Jun 262018

In an ongoing attack on Aberdeen Voice and its contributor Suzanne Kelly, Northfield Animal Haven alleged on Facebook that the police were looking into events and had supplied a bundle of documents to Northfield’s owner.  However, the police recently confirmed in writing that this claim by Northfield was a fabrication.  By Suzanne Kelly.

Northfield Animal Haven’s activities have been exposed in previous Aberdeen Voice articles, and the shelter/farm have often used social media to try to throw doubt on the facts exposed.

In one instance, Northfield Animal Haven took to Facebook in September 2016 to claim the police were involved.

The police have just recently confirmed in a two page letter to me that this is completely, totally untrue.

Northfield wrote:

“… finally getting a resolution on that carry-on we have had to endure, spent this afternoon at police station speaking with the officers this so next stage is set in motion hopefully I can update you all about this very soon.”

The post on the Animal business’ Facebook page was accompanied by a photograph of what appears to be a thick bundle of documents with the Police Scotland logo showing, handwriting, and the name of an officer.

The post on the Animal business’s Facebook page was accompanied by a photograph of what appears to be a thick bundle of documents with the Police Scotland logo showing, handwriting, and the name of an officer.

I had been trying to get the police to comment on this bogus-looking documentation and claim for some time.

It is a great vindication that they’ve dismissed Kelly Cable’s/Northfield’s claims entirely.

The police wrote a two-page letter to me on 22 April 2018; the entire contents have been shown to the editors of Aberdeen Voice.

The letter read in part:

“Police Scotland would not permit or allow any private individual to photograph, copy or have access to any Police investigation paperwork without instructions from the Procurator Fiscal.

“I can confirm that this is not a Police Scotland investigation file.”

The letter continued: 

“…he (the police officer whose name appears on the documents pictured on Northfield’s post) has stated that he has in fact had no involvement at any time with the establishment or the person named.”

Ms Cable was asked to explain the bundle of documents and the assertion she had spent an afternoon about a ‘carry on’ at a police station. As per the previous articles, we asked for her to comment on the situation. 

She has refused to explain where the bundle came from and her claim the police were involved.

However, a lawyer from Brodies, which seems about to sue me over my articles, wrote to my lawyer with a demand to stop me writing this or other articles. 

As I explained to my lawyer, I have a right and a responsibility to share factual information that is in the public interest, and I have a freedom of expression guaranteed by EU Human Rights law. People who donate money to any cause should have access to the relevant facts.

Northfield has called me a liar by name on social media. The owner’s father named me in an alleged break-in at the farm that resulted in a pony being overfed to death (NB other animals have died at the business in feeding-related circumstances), and ‘joked’ about using an AK47 to ‘solve’ the problem.

I look forward to hearing from Brodies, which Kelly Cable is briefing about taking me to court, as to how they explain this latest embarrassing deception. I can’t wait to hear what the ‘next stage’ Northfield referred to in their post is.

Clearly Kelly Cable knew she didn’t spend an afternoon in a police station; she knew she didn’t get a bundle of documents from the police, and she knew that this officer Henderson was in no way involved. But someone cooked this story up.

Whoever wrote it did so as a representative of Northfield Animal Haven – and Northfield Animal Haven should be held to account.

I suspect that using a Police Scotland logo as Cable did may well be a criminal action; we’ll see.

If they do take me to court, I have a very strong suspicion who would be believed – and it’s not the convicted benefit fraudster Ms Cable, caught in yet another deception aimed, in my opinion, at making me look bad and deceiving social media visitors to the NAH page about events.

Even the fundraising she created to raise money to sue me seems to be misleading:  I feel an obligation to let people who are giving her money know that this bundle of evidence is a fabrication, disowned by Police Scotland.

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Nov 252016

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


Farmer Ken Howie is the man behind the World’s Only Aberdeen Angus Trail.

It’s one of the north east of Scotland’s most famous exports, but many don’t realise or understand its heritage.

So one enterprising farmer has made it his mission to put the history of Aberdeen Angus beef firmly on the map  – and his efforts have been recognised with a nomination at the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards.

Ken Howie is the man behind the World’s Only Aberdeen Angus Trail, which is nominated in the Innovation in Tourism category of the awards scheme which will celebrate the successes of tourism providers in the north east at a ceremony this week.

While much of the region’s tourism offering focuses on the incredible castles, world-class golf and sumptuous whisky of the north east, Ken believes that there is room to include the famous Aberdeen Angus cattle – which have been reared in the area for over 150 years.

Ken says,

“Although Aberdeen Angus beef is renowned around the world, it’s not as prominent in north east tourism as our other exports. I’m really enthusiastic about the history and heritage of the breed, and really want to share that with visitors to the north east. I’ve reared it on the farm for years, and we serve it up in the restaurant at Deeside Activity Park.”

The World’s Only Aberdeen Angus Trail is currently made up of 14 venues, which ranges from larger tourist attractions to family-run establishments – and new organisations continue to come on board. What connects them all is a love of Aberdeen Angus, and a commitment to the provenance of the food they serve and rear.

