Oct 272016

By Duncan Harley, and with thanks to Erica Banks, Communications Officer, Aberdeen Performing Arts.


Emeli Sandé has pledged her support to the multi-million pound scheme to launch the historic venue into the 21st century and beyond

Built to a design by Archibald Simpson and opened in 1822, performers as diverse as Charles Dickens, Elton John and comedy puppet duo Pinky and Perky have trodden the boards to entertain and amaze Aberdeen audiences. Politicians such as Tony Benn, Winston Churchill, and Lloyd George also put in appearances, and throughout its history the building has played host to everything from concerts and bazaars to theatre and sporting events.

Indeed many Aberdonians can still recall their shock introduction to Glam Rock when in far off 1972 a hopeful David Bowie accompanied by legendary guitarist Mick Ronson brought Spiders from Mars to a Music Hall audience.

As the “A Listed” venue begins an £8m restoration and regeneration uplift, Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA) has announced that Alford-born singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé has pledged her support to the multi-million pound scheme to launch the historic venue into the 21st century and beyond.

“The Music Hall holds so many fond memories for me” said former Alford Academy pupil Emeli,

“From the music festivals in primary school to my first tour, the beautiful atmosphere and stunning acoustics really make this a special place to perform.”

The project is spearheaded by APA, the charitable trust which runs the Music Hall, His Majesty’s Theatre and The Lemon Tree.

To date, fundraising efforts have raised a massive £6.5m towards the transformation, including major contributions from Aberdeen City Council, Creative Scotland, The Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, The Robertson Trust, The Foyle Foundation, Garfield Weston, The Wolfson Foundation and The Hugh Fraser Foundation.

This week a £150,000 sponsorship deal has been agreed between APA and Aberdeen Solicitors’ Property Centre. Aberdeen Inspired has also gifted £50,000, bringing the total funds raised to just over 80 percent of the final total, £7.9m, ahead of re-opening in Autumn/Winter 2018.

Jane Spiers, APA Chief Executive commented:

“We are so thrilled to have begun the next chapter in the life of the Music Hall. This is a huge campaign that has been years in the making – it has taken many months of planning and fundraising. However, this project is about much more than bricks and mortar. The Music Hall is a national treasure with decades of wonderful history behind it.

The range and calibre of artists, musicians and events the Hall has hosted over nearly 200 years is truly astonishing and its place at the heart of community and civic life is unassailable. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has a connection with Aberdeen who doesn’t have a story to tell about the Music Hall – a prize giving, graduation, great concert, school orchestra, a romantic encounter.

We’re delighted that Emeli Sandé is lending her support to the transformation and we are proud to be developing a venue which will be international in outlook and also operate at the heart of the ever-growing arts community in the North-east.”

Plans for the revamped Music Hall include upgrades to the historic auditorium with new seating, flooring and more flexible staging, new performance, rehearsal and education spaces, upgraded artist facilities, a new foyer, box office and café bar and new ramps and lifts to improve access to all areas.

Jane added:

“It really is an ingenious re-imagining of the space. We’re restoring and retaining the Music Hall’s historic fabric and its wonderful acoustic and at the same time we’re adding new features in keeping with the expectations of a 21st century audience … our venues are a vital part of cultural life in the city”

Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing backed up Jane’s comments

“The Music Hall redevelopment is a wonderful example of projects taking place in the city centre which will deliver a positive impact”

and Sean O’Callaghan of main contractor Kier Construction commented that

“It’s a privilege to restore this historic and much loved building. Our expertise and experience in delivering a diverse range of iconic heritage projects across Scotland stands us in good stead as we renovate Aberdeen Music Hall for future generations to enjoy.”

If you would like to support the project via donations, by lending the support of your business or by becoming a Music Hall ambassador contact Aberdeen Performing Arts .

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Jun 102016

outside_cover_vol_3_Bennachie_Duncan Harley reviews Bennachie Landscapes Series 3.

