Oct 222017

Duncan Harley reflects on Life, the Universe and Everything. A sideways look at the world and its foibles.

Nephrostomies work reasonably well but are, if truth be told, never particularly good. I mean, who in their right mind wants to wear a bag full of warm urine around their waist in summer. Not that anyone might know of course.
In the best possible taste, all is pretty well hidden apart from the drainage tube sticking out of one’s back.

In fact, the consultant, or at least one of them, cautioned that, although it all looks bleak – and I can tell you that this is true – no-one would really know that you are wearing one.

Really? I think not. Pissing, showering and anything to do with having sex are on the table as being difficult.

Having a shower involves a set routine.

First wash your hands. Then empty the urine bag. Ensure that a dry waist belt is available and then, and only then, take a shower. On emerging, dry off before changing belts. Make sure that you towel underneath the bag – otherwise you will need to suffer wet pants and worse. Above all, never sleep on your back and avoid turning in bed lest you put pressure on the bag. And, whenever it feels right, keep on with the hand-washing.

It’s a habit learned from the warnings on the wards – hospital acquired infections are rife. Hand-washing may defray death.

Simple really.

That’s an aside of course. Mainly, and apart from not being able to sleep on my back for the last 12 weeks, life is good.

The health-break has allowed a final edit to the new book. Taking it easy is fine if the head is allowed to engage after all.

The first post-surgical days were, to coin a phrase, a bit mad. An elder son had gifted a biography of a certain Bukowski as a birthday gift and I read it on the ward. Between bouts of surgically induced pain, the life and times of the man who variously wrote ‘Some people never go crazy, what truly horrible lives they must lead’ and ‘We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us’ made complete sense. All down to the morphine perhaps.

So, there we have it. There is nothing like a good nephrostomy really.

At least, in the big picture, I have had a chance to do a final edit to the new book. I had, until now, no idea how much work a book involved. As I sit recovering aside a pile of other people’s books I and my cat Lucy take heart that in a few weeks or so, I will become famous. Or infamous, depending on your stance, as the author of the A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire.

After all everyone should write a book at least once in their lifetime and I count myself one of the lucky few who have finally made it into print. Lucy is not so sure.

Muchalls, David Toulmin and the doomed Marquis of Montrose all get a good mention alongside Inkson McConnachie, Victoria’s ‘brown Brown’ and of course Jock o’ Bennachie.

Here’s a wee extract:

“When John Reid wrote about his native North-east in his guise as David Toulmin,

he penned some memorable stories. His tale ‘Snowfire’ springs to mind. Hitler’s

armies are at the very gates of Moscow and the Russians are fighting for their

lives in the siege of Leningrad. It is 1942 and he records that the folk of Buchan

were getting the ‘tail-end’ of the Russian winter ‘so you dug the snow from the

turnip drills … and all you’d get for an afternoon’s work was enough to fill a horse

cart.’ During a fierce blizzard, the farm’s water supply freezes, leaving the drinking

troughs empty. When the beasts are finally let onto the frozen river to drink from a

hole in the ice, a German bomber appears overhead and the aircraft gunner sprays

the ice with bullets, sending the thirst-crazed animals to a watery doom.

Toulmin is nowadays internationally recognised as one of Aberdeenshire’s finest

exponents of the short story. Born on a farm at Rathen in Aberdeenshire, he

worked as a farm labourer and spent most of his life working long hours on

the land for very small rewards. In odd moments he jotted down short stories,

character studies and bothy tales. Eventually, he had a few articles printed in local

newspapers. The first of his ten books was published when he was 59. His literary

output consisted mostly of short stories and reminiscences, his one novel, Blown

Seed, painting a vivid and harsh picture of farm life as an indentured labourer.”

Wish me luck is all I can say.

Grumpy Jack

PS: the book is on pre-order at http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/publication/the-a-z-of-curious-aberdeenshire/9780750983792/

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Oct 132017

The final curtain at ARI.

Duncan Harley reflects on Life, the Universe and Everything. A sideways look at the world and its foibles.

That’s me back from ARI. It’s a fine place if you are just visiting if truth be told. If you are an inmate, then maybe that’s quite a different story.

