Mar 242017

On March 12th, in California, a Trump Golf course was vandalised by protesters. By contrast, in this very British protest, the important issues were discussed over a cup of tea!

Dr Jo House, University of Bristol with Ms Yashinee Aulum, TIGLS.

With thanks to Martin Ford.

On Saturday 18th March, climate scientists travelled to Trump International Golf Links, Scotland (TIGLS) to present a copy of The Ladybird Expert Guide to Climate Change, authored by HRH The Prince of Wales, and a statement on the importance of science and evidence in climate change policy making issued earlier this week by the Royal Meteorological Society.

The climate scientists wanted to highlight concerns that recent rhetoric and decisions from the Trump administration are contrary to the overwhelming evidence base on climate change and how it needs to be addressed.

Unexpectedly, they were offered the opportunity to discuss their concerns over a cup of tea!

The Head of Hospitality and Guest Services for TIGLS, Ms Yashinee Aulum, was pleased to receive the presentation. TIGLS is a business greatly affected by day-to-day weather, and one potentially at risk from future climate change.

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The visit to TIGLS followed a public science meeting at the University of Aberdeen entitled ‘Science and climate change in an alternative facts world’ which was held as part of British Science Week. The meeting was chaired by Prof Jo Smith (University of Aberdeen), and talks were given by:

Prof Piers Forster, University of Leeds,
Prof Terry Dawson, Kings College London,
Prof Pete Smith, University of Aberdeen,
Dr Jo House, University of Bristol,
Cllr Dr Martin Ford, Aberdeenshire Councillor.

Before the meeting, Prof Pete Smith, University of Aberdeen, who has served as Convening Lead Author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said:

“Climate change, and the way to deal with it, has been accepted by 196 countries at the Paris Climate Agreement, but Mr Trump has appointed a climate denier as the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and has previously pledged to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The fact is, we need the US to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the ambitious targets set out in the agreement.

“We all share the same atmosphere, so misguided actions in the US will not only affect Americans, it will affect everyone on the planet. We cannot allow decisions based upon ideology to replace those based on scientific evidence – and that is why we are holding this meeting today, during British Science Week – to urge Mr Trump’s administration to take the advice of its own climate scientists, and stick to US commitments under the Paris Agreement.

“The US will benefit from this. Failing to act when you don’t have the evidence is in some cases understandable – but failing to act when you are in full possession of the facts, which amounts to wilful ignorance, is inexcusable, and will cause great damage to the world we leave for our children and grand-children.”

Prof Piers Forster, Director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate, University of Leeds said:

“The US is a democracy that I am not part of so they are entitled to pass what ever crazy laws they want. If they want to burn more coal it upsets me but it is ultimately not my call.  However, I worry when their policies threaten science.

“The US administration are really contradicting themselves, saying there is not enough evidence that carbon dioxide causes global warming, then promptly threatening to cut agencies that collect the evidence. Scientists around the world depend on NASA and NOAA satellites and on the efforts of many US colleagues. More than ever we should be basing decisions on evidence rather than ideologies, and I hope the US administration wakes up and realises this.”

Prof Jo Smith, University of Aberdeen added:

“The lives of people in low income countries are already challenged by extreme weather events; climate change will make this worse. We can’t gamble with their lives. Climate change will mean more droughts and floods, and more people will die. The science is clear, so climate policies must be based on this evidence.”

Prof Terry Dawson, Chair in Global Environmental Change, Department of Geography, King’s College London commented:

“This year, the United Nations predicts the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II with several East African Countries being severely affected by drought. The lack of rain has contributed to massive livestock deaths, food and water shortages, acute malnutrition and widespread famine.

“Future climate change is expected to increase the magnitude and frequency of extreme climate events, such as droughts or floods and it is the poorest people in society that are most vulnerable to its negative effects.

“Climate change is a serious risk to poverty reduction and we, as scientists, feel a moral imperative to urge our political leaders act now – inaction or delay is inexcusable.”

Dr Jo House, Cabot Institute, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol said:

“The Trump administration is choosing to ignore or deny the overwhelming scientific consensus on dangers of climate change to people’s health and well-being already, as well as in the future, and the urgency of putting in place long-term plans.