In this, the third publication in the Bennachie Landscapes Series, further aspects of the story of Grampian’s favourite hill are discussed in often minute detail.

Dedicated to Gordon Ingram, treasurer to the Bailies of Bennachie until 2000, and with a foreword by Dr Jo Vergunst of the University of Aberdeen’s Department of Anthropology this publication focuses on both our historical and our modern day relationship with the Bennachie range.

Funded through the Connected Communities programme the content reflects the work of project partners including the University of Aberdeen, The Forestry Commission Scotland and The Bailies of Bennachie.

The book presents as 10 research papers, each distinct but related and written by both Bennachie experts and Bennachie enthusiasts.

The ecology and social history of the area feature alongside the geology, flora and the exploitation of both peat and stone on and around the hill. Additionally there are excavation reports featuring Colony houses and Drumminor Castle.

Several of the papers make for highly technical reading and are not for the faint hearted. Peter Thorn’s description of the geological setting around Drumminor Castle is a case in point. Other chapters such as the interim report into the excavations at Drumminor Castle are written with the general reader in mind and should be accessible to anyone happy to sit through an episode of Time Team.

The site of the Bennachie Colonists comes under particular scrutiny. Sue Taylor provides insight into the social and domestic lives of the crofters, who made a living on the slopes of the hill, through the interpretation of pottery found at the Bennachie Colony site.

The excavations during 2011 – 2013 at Shepherd’s Lodge and Hillside yielded both sponge decorated and transfer printed earthenware indicating perhaps a previously unsuspected degree of economic sophistication amongst Colony settlers who often lived at subsistence level.

Barry Foster’s introduction to the peat lands of the hill not only gives the reader food for thought but illustrates clearly, using aerial photographs, the scale of the 18th century peat cutting industry.

In 2013 a partnership between Keig School and the Bennachie Landscapes Fieldwork Group surveyed the ecology and landscape use within the Lordship of Forbes. The research report makes for fascinating reading and describes the discovery of a previously unknown water-mill in the grounds of Castle Forbes.

A dig at the Back of Bennachie by students of Kemnay Academy features alongside an investigation of the English Quarry by Andrew Wainwright and a paper, by Colin Millar, reflects on the controversial 19th century seizure and “Division of the Commonty of Bennachie” by a group of powerful local landowners.

Illustrated throughout with both images relating to Bennachie and survey maps describing the digs and investigations, this book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the North East and clearly illustrates the value of community partnership research.

At 115pp, Bennachie Landscapes Series 3 is available from Inverurie Library and at www.bailiesofbennachie.co.uk  p
Price £10. ISBN 978-0-9576384-1-9

This review was first published in the May 2016 edition of Leopard Magazine.

Words © Duncan Harley

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Dec 112015

Aberdeen Voice’s ‘poetry mannie in residence’ Bob Smith, who passed away on March 5.

In March 2015, Aberdeen Voice lost one of it’s most prolific writers and best loved team members, our ‘poetry mannie’, Bob Smith.

Bob was a fierce critic of Donald Trump, and would never miss an opportunity to ‘mention’ Trump in his popular poems, which he contributed weekly in Aberdeen Voice for a period of over 4 years.

In all, Bob contributed in excess of 200 poems, and a monthly column entitled ‘Smithy’s Scribblins’

As we digest the news that Donald Trump has had his honorary degree revoked by RGU, His Global Scot status revoked by Nicola Sturgeon, and a petition to ban him from the UK, launched by ‘Voice’s Suzanne Kelly, becoming the most popular petition ever to appear on the Government’s petition site, with, at the time of writing, nearly half a million signatures, our thoughts turn to Bob and how we miss his unique brand of humour.

Bob would have loved to have seen this day, and undoubtedly would be frantically scribbling down some new verses to mark the occasion.

Therefore it seems fitting to republish one of his many poems, this from September 2010, and raise a glass to a warm and genuine friend we were glad to know and very much miss.

– Fred Wilkinson, Editor.

