Dec 032015

By Charlie Abel.

Ronnie Watt 11Aberdonian karate students will have great cause to celebrate this week with the news that their very own Ronnie Watt OBE ORS, chief instructor of the NKF (national karate federation) and director of Shotokan for the WKC (world karate confederation) has been awarded a 9th Dan black belt (Kudan). It is believed to be the highest ever Dan grade awarded to an Aberdonian or a Scotsman.

This is a major achievement for Ronnie and for karate in Scotland.

Ronnie Watt’s name is already famous and well respected throughout the city of Aberdeen and the karate world. Being graded a 9th Dan Ronnie joins the elite ranks of the worlds most repected Karate masters.

Obtaining a black belt is very difficult, very few people manage to train hard enough, it takes at least three years and most people give up, perhaps one in a hundred achieve a black belt. Some will go on and get a 2nd Dan or higher. However, it is almost unheard of to achieve a 9th Dan in karate. Very few manage to reach this level, most are Japanese and it takes a lifetime of training.

This is a first for Scottish Shotokan Karate and it’s a great honour for the city having a home grown 9th Dan teaching and training karate, here in Aberdeen, Ronnie’s home town.

The 9th Dan will be presented to Ronnie by the International Shotokan-ryu Karate–do Shihankai (ISKS). The ISKS was set up in 2004 by an international group of world karate masters to protect and maintain the tradition of karate, which they see is sadly being diluted by many outside ‘fashionable’ influences. The ISKS is one of the most respected orders in the world of Karate today.

Karate has been a way of life for Ronnie and his family. He has won many competitions both home and internationally. To date he has trained over 25,000 students in his 50 years, many of them achieving black belt and going on to higher Dan grades, his students are well known for returning from World Championship tournaments laden with medals and golden trophies.

His wife Gail has been indispensible in running Ronnie’s NKF Karate Academy and his children, now adults are also very much following in his footsteps with Son Reeve (5th Dan) and Daughter Roxy (5th Dan) training karate regularly and teaching classes. Grandson Cooper (age 4) has also recently started training, keen to join his grandpa in the dojo.

Ronnie who has trained karate ‘religiously’ as a way of life for 50 years was recently entered into the European Hall of fame for Martial Arts (November 2015).

Ronnie has previously been awarded an OBE from the Queen. In 2010 was recognised by the Emperor of Japan with an Order of the Rising Sun – a very special award rarely given to foreigners. Ronnie joins good company with famous people such as Clint Eastwood, Gustav Eiffel of France, George Takei (Sulu, Helmsman of the Starship enterprise on Star Trek) Bobby Charlton, and ex UK Prime minister Sir John Major.

In 2014, Ronnie was awarded a Commemorative Medal of the Trnava Self-Governing Region (TSGR) of Slovakia by the TSGR’s president, Tibor Mikus for promotion of friendship between Scotland and Slovakia. Ronnie is also a Free Burgess of Guild member of the city of Aberdeen, (Freedom of the city) and is a banner bearer to the Knights of the Most Holy Trinity, who are a heraldic based charity organisation raising funds for good causes.

When asked about his 50 years in Karate and his 9th Dan Ronnie says,

“I’ve just loved karate, being karate. It’s what I’ve always done.

“I see a lot of people and see what it can do for them.  The discipline, the training, the Budo (the way) it changes them. It changed me. Karate improves people. It’s beautiful….My 50 years have not been easy, but I’d do it again tomorrow..”

“ I’m very happy and really humbled to receive the 9th Dan. It’s amazing…I’m still learning!”

Having one of the worlds most decorated and respected Karate masters living and teaching in Aberdeen is a massive advantage to anyone wishing to learn more about Karate-do.

Visit for more info.

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Sep 182015

If you think about karate or martial arts in Aberdeen, or even in Scotland or in the UK, one name that will spring to mind should be our very own Ronnie Watt (8th Dan, OBE, ORS) who this year celebrates training in Karate for 50 years. Ronnie has never been out of the headlines and this month is no different, as it has just been announced that Ronnie is to receive yet another significant award in recognition of his karate, this time from an international organisation. Charlie Abel reports.

