Jan 302015
 

Suzanne Kelly aka Old Susannah gets to grips with Grampian’s great and good, and with St Valentine’s Day just around the corner, her soft and sympathetic side is coming to the fore. Or maybe not. Can’t you just feel the love?

DictionaryWell, it’s official now: Aberdeen City and Shire ARE ON THE MAP! This is for several reasons. It’s not because we’re home to BrewDog, the UK’s fastest-growing drinks company (and arguably the most fun drinks company anywhere). It’s not even because we might set the tone and build a granite web (keep dreaming Messrs Wood, Smith and Crosby, you never know).

We got on the map mainly because Donald Trump came to our humble backwater. But the latest developments are even more exciting than that! Alex Salmond is writing a column for the Press & Journal AND famous people came here the other weekend! Result!

As to this new column, it’s riveting stuff. Did you know he loved his mum? He’s written a column about it.

It’s in no way reminiscent of when an X Factor contestant seeks sympathy with a sad story before singing badly. He’s also sharing a few likes and dislikes. I’m sure the honourable member will one of these days come and visit the people in his constituency at the Menie Estate – it’s just a matter of priorities.

Columns don’t write themselves you know; it’s hard work for a budding writer on his own to make it in the journalism world. It’s awfully good of the P&J to give this novice a break; I wonder if it was just the goodness of the collective Aberdeen Journals Ltd’s hearts – or if there were any other factors involved in signing young Alex up to pen his thoughts? I wonder.

But that’s only the half the reason we’re on the world’s radar now: did you know someone from Oasis and a fashion model actually came to Aberdeenshire for a party?

Well, if not, where have you been? It’s the story everyone’s talking about (well, after fracking, Muse at Marischal College, pollution and other boring subjects). Apparently someone threw a party and… people came up north from down south. To hear Aberdeen Journals tell it it’s the best thing since bunting:

“Kate Moss and Nick Grimshaw party in Craigellachie… That’s right, you read it correctly!”

Yes, that’s right: you DID read it correctly! Well done! I hope you’ve not fainted with the excitement of this revelation if you’re only reading it here for the first time. Apologies. (And if one of you could be so kind as to send me a message and let me know who Nick Grimshaw is and what he does, thanks in advance).

Watch and download the Craigellachie video here, for your and your grand children’s future viewing pleasure:

Anyway, moving on…It’s not Valentine’s day just yet; but as the supermarkets are already piling the Easter eggs on the shelves, there’s no time to lose. Tally ho!

Perhaps love and romance deserve a few definitions at time of year. A cynic might think that St Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a marketing ploy. Let’s look to our betters and see if we can learn anything about affection, admiration, and maybe even love.

To Reconcile: (English verb) Renew a friendship or a love; to recover lost affection and love.

There is one power couple that I hope will soon reconcile. These are two people, meant for each other, sharing the same loves, dreams and ambitions. It would be a huge loss if they can’t rekindle what they once had. So Alex Salmond, in case you missed it: Donald Trump ‘Still Likes and Respects You.’ Or so says the Press & Journal – and if ever The Donald will be quoted accurately, rest assured it will be in the paper his Scottish Vice President’s husband edits.

In mid 2014, Trump said of Alex:

“I disagree with him on one element, I’ve had moments in life when I’ve been very friendly with him and I do respect him, but I disagree with him on wind. [Old Susannah wonders if they got this wind from all the champagne they drank with their steak dinners in New York]

I think there are other great forms of energy but wind is becoming obsolete. I disagreed with him on that, other than that, I like him. I told that to someone the other day, I actually like Alex Salmond but I have to fight him. I’ve created a masterpiece and I don’t want to see it hurt by a very, very foolish technology that’s obsolete.” 
https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeenshire/274163/donald-trump-still-likes-respects-alex-salmond/

Presumably the very foolish technology that’s obsolete is not the printed newspaper.

I suppose when two people are deeply involved – what with wining and dining in the finest hotels either side of the Atlantic – their passions will sometimes lead to heated arguments. However, now that Alex is writing a column for the Press & Journal, he’ll have lots more opportunities to let people connected to Trump know that he likewise wants and needs to get back together.