I went in with an open mind. After all the nice admission nurse only asked me stuff about the months of the year and my CHI Number. Seemingly if you are old and ill, they need to check that you are not mad.

What the feck is a CHI, I wondered while reciting the months backwards from D to J.

“Who is the Queen?” she said. I reflected on the various times I have almost met the monarch and still had no answer.

How should I know? After all she – that is if she is a she and not an ageing robot – only asked me what a spurtle was. Or was that her dead sister Margaret?

Fortunately, she refrained on this occasion from asking the dates of the beginning and end of the first war. I had that in my sights. Well it really depends on whether you think that the war ended on Armistice Day in 1918, or on Peace Day in 1919 or in 1946 after the surrender of Japan. Revisionist historians all around the globe have been arguing the point for decades and who am I to disagree.

Whatever, I doubt if Royals eat porridge anyway. And, if they did, they would probably deny it.

The folk in hospital-land were mainly really nice.

When the queen came to open the Chelsea Roof Garden, they served cake on a red tray complete with a bowl of Royal soup and something called Balmoral Chicken.

The folk on the ward ate it if they could apart from the man in bed four who was on a fast – before a procedure.

Like in Ramadan, we all – apart from the man in bed 2 – tried to eat unsuspiciously lest bed four became jealous.

In the end it came down to the keeping of the Royal menus. Bed 4 donated his meal to newly arrived bed 1 on condition that the Royal menu was kept for him as a souvenir.

More fool him. The kitchen staff, who normally issued copies of the food order, had that day decided to keep the food trays pristine.

Not for us the usual check-list of what we had – often in a morphine-induced dream state – ordered. For today there would be no auditing of food and no chance of complaining about a mis-order.

In my case, I ordered Glamorgan Cheese something or other from the Duchy of Cornwall plus a bowl of Royal Game Soup.

What arrived was Balmoral Hen complete with a stuffing of Game Haggis.

It was fine. And I can’t really complain. In fact, in all of my ARI days – the food was fab.

The company was generally good and there was a fine view of the new Wood multi-story car park from the window of the day room.

The dark side of the coin …

Well, there was the blood man.

Sad and a relic of a former self, he made me feel humbled as he stumbled around the ward.

Here is his tale. Read it if you dare and reflect quietly that it could be you or yours in a future year:

‘After the bloodbath of the night before, all seemed quiet in the ward. The blond bigmouth in the corner lay curled up beneath his hospital blanket and the sun streamed in through the blinds at the far end. An occasional phone went and the buzzers summoned the bustling staff.

Us of us patients who could, slept or read. And, just above the hum of the air-conditioning, an occasional snore could be heard.

The blood-man, for that is what we called him after the night before, had quietened down and was brought back into the ward. Bigmouth continued to complain to anyone who walked past. Seemingly he had been a victim of the night before and had had to have his bed changed due to spilt blood-soaked urine. Shamefully he told the night’s tale to the relatives next day despite ample warning from bed four that all that happens in the ward, stays in the ward. Such abominable patients can be a pain.

Naked and full of good intentions, the blood-man had – in the best possible taste – become unpopular. But what he had done must remain secret, for if revealed then heads might roll and his unpopularity might become infamy amongst his peers. And, we shouldn’t countenance that at any cost.

Suffice it to say that he had lost both his Press and Journal newspaper plus a full three pages from the Daily Telegraph. The loss of the P and J was easily solved. They say they sell 60 thousand of the bloody things each day in Aberdeen alone and the man in bed two happily donated a copy to compensate the blood-man’s loss.

As for the Telegraph, we were all at two’s and three’s. After all, the blood-man’s wife had seemingly taken the missing pages.

“I can’t find three of the pages of my Telegraph” he had said.

“My wife has probably taken them. It’s exactly the sort of thing she might do” he concluded.

We, apart from the blond bigmouth – who was by that time AWOL and possibly meeting a friend with vodka at the lift on level three – remained sceptical. But, of course you never really know what’s going through a man’s mind.

Maybe Mrs Blood-man had it in for the man. Or maybe she was simply looking out for him. Or maybe it was all in his imaginary world of pain, urine and shit.’

Grumpy Jack.

P.S. A huge thanks to the folk on 209. You do it well.

