Sep 052018
 

Duncan Harley reviews Alan Stewart’s new book.

Five years in the making, Alan Stewart’s new book ‘North East Scotland At War’ will appeal to anyone even remotely interested in the history of the North-east of Scotland.
There are plenty of books out there which record the difficult years between the Chamberlain peace accord and the Soviet conquest of Berlin. Osborne’s ‘Defending Britain’ and Gordon Barclay’s ‘If Hitler Comes’ are the classics.

But this book is slightly different and there is certainly room for further historical accounts of the dark days when Hitler threatened our shores.

With a decidedly local slant, North East Scotland At War launches the reader into the minutiae of the defence of the North-east against what was, for a brief few years, perceived as the Nazi threat.

The archaeology of those distant times is laid bare and many of the official documents which record the difficult days inhabit the pages.

A ground-based Invasion never came. But preparations were firmly in in place and Alan’s finely researched history brings the day to day story of those difficult times sharply into focus.

Fougasse – developed by the Petroleum Warfare Department as an anti-tank weapon, Dragon’s Teeth and Railway Blocks feature in this book along with the stories of the stop-lines, the Home Guard roadblocks and of course that secretive plan to harry the invaders using suicide squads tasked with assassinating both their own commanders – who might betray them under torture – and German officers.

Air crashes also inhabit these pages. Alongside the enemy casualties, and they were in the hundreds, Alan details the stories behind some of the Commonwealth gravestones which litter the cemeteries of the North-east.

Training accidents accounted for many of the casualties.

A Czech fighter pilot killed when his Spitfire spiralled into the ground, an air-sea rescue crew lost in a collision with railway wagons on the perimeter of RAF Dyce Airfield and the gravestone of Flight Lieutenant Wheelock – killed attempting an emergency landing – again at Dyce – are featured.

This is one of those books which is difficult to set aside. The minutiae of the location of pill boxes and the stark reality of the bombing maps, feature alongside some difficult tales of children killed on the local sands, not by the Germans, but by the very defences intended to keep them safe.

Landmines and barbed wire were as much a hazard as air-borne bombs and machine gun bullets.

Alongside the difficult descriptions of civilian carnage, Alan has included a number of images of official documents which give a flavour of the times. In a memo marked TOP SECRET, a Colonel Geddes, commander of Aberdeen Garrison, expresses his concern regarding the vulnerability of Tullos Hill.

“I am a little uneasy” he writes, 

“about the defence of TULLOS HILL – Area 4624. This is a very commanding feature, on which the following units are located: A.B. 2 Site, Heavy A.A Bty, Detachment 319 Search-Light Regiment, RAF Wireless Installation and Royal Observer Corps Post.”

And there are literally dozens of such so-far hidden documents sprinkled throughout this account of the time when the invasion of our shores seemed such a certainty.

Profusely illustrated and replete with a plethora of new information gleaned from both local and national records, this is a local history book which I am pleased to include on my bookshelves.

North East Scotland At War – by Alan Stewart is Available from http://www.cabroaviation.co.uk/book.html at £21.99 + £3 P&P

ISBN 9781527215689
Cover image © Alan Stewart

Nov 082017
 

With thanks to Roger White.

A prestigious North-East Scotland magazine of new writing and the visual arts, Pushing Out The Boat (POTB), is reminding young writers and artists in the North East and
beyond that they’ve got less than a month left to submit entries for their new online venture, ‘ePOTB’.

ePOTB will be the magazine’s first e-zine and will be devoted entirely to work by young people aged 12-17.

Like its parent magazine, ePOTB submissions will be subject to the same distinctive ‘blind selection’ process, which ensures that work is selected on merit alone.

Prize-winning author Juliet Lovering, chairing the ePOTB team, said:

“We know there’s a wealth of young writing and artistic talent out there but this is the first time we’ve given young people the chance to shine in their own publication. Three prizes of £50 are also on offer for the best contribution in the prose, poetry and art categories.”

The ePOTB team encourage anyone considering entering to read previous editions of the magazine, which are available on its website, to understand the variety of work accepted in years gone by.

Young writer Hannah Kunzlik, one of POTB’s previous contributors, said:

“I was published in POTB when I was 16 and it remains one of my proudest moments. Submitting a piece is something I would advise any young person to do with even a passing interest in writing or art. Apart from the creative fulfilment, it’s like gold dust on a CV for college or work.”