Ken adds,

“The trail starts at Ballindalloch Castle, which is the spiritual home of the breed – there’s been a herd there for over 150 years – and runs through to Glamis Castle. Glamis Castle is perhaps best known for its connection to the late Queen Mother, who was patron of the Aberdeen Angus Association for over 60 years.

“In between the castles are a number of smaller, independently-run venues that have connections with Aberdeen Angus – including the Fife Arms in Turriff and Castleton Farm Shop. Community organisations like the Alford Heritage Society and Turriff Heritage Museum are also involved.”

Although not officially launching until spring 2017 – to coincide with the World Aberdeen Angus Forum, which is to be held in Scotland for the first time since 1977 – the trail is already producing noticeable results for the area. Visitors have been following the trail through Aberdeenshire, and have been interacting with partners along the way.

It is hoped that by beginning and ending the trail at established tourism hotspots, it will expose a greater number of visitors to the trail and encourage tourists – and locals – to explore the region in greater depth than they might otherwise have done.

Ken concludes,

“Over the last 20 years the food and drink offering in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire has come on leaps and bounds. Food tourism is a huge global industry, and we really hope that we can capitalise on this for the region. If we can encourage people to come to visit the area to learn more about an iconic brand like Aberdeen Angus, then naturally they will stay to explore the area and discover all it has to offer.

“Everyone I have worked with to put the Aberdeen Angus Trail together has been so enthusiastic about the idea, so if we win the award it really will be a celebration for all of us. I couldn’t have done it without their work and support. Maybe we’ll hold a big party if we win.”

The World’s Only Aberdeen Angus Trail is up against High Seas Hobbit and Drum Castle in the Innovation in Tourism category of the 2016 Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards.

The winners of each category will be announced at an awards ceremony and gala dinner on November 25, 2016 at Ardoe House Hotel and Spa, and many will then go on to represent the region at the national Thistle Awards.

For more information about the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards, visit www.acsta.co.uk  

Follow the awards on Twitter @ACSTourismAward or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/acstourismawards

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Jul 292016

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWith thanks to Kenneth Hutchison,
Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford.

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has given her wholehearted backing to NFU Scotland and the Press and Journal’s campaign to ensure the ongoing viability of the north-east dairy industry.

Adding her name to the list of supporters, Dr Whiteford stressed the need for a vibrant dairy sector in the north-east, and urged shoppers to buy local milk, and to lobby supermarkets to support local farmers.

Speaking after a meeting with NFUS representatives and farmers at new Deer Show, Dr Whiteford said:

“The closure of the Muller plant has undoubtedly been a blow to our north-east dairy farmers, and it’s difficult to overstate the challenges the industry faces.

“That’s why it’s more important than ever for consumers to support farmers in the north-east. It’s also why supermarkets have to do their bit by ensuring that these same farmers receive a fair payment for the top-quality milk they supply.

“Agriculture is the mainstay of many rural towns and villages in Banff and Buchan, and I am very happy to support this campaign.”

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Apr 012016

Speyside farmers launch bid to produce beef to rival world famous Kobe beef from Japan. With thanks to Eoin Smith, Tricker PR.

Monday 28th March 2016, Aberdeen, Scotland, SOSWF urging cattle farmers to follow the lead of Japanese producers of Kobe beef, but instead of drinking beer, Speyside cattle will be fed draff from distilleries, drink whisky, and will have traditional Scottish music played to them. Pictured: Ann Miller, Spirit of Speyside Whiskey Festival. (Photo: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)

One of the Aberdeen Angus herd cannot wait to get his daily dram from Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival director Ann Miller.

Farmers on Speyside are being urged to lead a fight back for the Scotch whisky industry after a Japanese malt was named best in the world – by feeding their cattle a daily dram.

A nip of our national drink – coupled with a diet of high quality feed from distillery by-products – could produce meat so succulent and tender that it will rival Japan’s famous Kobe beef.

And it is thought that playing cattle upbeat traditional Scots music, in much the same way that Kobe herds enjoy classical sounds, will further enhance the quality of the beef.

Now there are calls from organisers of the world renowned Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival for local farmers to help further trial the theory.

Thousands of visitors from all over the globe visit the annual Festival, and organisers are concerned about the level of attention being focused on Japanese whisky.

Ann Miller, a director of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, says,

“We do not believe there is anywhere on earth that produces better malt whisky than Speyside – and millions of whisky drinkers agree.

“We were genuinely shocked and dismayed when Yamazaki was named the best whisky in the world, but we are firm believers in the old adage of don’t get mad, get even.

“And that is exactly what we intend to do. All the signs indicate that introducing Speyside malt into a cow’s diet and using animal feed created from distillery by-products gives the meat a lovely, whisky-tinged flavour.”

The incredible discovery was made by Speyside farmers Ali Rolfop and Joe King, who have a herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle.

They were mucking out a byre one evening on their farm, Ure Gullybale, near the distillery town of Keith and poured a bottle of single malt Scotch into a water trough.

Ali explains,

“I’m a big fan of two of Speyside’s most famous products – malt whisky and traditional music – and so I decided to share these with our cattle.