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Apr 072017

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Mark Milne, who will be taking part in Etape Loch Ness, to raise money for a trust set up for his son, Alfie. The youngster has a rare and incurable disease and the fund provides support to other patients with the condition.

The father of a young boy with a rare and incurable disease is saddling up and getting on his bike to
help parents around the world
whose children have also been struck down by the same debilitating condition.
Mark Milne, whose son, Alfie, is one of an estimated 250 people worldwide to have been diagnosed with lymphangiomatosis, will take on Etape Loch Ness to raise money for research into the disease and to fund patient support services.

The Alfie Milne Trust was launched by Mark and his wife, Tracy, after their son was diagnosed with lymphangiomatosis at less than a year old.

The condition leads to the formation of benign tumours of the lymphatic system which can grow anywhere in the body, and due to their massive expansion can cause severe and life-threatening complications.

Mark (48) will join thousands of other cyclists in completing a 66-mile route around the iconic loch on April 23 – and in doing so he hopes to spread the word about the condition and give patients better access to support services.

The couple from Aberdeen found it hard to get any information about the disease because it is so rare: it is thought that Alfie is one of only 250 estimated cases in the world and one of only 15 in the UK.

They want their fund-raising, which currently stands at over £200,000, will help other patients living with lymphangiomatosis by raising awareness of support services and by providing grants to medical bodies.

Mark says,

“Before we launched the Trust, I would be the one who would be standing at the finish line at sporting events, smoking a cigarette and watching everyone else do the hard work. But we’ve done lots of events to raise money since 2012 and although I am still no fitness freak, I’ve completed a couple of bike rides,10Ks and half marathons.

“I’m actually going to be doing a 10K the day before Etape Loch Ness, so I’m not sure how I will be feeling for the event. I’ve always fancied doing this one because it is so beautiful up there, and I think the fact that it is on closed roads will make it really special.”

Alfie, who is now aged nine, was a happy and healthy boy for the first eight months of his life. However, his parents noticed that one of his legs was swollen and after x-rays were carried out, doctors also identified a curve in his spine.

After an MRI scan, the family travelled to Great Ormand Street Hospital in London where the diagnosis of lymphangiomatosis was made. The disease was in Alfie’s right leg, pelvic area and in the marrow of some bones, and it was also preventing his blood from clotting.

His health rapidly deteriorated: while he was still in London he suffered internal bleeding, frequently high temperatures and had to undergo countless blood transfusions – he was so poorly that his parents and doctors feared the worst. However, he battled through and some weeks later was well enough to return to Aberdeen to undergo chemotherapy.

From there on, the family has had to watch as Alfie – who was five by the time he took his first steps – has endured numerous stays in hospital, blood transfusions, drug therapies and various treatment plans.

His leg has deteriorated and Alfie has not been able to walk unaided since 2012. However, the family hope there will be a drastic improvement in his mobility after undergoing specialist surgery at the start of the year.

Mark explains,

“Last year we learned about a procedure that could be performed on Alfie’s leg to try and straighten it, with the hope of allowing him to walk unaided.

“Surgery is always very difficult with Alfie’s condition because of the high risks of infection and lymphatic leakage, but after undergoing lots of physiotherapy to prepare him for the surgery, we went ahead with it.

“The surgery was carried out at Great Ormand Street and it went really, really well. It was a success but it’s down to Alfie now to work on the physiotherapy and battle through it to get up on his own feet. As with any condition like this, we have good days and we have bad days.

“When Alfie was diagnosed we really struggled to find out information about his condition because it is so rare. We hope that other families, regardless of where they are in the world, will be able to benefit from the work of the Alfie Milne Trust, so that getting the support they need becomes easier.”

Further details about Alfie’s Trust are available at www.alfiemilne.org.uk and donations to Mark’s fund-raising efforts can be made on uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MarkMilne  

Thousands of cyclists, many of them raising money for good causes including official charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support, are gearing up to take part in Etape Loch Ness on April 23.

Starting and finishing in Inverness, the 66-mile route follows the north side of the loch and then loops round at Fort Augustus to return via the south side. Once past Fort Augustus, cyclists face the toughest challenge of the course – a 4.8 mile climb rising to 380m in height at the Glendoe Summit.