Ronnie Watt 11 The President of the IBSSA (International Bodyguard and Security Services Association) has acknowledged Ronnie by entering him into the European Hall of Fame for Martial Arts.

The honorary award ceremony will take place in Rheine, Germany at their black tie Gala where Ronnie will attend as their special guest.

Ronnie is delighted to receive the award, which came as a great surprise, and is another very prestigious occasion for Ronnie and his family. It also brings Aberdeen to the forefront of International Karate, the city again recognised on the international stage as having a living legend in our midst.

Only last year he was awarded another honorary title from the Slovakian Government in recognition of his services to Karate in their country:

“for the promotion of understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and regions”

In recognition of his services to karate, Ronnie has previously been honoured by the Emperor of Japan with the Order of the Rising Sun and has been appointed an OBE from her majesty the Queen.

Ronnie has now been inducted in to the European Martial Arts Hall of Fame 2015.

After 50 years of training karate, competing and winning medals around the world, not to mention teaching tens of thousands of children and adults, many students reaching black belt and going on to win medals in various world championship karate events, Ronnie’s place in history is already clearly stamped, though there’s still plenty ink left!

Ronnie continues to train and still teaches to his private members in Aberdeen three times a week and is constantly receiving invitations to travel abroad to train at karate festivals and self defence courses.

Anyone in Aberdeen of any age (over 5) interested in becoming a member of Ronnie Watt’s Karate Academy should call 01224 734607 or visit If you are interested in self defence, getting into better shape and keeping fit while learning an ancient Japanese discipline, this is an ideal opportunity to train with a real master of karate….here in Aberdeen! What are you waiting for? It just doesn’t get any better!

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Sep 142015

Aberdeencycleforum2With thanks to Jyll Skinner.

To mark the start of European Mobility Week, Aberdeen Cycle Forum have arranged a one-off showing of a feature-length documentary titled ‘Bikes vs Cars’ at the Belmont Filmhouse on Wednesday, 16th

ACF believe the film is essential viewing for anyone involved in decision making over the future of Aberdeen and have taken the unusual step of inviting all 19 Councillors from Aberdeen City Council’s Communities, Health and Infrastructure Committee to attend the screening at ACF’s expense.

ACF Chair Jyll Skinner said:

“The film examines the transport gridlock in cities like Sao Paolo and Los Angeles, and the effects that congestion has on them as places to live. It then contrasts that with Copenhagen – a city which is liberated by cycling.

“There are benefits to the economy, to air quality, and to people’s health and wellbeing. Which of these models does Aberdeen want to follow?”

The screening will be followed by a Question & Answer session with a panel including representatives from Nestrans and both Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils.

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Aug 072015

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

Kincorth Skatepark 2a

Kincorth’s new state-of-the-art skatepark.

Kick flips, nose slides and half pipes will be all be on display at the opening of Aberdeen’s newest community skateboard park on Saturday, 08 August 2015.
The free to access, state-of-the-art facility on Kincorth Circle has been constructed following years of discussion between local residents and Kincorth and Leggart Community Council, who launched an appeal for funding.

The park cost around £55,000 and north-east children’s charity Cash for Kids assisted the community council in securing the funding, with £50,000 coming from charity Aberdeen Forward and the Aberdeen Harbour Board. 

The remaining £5,000 was raised by the community council.

The all wheeled park, which has been built by leading specialist company Concrete Skateparks, will cater for skateboarding, BMX biking and in-line skating, and features full disabled access. A range of brand new equipment, including BMX bikes, boards and safety clothing, has also been donated by Cash for Kids for use by local youngsters.

Kincorth and Leggart Community Council secretary Catherine Cowie, who also led the project, said:

“We have been working on this project for many years and it has been driven by the needs of the local young people. Cash for Kids has given us great support which has enabled us to secure the required funding and also have some equipment available for local youngsters to use.

“The community council’s role is to support people of all ages living in the area and it will be wonderful to see local youngsters and their families enjoying this well designed new facility. The skatepark will provide a positive diversionary activity for children in Kincorth and surrounding area. In additions, we plan to run free coaching sessions for local young people so they can learn a new sport that they might not otherwise have tried.”