The call for submissions to ePOTB opened a month ago. Full details and registration are available at www.pushingouttheboat.co.uk.

The deadline for submissions is 30 November 2017 and the e-zine will be published on the Pushing Out The Boat website in Spring 2018.

Sep 282017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Jasmine Ltd.

A team of Methlick superheroes tested their metal on an inflatable obstacle course and raised a four-figure sum for a north-east cancer charity.

The ‘Methlick Marvels’ raised more than £1,000 for Friends of ANCHOR by taking part in the charity’s ANCHOR Wipeout event which was held in Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park in August.

ANCHOR Wipeout, which is in its fifth year, is a key fundraising event to support the ANCHOR Unit and ensure north-east Scotland’s cancer and haematology patients receive the best possible care, treatment and support.

The team, which comprised Scott Mitchell, Michael and Claire Fotheringham, Graeme and Emma Tallis, Hugh Robertson, Alex Hall, Karen Campbell and Mick McGrath, all dressed in superhero costumes to complete the course and scored the winning points total on the Saturday competition against 27 other teams.

Each of the twelve games involved teams tackling obstacles and inflatables in a bid to score as many points as possible.

Mr Michael Fotheringham, who is a partner at James Milne Chartered Accountants, helped the team achieve their success and said they were inspired to raise money for the charity in recognition of what it has done to help a good friend.

He said:

“One of our friends, Yvonne Mitchell, is undergoing treatment for cancer and during her time in hospital she received a huge amount of support from Friends of ANCHOR. We decided to enter a team for ANCHOR Wipeout and were determined to raise as much as possible for this fantastic charity.

“Tackling the course was great fun and we must have made for a colourful sight in our superhero outfits. We scored the most points on the day which was a great feeling to end the day. The team would like to thank everyone who sponsored us to take part in the ANCHOR Wipeout, every penny counts to help people across the north-east.”

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Jan 192017
 

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

VisitAberdeenshire is teeing up for success by heading Stateside to showcase Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s world-class golf facilities to a global audience.

The tourism organisation will visit the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando from 24-27 January – one of the world’s biggest golf shows – where they will meet with key industry professionals in a bid to boost the region’s golf tourism trade.

The trip is the latest initiative in VisitAberdeenshire’s drive to increase golf tourism in the north east of Scotland, following sponsorship of the Northern Ireland Open last year.

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

“Golf has long been one of the biggest draws for visitors to the north east, attracting both leisure and business tourists throughout the year.

“Holidaymakers looking to play at some of the world’s most famous links courses, and business visitors using the fairways for networking and incentive travel, have lots to discover in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

“Golf is worth around £220 million to the Scottish economy every year, and it is estimated that golfers spend 120% more than other visitors. With such fantastic facilities in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, there is a real opportunity for local golf courses and tourism businesses to capitalise on and benefit from that income.

“By attending the PGA Merchandise Show – a major event in the golf world – we’ll be able to communicate the strength of the offering that we have here in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to hundreds of key contacts.”

Research commissioned by Scottish Golf Tourism and VisitScotland shows that Scotland is third on a list of desirable golfing destinations across the globe (#1 Spain, #2 Portugal, #5 Ireland, #9 England).

Jenni continues,

“The north east of Scotland is home to over 50 top golf courses, including some of the sport’s most recognisable names: Royal Aberdeen, Trump International, Cruden Bay and Newmachar. But it also features some of the UK’s quirkier and more historic courses, including Britain’s highest 18-hole course at Braemar, and Fraserburgh where play dates back to at least 1613.

“Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have something to offer golfers of all levels, whether serious enthusiasts looking to tick a renowned course off their bucket list or casual players seeking a friendly nine-hole challenge. From stunning links courses to incredible inland courses, the north east has it all.”

VisitAberdeenshire will be joined at the PGA Merchandise Show by tour company Bonnie Wee Golf, which creates exclusive golf trips to some of the most exclusive courses in Scotland – including many in the north east – and Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course.

David Harris of Bonnie Wee Golf says,

“For a long time, golf has been a key attraction in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, and every year we see golfers coming from America to play some of the most famous courses in the world, right on our doorstep.

“The chance to visit one of the world’s biggest golf exhibitions with VisitAberdeenshire is a fantastic opportunity to network with industry professionals, discuss the sport’s latest developments, and show what we in the north east of Scotland have to offer the global golfing community.”