Etape Loch Ness has grown to become one of the nation’s best loved cycling events and places this year sold out in a record 50 hours. Further information about the event is available at www.etapelochness.com and regular updates also appear on social media at facebook.com/etapelochness and @EtapeLochNess on Twitter.

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Dec 012016

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

MHAthmMental Health Aberdeen (MHA) is piloting a support service within the city centre to gauge demand for a permanent drop-in presence.

The charity is providing the service, called The Club, every Friday afternoon from the Health Village in Frederick Street for an initial period of eight weeks, offering free support, information and services to anyone affected by challenges related to mental health and wellbeing.

The aim is to provide support in an accessible location for people and explore the possibility of gaining funding to make the drop-in club permanent.

Astrid Whyte, chief executive of MHA, said:

“As a charity we are always looking for the best ways to provide help and support and we have wanted to gauge demand for a drop-in style service for some time. We want to let people know that they do not have to suffer alone as help, advice and resources are available.

“Each person that reaches out to us has made a difficult first step and we want to ensure they are supported as quickly as possible. The drop-in offers us a different way of doing that and early sessions have indicated quite a high uptake which indicates the need to provide help in this way. We plan to run The Club until Christmas before moving forward and trying to gain longer term funding.

“MHA is hoping to expand our service to offer this facility on a permanent basis but that is dependent on securing enough funding. We are optimistic we can achieve this and introduce what we believe will become a hugely important means of support for people in need.”

The Club runs every Friday from 1.3-pm to 4pm at the Health Village in Frederick Street.

MHA was founded in 1950 and provides support services, counselling and advice to people affected by challenges related to mental health and wellbeing. Services are available for children from the age of 12 and adults.

The organisation was among the first to provide community care – with its first residential project, a group home for discharged psychiatric patients, opened more than 35 years ago. MHA has also been providing day services continuously for over 60 years.

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Sep 232016

Aberdeen Voice can reveal that Fiona Manclark, former Facebook Page Administrator for Northfield Animal Haven made an accusation of cannabis use at the farm by the owner, and claims drink and other drug use by others took place there too. Cannabis might be a means to alleviate symptoms of serious illness – but is someone using it regularly able to safely look after 170+ animals on a working farm and animal sanctuary?

In the second article in a series concerning NAH, Suzanne Kelly explains her doubts, and looks at other claims made in Manclark’s remarkable letter to the court, written in response to Suzanne Kelly’s legal action to stop Manclark’s defamation of her. By Suzanne Kelly

cannabis-400832_1280After a drawn out court procedure, defamation action I instigated against Fiona Manclark resulted in my being awarded £10,000 plus costs.
Manclark had run out of road with regard to my lawsuit which sought damages and an apology for her defamation of me which spanned Twitter, Facebook and email. She had applied for legal aid and was denied (the process took months).

Legal aid is normally denied where the applicant either has sufficient funds to cover their costs or where the applicant does not have sound grounds for bringing or defending legal action.

Despite Fiona Manclark having numerous opportunities to issue an apology and remove the various social media slurs without having to pay any damages, she chose to contest the legal action. It took months before the offensive comments were deleted. Eventually her legal firm announced to the courts it would no longer be defending Manclark; no reason was supplied.

When a hearing was scheduled in mid August, Manclark chose not to appear or send a legal representative: she did however send the court a most remarkable letter. Two members of Aberdeen Voice attended the sheriff court to look at the letter, and a shorthand transcription was made of it. All Ms Manclark needed to do was to put forward her side of the argument to the court as the defendant in the defamation action. She went much, much farther.

“…if there is money for drugs, she should not be asking the public for handouts”

Manclark’s letter openly accuses Kelly Cable of using cannabis, and of permitting others living on the farm to drink, use cannabis and ‘to be addicted’ to prescription drugs.

Manclark talks about first meeting the owner of Northfield, Kelly Cable. Manclark visited the farm to buy a pet rabbit – as an aside, reputable animal charities do not breed or sell animals; Cable managed to bridge the gap between rescue, breeding for sale, and running a commercial farm all from the same premises; an ethical dilemma and one unique in the rescue sector in Scotland as far as I can determine.