(Noo the Richt Gits University)

by Bob Smith.

The Donald his been awarded
A University honorary degree
His the principal gin aff his heid
At yon learned placie by the Dee?

Continue reading »

Dec 032015

Port Erroll SlainsBy Mike Shepherd.

Aberdeenshire Council are currently reviewing the conservation area status of Port Erroll, a village area of Cruden Bay that contains the harbour for the town.
Port Erroll is a 19th century fishing village lying beneath the shadow of the ruins of Slains Castle.

It retains much of its original character and has so far managed to avoid any unsightly new buildings.

It is therefore surprising that when the villagers were consulted about the conservation area status, they were given a questionnaire which started:

“Do you agree with the removal of the conservation area status? If not, why?”

There was little in the way of explanation as to why the conservation area status might be removed by the council.

I talked to one of the planning officers and was told that it was under consideration. For instance, there were concerns that the original character of the houses had been materially changed by the fitting of PVC windows rather than the stipulated wooden sash window design. It seems that the use of PVC in the village had either been approved by the council themselves on planning application or had been carried out without permission.

Many of the residents are upset at the idea that the consultation area status could be removed and have formed a heritage society in response. What lies at the heart of all of this is the definition of a conservation area in Scotland:

“An area of special architecture or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance.”

The implication is that if the conservation area is removed then the character and appearance of the village will not be considered desirable to preserve or enhance. The villagers share a strong feeling of both place and local pride. They feel very strongly that this would be seriously undermined if their own council judge the appearance of Port Erroll to be not worth bothering about.

If the conservation area status is removed then it makes it more likely that development in the area will go ahead. One controversial proposal for the village could be sanctioned if the conservation status goes. This is the draft plan aired by the Port Erroll Harbour Trust to build a two storey modern building on the site of the harbour drying green. The anticipated use of the building includes a tourist office, bistro, harbour office and rather ironically under the circumstances, a heritage centre.

Port Erroll is one of 41 conservation areas in Aberdeenshire and the council has plans to review several more including Buchanhaven (Peterhead) and Boddam. What the Port Erroll example shows only too clearly is the need for closer cooperation between the council and its citizens. They should work together with the aim of preserving of unique historical legacy of Aberdeenshire and to preserve its wonderful heritage for future generations to enjoy.

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Jun 112015
Killiecrankie (2)

Alan Larsen as one of Bonny Dundee’s Cavalry with a captured French Standard from the Battle of Waterloo.

With thanks to James Rattray.

What does the 1689 Battle of Killiecrankie have in common with the 1815 Battle of Waterloo? The two battles set 120 years apart have one thing in common in the 2015 commemorations and that is New Zealander called Alan Larsen.

Alan Larsen grew up in New Zealand, at a very early age he discovered he had a passion for history.

At the age of 13 years old, when all his friends wanted to ride motor bikes, he decided he needed to learn to ride a horse. Being from Invercargill farming stock, his Aunty Isobel McIntyre provided him with his first horse.

At the age of 17 years he was in communications with Brigadier Peter Young, the founder of the Sealed Knot, the UK‘s oldest re-enactment society, formed in 1968. Alan says:

“Brigadier Peter Young said, come to England and join my Life Guard of Horse. So I did just that. I started my re-enacting journey in 1977.”

His passion for his hobby has led to an unusual career path, Cavalry consultant, advisor to English Heritage, historical event manager, the partial recreation of the Charge of the Light Brigade, the list goes on.

At this year’s June 15th Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, ‘the most impressive reconstructions ever seen in Europe, with 5,000 re-enactors, 300 horses and 100 canons.’ Alan Larsen plays the Duke of Wellington.

Five weeks later at the Soldiers of Killiecrankie on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th July, Alan is one of Bonnie Dundee’s Gentlemen of Horse or cavalry.