Let’s wish the couple a happy reconciliation. Trump did go on in the P&J article about taking a position on Salmond’s independence drive, and what would or would not be appropriate for Trump to do about it – but lest the imagery be too heady for some readers, I’ll not dwell on the idea of Trump taking a position on Alex.

Perhaps the taxpayer should step in – again – and send the two flying off to a 5 star hotel in New York or elsewhere where they can enjoy yet another evening of drink and fine food. Perhaps there’s some other SSSI site we can give Trump on a silver platter as well.

Anniversary Gifts: (Modern English compound noun) A list of gifts couples are meant to exchange on different wedding anniversaries.

In January 2013 the power couple of the year tied the knot. Yes, Damian Bates married 2007 Face of Aberdeen Sarah Malone. Why the two didn’t have their nuptuals announced in Aberdeen Journals Ltd – and why Sarah didn’t make the Bride of the Week page – is a mystery. But then love works in mysterious ways. I personally think they didn’t want us mere mortals to be jealous of their union.

Last year by tradition they would have exchanged anniversary gifts made of paper – but I guess Damian had already given Sarah a gift in the form of paper – the Evening Express and P&J to be specific. The modern gift would have been made of plastic for that first anniversary; but no doubt there was already enough plastic in the mix as it was.

The alternative gift for a first year of wedded bliss is to exchange clocks. However, at Sarah’s day job at Trump’s Menie Estate, there are already some small, discrete, tasteful clocks on the landscape. Even better, they all seem to tell different times – doubtless the couple count the hours until the next Trump advertising revenue comes in and the next pro Trump advertorial is put to bed. Isn’t love grand?

This year the happy couple are meant to exchange cotton. Again, that ship has sailed, for they have both cottoned on a number of years back.

Online Dating: (Modern English noun) means of using electronic communications and computing to find a potential partner based on compatibility.

Do pity us poor single people; I spend all my time crying in my Hagen daas, wondering what to do with myself, fearing I’ll wither away as a wallflower spinster. Some singles join church groups, some take tango lessons, some take out classified ads. All are desperate to find that certain someone to go to Union Square with on a Saturday, then to stroll hand in hand through the paint thinner section of B&Q with on a Sunday. Let’s face it – you have to be in a couple to be anybody.

Single or married, if we were to be honest with ourselves, men and women are looking for some very basic, important things from a relationship. Money and looks.

You can exchange Tinder feelings to complete strangers and meet up in a back booth of the Chester Hotel to compare bank balances and plastic surgery results. But those who are in the know and in the dough cut to the chase and visit website ‘Seeking Arrangements’.

This is a dignified, personal site that pairs up rich men with poor, good-looking (and for some reason usually younger) women. The women in question, while working nights to put themselves through medical school and supporting their sick mothers no doubt, need a little financial assistance. Girls dating rich men is of course nothing like girls selling themselves for money.

Today’s smart successful girls are free to seek out sugar daddies and ask them to contribute a wee bit to keep them in Jimmy Choos and Tiffany bracelets. In return the men get the satisfaction of working closely with younger people and helping out the next generation – they wouldn’t want anything else for their money from beautiful young women, would they?

I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a romantic way to find the bank account of your dreams if you’re a liberated woman (who looks good of course). And if you’re a rich, hard-working man, it’s likely the wife doesn’t appreciate you, and for a bit of money and jewellery, you can get in a few hours of appreciation on the side. Someone to listen how the wife doesn’t understand, to take walks in the park with, perhaps to do the crossword together.

Or something.

For whatever reason, some people object to sexually objectifying men or women. They even nearly stopped the Sun’s Page 3 models for a day or two!

And that would have been bad for the circulation. Such people are called Feminists. They are almost always unattractive and old. Some of the former Sun models took time out from their busy careers to make witty tweets about those who object to Page 3. Rhian Sugden said:

“It’s only a matter of time before everything we do will be dictated by comfy shoe wearing… No bra wearing… man haters.”

But I digress.

Back to the subject of ‘Seeking Arrangements’ I hope no ‘bra-wearing, men-haters’ think there is anything wrong with such a set-up. It’s not as if it objectifies women, glorifies youth and beauty and commodifies these traits.