Aberdeen Voice has asked NAH about selling pets. In response, Northfield Animal Haven owner Kelly Cable told Aberdeen Voice:

“We do not breed or sell rabbits we rehome them and accept a donation of the persons choosing. The only connection with that is that Ms Manclark rehomed a rabbit from us then sold it.

“….since Sept last year Ms Manclark has had nothing to do with Northfield Animal Haven.”

After Manclark and Cable talked, Manclark and her children visited the farm. The children ‘helped build up the farm’ and ‘put in fence posts’ (presumably they were properly supervised, given personal protective clothing, and a safety briefing).

It was then Manclark alleges Cable:

“also smoked cannabis, but that was for medical reasons.”

This would certainly be consistent with a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia – one of an astonishing number of debilitating conditions a variety of sources, including Cable herself, claim she suffers from.

Kelly Cable responded:

“You state that a letter from Ms Manclark declares all of this but I had a private message conversation with ms Manclark from a few days ago where she states I was never mentioned in any letter…”

Fibromyalgia and cannabis:

Fibromyalgia is a serious illness – one with totally unpredictable symptoms and widely ranging levels of pain. Cannabis and cannabis/hemp oil derivatives seem to alleviate pain in some cases.

Some forms of cannabis oil (which do not contain the intoxicant thc) are legal in the UK; at present cannabis is still considered illegal. This is a situation that needs addressing, but in the context of NAH, allegedly, a Fibromyalgia sufferer is running a farm and using cannabis while caring for 170 animals.

Kelly Cable had this to say:

“My personal health is of no business to anyone but what I will say is just because your disabled doesnt mean you give up and lie in bed all day. I am on prescribed medication from my doctor so I cannot give you an answer as to whether cannabis is a useful treatment for my health as its not prescribed.”

NAH also seeks donations from the public because there is not enough money to support the rescues; sometimes it says animals may have to be put to sleep if funds aren’t donated. (NB the commercial arm of the farm sells animals at market all the while).

In this resect Northfield and Cable are again in an unprecedented situation in the animal welfare sector. A report has been made to the police and other relevant authorities, and other witnesses agree with Manclark’s assertion.

A fibromyalgia sufferer would in all likelihood find properly caring for 170 animals at a sanctuary/commercial farm even a more formidable task than a healthy adult would, yet it is claimed Kelly Cable runs the farm with little or even no help at times.

One occasion when her father helped resulted – by Kelly Cable’s own admission – in 17 horses being cut while they were to be transported from one field to another. Eric Cable was also injured in this incident. Inexplicably, Kelly Cable chose to link Aberdeen Voice to this worrying event– clearly with no foundation in reason or fact. In a rambling rant concerning a variety of allegations, Kelly Cable wrote:

“… I arranged alternative grazing for the animals here some of which should not even been attempted to load and moved and what happens my Dad who is 73 gets knocked over and trampled by horses that are so scared, so now I have 17 terrified horses all with cuts etc from trying to be loaded and they are now stressed and very anxious.

“I would suggest that anyone who has shared the articles from the Aberdeen voice or anyone who has jumped on the bandwagon and spouted this crap had better remove all information as Monday morning even if I have to sell my car to do it I will be going after everyone who has done damage to this sanctuary.

“I am also going to the national press and quite a few revelations will be disclosed to the press which can be backed up by various websites….”

Precisely how the horses were scared, who else was helping, whether the horses’ legs bandaged for shipping (as would be good practice) is unknown; NAH has been asked to explain.

Kelly Cable rsponded:

” I have already explained what happened there, if one horse gets spooked it will set off others in the fields, beside them, and in stables but if we had managed to raise funds for hay we wouldnt have had to move them but as our reputation was in tatters this did not happen so we had no choice but to move them a couple of miles away to grazing.”

The NFU Scotland was asked to comment on potential issues of cannabis use on a farm; the request was something of a first for them. They commented:

“Farmers, crofters and their staff are no different from other sectors of society and existing laws around the misuse of drugs would apply. That said, farming is a hazardous occupation and as an industry our record on health and safety is poor. 

“If we are to cut the number of deaths and serious injuries in farming, then anything that impairs someone’s judgement when working with equipment or dealing with animals or potentially places themselves and others at risk must be avoided at all costs.”

Let’s say for argument’s sake there is nothing at all wrong in terms of safety and risk with having THC in the bloodstream and being seriously ill while looking after 170 animals.