“The next day, we noticed their coats were shiny and their eyes were bright. We’ve since been sharing a bottle of malt with them and we even have some local fiddlers come down to perform. We tasted the beef from the herd for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it is sensational – there is definitely a hint of whisky in the meat.”

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival takes place from April 28 to May 2 and is one of the biggest events of its kind anywhere in the world. It comprises almost 500 different events, from distillery tours to whisky tastings, from ceilidhs to comedy nights, and from whisky themed dinners to outdoor events.

Ann adds,

“With all this focus on Japan, I suppose we are a little worried that the thousands of visitors who fly in from all corners of the globe to enjoy our Festival might be tempted to go there instead.

“But while Japan may have been able to produce some decent drams, it doesn’t have the history and heritage of Scotch whisky. We’ve been producing the best whisky in the world for generations – no beef about it – and while they have learned how to make whisky from us, we’re now learning from their farming techniques.”

Tickets for all events in the 2016 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival programme are available to buy now at www.spiritofspeyside.com The Festival is also active on social media – facebook.com/WhiskyFestival and @spirit_speyside on Twitter and on Instagram.

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Sep 042015

Kelly Cable of Northfield Animal Haven (Northfield Farm. Glasslaw. New Pitsligo. Aberdeenshire. AB43 6PX) juggles a host of moral dilemmas:

  •  Raises funds to save ‘all farm animals’
  •  Claims to be wholly dependent on public support.
  •  Sells animals destined for slaughter.
  •  Refused to let other animal shelters rescue ponies free of charge – but she is seeking £5,000 from the public to rescue.
  •  A former bankrupt, once denied signing for a £5,000 loan: foiled by forensic handwriting expert.

By Suzanne Kelly.

Northfield Animal Haven Sign

Kelly Cable of Northfield Animal Shelter, Aberdeenshire, seeks funds cap in hand “to provide a rescue/re-homing centre for any unwanted, neglected, abused or retired equine, farm and small animals.”
This laudable aim appears on at least one internet site seeking donations.

A sign for the organisation depicts a wide range of animals including sheep.

What the sign and many fundraising websites didn’t make clear was that Cable also wears a very different hat: she makes money from other farm animals – selling them at auction where they are likely to end up on plates, not in rescue pens.

Websites which initially sought donations for Northfield to save farm animals now have long explanations from the Cables as to their other business. Long, rambling posts by Cable attempt to justify why they save some animals and sell off others at market. Much of this newly-added prose is down to a recent article in Aberdeen Voice.

The article clarified Kelly Cable’s method of doing business: funds from the animals sold at market are used to support the animals they choose to save.

Despite images of sheep clearly shown on Northfield’s various rescue appeals, the Cables are now adamant they don’t save sheep. Those who look at the pictures and read the initial posts were hardly likely to know that.

On a social media page for the Haven, Cable claimed ‘everyone’ knows about the working farm side of the business. As to using photographs of animals destined for slaughter, not sanctuary, Cable offers this explanation:

“The only reason we post pics of the sheep/cows etc. is because we’ve been asked to. Some of the people who donate and live far away love seeing pictures of all the animals.”

The assertion that people who donate to save animals also want to see photos of the cow destined to become steak and the lamb that’s for the chop is an odd one.

Kelly recently posted on social media:

“all of our supporters are aware of what we do with our sheep”

When questioned in detail about whether or not the sold animals are killed she replied:

“I don’t send them [sheep] for slaughter the people who buy them after me probably do but I don’t personally so what I stated was fact….”

The interest in Cable’s working farm and rescue operations were sparked by her online Go Fund Me page asking for £5,000 to rescue Shetland ponies. Two other area animal shelters came forward ready to rescue the animals without raising the £5,000 for the purpose. These were turned away by Cable, who wrote of a ‘vendetta’ and said the ponies’ owner only wanted Cable to get the animals.

The owner of the Shetlands is unknown at present. The ‘vendetta’ referred to seems to be nothing more than a voluntary regulatory body, REACH, being formed to provide a code of ethics for animal rescue. The Cable school of thought falls far short of this ideology, which says breeding animals is wrong for anyone in the rescue business, as is selling animals, especially for slaughter.

One donor who discovered that the Cables also raise lambs and other animals to sell at local auction market (Thainstone’s) commented:

“Disappointed an ‘animal haven’ sends animals to slaughter. Did you read their reply re. refusing help from Hillside? Sounds odd to me.”

Unhappy donors who learned of the sales, concerned animal welfare organisations, and people who have had past dealings with Cable came forward with serious concerns on her business model and details of a decidedly sketchy financial past.

The Haven is a voluntary organisation, and as such there is little visibility of the organisation’s structure or finance. Transparency, honesty, and clarity are what many potential donors expect of those they support. Potential Northfield donors might be interested to know that Cable was made bankrupt in 2009. Not all of her creditors were paid.

However, when it comes to transparency and honesty, one particular episode in Kelly Cable’s colourful career stands out. She and a former partner were lent £10,000 with which to buy a home together. This money came from her partner’s parents and his pensioner grandparents. The couple each signed a loan agreement for the money in August of 2000. The couple split up after buying the Aberdeenshire home.