The skateboards, BMX bikes and safety equipment will be available to young people free of charge with a parental signature required under the terms of the rental agreement. It is hoped the items will also be used by schools during PE sessions.

Emma Kemp, Cash for Kids’ charity manager, said:

“Facilities such as this are important assets to encourage youngsters in local communities to get outdoors and be active. Cash for Kids worked closely with the community council to secure the substantial funding required for this project to become a reality and it is fantastic to see everyone’s hard work now come to fruition.

“Our donation of kit and safety equipment ensures that young skaters and BMX enthusiasts who don’t have their own equipment are able to enjoy this facility.  We hope the skatepark proves to be a mechanism to get children involved in sport on all levels for many years to come.”

An opening ceremony will be held at noon on Saturday, 08 August 2015 and will include demonstrations and training sessions from Transition Extreme and Granite Reef staff. Young people are being encouraged to take along their bikes, skateboards and scooters to the event.

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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Jul 242015

Aqatics-0715cutWith thanks to Dave Macdermid.

Having celebrated the Aquatics Centre’s 1st birthday in May, Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV) is delighted that Aquatic Engineering and Construction Ltd, an Acteon company, is continuing to support diving at ASV.

Diving at ASV has developed since the facility opened in May 2014 and now offers an integrated pathway, supported by Scottish Swimming, from Learn to Dive through to club squads.

The first individuals are now competing around the country representing the ASV Diving Club.

Deborah McCombie, Head of Marketing & Communications at Aquatic said:

“The Aquatics Centre at Aberdeen Sports Village is an extremely popular world-class swimming venue. Our brand values relate to our Strength in Depth and so the opportunity to continue to support this centre-of-excellence and invest in some of the finest local young people to become the very best in their sport, resonates very strongly with our people and our business.”

The sponsorship from Aquatic will help the Diving Club to support facility hire, equipment and squad coaching. The club currently train three times a week in the 25m pool at the Aquatics Centre; one of only ten facilities in the UK with full diving facilities and platforms up to ten metres. The divers also take part in dry land training focusing on their skills in the Aquatics Studio and the Sports Hall utilising the newly installed ‘dry’ diving board and trampolines.

There are currently ten divers in the club, eight of whom have progressed from ASV’s Learn to Dive programme and two choosing to move to ASV from other clubs. Two of the current squad members – Farquhar McDougall and Clara Kerr – have already been competing in regional competitions and regularly obtain podium finishes.

Deborah continued

“We operate within the subsea sector of the oil & gas industry and it is possible that in years to come, some of these young divers will be inspired to go into the commercial world and work with our people on projects around the globe. We are delighted to extend our commitment to the Aquatics Centre for a further year.”

Alison Wylie, Commercial Development Manager at ASV, said:

“We are delighted Aquatic is continuing to invest in diving at Aberdeen Sports Village. Their support is vital as we look to unearth and develop the next generation of Commonwealth and Olympic hopefuls. We look forward to further developing our partnership with Aquatic over the coming months and building on the early success of our Diving Club.”

Feb 052015

Ski Instructor Nigel WellsWith the Scottish ski centres reporting between 30-60 centimeters of snow the 2015 ski season has got off to a perfect powdery start. With thanks to Janice Hopper.

The Cairngorms is synonymous with breath-taking mountain terrain and high octane skiing and snowboarding as the depth and range of skiing opportunities across Glenshee, the Lecht and the Cairngorm Mountain is vast and exhilarating.

But hurtling down a mountainside isn’t the only way to ski.

Nigel Wells (pictured), who provides tuition for the Aviemore and Glenmore Ski Shop, is a passionate advocate of cross country skiing which is a completely different approach to experiencing the landscape, expanding your skills on snow and testing yourself.

“It’s the only form of skiing that allows people to truly appreciate the Scottish countryside and really immerse themselves in the forest. The silence, compounded by the compacted snow, can be deafening and the scenery in the Cairngorms is quite something.”