Let’s assume that a person with a number of debilitating medical conditions, who allegedly smokes cannabis, and her father were perfectly capable of transporting 17 horses. How then did Eric Cable get trampled, and how did 17 animals suffer cuts in the incident?

Is it somehow Aberdeen Voice’s or my fault considering Kelly Cable leads directly from describing the injuries to AV? One last bit of food for thought:

Northfield is also offering animal assisted therapy: would you be comfortable utilising their service?

Fiona Manclark’s letter continues to say that after the revelations regarding drug use, she decided to cut ties with Northfield, not wanting her children around drugs, and saying:

“…if there is money for drugs, she should not be asking the public for handouts…”

Manclark appears not to have shared her concerns with police or animal welfare organisations that Aberdeen Voice is aware of; we will publish her response to the question when it is received. It is as if her concern was limited to her own children and not other visitors or donors.

Dismissing Manclark’s claims, Kelly Cable said:

“Claims regarding cannabis first came about in ms [Suzanne] kellys nativity story last year and now ms manclark has used them as defence in a defamation case, as ms kelly had won I think that question has already been answered but it has been discussed with the police on the 3 seperate occasions I have had these claims made against me.”


What was the relevance of Manclark’s illness to the court? Did it prevent her making an apology, prevent her submitting evidence to back up the hacking claim?

Evidence of the illness was asked for as part of the legal process. No evidence was supplied because in Manclark’s words:

“The reason I have no legal representation any more is that I was requested to get a report from the doctor regarding my health, …..I really didn’t want this dragging on any longer than necessary as this has been a contributing factor to my state of mind.”

For someone who did not want the action dragging on, she did her best to prolong it.

The power to end the legal action always rested with Fiona Manclark. She chose to seek legal aid when a simple apology and deletion of offending posts – without having to pay any damages – was still possible.

“So sue me” were her words on the matter early on, and later repeated to my lawyer. Apparently she only phoned his office to issue that challenge because she was having medical issues. However, only towards the conclusion of the defamation action is there a reference to illness. More can be found in a previous Aberdeen Voice article. 

Manclark’s slurs against me were seen by thousands. She remained defiant that she was telling the truth about me and had evidence – it never materialised. Her slurs have quite possibly stopped people coming to me with stories that I might have otherwise been able to research this past year. The longer her remarks remained visible on the internet, the more time they had to seep in and damage my reputation.

If I am somewhat unsympathetic to the idea that her undocumented illness claim should have been considered by the court, I hope that is understandable. The court’s position is ultimately the last word on the question of illness. It sided with me.

That Mystery Hacker:

Fiona Manclark says in her letter that she agreed to be a Facebook administrator for NAH on the back of the first visit to buy the rabbit.

She wrote:

“I agreed, and she gave me all her passwords and I gave her mine. (I do understand it was a stupid thing to do)”

Kelly Cable has since posted on Facebook that she had never had Manclark’s passwords. Aberdeen Voice has asked each of them to clarify this anomaly.

Kelly Cable told Aberdeen Voice:

“Ms manclark and her family helped out with the haven and Ms Manclark was made admin on my page, I gave my passwords so that she may access anything she needed, why would I need hers. I have emails confirming that I myself was removed as admin and the page was hacked and resulted in my original page being deleted.”

Around the time the legal action against Manclark started, a dialogue appeared on the Northfield site concerning an alleged hacking attack. The conversation involves Cable and Manclark – and at one point they named me as the possible hacker.

Manclark:  “My own fb was hacked too tho, so maybe it’s someone with a grudge against me. Which again makes me think of Suzanne. She was spitting feathers over me calling her an alkie”

Cable:  “Yeah very true. I have told the police about the hacking as well maybe they can find out who hacked it and have them done xx”

Hacking is considered a serious crime. If there had been a police report or investigation, it certainly did not result in any contact with me or Aberdeen Voice.

On the other hand, as reported in the first article in this series, Manclark refused to help me get the police to investigate the hacking crime.

If the police had investigated the hack, then I would have accepted there was a bona fide attack and stopped my lawsuit. I would also have expected the victim of a hack to remove material posted by a hacker; this took ages – during which time the hacker (so we are led to believe) posted refusals to retract, claimed they had evidence to back up the slurs, and told me to sue.