One final word on the subject. There are some taboos that should not and must not be broken. It’s acceptable for a rich old man to buy – sorry to help out a poorer, beautiful girl. That’s one of the things we like so much about Mr Trump for that matter. They’re called ‘sugar daddies’ – such a cute nickname, with nothing remotely unpleasant about the ‘daddies’ bit.

But we can all agree that an older woman, however rich, has no business around younger men. Cougars are just unacceptable. Happy to have cleared that up.

It’s so refreshing we had a women’s rights movement, even if it was a long time ago and it’s largely forgotten. For the life of me I can’t think what people like Emma Watson are getting so worked up about. Men may earn more than women, but as websites like Seeking Arrangements show, we’re all really just looking for that person out there who shares our values.

Good luck girls – but be warned: you may have to at some point hold your sugar daddy’s hand. Or something. Still, think of the money.

Cultural Speed Dating: (Modern Aberdonian quango phrase) A matchmaking service for rich patrons and poor artists and makers to get together.

In the same way that the idea of ‘Seeking Arrangements’ gives us a warm feeling, the concept of Cultural Speed Dating is nearly as heart-warming. I wonder what clever person came up with this marvellous idea?

Poor impoverished artists can come and throw themselves at people with money in a bid to get funding. It’s a speed dating set up which gives artists the respect they deserve – a chance to beg for money from the rich in a small space of time.

Culturally speaking, the marriage between the rich, the government, and those artists who either are desperate for success/money – or who are keen to get into bed (as it were) with the powerful is as moving as when Romeo and Juliet first spoke. And that turned out just fine.

Aside from money and fame, any real artist worth their salt wants to be guided by the patronising hand of the people with money.

What can be more important for a visionary than learning to be more commercially acceptable? The people in government who hand out grants know what art they want, and if you want their money, you’ll give them what they want. The wealthy private patron has their own ideas as well too, and the ideas of the rich trump the ideas of the talented. What’s a little compromise now and then if you’re a creative?

Old Susannah was told of a foolish portrait painter who some years back took a commission from a retired wealthy man for a group painting. When the painting was nearly done, the man’s wife told the artist to leave the painting unsigned, so that she could sign it herself later.

What do you think the ungrateful artist did? He said no.

Only with slightly different words. The painter lost out on money. If you’re an artist, I hope you’ll learn something from this little anecdote before the next Cultural Speed dating comes along. I’m sure 5 to 10 minutes is enough time to explain your artistic vision to someone with a chequebook – and if not – just let them do the talking instead.

We can’t just have people going around creating art or literature that the rich folks won’t enjoy, can we?

Next week: I’ll tell you that I love my family, and what tragedies I’ve been through. Or I may update you on what Police Scotland’s been up to (or not been up to for that matter).

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Dec 022014
 

Dr Garuth ChalfontWith thanks to Jessica Murphy.

An innovative garden project devised by Simeon Care for the Elderly will become a reality after securing £45,000 in funding.

The Aberdeen-based charity was delighted to find out it had been successful in the final of the Big Lottery Fund People’s Millions competition last night (Thursday November 27).

Simeon’s Golden Garden will provide a therapeutic haven for the 23 residents in the new care home they are building.

The home is taking shape but the outdoor space consists of piles and rubble and mud, which will now be transformed thanks to the funding.

Jeannie Carlson, Simeon Care for the Elderly manager, said the charity was overwhelmed with the support they received from the public.

“It has made such a huge difference in helping spread the word about The Golden Garden. The response we have received is just amazing and we are delighted as the process has helped more people find out about Simeon. Winning the funding means so much to us and will make such a difference to the residents as we can now fast-track the plans for The Golden Garden,” she said.

“We would like to thank everyone that took the time to vote for us as you have helped make the project a reality. For us, the garden will form an integral part of the care we provide residents here at Simeon. It is not just in the building, so much of the life of the Simeon community happens outside.”

The innovative garden plans will include a terrace with views towards the River Dee, seating alcoves taking their inspiration from seaside pavilions, a variety of alcoves with seating for groups, a hand-crafted wooden bridge, potting shed, food and flower patch, wildlife stations and personal patios leading from individual bedrooms. Carefully planned planting and features such as swing seats developed specifically for those with dementia are also included.