“We are affected in the UK by America’s emissions, but I have no voice there. Sadly similar denial or lack of action is taking place in our own country from a small number of newspapers, businesses and politicians.  UK governments since Margaret Thatcher have been at the forefront of climate action, as they, like the 196 governments who just signed the Paris Agreement, listened to the evidence and understood its importance.

“Climate change has recently slipped down the agenda of the Government. Many countries, states, and businesses have managed to slow or reduce their emissions while still increasing profitability. I am taking part in this meeting to stand up for evidence and for action, not just in America, but here at home.”

Aberdeenshire councillor Martin Ford said:

“Mr Trump is an environmental disaster. We knew that from his actions in Aberdeenshire over the last ten years, but now he can take decisions with global consequences. Mr Trump’s denial of climate change science will make progress with tackling the biggest threat facing the world immensely more difficult.”

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Mar 172017

Aberdeen Climate Week events will include talks, debates, walks, films and exhibits.

With thanks to Erik Dalhuijsen.

Aberdeen Climate Action will be asking us all to make a change for climate change during this year’s Climate Week North East.
The 3rd Climate Week will be taking place from the 18th-25th March and promises to be bigger than ever, featuring lots of fun and thought-provoking events across Aberdeen City and Shire.

With events ranging from panel discussions, rangers walks & bike rides, children’s storytelling, tours of the Donside Community Hydro, films, talks and exhibits, zero waste cafes and much, much more, Climate Week North East is designed to showcase the inspiring action happening here in the North East and elsewhere, demonstrate what each of us can do to help, and inform along the way.

One highlight of the week will be a showcase of the community initiatives taking place around the North East at the Central Library on Wednesday 22nd March at 6.30pm.

The events come at a key time for Aberdeen following the downturn in the oil and gas industry when residents are looking for new jobs in new industries and calling for a more diversified economy within the North East. It is also set against a backdrop of increased need for action on climate change.

Alison Stuart of Aberdeen Climate Action said:

“The effects of climate change such as extreme weather conditions affect us all, last winter saw terrible flooding in parts of Aberdeenshire which left us with a bill well over £1.3 billion.

“All of us can do something individually to help reduce climate change, reducing the amount of waste we produce, recycling what we can, eating more local produce and walking, cycling or taking the bus instead of a car. But together we can do so much more, whether acting with our communities or bringing up climate change with our politicians to get support for the big changes needed.

“We have some excellent events on including a discussion panel with Professor Pete Smith of the IPCC and Aberdeen University and other prominent scientists as well as a host of events across Aberdeen City and Shire making this the best Climate Week in Aberdeen yet. 

“This is a great opportunity for anyone who would simply like to know a little more or for those that really want to get more deeply involved. Aberdeen is at a crossroads and I hope that this event can help to spark real change and help people to see the value of greater diversification within the local economy to more towards a sustainable and stable green economy.”

Erik Dalhuijsen of Aberdeen Climate Action said:

“Climate Change has massive impact on Aberdeen, its people and the world at large. The oil economy will end, agriculture and society will see increasing cost and challenges from flooding, worldwide access to fresh water will reduce, diseases spread. It is absolutely worth doing our utmost to prevent escalation of Climate Change.

“Aberdeen, city and shire, are well placed to be a part of the solution. Our week of events looks at many aspects of climate change with talks, debates, walks, films and exhibits to get people thinking and inspire them to take action. It especially focuses on local input, highlighting what is being done here and elsewhere driven by locals, showing what people, business and governments can do to reduce emissions, improve green transport, and make our entire society more pleasant, healthy and future proof.”

Full list of events here:

More on Aberdeen Climate Action here:

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Jul 142016

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

Ballater BridgeAn updated guide will help steer walkers on course to the best of Ballater’s walks. A revised Ballater Paths leaflet maps out a selection of great walks in the area of differing lengths and challenges.

The popular resource has been refreshed after a number of popular pathways were damaged by the floods of late last year.

While some routes have been repaired and restored and are fully accessible, there are a couple that have been removed from the leaflet.

Richard Watts, of Ballater Business Association, says that bringing out a new version of the paths leaflet will help both local people and visitors alike make the most of the area – with the added benefit of showing that Ballater is very much on the mend after the flooding.

“Ballater has great walks right on its doorstep and there’s no doubt that access to the outdoors and to walks and other outdoor activities are among our area’s greatest strengths,” Mr Watts says.