James Rattray Chairman of Soldiers of Killiecrankie said:

“Alan Larsen was instrumental in starting the Soldiers of Killiecrankie, his enthusiasm is infectious. He said he would bring Bonnie Dundee’s cavalry back. So with the support of the Killiecrankie Battlefield owners and local farmer, last July we organised our first large event.” 

He continued:

“We had lots of really good feedback and non-more so than from the re-enacting world, word went out that Killiecrankie is a great event to take part in. This year we are anticipating even larger numbers of re-enactors, with a contingent travelling from Ireland who are going to tell us why the Irish were at the 1689 Battle.”

The Soldiers of Killiecrankie weekend has cavalry and infantry displays, battlefield tours, a living history camp that gives a unique glimpse behind the scenes of the daily life of the government troops as they wait to go into battle, showing the way in which lives are lived, how the weapons are maintained, the mealtimes, the care of the wounded, the making of musket balls.

There are also ‘period sensitive’ events from traditional storytelling, waulking cloth, dressing up for the whole family in traditional highland clothing for men, women and children, stalls, food, traditional crafts and other activities from targe and sword making for the youngsters, archery, golf, basket weaving, Battlefield Horse stunts, Executions through the Ages, and a popular Saturday night Battlefield Ceilidh.

Soldiers of Killiecrankie is on the Saturday and Sunday 25th and 26th July 2015, 11am to 5pm. Entry is £6 adult, £5 Concessions, £3 children under 16 years, family of four £16 and free car parking.

For further information – www.SoldiersOfKilliecrankie.co.uk
or contact: – James Rattray james@explorescotland.net or 01796 473335.

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Jun 052015

With thanks to Rhonda Reekie.

Strathcona House Facebook

“A little like Hogwarts” – Under revised plans, Strathcona will now be demolished.

Strathcona House is the large, red sandstone building sited on the A96 just before the airport roundabout. Recent plans to relocate the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre will see the demolition of the Rowett Institute site at Bucksburn. We were led to believe that Strathcona House would be spared and integrated in to the plans thus leaving us with some history intact, but under the revised plan this is not the case and the building will now be demolished.

The Rowett Institute has a proud history dating back over 90 years the legacy of this history such as devising food rationing in WWII and producing several Nobel prize winners.

No doubt many folks have passed by Strathcona House, some may have even been inside and admired its grand stairwell, 100ft oak clad hall and six large stained glass windows. Folk describe it as ‘a little like Hogwarts’.

The House was built in 1930 as a centre for visiting scientists from the commonwealth and as a dining room for staff. In the war years it was used as a base for serving RAF personnel stationed at Dyce airport. Latterly it is still used as a canteen for Rowett staff but is much appreciated as a function hall, for local pipe band practice and even the sees the odd wedding.

It would be a tragedy to lose such an iconic building and an important piece of our local history forever. With a bit of foresight and imagination Strathcona could provide a wonderful venue for all sorts of events and be the real ‘jewel in the crown’ of any development.

The new plans now require the house it to be flattened to make way for a service yard for the AECC!

If you would like to help persuade the council that this may not be the best course of action please join us on Facebook.

View photos here.

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Apr 012015

By Duncan Harley and Fred Wilkinson on behalf of the Aberdeen Voice team.


Aberdeen Voice’s ‘poetry mannie in residence’ Bob Smith, who passed away on March 5.

Bob Smith has passed away at age 74. He signed himself “Bob Smith © – The Poetry Mannie” and told us all that Doric wirds are mair expressive, than onything else ye micht hear.

In true Bob style he kept his last illness very quiet saying only that he was unable to write at the present.

His daughter Kerry later got in touch regarding his passing. He died at home.

To the best of our knowledge, his last published piece, The Wireless appeared in the February 2015 edition Leopard Magazine. A fitting tribute to the man’s talent, the poem reflects on past times when he was a loon.

Jimmy Shand, Sports Report and that Prince Charles favourite the Goon Show all get a mention.