We are looking for a pro-NAH hacker with the ability to hack Fiona Manclark’s twitter, facebook and email over a period of six months, who had a particular desire to attack me. Anyone with any suspicions as to the identity of such a skilled hacker should please contact the police and/or Aberdeen Voice.


Manclark initially told my solicitor she had no idea who I was; and yet she had an exchange with Cable concerning hacking, which mentions me.

On 13 October 2015 as part of an exchange about ‘hacking’ with Kelly Cable Manclark posted:

“Yes because I don’t want that bitch getting off with anything. And I was getting private mails from her until I blocked her. Still waiting to hear from her solicitor too J J J “

The two women had mentioned me by name by now, but perhaps it is some other person who they accuse of hacking them who had threatened legal action Manclark is referring to? Ms Manclark is at liberty to explain who else could be under discussion if not me. Perhaps amnesia is another illness Ms Manclark has, for on 20 November, she wrote to my lawyer to say she’d never heard of me:

“Message Received: Nov 20 2015, 02:04 PM
“Subject: Suzanne Kelly

“To whom.ot may concern, 

“I have just received a letter saying that I have been slanderous towards your client. I do not know your client and I have never heard of the voice.

“My social media was hacked, and due to a disagreement with Kelly Cable, I had only been admin of the page for 2 weeks. I had never posted as admin on the page. My hacking was reported, and I closed down both Facebook and Twitter as people were getting spam mail. I have since reopened other accounts.

“I have been in touch with Kelly Cable to ask if she knows of your client, and apparently the police have been contacted due to a dispute between your client and her. I have again reiterated to Kelly Cable that I do not want her to contact me again. 

“Again, I do not know your client, and I certainly would not get into a slanging match online for everyone to see. 

“I have absolutely nothing to do with Northfield Animal Haven, and haven’t for a long time, and I do not wish to be associated with them in anyway.”

Perhaps having to clarify how she knew me in October but didn’t know me in November was one of those things that made her uncomfortable with appearing in front of the court.

Truth and Consequences

I started this investigation after Aberdeen Voice published an innocuous press release with my byline calling for standards for animal rescues. I had heard of Northfield Animal Haven and its split personality when it comes to rescuing Animal A while selling Animal B at market, and its sans souci attitude about the future of the sold animal.

Kelly Cable responded:

“I have explained quite a few times now as to how we work here. Yes we have a flock of 26 ewes in size by no means a commercial flock we also occasionally buy a couple of bull calves and raise them. This is our income and also goes towards feed for the rescue animals. No rescue animals are ever bred from or sent to slaughter.

“Yes my sign says all farm animals so therefore if we take in a farm animal then it is a rescue, not an animal that has been purchased then claimed to be rescued. The animals that are here all live together interact with each other but you also get the welfare benefits of grazing these animals together, ie worms, ticks, flys etc these counteract with the other animals.

“With having farm animals we are regulated by animal health and seerad because we have rescue animals here they also have to be included in the forms for vet medicines, feed, nitrogen deposits on the ground.”

After a bit of research I published an article, and was soon inundated with emails suggesting further areas for investigation about the farm and the Cables.

I discovered Kelly has a conviction for benefit fraud. I discovered how she eventually got out of repaying a £5,000 loan, at one point claiming her signature was a forgery (a forensic handwriting expert soon put paid to the claim).

I soon found myself the target of abuse in varying forms from the Cables and their administrator Fiona Manclark across social media. A year long battle to get Manclark to apologise and remove her damaging remarks also resulted in my being awarded £10,000 plus costs – an expense wholly within Manclark’s power to have avoided.

Manclark and Cable claim they were hacked. Their discussions also mention me as being the potential hacker – all very odd, as Manclark informed my lawyer she had only heard of me when he wrote to her, which was after I sent her one personal message asking her to remove the remarks. If you believe her, then it must have been the hacker who responded to my request across twitter, facebook and email and who said ‘so sue me’.

I take Fibromyalgia very seriously, and I am involved in a recognised SCIO which buys cannabis oil for peole with documented medical evidence of serious illness such as Fibro – as long as they are an adult in financial hardship who has done their own research and has made the decision to use legal CBD oil in conjunction with their medical practitioner.