Jeannie Carlson added:

“Simeon is driven by a commitment to provide as much comfort and care as we possibly can. For so many elderly people, being outside is a great joy. It aids wellbeing and brings happiness into their lives, and for many, is something they treasured in their own homes. To be able to offer that same simple pleasure in a care home that is now their home is an essential support.

Dr Garuth Chalfront (pictured), a leading expert in the design, research and use of healing garden, therapeutic landscaping and dementia-friendly spaces, has developed the garden blueprint. It forms part of the new Simeon Care for the Elderly development, which is currently under construction in the grounds of the organisation’s existing facility at Cairnlee Road in Bieldside.

More Info: Simeon Care for the Elderly has been meeting the needs of older people for 30 years. Simeon’s philosophy of care, compassion and companionship supports older people to have an active, meaningful and purposeful life in a community setting and provides dignified and compassionate care and end of life care, supporting the individual as well as their families. The independent charity is part of the Camphill Movement and one of seven Camphill charities in Aberdeen.

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Feb 042014
 

With thanksto David Officer, Box Office and Marketing

WoodendBarn600Woodend Barn is pleased to confirm that we have been successfully awarded capital funding, by Creative Scotland, which will enable us to upgrade our facilities significantly, to ensure a first class experience for our audience when attending our diverse programme and to help us develop artist residencies here on Royal Deeside.

Woodend Arts has been awarded £126,277 as part of Creative Scotland’s Large Capital Programme, sharing a fund worth £9.4 million which is being spread across 12 cultural organisations in Scotland.

While this is a substantial award, it represents 50% of the total needed for redevelopment.  If you would like to help Woodend Barn you can still do so by donating at our Local Giving page or joining our 100 Club.

Nicola Henderson, Woodend Arts Director:

“We are extremely excited to receive this grant from Creative Scotland towards our redevelopment of Woodend Barn. It gives us a chance to improve the Woodend Barn experience for our audiences and artists. We will be improving our seating, sound and lighting equipment and adding artist accommodation that will allow us to support more artists in residence that will enable the creation of more new work in Aberdeenshire.

“This investment in our infrastructure will help see the arts in Aberdeenshire flourish and allow us to continue to take the lead in the performing arts for the North East of Scotland.”

Janet Archer, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland, said:

“These funding awards support important elements of the cultural infrastructure across Scotland and will enable exciting and important projects  to progress and develop. All of these awards, and those that have come before, help to ensure that more people, in more parts of Scotland, can continue to access and enjoy excellent artistic and creative experiences.

“These announcements mean that there has been £166m of National Lottery funding for Capital and public art projects provided through Creative Scotland, and previously the Scottish Arts Council, since the creation of this funding route in 1995.”

This funding ensures our audience experience, which is already highly regarded, will improve further and allow us to further develop our artistic programme, proving our commitment to the arts in Deeside.  We thank our audience and volunteers for their continued support and hope they’re as excited about this award as we are.

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Oct 042013
 

North East MSP Christian Allard has warmly welcomed Scottish Government funding to improve cycle infrastructure.

Cyclistes Auld Alliance with Christian Allard French born MSPAt Scotland’s first cycle summit in Edinburgh on the 24th of September, Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP described how the £20m will be spent over the next two years.

The funding will provide a significant enhancement to the support the Scottish Government is already offering to local authorities to promote active travel.

The SNP MSP said:

“Like all French people I was born on a bicycle and very much used my bike as a mode of transport in my rural village in Burgundy, France.

“Years ago when the cycling route on the A944 was built, linking my home town of Westhill to Aberdeen I was very sceptical.

“I did not believe that the people in the North East of Scotland were ready to travel by bike. We were, and now the number of commuters is very impressive.

“I am delighted the Scottish Government has made this extra funding available to improve cycling infrastructure.”

The French-born MSP has written to all local authorities in the North East, asking how this extra funding will help them to accelerate future cycle projects.

Mr Allard added:

“Improvements in infrastructure are one of the most important measures in getting people who don’t currently cycle to consider getting out on their bikes.

“I would encourage people to take up cycling and get involved in events like the Auld Alliance bike ride from Edinburgh to France.  I had the privilege to wave them off from Parliament with Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP at the end of August.”