This extract tells of Dick Barton Special Agent plus ace detective Paul Temple, famous sleuth and amateur private detective:

“The Wireless ah the memories
O listenin fin I wis a loon
On dark winters nichts roon the fire
Oor Ecko radio it  sure wis a boon

There wis Dick Barton Special Agent
Fa took on aa the baddies
It fair sharpened the imagination
O fowk like us as laddies

Paul Temple an ace dectective
As weel as yon PC49
Solvin aa the nations crimes
Their adventures I likit fine ……… “

Robert Smith was born and brought up on a farm in Skene, Aberdeenshire and educated at Garlogie Primary School and at Skene School. He only took up writing poetry after he retired.

Married to Linda, Bob’s daughter Kerry lives in Dubai. His son Steven sadly pre-deceased him in early 2014.

Bob worked for many years at Aberdeen Journals before taking early retirement to pursue his other interests which included the buying and selling of antiques, playing golf and passionately following the Dons. He proclaimed himself as their number one fan.

A deep love of the North East of Scotland, it’s landscape, it’s people, it’s traditions and it’s natural heritage are recurrent themes in Bob’s written work. Such passion would be expressed not only by celebrating such treasures, but also by questioning, satirising and pouring scorn on any figure or process which threatened or detracted from that which he held dear.

Bob reserved his hard hitting political comments for those whom he felt deserved them. Donald Trump, Sir Ian Wood and a good few Aberdeen councillors often got a good bashing both in the form of his letters to the local papers and his poetry, which was usually in the Doric.

Bob was widely published. A search for “Bob Smith” in the Aberdeen Voice search box will return around 100 of Bob’s Doric poems. There are of course many more.

When the man was asked if he knew of a poem in the Doric to use at a friend’s mums funeral, he replied in the negative but said he would immediately pen one. It was duly read out by a grieving grandson last November in an Aberdeen church to an audience of relatives. Bob of course was unrepentantly shy regarding his contribution to the ceremony, only saying that he was glad to help.

It would be comforting to think that this unpublished piece might become a classic. The Catto family have a cherished copy and if asked would no doubt share freely.

Alongside his weekly Aberdeen Voice column his Doric poems featured in Leopard Magazine and his take on the Turra Coo featured in the Scottish Review.

The Bonnie Dunes o Menie, stuff about Fitba and the Spikkin o Doric all came under his wry scrutiny.

Smithy’s Scribblins aboot the naitural warld included lines such as:

“Foo lang afore ess prophecy becomes a reality? And Weel the wye we’re gobblin up the Earth’s resources, maybe seener than ye bliddy think.

“The fowk fa war native tae America lang afore the supposed civilised warld visited their shores kent fine foo tae live alangside naitur.”

His take on Trump was less forgiving. But apart from a ribald comment or ten, Bob was content just to criticise the man thus:

The Donald’s bocht a golf resort
Doon on the Ayrshire coast
A’ll get ti host The Open
Wull noo be his prood boast

Thirty Five million he did spen
He got Turnberry fer a snip
Es o coorse micht mean
Interest in Menie taks a dip

Jist cast yer myn back
Fin winfairms he did detest
The mannie made a vow
In Scotland he’d nae mair invest

Fit ti mak o ess U-turn
As he cums crawlin back
Bein economical wi the truth
The chiel still his the knack

Hud on a wee meenitie tho’
It micht nae be plain sailin
The spectre o affshore winfairms
Cwid yet hae Trumpie wailin

Marine Scotland it his reported
Aboot a site jist oot at sea
Far ye cwid plunk win turbines
They’d be richt in Donald’s ee

Fergus Ewing says ess plans
Fer noo are aff the radar
Yet fair refused ti rule oot
Returnin ti them later

If a winfairm cam ti pass
Wid The Donald then renege?
Or wid he maybe in a rage
Blaw up yon Ailsa Craig

At Doonbeg he’d ti stop some wark
Did he nae hae richt permission?
He can tho’ noo  gyaang ahead
Maybe efter a new submission?

