Sep 022017

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

Aberdeen businesses have reported a significant boost in trade over the weekend following large crowds in the city centre for Celebrate Aberdeen and the Great Aberdeen Run.
Business organisation Aberdeen Inspired has been in touch with traders to assess the impact of the two events – with initial feedback highlighting that some saw an increase of more than 30 percent increase in sales compared to a normal weekend.

Thousands of people spent time in the heart of the city as part of the Celebrate Aberdeen parade and musical performances over Saturday and Sunday as well as the Great Aberdeen Run.

Julie Haig, owner of Haigs Food Hall, said:

“Sunday was really special and to see Union Street geared up for such a great running event was fantastic. The buzz it created in the city was amazing.

“The sense of community spirit I felt over the weekend makes me proud to be an Aberdonian. We saw a significant increase in footfall over the weekend and we would like to thank the people of Aberdeen for coming out and supporting these wonderful events.”

Union Street McDonald’s franchise owner, Craig Duncan, added:

“Sales at breakfast were more than double what we would expect on a normal Sunday and overall for the day there was an increase of more than 30 percent. It’s great to see these big events come to our city and hopefully we’ll see more in the future.”

Craig Willox, owner of Books and Beans, also saw a significant increase in trade which was also boosted by the substantial number of people who visited the Belmont Street Market.

He said:

“This was the busiest weekend of the year for us so far. The Belmont Street Market on Saturday was even bigger than the one in July and looked even better attended. We also had a queue of people waiting outside before we even opened before the Great Aberdeen Run.”

Adrian Watson, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Inspired, praised the work of everyone who worked to deliver Celebrate Aberdeen and the Great Aberdeen Run

He said:

“To see the thousands of runners and well-wishers descend on our city over the weekend was very pleasing indeed and we are very proud to have worked with Aberdeen City Council and the other key partners to help deliver Celebrate Aberdeen and the Great Aberdeen Run over the weekend.

“This success clearly demonstrates the growing ambition we have for this city and we look forward to welcoming even more runners, from the city, region and beyond, for next year’s event as it establishes itself nationally as a ‘must attend’ event on the circuit.

“Of course, an acid test for my organisation is business feedback and the initial soundings from many of the retailers in the city centre has been very encouraging indeed.

“We’re now looking to the opening night of the Aberdeen Comedy Festival on Thursday, October 5, with this event being the third largest of its kind in the country, after proving hugely popular last year.

“We again look to the north-east public to come out in force to enjoy this great offering, as well as reach out to those from further afield, as the festival also establishes itself as another event that people will travel to the city to be part of.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district. More information about Aberdeen Inspired is available at:

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Sep 072012

Ben Hukins gives Voice’s Suzanne Kelly the run-down on his background, races, interests and opinions on Aberdeen’s hot topics.

I meet Ben at Café 52.  I’ve been running (it was a Thursday and getting around town on Thursday evenings at rush hour is always problematic) and am somewhat out of breath.

Ben is a local runner with a number of local races and victories under his belt.

He has a girlfriend who is now into running, several cats, a rabbit which has chewed through his mobile phone charger, a father who used to be a professor at Aberdeen University and opinions on the day’s issues.

Unsurprisingly the Olympic Games is our first subject for discussion:

“As a sporting event it was fantastic.  I was actually quite surprised we did so well… my girlfriend and I saw several events including some of the women’s running events.  I felt like getting on the track and running. 

“There was negative press and commercialism…when you have companies like Dow Chemicals involved…  but all the negatives such as transport and security – all of that was forgotten.  As a sporting event it was fabulous.  You couldn’t leave an event without wanting to go run round the track.  We watched the women’s marathon on the street.  Everyone just got a huge buzz out there.

“The running track is going to stay.  There was a huge debate over the stadium with Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham – the West Ham solution was the best. Luckily in the end international bodies intervened.”  

But are kids today being active?

“People in my generation all kind of grew up outdoors playing, playing football.  Even when computer games were starting up, most people still went out to play as well.” 

We get into some early background history.  Ben is a Liverpool fan, although he grew up in Manchester before his family moved to Aberdeen.  His dad got a position in Aberdeen University and he and his mother moved to Aberdeen once Ben finished his A levels (one week after his 18th birthday).

Ben studied electrical engineering, stayed to work in the energy sector and is now the only member of his family still in Aberdeen.  His girlfriend recently took up running.

We then get to Scottish football and the future of Rangers:

“I actually read quite a lot; the actual administration process was interesting; there was so much written about it.” 

We talk about running – Ben is about to be put in the ‘veteran’ age group for running purposes.  He recently ran the Baker Hughes 10K, which is a big charity event.

“It’s great because you get a whole spread of people.  There is a guy from Greenock who goes to every single race in a clown’s costume.  He must have raised quite a lot of money for charity.” 

