I am apprehensive, because I want to do well – but I am not nervous.

[this is a distinction that if more people could make in their lives I thought, we’d all be better off. By now I already want Stefan to go into motivational coaching, and become the UK’s education secretary].

Now that attitude here doesn’t go down well. People think I’m arrogant but they don’t understand the difference between confidence and arrogance. Confidence is someone who knows they can do something and are willing to work hard at it. Arrogance is someone who’s saying they’re the best but is doing nothing in the background and has nothing to prove it.

The reason I love American sport and America in general, Americans value personality and drive. They have the attitude of work hard and you will succeed. It might not happen, but you have a hell of a better chance. If you can make a big enough noise, the US attitude is ‘love me or hate me, you will not ignore me’.

That is why around the world they will succeed. When asked ‘who wants the opportunity?’ the American person will say ‘I’ll take it’. The idea of failure never enters their mind. The idea of possibly being a hero does. They may fail; but they don’t fear it. And anyone who is going to succeed at anything in my opinion if they fear failure they never truly will succeed anyway.

On Ali and other sports personalities:

Ali’s changed sport; not all people who watch sport on television understand that – for them it’s their passion, their hobby. When you’re actually doing it for a job, it takes on a completely different role. You’re then in the game. You will always be ruled by emotions to an extent, but you will have to look at it objectively. The thing about Mohammed Ali is that he’d made a lot of people billions of dollars.

He has created the boxing industry. You’re now looking at Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor – and people like that wouldn’t exist without Ali. Because like you said about Floyd Mayweather – some people may hate him – but he’s such a character he puts bums on seats. People may hate him so much they will pay to see him lose. Or you may love him so much you just have to go and watch the spectacle.

Life is about spectacle and characters. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has just signed for Man U and it’s not just the ability he’s got. ‘What’s he going to say? What’s he going to do?’ is why people tune in. We watch him to see – ‘is he going to do an overhead kick?’…. Is he going to hit that guy in the back of the heed’ ‘what’s he going to do?’ … and that’s why we go to watch.

People in sports sometimes forget that they’re in the entertainment industry. If you don’t like it – change the channel.

People get on me as I bang on about the America system. America’s got plenty of problems, but on the sporting side of things and the personality side of things and the general message they send out is sound: be yourself, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Where my brother lives in Los Angeles you can go down the street in a pink suit and nobody will shout at you or try to intimidate you.

If that’s the way you want to live your life go ahead, and I’ll live my life the way I want to.

Stefan on his coaching philosophy:

We’re playing Stirling at home this weekend [they won]. We played Rangers a few weeks ago. We lost 2-0 to Rangers; I was quite happy with the performance. There’s a lot of new information that was given to the players in the last few weeks. There’s a very big change in style of play to be undertaken. I’m pretty much telling the players to do the opposite of what they’d been told for the past two years. That change can’t happen overnight.

It will be an enjoyable change – I’m telling them now we’re playing to attack. I’d be happier if they lose 6-5 than 1-0 if they play attacking play offensive. I want them to go and try to win the game. As I was saying before, bigger teams have come to Aberdeen in the past and Aberdeen have stood back with 11 players and said ‘let’s try not to get beat.’

I’m not going to be stupid – but why would I ever presume that a team is going to come and beat us? We will make them beat us…. and if we attack them and have an attacking game and they beat us and we work hard and they work hard, I will shake their hand at the end of the game and say ‘well done’. But I’m not going to roll over for anyone.

I’m lucky enough that the ladies committee have put a lot of faith in me. We’re sitting third from the bottom. Now you’re never going to take over a team that’s top of the league – or there would be no changes. No changes would be needed. It’s a different kind of challenge. You’re going to take over a team that needs to be changed.

Now, there is a chance we could go down. But we are not going to go down. The team and the staff we have are too good to go down. I’ve come in and said we’re going to change the style. We’re going to go from launching the ball up the park to and playing really defensively to passing the ball on the ground and attacking teams and playing really attractive football that people want to watch.

It could easily take a season to bed that in. It takes a chairman or a committee a club a lot of courage to say to a coach ‘we don’t care if you lose the next 7 games – go and bed in your philosophy’. It takes someone pretty strong to do that – you could go backwards before you go forward. But it takes someone pretty courageous to give a manager that opportunity in the first place. Especially when the head coach is 26 years old.

On Susan Murray:

We’ve a player on our team, Susan Murray, who has played hundreds of games – she’s a real beacon and I’m really pushing the club to make a big deal about it. There’s not many females in the league who have played hundreds of games. And she made her debut in the premier league at the age of 14 – 22 years ago – when I was 4 and I am now her head coach. Most people in the area have never even heard of her. I think that’s wrong.

On the American College Sports System:

It’s about educating people, getting them more active, how can they achieve their life goal no matter what it is through football. If I had my choice, I would scrap the entire sports system in this country and put in the American system. Because the American system guarantees that you leave with a degree. Unless you know you are going to earn so much money that you don’t need it.

LeBron James can go to one year of college then the NBA because on the day he goes he signs a 120 million dollar deal with Nike. These people are the exception. Everyone else in the American system ends up with a degree. When they finish football, break their leg, they can go and get a well-paid job. We’re kicking kids onto the street here.

So I came up to Aberdeen and now I’m with the ladies. Since joining the ladies under 20s a year ago, I’ve sent 3 players to America on scholarships. One of them left yesterday – sorry, four.