More info:

Transport Scotland announcement: https://transportscotland.presscentre.com/content/detail.aspx?ReleaseID=296&NewsAreaId=2
Auld Alliance Bike ride: http://www.prenticeevents.com/news.php?extend.104.3

Photo: Christian Allard MSP with cyclists on Auld Alliance Bike Ride

Jun 282013
 

With thanks to Claire McBain.

Voluntary Services Aberdeen (VSA), the NE’s largest charity and the country’s biggest city social care charity, has donate £1000 to Old Torry Community Centre to mark a new partnership between the organisations.

This is in line with VSA’s strategy of empowering and investing in local communities and Old Torry’s quest to raise its cultural and social impact locally.

The donation will contribute to the Centre’s funding appeal to get children’s community workshops and murder mystery-themed plays off the ground.

Lesley-Anne Mulholland, secretary at the Centre, said:

“‘Our dedicated committee will continue regenerating the Old Torry Community Centre, making it a local cultural hotspot focused on education and entertainment. We would like this to be the start of a plethora of cultural events at Old Torry. 

“We recently attracted a Scottish National Theatre production but this project is vital to continue raising our profile and to help encourage other theatre companies, musicians and comedians to follow suit’.”

Fiona-Jane Brown, director of Hidden Aberdeen Tours, is leading the project.

“Our first goal for this project is to have a national theatre company perform in October, supplemented by a drama workshop for young adults and a horror make-up class for children. But we need £1000 to bring the theatre company to Old Torry and £1000 for the workshops, which will be led by local experts.

“We’re delighted for any contributions and we’re incredibly grateful to have an organisation as large and influential as VSA on board. Their support and belief in the project means a huge amount.”

Kenneth Simpson, VSA’s chief executive, agreed:

“We’re passionate about supporting community projects.  We want to work with communities and ask ‘if you want to do something, how can we help you succeed?’  This particular project is an ideal fit with VSA’s remit of supporting vulnerable communities and promoting education for young people. 

“It’s a great opportunity for us too. VSA service users will be able to get involved by attending the workshops and seeing the play. It’s a brilliant, mutually-beneficial partnership.”

Theatre company Don’t Go Into The Cellar’s one-man shows, Holmes Alone and Warnings to the Curious are provisionally scheduled for performance on 11 and 12 October at the Old Torry Community Centre. The initiative is a joint project between Hidden Aberdeen Tours, The Cellar Theatre Company and Old Torry Community Centre.

May 242013
 

With Thanks to Claire McBain.

After welcoming almost 3,000 visitors to its spring fair at Easter Anguston Farm on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th May, social care charity VSA raised £14,581 at an event which marked the re-opening of the farm for the summer.

This figure is significantly more than ever raised before at either their spring fairs or the charity’s VSA Days which were previously held in Duthie Park.

While the farm’s new donated pygmy goats – which can be seen on YouTube at http://ow.ly/kz3Nf  – were the highlight of the day, visitors were also kept entertained by Segway experiences, a bouncy castle, face painting and games.

VSA services also hosted stalls, spreading the word about the good they do and fundraising for their individual causes.

Staff and service users from VSA’s Arrdeir House, a long-term residential support for adults with varying degrees of mental health difficulties who would struggle to cope alone in the community, focused their efforts on fundraising for a trip of a lifetime to Disneyland.

By working in the Farm’s café on both days, the group exceeded their target and will be able to send two long-term service users on their dream holiday.

Doreen Murray, team leader at Arrdeir House, said:

“It’s fantastic! 

“Elspeth [Donald] and Richard [White] have been with VSA for 21 years but neither of them have been on an aeroplane, or even been out of Aberdeen. 

“Now they can!”

Debbie Fotheringham, event and fundraising co-ordinator at VSA, said:

“Of course, the most important thing about the day is the cause behind it. 

“VSA is the largest charity in the north-east, an umbrella to more than 30 life-changing social care services. 

“VSA supports thousands of the most vulnerable people in the community, reaching out to newborn babies, children with additional support needs, young and adult carers, adults with mental health difficulties and older people. 

“The services include a nursery, school, play schemes, respite, advice, care homes, day care, respite opportunities, a bookshop and, of course, the farm.”