Nigel is a BASI level 2 instructor but he only started skiing in his late twenties proving it’s never too late to start.  He left school at 16 and experienced a demanding career with the Police force in Bradford, including becoming a Firearms Officer and a member of a specialist unit involved in the Ripper enquiries and the Toxteth and Leeds Riots, but he was soon looking for his next challenge.

Cross country skiing started as a hobby in the 1970’s but after a holiday in Aviemore Nigel became such a regular visitor that he virtually slipped into teaching.  When he left the Police in 1998 he made his move to Aviemore to become a full time ski instructor and now knows the terrain of the Cairngorms intimately.

“Cross country skiing can be immensely challenging. You don’t have gravity on your side propelling you down a hillside so self-locomotion is the order of the day and that requires some effort on the part of the individual. You use your whole body and can burn around 500 calories an hour. It’s the top all over calorie burner ahead of swimming and cycling and requires huge stamina but it’s also hugely accessible. 

“Children can try it and I’m also hugely interested in adaptive cross country skiing for those with disabilities.  You can take it at a gentler pace or you can really speed through the forest as there are a variety of trails available in the winter months and with Glenmore now having a piste machine many more can now be cleared.” 

Depending on the snowfall tracks run through Glenmore forest, taking in Bagaduish, the south side of Loch Morlich and excellent views as skiers cruise past Meall a’Bhuachaille just north of the loch and the forest. The Glenmore Cross Country Ski Machine was an investment to improve cross country skiing in the region and it’s hugely popular for an inanimate object.

With its own Facebook page the machine’s run as a charity to encourage the advancement of public participation in sport, but the beauty of cross country skiing is that those who wish to explore aren’t necessarily confined to the tracks but can venture out and explore as desired.

Cross country skiing offers its followers further advantages as Nigel explains:

“Well it’s quite economic as far as skiing goes. As long as you dress sensibly for the outdoor temperatures you don’t need quite so much kit or ski wear. You don’t have to buy a lift pass and another huge bonus is that you don’t have to queue for the lifts.  That’s a lot of extra skiing time. If there’s snow on the ground you can do cross country skiing virtually anywhere so it’s really flexible.”

As cross country skiing takes place on lower ground it’s more weather dependent than mountain-top snow sports so it’s definitely worth keeping a keen eye on the forecasts. The Aviemore and Glenmore Ski Shop and its instructors have the latest information on the weather conditions, tracks being cut and other suitable terrain available.

For dedicated skiers or for complete novices cross country skiing offers a challenging way to get the most out of the stunning Cairngorms countryside and try a form of skiing that can be gentle and peaceful or rigorous and intense.

The Cairngorms National Park, in the heart of the Highlands, is the largest National Park in the UK and is made up of five different areas – Aviemore and Cairngorms; Angus Glens; Atholl and Glenshee; Tomintoul and Glenlivet; and Royal Deeside and Donside. To find out where to stay, what to do and what’s happening across the Cairngorms National Park this winter visit

Dec 192014

gym2With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

Aberdeen Sports Village, a partnership between the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen City Council and sportscotland has achieved Investors in Young People and Investors in People Gold

Investors in Young People is the only people management standard that focuses on an employer’s recruitment and retention of young people, while achieving IIP Gold puts Aberdeen Sports Village in the top 7% of all IIP accredited organisations.

Launched in July 2014, Investors in Young People originated through a key recommendation from the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, led by Sir Ian Wood. The accreditation is offered to all businesses across Scotland and exists to recognise and support organisations across Scotland in the employment of young people.

Having now achieved both accreditations, Aberdeen Sports Village is now eligible to use and display the Investors in People and Investors in Young People logo and plaque, and enjoy their benefits.

Commenting on the award, David Beattie, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Sports Village, said:

“We’re immensely proud to have been awarded both IIP Gold and IIYP accreditation and I believe this represents our firm commitment to each of our employees and demonstrates the good practice we have in place. 

“We have a fantastic, passionate and diverse team at Aberdeen Sports Village and having achieved both IIP Gold and IIYP shows just how far we have come as an organisation since opening in 2009.”