“Through the publication of this new leaflet it shows people how easy it is to access our great walking routes and helps demonstrate that the Ballater area is on the mend and getting over the impact of the flooding caused by Storm Frank.”

The full colour leaflet outlines five routes of varying length, all starting and finishing in Ballater and boasting fine views, an abundance of wildlife and taking in local history too.

They include the 3.2km Craigendarroch Circular with the option of climbing to the summit to enjoy panoramic views towards the Cairngorm mountains including Lochnagar, or the 8km Deeside Way which follows the old Deeside railway line from Ballater towards Cambus o’May.

Each colour-coded route is shown on the map and there are corresponding coloured waymarkers along each route to guide walkers. The leaflet includes a route description to show its length, terrain and level of difficulty.

The revised edition has been produced by the Cairngorm Outdoor Access Trust (COAT), the environmental charity working to promote sustainable public access in the region.

Adam Streeter-Smith Cairngorm National Park Authority Outdoor Access Officer says:

“Ballater has always been blessed with fantastic walks and makes a great base for venturing further afield to explore the Cairngorms National Park.

“The revised Ballater Path Leaflet highlights some of the best local walks taking in great views fascinating local history and wildlife to boot. You can pick up your copy at the Visitor Information Centre in Station Square.”

The free leaflet is available from Ballater Visitor Information Centre located at Albert Memorial Hall, Station Square.

The leaflet is also available at

For more details about discovering the region, visit the Active Cairngorms Facebook page or twitter @CNPActive

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Jul 082016

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

DDS exterior1Businesses in Ballater have been buoyed by a feeling of optimism after seeing the reopening of a number of premises which were hit by floods in December last year.

A number of shops and offices in the Bridge Street area are back in action again which is helping to restore the feel-good factor in the centre of the village.

That’s the view of Richard Watts, chairman of Ballater Business Association, who comments:

“The way in which Ballater picked itself up to move forward after the serious and devastating consequences of Storm Frank has been quite remarkable.

“People have shown reliance, grit and determination to move forward. This can-do attitude has been inspiring.

“What’s been particularly worthy of mention has been the strong pulling together of the local community. That sense of support has been very evident and I am sure it will remain as the village continues to repair and heal from the worst floods in living memory.

“The message we want to highlight now is that Ballater is very much back in business – come and see for yourself!”

The sense of support and co-operation can be illustrated by two hair salons working together after the flooding forced the closure of one of the premises. After its Bridge Street salon was flooded, D’Tangled moved in to join the Hair Loft at Netherley Place. The arrangement worked so well that the temporary set up has been made permanent and both businesses will continue to trade under the one roof.

The former salon has now been converted into Deeside Design Studio (pictured), with Ian Rodger Architects in Aberdeen opening its first regional branch in Ballater. Joining associate Sarah Russell in operating from the office is quantity surveyor David Cobban who works for McCue and Porter in Aberdeen.

When Laurie & Co reopened its refurbished Ballater solicitor’s office, it expanded its workforce, welcoming a new associate solicitor to its team.

Messages of support received from all over the world were a real source of encouragement to Neil and Davinia Massie after Rock Salt and Snails in Ballater suffered extensive flood damage. The popular café is back in action and is looking forward to a busy summer season, welcoming back locals and visitors alike.

Fellow café owner Karen Gerrie of Brown Sugar Café has also been able to reopen her business, improving access for disabled customers during the refit.

Ballater Golf Course was back on course just three months after Storm Frank caused substantial damage when thanks to the help of volunteers, members of staff and employees of an oil company, the full 18 holes were reopened.

Months of hard work saw the Ballater Caravan Park official relaunched with the touring site substantially upgraded, including an upgraded toilet block and new play park.

Mr Watts says there are lots of good examples of how progress has been made, and believes that the business association can continue to benefit from the collaborative working seen since the floods.

He adds:

“As a business association, we hope to harness this spirit, using it to continue communication between local businesses, in the exchanging ideas to promote business in the area, and in considering local issues that concern the entire community.”

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Jun 302016

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

Glen Lui SMALL

Glen Lui Hotel in Ballater

Ballater’s back on the map – that’s the bold statement from accommodation providers in the Deeside village as the area continues to bounce back from flooding and rolls out the welcome mat to summer visitors.