For the last six years the charity has taken over Duthie Park for the VSA Day, but this year the Peterculter-based farm incorporated the landmark event with its annual spring fair, raising awareness of the local work which VSA does in looking after thousands of people, and celebrating those who have supported the charity over the past year.

Easter Anguston Farm will now be open daily throughout the summer, from 10.00 a.m. until 5.00 p.m., when visitors will find all the usual attractions – the coffee shop, education centre, farm shop and garden centre – in full swing.

For more information about VSA and other events visit www.vsa.org.uk or www.youtube.com/supportvsa

Apr 262013
 

With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

A North East subsea services and training company is the latest organisation to provide financial support for Aberdeen tennis player Bruce Strachan, in his bid to build a full time career in the sport.
Tullos-based SUBC Engineering Ltd, which operates globally, will assist the 18-year-old with equipment, training, subsistence and tournament entry fees.

Colin Burney, the Managing Director of SUBC believes it’s vital to give Bruce every chance of succeeding in what is one of the world’s most competitive sports.

“It’s fantastic that Bruce is attempting to follow in Andy Murray’s footsteps and SUBC is only too happy to play a small part in helping to make that happen. He’s a real talent and certainly deserves to succeed in his quest.”

Bruce recently lifted his first title of the year, winning the Stirling Grand Prix and in the process defeating former Australian Open Junior Doubles champion Graeme Dyce 7-6 (6), 7-5 in the final.

In addition to SUBC Engineering, Bruce is supported by a number of organisations and individuals including the Paul Lawrie Foundation and David Lloyd.

The North East Open Men’s Singles champion for the past two years, Bruce is currently in the middle of a hectic competition schedule featuring the AEGON British Tour and the ITF Futures event, with a couple of events on mainland Europe planned for later in the spring.

For further information contact Dave Macdermid on 07710 580148,  dave.macdermid@tennisscotland.org

Apr 092013
 

With thanks to Claire McBain.

On Monday, VSA, the north-east’s largest charity, announced that it has two places in the Edinburgh Marathon on Sunday 26th May up for grabs.  The option of a half marathon is also an option.

Athletic Aberdonians can pick which part of the charity they want to fundraise for from a selection of more than 30 VSA services that support a wide range of people which includes babies, children, adults with mental health difficulties, children with additional support needs, carers, young carers and older people.

VSA’s events co-ordinator Debbie Fotheringham, who is leading the search for competitors, said:

“At VSA we’re passionate about making sure our runners know that they can raise money for something that matters to them.  Asking people to sponsor you is never easy, but if it’s for something important to you, it’s a million times easier.

“VSA is such a diverse charity.  I think that, for almost every person out there, there’s a service that means something.  You might want to run to raise money to send our hardworking young carers on a well-deserved trip or to buy an iPad so that our older people can Skype their overseas relatives. 

“You could even run to raise money to buy a goat for VSA’s Easter Anguston Farm in Peterculter.  The list is long and flexible.” 

Looking back at the 2012 Edinburgh Marathon which he ran in aid of VSA, John Willis of telecommunication consultancy 9 Dots said:

“Running for VSA was a pleasure.  The charity provides an incredible range of services for those in need and has been an integral part of the north-east’s third sector since the Victorian times. 

“Not only does VSA play an important role for the local community but it’s one of the most cost-efficient charities in the UK – for every £1 you raise, 96p of it goes directly to helping those who need it most. 

“Charity begins at home and we need to do as much as we can to support our local third sector.”

To book a place or to find out more about running for VSA at the Edinburgh Marathon, please contact Debbie Fotheringham on 01224 212021 or e-mail Debbie.fotheringham@vsa.org.uk 

Mar 212013
 

The Paul Lawrie Foundation and David Lloyd Leisure are the latest organisations to assist teenage tennis star Bruce Strachan in his bid to forge a full time career as a professional player.

With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

Bruce Strachan, the 18 year old Aberdonian tennis player who trains full time at Stirling University, has received financial support from the Paul Lawrie Foundation which also donated auction items for a recent fundraising dinner, hosted by David Lloyd Aberdeen, which raised over £7,000.

David Lloyd Leisure has also granted Bruce use of the facilities at all of its leisure complexes throughout the United Kingdom while, in the north east, various individuals and organisations have assisted to help him with equipment, training, subsistence and tournament entry fees.