Andy Burgess of Meldrum House Country Hotel and Golf Course adds,

“We are delighted to be partnering with VisitAberdeenshire and Bonnie Wee Golf at the 2017 PGA Show in Orlando. We have been attending the show for the last seven years, and as a result have welcomed hundreds of American golfers to stay at Meldrum House to play golf around the north east.

“Attending events like the PGA Show sends out a very positive message and shows that we are serious in developing our international golf market, encouraging as many global visitors as possible to experience golf in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.”

For more information about golf facilities and in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, visit www.visitabdn.com/attractions-and-activities/golf

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Jan 192017
 

Eileen Wheeler of Sunrise Partnership

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

A charity that helps children come to terms with the loss of a loved one has been delivered a ray of hope from global investment management group, Aberdeen Asset Management.

Sunrise Partnership will be able to provide almost 60 specialist sessions for children and young people up to the age of 18 living in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire whose lives have been affected by loss and bereavement, after receiving a four-figure donation from Aberdeen Asset Management.

The sessions allow youngsters to learn coping strategies tailored to them that help prepare them for the future.

The free and confidential support continues for as long as is needed, with referrals coming from schools, health and social work departments, third sector organisations and self-referrals too.

For younger children, using tools like puppets, books, arts and crafts and worksheets can be helpful in breaking down barriers to make easier for them to express feelings and emotions. There’s no limit to the amount of support provided and it’s not unusual for children to revisit them months or even a couple of years later as they get older and may have a different understanding of their grief.

Eileen Wheeler, manager of Sunrise Partnership, explained that loss is not always a bereavement; support is also provided for children in kinship whose natural parents may not be able to care for them.

Eileen said:

“Every case is treated individually and sessions are tailor made for the child. There is no complicated referral process or forms to fill in. We are just a telephone call or an email away from anyone who may need us.”

The bulk of the charity’s work has been in Aberdeen City, but it has also supported children in Peterhead, Aboyne, Banchory, Inverurie, Kemnay and Kintore, travelling to children and families to ensure services are accessible to all.

The charity has been providing its specialist one-to-one, sibling, family or group sessions in City and Shire since its formation  in 2014, and last year received 52 new referrals.

Dominic Kite of Aberdeen Asset Management’s Aberdeen charity committee said:

“Sunrise Partnership seeks to provide the best possible support for children and young people through its specialist sessions, allowing them to achieve their true potential despite a significant loss or bereavement in their lives. To be able to help such an inspirational charity, and young people, in the city where our company was founded is very important to us.”

Sunrise Partnership can be contacted on  07827 755735 or by emailing: support@sunrisepartnership.org

Aberdeen Asset’s Charitable Foundation seeks partnerships with smaller charities around the world, where funds can be seen to have a meaningful and measurable impact and the firm encourages its employees to use their time and skills to support its charitable projects.

The main focus of the Foundation is around emerging markets and local communities, reflecting the desire to give back to those areas which are a key strategic focus of the business and to build on the historic pattern of giving to communities in which Aberdeen employees live and work.

For more information visit http://www.aberdeen-asset.co.uk/aam.nsf/foundation/home

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Jan 212016
 

Scottish Grocers' Federation, Pete CheemaWith thanks to Sarah Masson.

Independent retailers have welcomed the support shown for their industry from Christian Allard, MSP. The North East MSP attended Scottish Grocers’ Federation’s event at the Scottish Parliament to coincide with the publication of their Scottish Local Shop Report 2015.

The report highlights the value of local independent convenience stores to communities with 87% of retailers currently involved in community activities.

The report also illustrates that there are more convenience stores per head of population in Scotland than there are in the rest of the UK and that convenience stores provide over 44,000 jobs, including valuable services such as post offices, bill payment services and ATMs.

The SNP MSP has always backed local businesses – acknowledging their importance to local economies throughout Scotland today. The North East MSP has praised the community value of local shops, recognising that they support local producers as:

“they make Scottish products accessible for everyone buy, eat and trust local.”

Scottish Grocers’ Federation Chief Executive Pete Cheema said,

“We were delighted that Christian Allard was able to join us at our event. The support of MSPs is vital in ensuring a prosperous and sustainable independent convenience store industry in Scotland.”

Commenting Christian Allard said:

“It is important that we recognise and support local businesses in our communities especially because local shops tend to be resilient to economic changes.