Micht Donald hae fresh concerns
A snail in Ireland is protectit
Bi speecial environmental laws
An ess canna be correctit

Trump says he’s gyaan ti wark
Wi environmentalists an sic fowk
If he’d deen aat ower in Menie
He micht nae bin classed a gowk

Noo ere’s nae doot the mannie
Oot the news he winna bide
Wull we next aa be hearin
The bugger’s bocht the River Clyde …

He wrote about many folk and commented wildly according to his well held views. Bob knew how to make those wee moments special.

In not so far off December 2013 he referenced some prophetic words by a Native American tribal leader by the name of Chief Seattle.

“A’ll leave the last wird tae a Native American tribal leader, Chief Seattle, fa said awa back in 1854:-

Humankind has not woven the web of life, We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves, All things are bound together.
All things connect.”

One of his most heartfelt classics is Spikkin Doric  published in the Voice some years ago, the piece reflects on the banning of the native tongue of the north east during the difficult days when locals were encouraged to speak the queens English and stand to attention when listening to the national anthem. Bob would have none if it.

A’ve ayewis spak the Doric
Sin a wis jist a loon
A dialect still weel loo’d
Fae the Spey tae Bervie toon

Fin a wis at the local skweel
In classrooms it wis banned
Ye were threatened wi the scud
Fit wid hae wairmed yer hand

Bit eence oot in the playgrun
It flowed oot o yer moo
An wi yer freens an neipers
Doric wisna thocht taboo

We canna lit iss language dee
It’s pairt an paircel o oor lan
The Doric an the North east
They aye gyang han in han

A’m  loathe tak in fit a’m hearin
Young fowk canna say “ch” as in loch
Fit’s the warld cumin tae
If ye canna git yer tongue aroon roch?

Doric wirds are mair expressive
Than onything else ye micht hear
Thunk hivvens fowk still spik it
In  kwintra placies like New Deer

The  braw wird  “dreich” a like
Instead o jist sayin “dull”
Or maybe gyaan “heelster-gowdie”
As ye tummle doon a hull

Robbie Shepherd he still spiks it
An a Doric sang he’ll sing
Sin the days o “The Garlogie Fower”
Iss chiel’s bin the Doric “king”

Lits aa fecht fer the Doric
Hae it taacht in aa the skweels
Instead o aa the lah-de-dahs
Thinkin the Doric is fer feels

© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie

Fred, the Voice Team and I could of course go on. Robert is a man well missed by all who knew him. Well met and well written Bob, we miss you.

Comments are of course very welcome.

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Mar 312015

Kellys_Cats_duncan_harley_2By April McNulty.

Aberdonians may be asked to vote in a Putin style referendum later this year as the city council deliberate whether to replace the outmoded Kelly’s Cat sculptures with a 21st Century equivalent.

Subjects such as manhole covers, phone boxes and even red squirrels are under consideration.

However Aberdeen City Council says that all suggestions are welcome.

“Those anoraks among us relish street furniture” said a council spokesman. 

“It’s all around us and much of it, especially the older pieces, has attained iconic status. The humble cast iron manhole cover and the quite majestic GPO red phone box are fine examples. But the Kelly’s Cat sculptures are part of a much darker era” he told assembled press.

“We really want to seek out what the citizens of the Granite City want. Be it the retention of the present Leopard sculptures or replacement with something like a cute Collie dog or a nice cat, its all up for discussion” said council spokesman Bryan Cromlet.

“We have had many complaints over the years and it’s probably time to move into the 21st century.”

Aberdeen residents have been quick to point out that there has been a long standing debate as to whether Kelly actually created the cats, after all he was busy designing much larger structures such as the Harlaw Monument near Inverurie.

“I don’t think Dr Kelly was much into cats” said one local resident. “He was more of a dog lover” said another.

Supporters of the council proposal point to the undisputed fact that the leopard is a member of the Felidae family which has a wide range throughout Africa, Siberia and tropical Asia. Not much chance of being confronted by a leopard in Aberdeen or the shire perhaps.