Bruce, who has been the North East Open men’s singles champion for the past two years, is currently in the middle of a hectic competition schedule featuring AEGON British tour and ITF Futures events, with a couple of events on mainland Europe planned for later in the spring.

Mar 072013
 

With thanks to Richard Bunting.

Biodiversity surveys in 2012 at Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Estate near Loch Ness revealed eight new species never recorded before in the United Kingdom, and brought the total number of species recorded on the forest restoration site to over 2,800, it was announced today.

New species for the UK discovered at the 10,000-acre site in Glen Moriston, Inverness-shire are a sawfly (Nematus pravus), an aphid (Cinara smolandiae), two species of aphid parasitoids (Ephedrus helleni, Praon cavariellae), three species of fungus gnats (Brevicornu parafennicum, Mycomya disa, Sceptonia longisetosa), and a species of mite (Ceratozetella thienemanni).

Another key discovery, made by Trees for Life’s Executive Director Alan Watson Featherstone, included the first record in Europe of a biting midge in the genus Atrichopogon feeding on a cranefly (Helius longirostris). Although known in the tropics, this behaviour has never been observed in Europe before.

Alan Watson Featherstone said:

“The surprisingly rich variety of life at Dundreggan highlights the vital importance of conservation work, and of protecting and enhancing habitats across the Highlands. The discoveries are not only demonstrating that the estate is a special site for biological diversity – they are also revealing that there is still much to learn about Scotland’s biodiversity.”

The 2012 surveys revealed a significant and diverse range of organisms, including sawflies, aphids, fungus gnats, slime moulds and mites. The findings, together with those of previous surveys, bring the total number of species recorded on Dundreggan to 2,815. This wealth of biodiversity includes at least 269 plants, 341 lichens, 92 birds, 20 mammals, 354 beetles, 207 moths and 125 sawflies.

A species of note discovered last year is the rare Lapland marsh-orchid (Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides subsp. francis-drucei), never found in this area of Scotland before and described by the Highland Biodiversity Recording Group as a “botanical gem”.

2012 was the third year of a sawfly study on the estate that is being carried out by a team from Liverpool Museums. The total known sawfly species recorded on Dundreggan has now reached 125. The discovery of Nematus pravus means that there are two ‘new to the UK’ sawflies feeding on the dwarf birch at Dundreggan, with a third species previously unrecorded in Britain found feeding on the downy birches on the Estate.

In another project, Steve and Sarah Burchett from PlymouthUniversity spent two weeks with a team of students, carrying out pioneering research into the biodiversity of Dundreggan’s forest canopy. This included new techniques to survey for lichens, mosses and invertebrates that live in the treetops and the upper branches of oaks, birches and Scots pines, in what is believed to be the first study of its kind in Scotland.

At least 67 priority species for conservation have now been identified on Dundreggan, which has been described as a Highlands ‘lost world’. The 2012 discoveries add to a remarkable range of rare and endangered species found on the Estate – some of which were previously unknown in Scotland, or which were feared to be extinct there.

Previous discoveries include the second-ever British record of a waxfly species; a golden horsefly (Atylotus fulvus) only seen once before in Scotland since 1923; the juniper shieldbug (Cyphostethus tristriatus), thought to be the first Highlands record; and species of spider, cranefly and dragonfly all listed in the UK’s Red Data Book of endangered species.

Other species include black grouse, pine marten, water vole, lesser butterfly orchid, lichen running spider, and small pearl-bordered butterfly. On-going research aims to establish whether the Scottish wildcat is present.

Dundreggan, purchased by Trees for Life in 2008, is also home to some of the best stands of juniper – a priority species for conservation – in the Highlands, and what may be the most extensive distribution of dwarf birch in the country.

Trees for Life is planting half a million trees on the estate as part of its award-winning restoration of the Caledonian Forest to a spectacular wilderness region of 1,000 square miles in the Highlands, to the west of Loch Ness and Inverness.

The conservation charity is also working for the return of rare woodland wildlife, plants and insects, and is conducting scientific research and education programmes. Volunteers are carrying out much of the forest restoration work. For more information, see www.treesforlife.org.uk or call 0845 458 3505.

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