When asked to repay her £5,000 share of this loan, Kelly Cable astonishingly tried to claim she had never received the money – claiming the signature on the handwritten loan and repayment agreement were not hers.

A forensic handwriting expert put paid to that claim by examining the document and samples of Cable’s writing. The expert concluded the writing was by the same person, or as the report put it, there were:

“overwhelming similarities indicating they [the loan document and Kelly Cable’s writing] are of common authorship”

It is understood that fundraising regulatory authorities are interested in Northfield’s fundraising activities.

Northfield have announced on social media that they are seeking legal advice concerning Aberdeen Voice’s article by Suzanne Kelly, which can be found here https://aberdeenvoice.com/2015/08/controversial-animal-organisation-declines-pony-rescue-offers/

It is strongly recommended that anyone who wants to donate money to an animal rescue or any other charity should research it thoroughly beforehand, and not rely solely on pictures and testimonials written by the operators.

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Aug 242015

Animal Lovers who chance upon Northfield Animal Haven’s ‘Go Fund Me’ campaign to save two Shetland mares and four foals might want to dig deeper before digging into their pockets. The Shetland ponies could have already been rescued by Blaikiewell’s or Hillside Animal Sanctuary.

Northfield turned those offers down and is seeking £5,000 from the public. Is there more to Northfield than meets the eye? What does this Aberdeenshire family organisation do to raise funds? Members of the public, animal welfare organisations and local charities all contacted Aberdeen Voice. Here are some of Suzanne Kelly’s findings and experiences – with more to come shortly.

open day july 15 sign says all farm animals and shows animals northfield actually slaughter USE PICFrom a description on campaign site Go Fund Me, the average person would think Northfield is just another animal rescue charity, and no one else can help the ponies they are seeking £5,000 in donations to help:

“We urgently need your help to save 6 Shetland ponies, there are [sic] mums and their foals.”

“They are under threat of being shot and used over winter as dog food(1). We can make a difference. We can save them and get them here in the care of our rescue so we can rehabilitate them and rehome them but without your help we dont have the necessary resources to make this happen.”

“Please help by donating as much or as little as you can.

“The costs involved are for Transport, Vet Treatment, Farrier and Feed. Our work with the horses will obviously not cost a penny. Time is against us and we dont have alot of it, this needs to happen within the next few days(2)…………………….

“Registered not for profit organisation based in Scotland UK. SCVO 4365.

“Non funded Sanctuary/Rescue for all equine, farm and small animals(3). Run on a working farm in scotland(4). We are totally reliant on the publics [sic] help with donations(5). We have no reserves of monies unlike the bigger rescues. We pay no wages all donations go to the animals in our care. Without your continued support we cannot do what we do. Please give if you can. Thank You.”


“We got a phone call last night about this situation, we are working with the people involved to try and stop this from happening, if we had unlimited funds we would take them today. Other charities have been asked and all have refused to help(6) so it leaves it up to us and you the public to help. These Shetlands are young, there are foals of 11 months and two months old, they deserve to live and not be put in a freezer to feed to his dogs. please please help”

In their statement above, I have added numbers to various sentences that people have brought to my attention. There are serious concerns about how the public is being led to think about Northfield.

Northfield Sheep to mart fb screenshot

Facebook screenshot (click to enlarge) announcing the sorting out of sheep to be taken to the mart.

(1) It is admirable that Northfield do not want the animals used as dog food of course. But the same people who run this animal rescue are also people who raise animals for slaughter.

People who have read the Go Fund Me page and subsequently learned of the nature of the other side of the family’s business have been surprised, some appalled.

They raise animals for meat.

This has upset some of the donors greatly.

Many people are unable to understand the ethics involved: what kind of double standard allows a person to determine that Animal A is to be destined for the dinner plate (possibly sold for animal food) but that Animal B is to be cherished/saved/rehomed/pampered?

To this Northfield wrote among other things:

“With regards to my running a farm side on my property, yes I raise sheep and yes I sell the boys and surplus ewes at the local mart, these are sold as store lambs and if you are aware store lambs have to bought and raised on further, they may be kept as breeding ewes or most likely they will go for meat, but I personally do NOT send them to slaughter as you have stated many times.

“This may amount to 20 a year which you may get £50 for each so that will give you an income of around a £1000…”

The fact that Northfield aren’t personally killing the sheep but sell them to others to kill does not exactly sit well with everyone who donates to animal charities.

An October 2013 Facebook screenshot shows Northfield referring to selling pigs sheep and poultry to help pay for the rescues. Another Facebook dialogue claims ‘the farm income is always used for the rescues’.

This makes the claim at Point (5) “We are totally reliant on the public’s help with donations” somewhat misleading, as the sale of lambs (only depicted in the advertising because people like to see them, and not part of the ‘all’ farm animals Northfield rescues) seems at odds with the organisation’s own statements.