Peter Russian, Chief Executive of Investors in People Scotland, said:

“This is a fantastic achievement for Aberdeen Sports Village, and I and the whole IIP team would like to wholeheartedly congratulate them. Achieving both IIP Gold and IIYP is a fantastic achievement. The Investors in Young People framework not only recognises and supports organisations in the employment of young people, but marks them out as an employer of choice.  I envisage that many more organisations in the North East of Scotland will wish to follow in the footsteps of Aberdeen Sports Village and demonstrate their commitment to young people by working with the Investors in Young People framework.” 

He continued:

“The benefits of recruiting and developing young people are countless. These include the creation of a talent pool for the future, new and increased skills in areas such as IT and social media, fresh eyes and mind-sets into business operations along with enthusiasm and unique talents.”

Aberdeen Sports Village opened in August 2009 to provide world class sport and exercise opportunities to everyone in the community. These opportunities were further enhanced with the opening of a state of the art Aquatics Centre in May 2014. The organisation recently defended its ‘Scottish Gym of the Year’ title at the 2014 National Fitness Awards.

Oct 032014

Ronnie WattWith thanks to Charlie Abel.

Aberdeen’s famous Karate Instructor Ronnie Watt will be looking for a bigger  cabinet to display his medals after receiving yet another award, this time from the Slovakian government for ‘promotion of understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and regions’

The commemorative medal of Trnava Self-governing region (TSGR) was awarded to Ronnie on the 5th of September by the TSGR president Tibor Mikus. The award has an important place in the chivalry of the TSGR.

Jurai Staffa, the assistant to the President commented:

“It only belongs to those whose contributions to society and human values are extraordinary. It is not only awarded to residents of the region but to other outstanding personalities from other parts of the world. Its prestige and moral credit are unquestionable.

The president of the TSGR in Slovakia ( Tibor Mikos) has added

“TSGR is proud that the medal is in good hands in your case.”

Ronnie first met with President Mikos through Karate back in 2001 when Aberdeen was host to the WKC World Karate Championships at AECC, where thousands of competitors from all over the world came to compete. The competition which had been organised by Ronnie and his team in Aberdeen was praised as a huge success by the WKC who said that it was one of the best competitions they had ever attended and that the hospitality of Aberdonians was second to none.

President Mikos is a keen Karate man himself, and at 8th Dan is greatly respected throughout the Karate world as a former champion fighter and member of the WKC board. He had attended the Championships and was so impressed that he invited Ronnie to Slovakia to train his students.

Ronnie has now made several trips to Slovakia to help with teaching Karate alongside President Mikos, and Jurai Staffa, (a former treasurer and secretary to the WKC, assistant to president Mikos and author.)

This September Ronnie flew to Germany and travelled to Slovakia  with the President of the WKC and good friend Dr. Fritz Wendland from Germany where a surprise ceremony was organised during a 2000 mile European road trip on Dr. Fritz’s World War 2 motorcycle and side car.  The pair had been talking about the road trip for years and Ronnie knew nothing about the award that was in store for him during the journey.

Ronnie has previously received recognition from the Emperor of Japan for his life’s work in karate with an ‘order of the rising sun’  an award seldom given to people outside Japan. This followed recently an OBE from her majesty the Queen and previously Ronnie has been recognised by Aberdeen City Council as their ‘Sports Personality of the Year’ on more than one occasion.

Now aged 67 years young,  8th Dan Black Belt Ronnie Watt still trains karate every day and teaches adults and children the traditional Shotokan karate discipline which has helped shape the karate that Aberdeen is becoming famous for in the karate world. Ronnie has helped tens of thousands of people progress through karate, and some of his students have gone on to win many competition medals including gold in world karate championships.