And if Ben is running competitively?

“I normally take it easy, but I like to get up 4 hours before a race starts.  I just have breakfast and get ready.” 

Ben enjoyed the Stonehaven half marathon in particular and he discusses some other races:

“It’s a great atmosphere and it’s very well organised.  I’m doing the Loch Ness Marathon at the end of September.  In April I went to Rotterdam and I’ve been to France.  I enjoyed the Champagne region.  There are marathons in so many places in the world… I really want to go to America.”

We get around to some of the environmental issues of the region:

“One of the reasons I like Aberdeen is the green space.  In no time at all you can get out of Aberdeen into some great countryside.  You see the current plans and proposals and it’s like greenbelt means nothing. 

“They were going to destroy Loirston.  The leadership of the recent council has given me great cause for concern towards the destruction of the greenspace.  There was just no joined up thinking. “

I can’t offer any argument against these sentiments.  We discuss Tullos Hill:

“There is so much propaganda and misinformation.  Tuesday night, for the first time in a long, long, time, I saw deer.  The council said there were 28 living in the area. They killed 34.  It was clearly a migratory population.”

[note: at the time of publishing, the total looks closer to 44.]

Ben and I note the change in the council and the lack of LibDem representatives in Torry/Ferryhill and Altens post -election. We discuss UTG:

“The ‘For’ (pro granite web) campaign had more money, more press.  P&J is clearly pro development of Union Terrace Gardens, shown in the way they aimed their headlines and articles.” 

Again, no argument from me.

Ben does as much working out in the out of doors as possible:

“I am a member of a gym which I use sporadically – I’m involved in the STV appeal.  They’re trying to cover 10,000 miles on the treadmill.  I’ve been doing running; for a fiver I’ll go and do your section of running for you – I’m up to 14 so far. 

“You don’t have to join a gym.  If you don’t like the gym, don’t do it.  These days there so many sports you can do in Aberdeen at RGU and the sports village and other venues.”   

STV’s charity event hopes to raise £5,000 by having people donate money for miles run on the treadmill at The Warehouse Health Club on Mearns Street which has organised a treadmill relay where they aim to cover 10,000km – the length of the Scottish coastline.  They have already started the run and expect to take around a month to complete the distance.

For full details and to help, visit

We are in touch after the interview as we didn’t get a chance to discuss the amazing, moving Paralympics.  But two recent Scottish running events have had serious issues.  A man collapsed and died in the recent Glasgow run and several people had to be airlifted from Ben Nevis.

Ben had this to say:

I ran the Glasgow event on a number of occasions and it is a very well organised, excellent event. I don’t know the circumstances surrounding the death and it is obviously a great shame, however, from my experience of the event I believe that the organisers will have done everything they could to have prevented this unfortunate incident.

“With regards the Ben Nevis event, I really don’t know much.  Unfortunately fell running is a sport with its inherent risks and all competitors are aware of these.  Race organisers do their best to manage all the risks as far as reasonably practical.  Running isn’t a dangerous sport.”

No, running isn’t a dangerous sport.  It is a means of keeping fit that everyone can afford to do, all ages and sexes can enjoy running to their individual abilities and, as the Paralympics have shown, running can change peoples’ lives for the better.  ‘What’s not to like?’ as the saying goes.

All the best to Ben in his upcoming races.  We will be following his progress and will try and catch up with him figuratively, as catching up literally might take some doing.

  •  Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Nov 102011

Books really are the gifts that keep on giving. Have you ever tried turning down the corner of your Kindle to mark where you left off reading? With an eye on the calendar and mindful that Voice readers should be sending letters up the lum shortly, David Innes performs a labour of love in reviewing a seasonal offering from a fitba hero for whom every month was Movember.

Willie Miller is indisputably the greatest-ever Don. The image of him, bristling of moustache, jet black hair matted with Scandinavian May rain, nonchalantly holding aloft in trade mark single-handed triumph the European Cup-Winners’ Cup, is etched indelibly on every Dons fan’s retina.

It’s will be no surprise to learn that this iconic image dominates the front cover of Dream Team, in which Miller evaluates Dons with whom he played, stars who he managed whilst also trawling the Pittodrie archives to give brief pen pictures of legends of yesteryear as he chooses his best side and, unusually, backroom staff.

When football fans, always much more knowledgeable, of course, than those qualified and paid to make selection decisions, cannot even agree who should be in their team this week, selecting an all-time XI from their club’s entire history is guaranteed to cause arguments.

No doubt  Miller’s volume will engender more disputes than it will settle. Such debate is a huge part of football’s attraction to those addicted to it and happy in the knowledge that there is no known cure for this affliction.