Ballater’s hospitality trade is in positive mood as they welcome the return of seasonal visitors choosing the village as their holiday base.

In the past couple of months, the Glen Lui Hotel has welcomed parties of fishermen, golfers and an American shooting party – and staff look forward to seeing yet more visitors to Ballater, attracted by its great range of outdoor activities, while being within easy reach of Aberdeen and the city’s attractions.

Susan Bell of the family-run hotel which has 17 rooms says:

“The village is coming to life again and I think there is a feeling of anticipation as everything is getting busier.

“Shops are looking better and there’s only a few yet to reopen. We’re looking forward to Ballater Victoria Week, Ballater Games and Etape Royale and then our big winter festival which will feature an ice rink and reindeer and these will all result in a lot of activity in the area.

“There are people milling around at the monthly farmers markets too. Ballater has suffered its setbacks with the floods and the fire at the Victoria  Station but now everyone wants to push Ballater as much as possible.

“I think everyone is pulling together and looking forward to all that’s ahead.”

Deeside, with its natural beauty and its close connections to the Royal family who arrive at Balmoral Castle for their annual break in August, has long been a favoured destination with visitors.

Alan McCorquodale of the Alexandra Hotel says that Ballater makes a great base for exploring the wider area.

“There are rays of hope all around the village as businesses are refurbished and reopening and community events that will help draw visitors to the area are being planned.

“Great progress has been made and there’s a real push on now to show that Ballater is moving forwards in the right direction.

“In a relatively short time, Ballater has come a long way in overcoming the challenges and hurdles that Storm Frank brought in its wake.

“Six months on and it’s a completely different picture from the images of the flood-ravaged village that filled the newspapers and were broadcast on television news.”

Richard Watts, chairman of Ballater Business Association said that the village is fortunate to boast a great range of bed and breakfast establishments, caravan park open for tourers and campers, guest houses and hotels and that all are well prepared for the school holidays and visitor market.

“We’d encourage visitors from near and far to come and enjoy a break in Ballater and experience for themselves excellent hospitality at our great range or accommodation providers. It’s easy to find them at

“Our village has a huge amount of vibrancy and vitality, and we’d encourage visitors, be they day trippers or holiday makers looking for a longer stay, to come and see all that Ballater and the surrounding area has to offer.”

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Jun 302016

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

BVW Panto Horse TrialsResidents of a Deeside community are being called on to have sandbags at the ready – for a fun stunt designed to put a smile on faces as it prepares for its annual summer extravaganza.

Hundreds of sandbags were filled and put to use to try and defend Ballater from Storm Frank and the deluge it brought to the Deeside area in December last year.

Now with the floods firmly behind them, organisers of Ballater Victoria Week have come up with a tongue-in-cheek competition which they hope will raise a few smiles.

They are appealing to villagers to decorate leftover sandbags and share photos of their creations on social media.

As well as injecting a bit of humour, the novel competition points to how the community has galvanised and moved on following the flooding. The most liked picture on Facebook will be judged winner of best decorated sandbag – earning its owner £50.

“Just for fun we are inviting people to decorate a sandbag,” said Ade Scipps of the Ballater Victoria Week committee.

“There’s bound to be a few spare ones knocking around and they could be turned into a favourite character, use it to plant flowers, or whatever people like. We just want to cheer the village up and give people something to chuckle about as they go about their day. It’s a smaller scale creative competition which complements our scarecrow trail, which sees a weird and wonderful array of life-size scarecrows popping up in locations around Ballater.”

Ballater Victoria Week takes place from August 5-14 with its biggest programme to date.

As well as established favourites, like the vehicle parade and Sunday fayre, duck race, scarecrow trail, pantomime horse trials, ghost tours, films, quizzes, sports and music there are a few new events are in the offing too, like a Rio 2016 Onesie Party when villagers are encouraged to get into party mode by gathering together to watch the opening ceremony on a big screen in the V&A Halls and the ‘Weel Kirkit’ heritage walks led by a professional story teller.

Over the years Victoria Week has raised thousands of pounds for local causes and continually seeks to renew and refresh itself by reflecting current trends and initiatives.

It offers another chance for the community of Ballater to celebrate and enjoy some fun after the floods gave the area the most challenging start to the year.

DSCN2916With its close connections to Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family’s summer home, Ballater pulled out all the stops to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday earlier in June when hundreds of people of all aged gathered for the Happy Birthday Ma’am street party.