“Local stores are a large part of what our communities are made up of and this report provides the evidence that clearly shows the community value of local convenience stores in Scotland.

“The report crucially looks at the active role that local stores play in both urban and rural communities. They are constantly evolving and changing to meet the many needs of the people they serve. The independent corner shop is as much a part of the past and present as it is the future.”

 

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Nov 142014
 

With thanks to Christina Elliott.

Photo Credit the bridge 2 - Creative Commons

Lions and tigers from Chipperfield’s circus are being over wintered in the Northeast of Scotland. Photo Credit: The Bridge – Creative Commons

Local people concerned for the welfare of lions and tigers from Chipperfield’s circus being over wintered at the circus high school are holding a demonstration to protest the use of all wild animals in circuses.

The protestors wish to send a message to Holyrood and to circuses that confining and exploiting wild animals for entertainment is not acceptable to the British public in the 21st century and that any further delay in prohibiting such acts is unacceptable.

The demonstration against the use of all wild animals in circuses is due to take place on Sunday Nov 16, 11.30am – 3pm at the Circus High School, Cairnglass Croft, Inverallochy, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire. AB43 8UT.

28 countries around the world now have national restrictions in place and yet Scotland and the rest of the UK are still debating the issue.

Earlier this year the Scottish Government undertook a public consultation on the issue but a response to its outcome has been delayed until the new year.

ADI (Animal Defenders International) President Jan Creamer commented:

“ADI applauds efforts by Kevin Stewart MSP to ban circuses from using wild animals in Scotland. Without action from government, the arrival of big cats in Aberdeenshire could be the first of many, making Scotland a destination for circus suffering that it has not been for years. We can’t let that happen.”

Further information on animals in circuses can be found here: http://www.ad-international.org/animals_in_entertainment/go.php?id=249&ssi=10

A video, filmed at the Circus High School by Victor Beattie, showing characteristic ‘pacing’ behaviour associated with animals living in cramped, stressful or unnatural conditions can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152896934243092

Demonstration against the use of all wild animals in circuses.

Sunday 16th. November 2014, 11.30am – 3pm

Circus High School,
Cairnglass Croft,
Inverallochy,
Fraserburgh,
Aberdeenshire.
AB43 8UT.

Contacts:

Kevin Stewart MSP
Tel: 0131 348 6382
Email:Kevin.Stewart.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

FYI: MOTION NO: S4M-11344

Contact for protestors:

Christina Elliott 07415663890

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Oct 312014
 

windmillbluepic2By Bob Smith.

A wanner’t lonely as a clood
A stravaig’t throwe hills an pines
Fin aa at eence a saw aroond
A host o bliddy win’ turbines
Abeen the loch reachin ti the sky
Their massive blades a did espy

Conteenyus as the stars aat shine
They sproot on the taps o hills
Streechin in an nivver eynin line
We’re telt they’ll cure oor energy ills
Meybe nae ten thoosan at a gleck
As alang ma waak a did trek

The waves in loch aside me dunced
As turbine blades they did turn
A swore, a shook, a fairly prunced
An a near fell in a burn
A gazed an gazed in sombre stare
As whirlin blades they rent the air

Aft fin on ma cooch a lie
In vacant or in turmoil mood
There flashes in ma myn’s eye
An image a see fit’s nae good
An syne ma hairt wi anger fills
As a see crockaneetion on the hills

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 28/10/2014
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Oct 242014
 

By Jonathan Russell Chair of Aberdeen and District CND

640The first of a series of Rallies aimed at raising awareness of the folly of the bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria will take place this Saturday 25th October at 11.30am outside Marks and Spencer hosted by Radical Independence Campaign, Aberdeen.

CND plans to hold a similar event in the near future.

My first reaction concerning ISIS was that something had to be done about this appalling organisation.

I still feel this but consider that the Wests bombing leading as it always does to the killing of civilians and the destruction of infrastructure was not a viable solution.

We have witnessed an ever increasing spiral of violence in the Middle East. Michael Portillo said last week on the Moral Maze on radio 4 that given this background it is not totally surprising that such a monster of an organisation has arisen. Violence I would assert leads to violence and division. Western policy in my eyes has been stark starring bonkers.

  • We arm Islamic tribal groups in Afghanistan and then we bomb them.
  • We arm Iraq to beat Iran and then we bomb them.
  • We bomb Libya to get rid of Qaddafi and leave behind a failed state where Al Qaida’s flag flies over many towns and cities.
  • We arm rebels mostly Sunni Islamists to beat Assad and now we bomb them.