One is at Kansas City; one at the University of Miami. They can go there and play an extremely high level at facilities that are on a par her with Real Madrid AC Milan. They will leave with a degree after three years and will come back a better person.

They will have been a country that’s hungry for talent for having lived there whether they come back after the three years and say ‘America’s not for me.’ Or even if they come back and say they hated it, they’re still coming back a better person – just for mixing with someone from The Lebanon. Just for mixing with someone from Australia, and mixing from some with Glasgow – they will come back a better person.

They will come back better equipped for an interview whether it’s Goldman Sachs or the Co-op, they will come across better.

It’s an opportunity we simply cannot deny them because we do no have the tools to compete. So if a kid comes to me / a kid’s father comes to me and says ‘Stefan, my daughter has an opportunity to go to the University of New York for three years all expenses paid’, I cannot look him in the eye and tell them their daughter should just stay put in Aberdeen because it’s an opportunity I should have taken myself.

Now if I can send people to Aberdeen and the club has already said to me – if we’re sending our best people to America and we’re losing that player – if that player’s of a level, we’re going to lose them anyway because they’re going to go and sign for Paris St Germaine or sign for Arsenal. The message that we’re now sending out is that ‘if you’re serious about your football and if you want to play for that level, you must come here because that’s where the best players are playing’.

There’s nobody from other regional clubs who’s signed for Kansas City. Kim Little who’s favourite to win the Ballon d’Or – she plays for Seattle; she’s from Aberdeen. Rachel Corsie also plays for Seattle, Alex Morgan and all these players are from Aberdeen.

I think my dad would back this up – the world is more connected now than it’s ever been. I know I can go to my phone and tell you right now what’s going on say on Fifth Avenue. I can probably get live feed. So I’m aware of the facilities that are there in America and how much money they are plugging into football.

The Americans will only lose at something for so long before they either decide ‘we’re going to compete here’ – they will not be embarrassed on the international stage at anything for long until they pump money into it and compete– or they’ll say ‘we’re not doing it at all’. I am aware of the facilities. Probably at the time I got the scholarship offer from Brown University – we didn’t know Brown was any different to Aberdeen University.

Aberdeen University is a great university, but it does not have a £300 million training facility. These people who are training at college level sport in America are international level athletes.

Laird on Self-confidence through sport:

But I think that if you watch LeBron James – a great example. Do an interview with him and he‘s a fantastic representative for his sport, for his club, for his country. He could stand in any board room in the world and deliver a presentation or speech. He could also stand on any street corner and talk to any drug addict and talk to them on their level.

We’re not producing people in this country that can do this. They’re standing up on TV and it’s ‘am.. em.. well..’’ They don’t want to speak to the media, they don’t want to project their view for fear probably of getting slaughtered in the media. But they’re not able to stand up there and put their point cross eloquently.

We’re taking kids out of school at 15 and throwing them into training grounds, and then not giving them any media training and expecting them to be able to speak to Sky sports. They will be absolutely bricking it.

I’m lucky. I grew up in a family where people were not afraid to say what they wanted; my dad’s got no problem with expressing his opinion or standing up in front of people and making a speech. So standing up in front of a room of people and speaking was never even something I thought about. When I was 20, I was speaking to the under 19s. People said to me ‘aren’t you nervous speaking?’ and I said ‘No, I’m talking about football. If I were standing up talking about mechanical engineering then I would have a problem’.

This gives the club a reputation now where if it’s a choice of ‘do I sign for Aberdeen or another club’, I can tell that person ‘come and play for me for three years, and you can go and play for Arsenal’. How many players have done that from other teams?

Laird on spending your time wisely:

I would rather people found Pokémon walking around, talking to other people face to face than finding them on their computer at their house. The computer is still going to be there when you’re in your 30s, 40s, 50s. There will be even better things than your computer. There will be things we can’t even imagine right now. There will come a time and it will come so much quicker than you think.

I sound more like I’m 46 now than I’m 26. You won’t be able to do it any more – so squeeze every second of being out there out of it that you can. Because being in that dressing room and down on that pitch with a ball at your feet – or whatever it might be for you – is the best time of your life.

Because no matter what is going on in your life at that time, when you step over that line it doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got, how nice a house you’ve got, what country you’re from – nothing matters when you’re on that pitch, and you only get access to that and the relationships you get from it for a certain amount of time. The access you get to a computer you’ll have your entire life.

A few (feminist) words of advice from Stefan to girls:

So: pick up a ball, especially if you’re a young girl – go out and play. People will tell you ‘it’s not for girls’ but people also said that ‘jobs weren’t for girls. Voting wasn’t for girls.’ There are still some countries in the world that believe that.

Things move on; people get more intelligent. We’re not stoning witches or gay or lesbian people. So if anyone shouts at you for having a football at your feet for being a girl, your reaction should honestly be to laugh at them: because they are scared, not you. There’s plenty of facilities now and people like you who will push you the whole way, and you can go out and pay your mortgages as a young girl playing football, and trust me, it’s the best way to pay your mortgage of any way in the world.


Watch Aberdeen Ladies! Follow Aberdeen Ladies at Instagram, on STL, on Facebook. And – I would say to all kids: go outside. You’d be amazed at how good your brain is.

That’s where we leave our interview, and I’m feeling AFC Ladies are definitely going places if he’s at the helm. If anyone wonders what ‘Feminism’ means to me, Laird’s nailed it. I’m going to watch their season with interest, and I’m convinced we’re going to see positive changes, and great things coming from these women on and off the field in times to come.

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