Which ever way the April 1st vote goes there will be winners and losers said one City Councillor who pointed out that:

“The Kelly’s Cats on Union Terrace Bridge are of course nowadays on a nightly suicide watch alongside the Samaritan posters which urge would be jumpers to think again and seek kind words, advice and help before taking that last drastic step into the void.”

Many Aberdonians may however decide to vote against the removal and smelting down of these somewhat black but iconic metallic cultural icons.

Kelly’s great-niece, writing in Leopard Magazine several years ago related how during rag week, the students used to tie ribbons around the leopards’ necks. Seemingly the ribbons have now been removed.

Since then there has been debate as to whether Kelly actually designed the leopards, or whether it was Sidney Boyes, the sculptor who designed the bronze panels on either side of Union Terrace Bridge.

Dr Kelly seemingly used a similar leopard design on the savings bank in Union Terrace and sketches of the actual finials are in the Kelly Archive in Aberdeen University.

The debate continues unabated and the jury is of course still out.

A spokesman for Aberdeen City Council said that he was unable to comment but whispered privately to ‘Voice that:

“All is good in Kelly Land, despite the threat of smelting down … moves are afoot to quash the move to melt down the iconic symbols of Scotland’s oil capital.

“There is no way this confounding sacrilege will be allowed to happen … heads will probably roll.”

The good citizens of the Granite City will hopefully make their views known in the local referendum in early April.

Aberdeen City Council might welcome comments on the issue.

Words and image © April McNulty

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Mar 132015

Better Soc AwardsWith thanks to Esther Green, Tricker PR.

Aberdeen Asset Management is being recognised for its efforts that go beyond commercial success and make a valuable contribution to society.

It has reached the finals of the which acknowledge excellence in environmental performance, sustainable investing, business ethics, transparency, support for non-profit organisations, and more.

Being shortlisted in the Commitment to the Community (national company) category, Aberdeen Asset Management has demonstrated wide reaching work carried out by the company and its employees including direct charitable donations, business advice, an apprenticeship scheme, sponsorship and scholarships and volunteering.

Last year alone, the Aberdeen city office gave a total of £90,000 directly to charity appeals, which included an initial £30,000 to the Coats for Kids appeal which ensured that 300 children living in poverty in Aberdeen were kitted out with cosy seasonal clothing. When the appeal was oversubscribed, Aberdeen added a further £7,500 to the campaign.

Advice and support can be just as valuable as cash donations, and one senior manager worked for a year to develop a strategy for charity Shmu FM which supports residents in seven regeneration areas of Aberdeen.

Aberdeen has run highly successful paid intern and graduate programmes for many years and in 2012 created a  pilot apprenticeship scheme for pupils who want to enter the world of work straight from the classroom, with five school leavers from Harlaw and St Machar Academies, who began their apprenticeships in either business or technology disciplines.

This programme has continued to flourish and as a result of its success is being rolled out to other locations.

As the annual sponsor of the Aberdeen Universities’ Boat Race, the company not only provides a significant prize pot which enables both of the city’s universities to retain their rowing clubs, but also gives full race kit for participants and a fully funded marketing and PR for the event.

Aberdeen has recently confirmed renewed funding of the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy, Banffshire.

After its four year sponsorship deal with Aberdeen Asset Management came to an end, festival organisers struggled to find a successor. Aberdeen threw a lifeline to the event – which attracts 16,000 visitors per year and provides significant benefits to the local economy – by agreeing to continue its support this year and into 2016.

In addition, Aberdeen is a Living Wage Employer

The Glover Scholarship  marks Aberdeen’s relationship with Mitsubishi, and the firm funds an annual summer scholarship which enables one Scottish student to travel to Japan for a six-week intensive language course.

Aberdeen also encourages volunteering and has a generous volunteer leave policy in place. In May last year, the company took part in a 24 hour global volunteering day challenge to coincide with Give and Gain Day.