Nobody gains from this but the arms companies who in a time of general economic meltdown see the value of their shares rise.

ISIS is barbaric but so are we in are use of drones and bombing often leaving behind not only death and appalling injuries but also un-depleted uranium. We also have brutal allies in the area such as Saudi Arabia who have beheaded over 79 people this year and the Egyptian Government who have hanged hundreds of Moslem Brotherhood supporters.

Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Oman the Wests allies have armed ISIS and helped in their training.

ISIS are not alone they have allies in trained Sunni Ba’ath party soldiers who have considerable military experience and Sunni tribal groups who hate both the West and the Iraq and Syrian Governments.

By bombing, we have acted as ISIS’s recruiting agency. Many people in the Middle East in particular the Sunni population from surrounding countries as well as Iraq and Syria hate the West and will fall in behind ISIS as the lesser of the two evils from their perspective. In my mind the West and Al Qaida and its affiliates feed off each other in this endless spiral of blood.

So here are some alternative solutions.

  • Stop selling and sending arms to the Middle East
  • Make sure arms are not still reaching ISIS
  • Stop buying oil from ISIS
  • Start negotiating seriously for a Middle East settlement which includes Iran, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Palestinian reps, Kurdish reps, Sunnis and Shia,  Russia and China as well as the West and Israel
  • Rather than spending money on bombing massively increase aid to support people who have led their countries due to the conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

If we do not do this we will be getting into an ever deeper mess with exculpating brutality on all sides.

I salute the those Labour MP’s including are very own Anne Begg MP who along with the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Caroline Lucas from the Greens for their opposition to the intervention to the UK  getting involved. In particular I would commend John Barron, Conservative MP who has led the opposition to interventions in Iraq, Libya, Syria and now this latest calamity he has consistently got it right.

It is now up to us the citizens of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and across Scotland and the wider UK to start getting active and make our voices heard.

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Oct 032014
 

'When I Saw You' (film still) by Annemarie Jacir - Palestine, Jordan  2012Peacock Visual Arts presents a season of Middle East/North African films and an exhibition by internationally renowned artists The Otolith Group. With thanks to Kirsty Young.

Following on from festivals in 2009 and 2011 (Cruel Weather and Breaking Point), Intelligence Report will allow audiences to delve further into the sphere of moving image work from the Middle East and North Africa.

The programme is divided into two areas: the screening of six powerful new feature/experimental films from the Middle East/North Africa (at Belmont Filmhouse); and an exhibition consisting of video installations by noted artists The Otolith Group, and a group of repeating experimental shorts by seven artists, shown at Peacock Visual Arts (Saturday 4th October – Saturday 8th November).

The exhibition in the gallery will feature an installation by The Otolith Group (Turner prize nominees in 2010). The Group is a collaborative platform that seeks to rethink the dynamics of cultural production under conditions of accelerated, unstable and precarious global conditions. The seven shorts are the recent work of seven artists from Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and Palestine.

Intelligence Report is a programme of films that reveal the problem of conveying revolution (Crop) or treating trauma-in-process (Sleepless Nights). Intelligence Report attempts to arrive at some comprehension of what the present may mean by taking a different inflection of the past – as in Annemarie Jacir’s When I Saw You (2012) set in 1967 Jordan.

In addition to the screenings, and giving context to the work, are introductions to three of the six films.

A representative from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign Aberdeen will introduce When I Saw You (Lamma shoftak) by Annemarie Jacir (2012) on Sunday 5th October at 6pm.

On Thursday 9th Oct, 6pm Sleepless Nights (Layali Bala Noom) by Eliane Raheb (2012) will be introduced by Dr. Stefanie Van de Peer, Global Cinema Fellow, University of Stirling.

And on Sunday 12th Oct at 6pm Crop, Johanna Domke and Marouan Omara (2012) will be introduced by Dr. Andrea Teti, Professor of Politics and International Relations, University of Aberdeen.

Intelligence Report is is organised by Jay Murphy, a writer and independent curator based in New York and New Orleans.

The full programme of film screenings and the exhibition is available on Peacock Visual Arts website – www.peacockvisualarts.com. A printed programme is available to collect from Peacock Visual Arts at 21 Castle Street and at various outlets in Aberdeen city centre.