Anyone wishing to learn Karate please visit

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Jun 132014

By Bob Smith.obesity-tax-for-kids cut

A loon is noo wy’in in
15 steen is his wecht
At the age o eleeven
Wi obesity is haen a fecht
Some fowk they are ca’en fer
Ma an Da ti be teen in han
Chairged wi child neglect
An as parents shud be banned
Noo ere’s na doot ava
His wecht is ower the tap
Bit is it the loon’s fowks
Fa shud be takkin the rap?
Did they neglect ti tell him
Faist food cwid be ti blame?
Or did they pile his plate
Fan the loon he aet at hame?
Bit chairgin ‘em wi neglect
Aat’s takkin things ower far
Jist supply him wi a bicycle
Ban him fae usin bus an car
Noo a hiv ma ain theory
Aboot foo the loon’s aat size
Maybe ower muckle burgers
Tapp’t aff wi some French fries
It cwid o coorse aa bi doon
Ti a faulty faimily gene
Far the loon he his a likin
Fer jam tarts an clottit cream
A hope fer the laddie’s sake
He manages ti lose wecht
An his parents dinna hiv ti
Tak on lawyers in a fecht
The nanny state is on the mairch
Fit next wull they rail agin?
Maybe fat fowk ha’en sex
Cos they’re causin an affa din?
We cwid maybe aa bi dee’in
Wi losin poonds roon the middle
If mannies canna see their willie
Fin they gyaang ti hae a piddle

© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2014
Photo: Christian Cable/Creative Commons
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Mar 142014

Aberdeen City’s Bon Accord Baths are a beautiful, Listed B, historic bath house which the entire community enjoyed before their closure in 2009. After the Carpe Diem Trust abandoned their plans to run Bon Accord Baths, a group of citizens from all walks of life and political views are banding together. They want the baths to open, whether run by the city or a social enterprise. It is time to run the baths, Phoebe Copeland writes.

Bon Accord baths by Geoff Croll  (4)

Bon Accord baths photographed by Geoff Croll 2012

The campaign to save the Art Deco Bon Accord Baths is picking up steam. Barely one week old, and a Facebook Page ‘Save The Bon Accord Baths’ has reached 10,000 members.

The social benefits of re-opening the baths cannot be denied; this bath was used by children, older citizens, and people with special needs.

If we wish to encourage people to engage with swimming, witness the new Olympic pool, there must be a suitable place for fledgling swimmers and those who might be more inclined to exercise if they could also socialise with friends.

The baths could play a part in alleviating stress; the therapeutic benefits of baths, spas and swimming are undisputed.

A petition is under one week old to save the baths, started by Craig Adams, local businessman and owner of the Moorings Bar. The count is going up swiftly as signatures hit over 2000 in less than one week. The petition can be found here:

There is a draft statement on the fledgling Facebook page; this is the text:-

For Bon Accord Baths to be reinstated to working condition and reopened to the public. We’d prefer the baths to be run as a public amenity, but would consider partnership with a charitable trust. We’d like them properly maintained. We’d like the pool to be of a similar temperature to other leisure pools.

By Bon Accord Baths, we refer to all the facilities historically on offer, including but not limited to the:

Swimming pool

Spectator seating


Turkish baths / saunas



We believe that Bon Accord Baths can be operated as a viable public amenity. Operating costs would be adequately covered by the following revenue streams:

Pay per use admissions

Block admissions

Season tickets

Corporate sponsorship in exchange for employee access benefit

Cafe, potentially leasing the cafe to a third party operator

Shop for sale of apparel and equipment

Ancillary revenue from vending/gaming machine,s etc

Bon Accord baths by Geoff Croll  (2)

Bon Accord baths photographed by Geoff Croll 2012

So can these baths make enough profit to stay open? Other cities are doing it. London’s beautiful Porchester Baths are making a healthy business out of keeping people healthy.

The town of Bath spent a huge amount of money on a new, state-of-the-art public bath and spa, and it is attracting tourists from around the world as well as offering local people an excellent service.

No one is proposing a grand redevelopment, just a concerted effort to stop the baths being sold, and to have them open again. Many residents are concerned that built heritage is being lost, witness the redevelopment of the Capital Theatre. Surely this is one issue that everyone can agree on?

Much has been made of ways to revivify the city centre: surely this is one of the best ways to re-establish an affordable, necessary amenity, create employment, and give people a reason to linger in the city centre. Let’s not allow Bon Accord to go down the plughole.

What to do:

Sign the petition.
Join the discussion on Facebook
Send any memories or photographs to the campaign via the Facebook page
Contact your local representatives –  find them here.

Aberdeen Voice is grateful to photographer Geoff Croll for kind permission to reproduce his work.

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