(3) (4) Anyone who is now confused as to what creatures Northfield deems worthy of rescue will be further confused should they stumble across other Northfield comments or websites mentioning the venture:

“Rescue, Rehome, Rehabilitate Retirement village for all farm, equinesmall animals.”

go fund me request shows sheep and chickensIndeed one Go Fund Me campaign claimed there were zero funds; it showed a photo of a lamb and chicken. Someone who had read that Northfield rescued ‘all’ farm animals might have seen this photo and concluded these animals were meant to be rescued, not barbequed.

A ‘working’ farm could be an agricultural farm. Despite a claim appearing on Facebook that all their donors know about the meat production business, it is clear that is not the case.

So do they rescue sheep with the right hand, and sell them for meat with the left hand? Well, no – the pictures you see of farm animals, and the claim to rescue all farm, equinesmall [sic] animals is explained thus on a recent Facebook thread:

“The rescues which include horses pigs and rabbits are what we fundraise for…. The only reason we post pics of the sheep/cows etc. is because we’ve been asked to. Some of the people who donate and live far away love seeing pictures of all the animals.”

People like to see pictures of sheep? Presumably these are the same kinds of people who like to see the lobster they are about to have boiled.

(2) (6) The Shetland ponies in question had offers from Blaikiewell’s and from Hillside Animal Sanctuary.

One recent donor on the Go Fund Me page who is a vegetarian told Aberdeen Voice:-

“Disappointed an ‘animal haven’ sends animals to slaughter. Did you read their reply re. refusing help from Hillside? Sounds odd to me.”

Both of these organisations offered to take the ponies – but Northfield has rejected the offers – begging the question how accurate was their claim ‘other charities have been asked and all have refused to help.”

The rationale Northfield used for not letting someone else save the ponies was played out on Facebook:

Northfield Animal Haven Yes they [Hillside, Blaikiewell] did offer help but as I have already explained hillside were part of a vendetta against us earlier in the year so why would they be willing to help now also they are desperate for funds for the animals they already have so this would just add to their situation.
[? it is unknown what ‘vendetta’ is meant – but this could be the formation of ‘REACH’ an organisation seeking to standardise animal charity ethics – which excludes producing animals for slaughter to ‘save’ other animals]

“… Hillside did state things about us before their owner Wendy Valentine, was the person stating things, this is mostly to do with their own opinions and beliefs.
[This may refer to criticism of selling animals for meat at Thainstone]

“Yes I agree with you that we should pull together and I have numerous times before passed the names of other sanctuaries onto people who have contacted me but I couldn’t help at the time, so have told them to contact others, and with the support we have received at the moment these Shetlands are safe and the cost of transport is covered. Which I have said…And lastly, on this particular occasion, Kelly has been asked (and trusted) to take these ponies, and was specifically asked if she could promise that they would only go to her.”

“As you can imagine, this is going to put even more financial strain on her, and she really does appreciate the offer of help (and would love to be able to say yes), but a promise is a promise.

“Hope this has helped you understand the situation more.”

This seems to boil down to Northfield don’t want the Shetlands winding up as food (unlike their farm animals). The unnamed Shetland pony owner only wants Kelly Cable to have the animals – so presumably if Northfield don’t raise the money, it’s too bad for the ponies. The other sanctuaries that have different ideas about raising animals for slaughter while operating to save animals have been discounted from saving the Shetlands.

#                                             #                                             #                                             #

Having waded through screenshots, listened to concerns from people finding Northfield imagery and statements contradictory and misleading, I asked for some clarification. The responses I got back were long-winded, histrionics. Claims were put against me inferring that I said the animals were mistreated, inferring someone was passing around lies and slanderous remarks, etc.

My questions were:

“Do you have a farm side to your business that sells animals at auction for meat? Did any other animal shelters agree to take these animals? Are you part of accredited national group Reach? you are not a registered charity it should be noted. Lastly I am a journalist that has had libellous personal attacks from you/your supporters for asking these questions”

For those who want to read the lengthy response, they will find it on Go Fund Me.

  • I cannot come to terms with someone who will wash their hands of killing – or rather selling so someone else kills an animal so they can raise money to sell other animals – particulary when the images used of the animals killed have accompanied drives for rescue funds
  • A great deal of emphasis is being put on my question about this organisation being a registered charity – this is mentioned in many criticism of me. I am merely making the statement it is not a registered charity. There is far more visibility in the finances and aims of a charity than there is of a voluntary organisation – for which finding financial information is very difficult
  • REACH was set up to standardise ethics and practices for animal rescue groups; as one of its ethical positions is that rescue groups should not have other animals bred for slaughter to support saving other animals – this seems to me like basic ethics.

All in all, if you wish to support this organisation and its appeal to raise £5,000 to save 5 Shetland ponies, then by all means do. However, do so aware that other animals are slaughtered to fund these rescue efforts, that two other organisations had already stepped up to take the animals without the need to demand £5,000 but were turned away, that images of sheep and a statement that ‘all’ farm animals are rescued are not quite true.

As ever, Northfield have a right to reply (NB – they have barred me from Twitter yet told followers I ‘refuse’ to answer their tweets; they have also barred me from their Facebook page).