Organisers of Ballater Victoria Week hope to see the same show of community spirit with another well-earned opportunity for villagers to have fun and let their hair down. The annual party week has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 1987 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession, raising thousands of pounds for local charities along the way.

Among the highlights of the 10 day extravaganza is Ballater Highland Games which takes place on Thursday, August 11 and includes sports, hill race, Highland dancing and much more.

With Ballater Victoria Week enjoyed by both local residents and visitors alike, Richard Watts, chair of the Ballater Business Association is pleased to see it develop and grow in 2016.

“The resilience and determination to get over the floods has been quite remarkable and everyone is keen to get over the message that Ballater is back on its feet and is very much open for business,” says Mr Watts.

“Organisers of Ballater Victoria Week work really hard to put together an action-packed programme with events to appeal to people of all ages. Locals and visitors alike will be welcome to join in the fun and there will be plenty of cheer and chuckles along the way.”

Balmoral Castle remains a favourite summer retreat for the Royal Family, and Ballater is often referred to as the ‘Royal Warrant Town’, due to the large number of businesses that hold the prestigious mark of recognition to those who supply goods or services to the Households of HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales.

For more information about Ballater Victoria Week visit the website

BVA is also active on social media at

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Jun 172016
DDS exterior1

Deeside Design Studio has opened in Ballater after the flooding provided the opportunity of office space in the centre of the village.

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

The flooding of Ballater provided an unexpected opportunity for an Aberdeen architectural practice to open its first regional branch.

Last December’s floods served as a catalyst for Ian Rodger Architects to act on plans to set up a Ballater office and press ahead with investing in the area.

When an ideal site in the heart of the village became available, the business took action and it has now opened an office to serve clients in the Deeside area.

Its new premises at 28 Bridge Street, which were damaged during the flooding, have undergone complete refurbishment and Deeside Design Studio opened last week.

It is staffed by Ian Rodger Architects’ associate Sarah Russell who lives in the village, and who previously commuted daily to the Aberdeen practice. It’s also being used by quantity surveyor David Cobban who lives in Ballater and works for McCue and Porter in Aberdeen.

Ian Rodger, owner of Ian Rodger Architects has praised the local community for the warm welcome villagers have shown and looks forward to seeing the Deeside office develop and grow.

Ian says:

“Ballater is a lovely place and local people have been very positive and helpful during the refurbishment works and now that the office is open. It’s early days and the new office has strong links to our Aberdeen practice, but it is our hope to see it develop and grow over time.

“It was always part of our plan to open an office in Ballater. When this premises came up we were able to work with the previous occupant –  who relocated due to the flooding – to have the lease reassigned, and a change of use granted.

“We have  spent considerable time and money to have the property repaired and enhanced, recognising how important it is to Ballater that Bridge Street gets back into working order as soon as possible.

“We wish to extend the invitation for anyone affected by the flooding and requiring any building advice to drop into our office at any time.  More than that, we have good experience in all types of building projects, and are happy to take on any scale of project in Deeside.

“It’s noticeable that there is a strong community spirit in Ballater, and we look forward to expanding our Deeside workload as part of its business community.

“Our associate, Sarah Russell, is a local of Ballater and lost her flat during the flooding. Sarah is especially keen to help the village recover and becoming closely involved in the local business community.”

To build links with the community, Deeside Design Studio has sponsored the Highland dancing competition at Ballater Highland Games in August and will be joining Ballater Business Association.

The previous occupant of 28 Bridge Street was hairdressing salon D’Tangled, which is now sharing premises with The Hair Loft.

Richard Watts, chairman of Ballater Business Association, says that attracting new business investment in Ballater is a real positive step and another sign of optimism.

“We welcome the opening of Deeside Design Studio and look forward to the firm becoming a valued part of our business community. I am sure it will gain benefits from being part of our forum and the opportunities this provides through promoting communication between local businesses and the exchanging of ideas.

“It’s heartening to hear of the warm welcome that local folk have already shown to this new business and it’s another indication of Ballater getting back on its feet.”

Jun 102016

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

Laurie and coAn Aberdeenshire solicitor’s office affected by flooding is set to reopen next week and has expanded its workforce in the process.
The Ballater branch of Laurie & Co was badly hit by floods in the aftermath of Storm Frank last December, but the newly renovated office is on track to open next week, with only the carpets and furniture left to be fitted.