Over 10% of the workforce from 24 cities took part – starting the day in Sydney and moving across the globe, finishing in Toronto, Philadelphia and São Paulo.

During the AAM Scottish Open 2014, over £73,000 was raised for The ARCHIE Foundation (Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital), the official charity partner.

In addition, Aberdeen is a Living Wage Employer, operates a payroll giving scheme, with the company matching all employee contributions, and encourages all employees to reduce the environmental impact of the company’s operations through promoting environmental awareness such as  participation in Earth Hour, promoting the cycle to work scheme and supporting energy reduction across its global operations.

Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, says;

“Aberdeen values all the communities in which it operates and invests, and where social issues exist we try to play a part in helping alleviate these.

“In particular, we seek partnerships with smaller charities and causes, where funds can be seen to have a meaningful and measurable impact.

“We encourage employees to use their time and skills to support our charitable projects and it is pleasing to see the difference this can make to communities and society.”

Aberdeen Asset Management is one of more than 60 companies across a diverse range of industries shortlisted for the inaugural awards and the winners will be revealed at a ceremony to take place in London on 14 May.

The new event is separate but complementary to the Charity Times awards.

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Feb 122015

With thanks to David Innes.


A new display cabinet was built to display the League Cup in the Main Stand Foyer

Whilst there was the official business of re-electing office-bearers and approving the Trust’s financial statement, of most interest was the summary of the Trust’s work in the past 12 months, contained in the Chairman’s Report.

Since the end of the 2013-14 Financial Year the Trust and its supporters have carried out a great deal of research and added many match reports to the Trust’s website.

Production of a match programme for the Under 20s has continued and has assisted in raising funds for Trust activities.

A small collection of Aberdeen related medals was purchased – two directly relating to Jimmy Philip, the club’s first manager, from 1903-1924.

Assistance was given to AFC Youth Development in the sale of raffle tickets for the Stephen Glass 1995 Coca-Cola bicycle, and processing of funds to the Youth Development department. Subsequently, negotiations with the raffle winner to bring the bike back to Pittodrie have been progressed.

A new display cabinet was built to display the League Cup in the Main Stand Foyer. With that trophy now destined for elsewhere this season, the cabinet backdrop has been redesigned and alternative items of club history displayed. The cabinet’s dimensions are such that it will accommodate any trophy for which the Dons currently compete.

The Chairman and Secretary have visited Alford’s Grampian Transport Museum and discussed a possible AFC exhibition there in May 2015. We are still considering what would be best to put on show.

The restoration of the 1907 poster by the Scottish Conservation Studio was completed and paid for. Framing to museum standard was arranged and the production of 30 actual size and 300 A3 size prints was also arranged. Selling is ongoing via the Club Shop at £65 per print, including a certificate of authenticity, and profits will be shared with Buckie Thistle.

In October the Big Red Quiz (organised by Trustee Bob Bain) was held and £4000 raised for Trust funds.

In November the annual Armistice Memorial Ceremony was held, on a bigger scale than ever. Gifts were received by the Club and the Trust from the Ghurkha community.

A limited edition of 20 pewter figurines, replicating Willie Miller’s arm and hand grasping the ECWC in his famous pose, was commissioned and received.  This is a 10” version of the item originated and marketed by Dolly Digital, and matches the stature of the mini-replica ECWC given to the club by UEFA. The first of these figurines was put on display in the Main Stand Foyer cabinet (pic above)

A small display cabinet has been commissioned for the Black and Gold Lounge for the display of George McNicol’s boots from 1904.

A collection of bound volumes of The Northern Figaro (a 19th century local weekly) has been obtained and is being scoured for “new” information and pictures from the pre-1903 period.

The next matchday bucket collection for Trust funds will be held when the recently-postponed SPL fixture against Dundee United is played.

A sale of old programmes is being considered, before the end of the season, in the Richard Donald Stand.

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