Confused? A website, UKsponsorship.com has this to say:

“The principal aim of Northfield Animal Haven is to provide a rescue/re-homing centre for any unwanted, neglected, abused or retired equine, farm and small animals.

“Our aim is to offer each animal a loving home where they will never again have to suffer abuse, neglect, abandonment or starvation. Please support us”. http://www.uksponsorship.com/a1875.htm

Just not the kinds of farm animals someone might want to eat.

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Jul 172014

By Bob Smith.
dreamstimefree_151469 calf

We took a wee bit dauner
Oot ti the 161st Echt Show
Far kwintra fowk an toonsers
They war minglin ti an fro’
‘Ere wis Charollais an Suffolk sheep
The Texels a fun ugly limmers
‘Ere wis ither yowes an tups
An some war cross bred gimmers
The horse section noo wis gran
The Clydesdales stole ma hairt
As a myn fine as a loon
Rosie yokit ti box cairt
Lots o coos wi caafs as weel
Gweed bullocks an heifers ti
Heilan coos wi their horns
A richt fine sicht ti see
A parade o vintage tractors
The auldest ti bi seen
Wis a post war Fordson
In a livery o dark green
The Kintore Pipe Band war on haun
Roon the ring they did parade
Mony fowk they war whistlin
As weel kent tunes they played
Heilan duncin throwoot the day
Sword Dunce weel ti the fore
Wi young eens  o aa ages
‘Ere wis tartans bi the score
In the Industrial tint ‘ere wis
Toffees, jams an gweed bakes
Clootie dumplin an oatmeal breid
An lots o WRI wifies’ cakes
A fair enjoyed the birds o prey
Wi the display o falconry
In fact a hiv ti say
It fair did mak the day
A great faavrit fer mony ‘ears
The young loons an quines races
A buddin Jessica Ennis or Usain Bolt
Micht hae bin amang the faces
An efterneen o fine hivvy  events
Compered by Leuchar loon Jim Taylor
Haimmer throwin an caber tossin
Wi me es fun great faavour
‘Ere wis the Tug-o-War competition
Strappin loons an quines took pairt
In the hans o Jim’s brither Bob
Ti Echt they cam fae ilka airt
The wither  it played its pairt
A braw day wi nae rain
At only eicht poonds ti git in
Es pilgrimage we’ll mak again
©Bob Smith  “The Poetry Mannie” 2014

Image: Calf ready to nurse © Cressie Wright | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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Aug 082013

Turriff’s resident population of 5,743 received a welcome boost over the weekend of 4 and 5 August when the 149th annual Turriff Show was held at The Haughs, just outside the town centre. The Turra Show as it is called locally, is one of the highlights of the farming and agricultural year in NE Scotland, and quite rightly so, writes Duncan Harley.

Farming folk from all over the UK descend on the town during the show weekend seeking livestock prizes, farming machinery and, quite frankly, lots of fun. Bargains are struck, tractors and combines are purchased and, just occasionally, wedding matches are made – just as they have been for the last century and a half of the Show’s history.

With a claimed entries total of over 802 horses and ponies plus some 43 goats on the Sunday, over 450 cattle and 580 sheep, including the return of the Bluefaced Leicester Progeny Show sheep, Turra Show is perhaps the biggest show of its kind in Scotland still going strong after 150 years of traditional agricultural shows.

The Open Dog Show on the Sunday, complete with the ever popular rabbit and cavy sections, is now affiliated and upgraded to 2-star official status. Added to this, the poultry show and the popular Companion Dog event on the Monday makes this a completely irresistible event for the non-agricultural breeders and pet fanciers of the area.

The quite exciting sideshows, funfair and extreme catering franchises also make Turra a Mecca for those seeking a weekend of bacchanalian beer and wine-soaked revelry.

With over 249 trade stands, a very well attended food fayre plus the indoor shopping mall to tour around, Turra Show is a family fun-filled affair indeed. The show exhibition hall with its lifestyle theme and the ever popular home cookery demonstrations will, as ever, attract the homemakers.

And why not?

Those seeking extreme fun should head for that Special Forestry Area and the Special Educational Area to entertain and even educate the children amongst us.

The Industrial Marquee at Turra Show is one of the largest in the country with over 1745 home-based craft exhibits and an excellent horticultural show featuring large turnips and a few enormous marrows to salivate over.

The Turriff Show is always a veritable feast and a huge fun weekend for all the family. Each of the two show days has an extensive ringside entertainment programme with many special attractions including in 2013, the awesome Quad and Motorcycle Flying Daredevil Stunt Show by Jason Smythe’s Adrenaline Tour.

Jason comes from a professional racing background in Motocross. He started competing when he was seven, progressing from multiple regional champion to British schoolboy champion, British amateur support class winner before turning pro at eighteen.

In the professional ranks he has competed in all three classes at World Championship, 125cc, 250cc and 500cc and the World Supercross Tour as well as becoming Luxembourg national champion.

At Turriff, Jason thrilled the crowd by powering his quad bike over 31ft in the air above his articulated rig before landing safely, to loud applause.