Laurie & Co has used the opportunity to welcome a new associate solicitor to its team at the Ballater office, expanding its workforce to three full-time and one part-time member of staff.

The recent repair work on the office has also allowed the firm to create an additional office for its new member of staff.

The Aberdeen-based solicitors first opened a branch in Ballater five years ago, after taking over from Gray and Kellas. Since then, the Bridge Street office has built up a strong client base in the village by offering a wide range of legal advice and services. The team has been operating out of its Aberdeen headquarters for the past five months and regularly stay in touch with clients via phone calls and emails.

Directly after the floods, Alan Nicoll, a partner at Laurie & Co, held workshops providing legal advice for residents who were facing difficulties claiming insurance. Laurie & Co also provided insurance information for those affected by the floods on its website. The webpage is still active and offers practical advice and a step-by-step guide on what to do after you’ve been affected by flooding in regards to insurance.

Speaking about the insurance workshops, Alan says,

“The floods were obviously a really distressing time for everyone involved, but the outpouring of support from all over really helped to lift everyone’s spirits. All of us at Laurie & Co wanted to do something to help. I’d heard that some people were struggling with their insurance claims, so that’s when I decided I was going to give residents advice on how to handle their insurance issues.

“Most people didn’t know where to start when it came to insurance, which is understandable as it would’ve been the last thing on everyone’s minds. It was a good feeling to be able to help out by offering legal advice, Ballater residents had been through enough without having to worry about their insurance not paying out. My colleagues also helped out by compiling the advice page on the Laurie & Co website, which people are still using to this day.

“The support the village received was absolutely incredible and it certainly helped get us all back on our feet. I’m so proud that the office is reopening next week, alongside a few of our neighbours. The entire community has achieved so much this year and hopefully Ballater will come back stronger than ever.”

The firm’s staff are now looking forward to seeing their new office and getting back to work in Ballater. Since the beginning of the year, the village has gone from strength to strength and Laurie & Co is one in a long line of businesses which are due to reopen this month or have already reopened.

Richard Watts, of Ballater Business Association, says,

“I am thrilled to hear that Laurie & Co is going to be reopening next week. The expansion of both its workforce and office shows that the firm is looking towards the future.

“It’s great that so many local businesses are taking the opportunity to make improvements which will provide a better experience for staff, visitors and clients. This is another extremely positive step for Ballater and also marks the start of a new beginning for the village.”

Jun 022016

90th-party2With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

A band of volunteers from the village of Ballater have organised a Royal knees up in the form of the ‘Happy Birthday Ma’am’ street party to celebrate the monarch’s milestone birthday on Saturday, June 11.

Being located in the heart of Royal Deeside, organisers will use the Queen’s 90th birthday to continue to build up the community spirit which has been evident in the village since it was affected by flooding last December.

Balmoral Castle remains a favourite summer retreat for the Royal Family, and Ballater is often referred to as the ‘Royal Warrant Town’, due to the large number of businesses that hold the prestigious mark of recognition to those who supply goods or services to the Households of HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales.

Many of these businesses have already reopened or are on track to reopen in the summer, and the ‘Happy Birthday Ma’am’ street party is one in a number of events planned to welcome tourists back to the picturesque village.

Both visitors and residents are invited to join in with the celebrations which will see the whole community come together. The free event takes place from 2-11pm on Saturday 11 June at the Churchyard Green in Ballater and will feature live music, a bouncy castle, old-fashioned games, and family karaoke. Funds raised from donations made on the day will go towards those affected by flooding.

In honour of the momentous occasion, Ballater resident Lorraine Barr is encouraging people to sponsor a tree in what will be known as ‘The Queen’s Ballater Wood’. Lorraine and those involved wish to leave a legacy which will remind others of the spirit of community in Ballater. The wooded area will feature 90 trees of different varieties known to be favourites of Her Majesty The Queen.

Rev David Barr, who is helping to organise the Queen’s birthday street party, says that the event is giving those affected by floods something positive to focus on.

He says,

“All of the volunteers involved in the planning of the street party were affected by the floods in some way. We all really wanted to give something back to the community which allowed everyone to get together and celebrate what a fantastic place Ballater is. Visitors are more than welcome to join in the celebrations with us on the day, we’re all keen to show people how far we’ve come as a village and that Ballater is on its way back to its full glory.