Without giving too much away in case a Dream Team-shaped parcel finds its way under your festive tree next month, Miller rules himself out and selects a side in 4-3-3 formation, with seven substitutes. Unsurprisingly, most are his own contemporaries, but given that he played at the top level for 16 years, that gives him a wide constituency from which to choose.

All very interesting, but it is his – or perhaps co-author Robertson’s – research into Wasps and Reds icons of the 70 years of club history before Willie’s own career began that fascinates most. Although previous volumes have covered this before, an appreciation of Dons giants written from a player’s perspective gives occasional new insights to familiar and less-familiar names.

The fact that the terms “we” and “us” are used, even when discussing the author’s distant club forebears, is quite endearing.

What is disappointing is the editing. Occasional errors will slip through, but facts are easily checked. If the text is to be believed, the peerless Eric Black scored on his debut against Dundee United in another dimension, since there is no 31 September on any earthly calendar known to me.

The writing could frequently be sharpened, tightened up and sprinkled with some editorial pixie dust, but football books are rarely contenders for literary awards.

If you love the Dons, you’ll find Dream Team is of considerable interest and worth reading. If you don’t, I want to know why.

Willie Miller’s Aberdeen Dream Team
Willie Miller with Rob Robertson
Black and White Publishing. 236 pp. £10.99

Nov 082011

With Remembrance Sunday approaching fast and the wearing of a poppy being de rigueur for every stuffed shirt and empty suit on TV, Voice’s Dave Watt thinks about 11 November.  

11 November falls on a Friday this year, so the dead will have to wait until Sunday to be remembered, as the powers that be don’t seem to think that remembering them on the actual Armistice Day would be convenient.
I mean, businesses might lose a whole two minutes profit and think what a disaster that would be for our thriving economy. After all, big business interests shovel money into party funds and one and a quarter million dead servicemen and women don’t. So, balls to them.

Armistice Day on 11 November was originally meant to signal the end of The War to End Wars, back in a time when that phrase wouldn’t bring forth a cynical snigger.

In fact, on my grandfather’s medals, hanging in a frame in my hallway, it refers to The Great War For Civilisation which shows that there were politicians in the 1920s capable of coming out with the same kind of drivel as George W Bush did with his ludicrous War on Terror ten years ago.

Presumably, at some time in the future there will be a War For Straight Bananas or a War For Fashionable Sandals or something equally weird.

Hopefully, this year will not feature such irretrievable tat as the Royal British Legion inviting The Saturdays to frolic half-naked in a sea of poppies or getting the judges on X Factor to wear grotesque poppy fashion items – two tasteless frolics which inspired ex-SAS soldier Ben Griffin to describe them as ‘stunts to trivialise, normalise and satirise war’. Griffin, in fact, went on to state that remembrance has been turned into ‘a month long drum roll of support for current wars’, a point of view it is increasingly difficult to disagree with.

My grandfather joined up in 1914 in the surge of patriotism engendered by Germany illegally invading Belgium; my uncle joined up in 1939 when Hitler illegally subjugated Poland. Presumably, if Tony Blair had been Prime Minister in 1914, we’d have joined in the illegal invasion and attacked tiny Belgium as we did with impoverished third world Afghanistan, not one of whose citizens had previously done us the slightest harm.

Then again, if Tony had been in charge in 1939 he’d surely have produced some shoddy dossiers to our gullible Parliament showing how those dastardly Poles were all set to attack peace-loving Nazi Germany and that they had weapons of mass destruction concealed in Cracow and Gdansk which could be deployed within 45 minutes.

Yes, if good old Tony had been on the case then, we could nowadays watch Wellington bombers joining the Stukas strafing the women and kids in Warsaw on World at War on Yesterday – with a suitably solemn voice-over courtesy of Laurence Olivier. God, wouldn’t that make us just so proud of ourselves?

No, the bottom line is that we’re not the Good Guys helping the Underdog against the Bully any more. We’re something quite different now.

If you were wondering what happened to my uncle and grandfather in their wars, my uncle died in Normandy in 1944 after fighting in North Africa, Italy and Sicily. My grandfather survived four years in the trenches but was wounded and mustard-gassed in 1918. The mustard gas steadily and horribly eroded his lungs over the years and he eventually died in 1955 aged 56, so the War for Civilisation got him in the end.

I also had a relative on board HMS Hood when the Bismarck sank her in the Denmark Straits in May 1941. He was not one of the three survivors.

It’s interesting to think that if my three relations had survived wars and lived until now that their reward from a grateful country would be to have some pampered ex-public schoolboy Tories and Lib Dems cutting their fuel allowances by £100 this winter.

I’ll have my own two minutes silence for my relations and all the rest – the ones who came back and the ones who didn’t.

On Friday.

Photo Credits –
Row Of Crosses © Mediaonela |  
Poppy At Newe July 2011 © Elaine Andrews