On Sunday, Turra’s family day featured some exciting Terrier Racing with Cyril the Squirrel, fine sulky-trotting, pony carriage driving and of course the famous Turriff Pipe Band.

The same day’s Showground grand finale was, as always, the Vintage Tractor and Vehicle Parade featuring agricultural vehicles from the past century, including vintage Fergusons and the local Anderson collection of Field Marshall Tractors.

A sight to salivate over indeed!

On Turra Monday the Parade of Champions was, as is fitting, a splendid climax to what must be the finest surviving agricultural show in NE Scotland.

Norman Christie of Woodside Croft, Kinnellar, Aberdeenshire came best of show in the 2012 Turra Show with his Clydesdale Anguston Amber and in this years show Norman’s quite majestic Amber Anguston came show best reserve.

This year’s best of show was Arradoul Ellie May from Buckie owned by Ian Young. The cattle “Aberdeen Angus” section was headed by Idevies Kollar of Ellon and the British Blonde champian was Whistley Dollar entered by former Turra Show chief Eric Mutch. The sheep and goats also won prizes but were unnamed as were the cavies.

Turriff, of course gained international fame almost 100 years ago as the Scottish town which stubbornly resisted Lloyd George’s National Insurance Act and its provisions for medical and unemployment benefits for farm workers and their families.

Both Lloyd George’s Liberal government and the Marxists of the time rallied against the stance of Robert Patterson of Lendrum Farm who, perhaps unwittingly, became both the focus and the willing local hero of this often humorous but politically quite sad affair. That of course is another side of the Turriff of years gone by.

The anniversary of the Turra Coo is fast approaching though, but that’s another story.

Further Reading.

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Nov 042011

Voice’s Suzanne Kelly explores the functions of wild meadows in Britain, looks at some of the existing meadows in Aberdeen and what the authorities have planned for those areas. 

‘We must have a tree for every citizen” is the battle cry of Aileen Malone, a ranger or two (who also think we will make money from the trees), one or two people who are involved with the forestry industry and some political pundits.

They are willing to kill the Tullos Hill Roe deer, discard our bronze age (and later) archaeology, displace birds and insects, remove gorse and wildflowers from Tullos Hill, and spray weed-killer for 2-3 years.

Never mind that they have previously failed.

Forget that Mother Nature has left this windswept, exposed hill as a grassy meadow:  these experts will try a second time with our tax money to impose a new biosystem over the biosystem which exists on Tullos.

They consulted experts, so Valerie Watts, Peter Leonard and Aileen Malone keep insisting, and no other experts’ opinions (however valid, whether freely offered or not) are wanted.  This refusal to entertain other advice or to compromise whatsoever calls into question their claim to scientific superiority.  Additional flaws and omissions from initial submissions leak out constantly, but the tree and cull proponents will not budge.  Not willingly anyway.

But what other options are there for Tullos Hill and for Aberdeen?

There is a new breed of expert and new school of thought, backed by virtually every environmental agency in the UK and by Europe.  This wave of expert opinion says that our meadows and grasslands are absolutely vital.

So before we allow politicians and career-builders decide the fate of Tullos Hill, its flora, fauna and archaeology, let’s just for a moment or two entertain a different vision for Tullos:  a meadow and deer park, enhanced with more wildflowers and plants, and with protection from arsonists increased.

It is not impossible; it certainly would not be as expensive as imposing 89,000 trees.

By the way, the deer cull is not enough.  Weed killers – we don’t know what kind or how toxic – are recommended by one arm of experts for two to three years.  Cost:  unknown.  Toxicity:  unknown.  Effectiveness:  unknown.

Who are these people claiming meadows and grasslands are not only desirable but definitely essential?

Since the 1930s, we have lost 98% (over three million hectares) of wildflower meadows across England and Wales

Plantlife (www.plantlife.org.uk ) is the UK’s leading charity working to protect wild plants and their habitats.

They identify and conserve sites of exceptional importance, rescue wild plants from the brink of extinction, and ensure that common plants do not become rare in the wild.

Here is what they have to say on the importance of meadows and grasslands – like Tullos Hill:

“These are arguably the UK’s most threatened habitats. They are rich in wildlife, landscape character, folklore and archaeology, and they offer a range of ‘services’ to society and the environment. Despite this, our wildflower meadows have suffered catastrophic declines over the past century and intense pressures continue to threaten those that remain.

“Since the 1930s, we have lost 98% (over three million hectares) of wildflower meadows across England and Wales. Wildflower meadows now comprise less than 1% of the UK’s total land area.

“Despite some good work being carried out to restore wildflower meadows, the trend continues to be an overall decline in extent and condition of these habitats. The Countryside Survey 2000 showed a decrease of a further 280,000 hectares of wildflower meadows in the UK between 1990 and 1998. The survey also showed a continuing decline in the species diversity of these habitats.

“Once lost, our species-rich meadows and grasslands cannot easily be restored.