“The Royal family took a great interest in Ballater after the flooding and we received daily encouragement through telephone calls from the palace. It meant a great deal to us all, so the street party is our way of saying thank you to the Queen and also to everyone who reached out to us with messages of support, help and donations.

“The support has been absolutely phenomenal and for that we are forever grateful. From individuals to companies, we wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for the general public.

“The whole situation has definitely brought us all closer together, we’re such a tight knit community and everyone is helping to spread the word that Ballater is still open for business. It’s such a great place to visit, I’m very much looking forward to celebrating with other residents and visitors from far and wide on June 11.”

Richard Watts of Ballater Business Association says,

“There’s been a real buzz in the village in the run up to the Queen’s birthday street party. Local businesses have been getting involved by donating goods and money towards the event, whilst all the volunteers involved have done a brilliant job at organising the ‘Happy Birthday Ma’am’ street party.

 “It’s so inspiring to see how far Ballater has come as a village and as a community. This will be very apparent during the street party and we hope that visitors join us in celebrating in the Queen’s birthday and how far Ballater has come in 2016.”

The ‘Happy Birthday Ma’am’ street party takes place from 2-11pm at the Churchyard Green in Ballater. Those attending are encouraged to bring their own picnic.

For more information about the street party then contact Rev. David Barr on If you would like to know more about how to sponsor a tree in ‘The Queen’s Ballater Wood’ then contact Lorraine Barr on 01339 756111.

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May 132016

With thanks to Gemma Setter, Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Brown Sugar Cafe - courtyardA business owner who was forced to close her Ballater café after it was affected by flooding has taken the opportunity to improve access for disabled customers during its refit.

Karen Gerrie, owner of the Brown Sugar Café, is working alongside builders to install features that will make it easier for all to access the popular Bridge Street café.

It’s a case of turning a negative into a positive, and ensuring that when the flood- hit premises makes its comeback in June, it’s even better than before, with a new disabled toilet and level flooring throughout.

Despite the café undergoing a major refit, it will retain many of its familiar features which will be revealed when the premises make their comeback in mid-June.

Brown Sugar Café first opened in 2009 and was taken over by Karen in July 2011, since then it’s become a well-known hangout for residents and tourists, best known for its homemade sandwiches, soups and homebakes as well as its cosy atmosphere.

Karen stresses that her café and the wider village of Ballater have not been beaten by the floods and that there is lots of positive action to show the area is still open for business.

Brown Sugar Café will have two stalls at the Aboyne Rotary Duck Festival on Sunday May 22 when they will be selling gifts and traybakes – including their much-loved millionaire’s shortbread – to remind the public about what they do best.

After overcoming the initial shock of having to temporarily close her business, Karen focused her energy on getting the café back up and running and she admits to being overwhelmed by the  offers of help that came in from both locals and visitors.

Karen says,

“The support we received from far and wide meant a great deal to us, as it was a very dispiriting time. The staff and I all decided that we weren’t going to give in easily, as you can sit around and cry or you can pick yourself up and get on with it. We chose to get stuck in with the work, and that really kept us going.

“Since then, we’ve come a very long way and I’m just so thankful to everyone who has got in touch to let us know that we’re in their thoughts. It’s been so exciting watching all the refurbishments going on throughout Ballater and knowing that we’re another business on its way to reopening.

“There has been a real silver lining to the floods in the sense that the community has really come together. The Business Association has been great at providing information to all the businesses’ involved and there has been lots of positive communication between everyone. There’s a real community feel to it all, it’s such a great feeling to see everyone get back on track.”

Brown Sugar Café is one of a number of Ballater businesses which will be back in business for the summer. This is extremely positive news to the area, as the aftermath flooding of Storm Frank meant that many homes and businesses had to be evacuated back in December.

Richard Watts of Ballater Business Association says,

“To see another business on track to reopen in the next month is such a boost for the whole of Ballater. Everyone has worked extremely hard to ensure that the village remains open for residents, as well as the many tourists which visit throughout the year.

“We’re really pleased that Brown Sugar Café will be back up and running again very soon, and it’s fantastic that improvements are being made that will make the café more wheelchair friendly.”


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