Susan Kerry Bedell, Funding Manager for Saving Our Magnificent Meadows, has corresponded with me about the need for protecting our remaining meadow lands.  She has sent me a summary document which can be found at

[http://www.plantlife.org.uk/campaigns/saving_our_magnificent_meadows/ (NB The summary will be put up in the next couple of weeks).  The summary paper stems from a three-year project funded by Natural England, Countryside Council for Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage, Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Plantlife.  Some of its key messages are:-

  •  Wildflower-rich grasslands are arguably the UK’s most threatened habitat. They are recognised as precious and important ecosystems, supporting a rich diversity of wild plants and animals, including many rare and declining species.
  • These habitats are increasingly seen as contributing to the overall well-being of our society, and to the ‘services’ that healthy ecosystems provide, such as carbon sequestration (capture), amelioration of flooding and a more efficient cycle of nutrients which improves soil health and productivity.
  • Wildflower-rich grasslands also offer a wide-range of public health benefits and are part of our cultural heritage, helping to provide a ‘sense of place’. They are seen as vital to the long-term survival of bees, through whose pollination of crops much of our food production depends.

Despite their high nature conservation value, our wildflower-rich grasslands are in decline, both in extent and in quality. Many of our meadows in the UK were lost during the last century.

Intense pressure, particularly from changes in farming practices, as well as development and neglect, continue to impact on the remaining areas. Between 1930s and 1980s, 98% (three million hectares) of wildflower-rich grasslands in England and Wales were lost.

Despite conservation legislation, including an EU Habitats Directive (which incorporates six BAP priority grassland types in Annex 1), planning legislation and two decades of agri-environment schemes, wildflower-rich grasslands continue to disappear or decline in condition. 

Once lost, these species-rich meadows cannot easily be recreated.

  • These declines meant that the UK was unable to meet its national and international commitments to halt the loss of grassland habitat and species biodiversity by 2010.

What can you do to help reverse this decline in meadowlands and grasslands?

Forests are wonderful.  And so are Meadows.  We need both, and not just one or the other.

Finally, I am launching a petition to keep Tullos Hill the wildlife-supporting meadow it is, stop the tree planting scheme, and to stop any cull.  If you would like to sign, or get a copy of the petition to collect signatures on, please contact me via Aberdeen Voice ( Link )

Oct 072011

Dr David Kennedy, former Principal of The Robert Gordon University, is a man of many interests, experiences and opinions. Voice’s Suzanne Kelly was eager to get his views on contemporary local and global topics and they conversed, among other topics, about life, the planet, greed, oil, fish and Wood. This is the first extract from that conversation.

David Kennedy was not short of words, opinions or facts.
He had recently been interviewed in-depth by the mainstream media in connection with the proposed New Town development at Elsick, but in the end all that was reported was the well-publicised return of his own honorary RGU degree in protest over RGU’s decision to award a similar honour to Donald Trump.

This simple act of defiance was eloquently accomplished and captured beautifully in Anthony Baxter’s and Richard Phinney’s film, You’ve Been Trumped.

For those who mainly get their news from Aberdeen Journals, the rest of the world has been writing about this award-winning documentary for months, and it is hitting cinemas in Scotland again now – see details elsewhere in Voice.

I asked first about his son Peter’s concern over the development of a massive housing estate at Elsick and  Peter’s subsequent article in Voice   and wondered if Dr Kennedy himself was keeping up with the issues around this or other planned housing developments?

“There‘s a lull at the moment other than the application that went for approval last week. The BBC spent just under an hour with me. Despite taping a long video interview when the report of the development was eventually aired, virtually nothing of what I said was used, just a reference to my handing back my degree some 12 months ago to RGU.

“The arguments that I put during the interview were about farmland. Human beings have a few basic requirements. One is food; another is warmth. As a prime requirement, humans must be able to feed themselves. We were cautioned by Winston Churchill during WWII that we should NEVER allow ourselves to be dependent on other countries for our food. If our country is unable to do this, then we must depend on trade with other countries.

“How is Scotland going to feed its people if it hasn’t any farmland? Therein lies the problem. We’ve seen here in the North East the decline of all the indigenous industries that have been with us for hundreds of years – textiles, paper, agriculture, fishing, that sort of thing. They’ve all been virtually destroyed by the growth of the oil industry, which sucked skilled people away from these industries.

“Oil is a finite resource, therefore we know from the start it’s not sustainable. It is a short-term gain for a long-term loss. I was on a few committees debating the future of Aberdeen when the oil was gone. Tourism was the only answer they came up with. However, tourism is like taking in one another’s washing – our tourists go out, theirs come in. Where is the gain? The future of Scotland certainly depends on its being able to either produce its own food in sufficient quantities to feed its people, or otherwise manufacture and export goods other countries want.”

This led us to discuss red tape and over-regulation in the farming sector.

“That of course largely comes from what is happening in Brussels. I know one or two larger farmers in the area, one of whom told me he’d never been as well off in his life. Thanks to me and other taxpayers, he was being paid so many subsidies from Brussels for set-aside, tree-planting and so on, as Europe wanted to control where food is and isn’t produced and thereby avoid overproduction.”

Suzanne’s fascinating conversation with Dr Kennedy will continue in future issues of Aberdeen Voice. We are grateful for his input.