No one of the three people in this SCIO take any money; in fact it is costing me money to run, but it is an important service and I am happy to offer it.

In the next article I will explain why it is important for everyone to be free from abusive lies, and how defending my reputation is particularly important concerning investigative journalism – Would people be coming to me with leads? Would publishers buy my work? Would readers believe me?

Fiona Manclark tried to stop me. Using legal means, I have now stopped her.

But the real concern here is for the welfare of animals – 170 animals seems a huge amount for a woman who, according to a number of posts including at least one by Manclark, is doing it on her own. Kelly Cable often says she is in dire need of funds, sometimes hinting that animals may be put to sleep if she doesn’t’ get money.

By several accounts, there are funds enough for cannabis. Assuming she has Fibro and is able to manage her large menagerie, she must be nearly super human.

I’ve worked on farms. I know how long it takes to look after – properly feeding, exercising, grooming, cleaning stalls for even a dozen horses can be. I do not see how anyone with a serious illness can safely, effectively look after such a huge number of animals. By her own words, there has been an accident with 17 horses and her father.

The welfare of the animals is paramount – but protecting the consumer from fraudulent appeals for money is important too. This is why I am researching and writing about Northfield Animal Haven, and now that my law suit – the only legal action taking place between NAH, Cable, Manclark and I is concluded, I am delighted to pick up where my legal action against Manclark made me stop.

In her defence, Kelly Cable states:

“Many children and adults have visited our place before the flooding and they could interact with all animals, learn about their welfare, learn about how to raise them free ranged instead of caged or locked in sheds. At the end of the day everything here is about the animals and educating people along the way, with animals like sheep or cows that isnt a normal everday animal to meet and interact with

“We stick to numbers on both the farm and the rescue and that way if fundraising doesnt raise the funds or preferably the goods like hay, straw, feed etc, we know with our numbers every animal will be fed and cared for. No donations will ever be used for running costs like electric, phone, wages, etc.

“Between the animals care and care of the ground, and their housing is all that donations are used for and always will be.

“there is no fraud or illegal conduct taken place at Northfield Animal Haven.”

If doubts remain about the truth of my claims, I hope my next two and final articles (unless further information comes to light) on NAH will convince readers beyond any doubt.

Footnote: Aberdeen Voice is grateful to Kelly Cable for her timely response to issues raised in this article. Fiona Manclark was also contacted and invited to comment. We still await her response.

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Aug 112016

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

Juliette Burton Look At Me flower behind ear high res (c) Helen G Anderson 2014 (3)A north-east charity will lift the curtain on mental health issues at a historic theatre in the Granite City.
From a puppet show that tells the tale of a lonely fisherman to award-winning performer Juliette Burton (pictured) showcasing her perception changing show, Mental Health Aberdeen (MHA) will host a range of events later this year at the Grade A listed Tivoli Theatre.

MHA has worked in partnership with North East Arts Touring to arrange the events around World Mental Health Day in October and hopes to raise awareness of mental health and the variety of services it offers.

North East Arts Touring (NEAT) promotes high quality and professionally produced theatre, dance and film productions in rural communities across the north-east of Scotland, Aberdeenshire, Moray and Angus.

Astrid Whyte, chief executive of MHA, said:

“We want to start up conversations about mental health and play our part in making it a bit easier for people to discuss issues related to it. Plans have been gathering pace in recent months and everyone at MHA is delighted to see how things are coming together.

“Despite difficulties MHA is currently going through regarding the upcoming closure of our services in Aberdeenshire we are determined to make the most of this event. Our partnership with NEAT highlights the benefits of important collaboration between the health and arts sectors and has given us a platform to raise awareness and challenge negative perceptions of mental health in a creative way.

“Juliette is a fantastic performer who manages to get across difficult topics in an accessible way and we are sure her show Look At Me will be a great hit on the day. For us this, and the other performances and activities we have planned at the wonderful Tivoli Theatre, is a different way to mark World Mental Health Day and shine a spotlight on mental health.”

Juliette Burton is a multi award-winning actress, writer, performer, presenter and ex-BBC broadcast journalist. Her show Look At Me was an official sold out event at Edinburgh Fringe 2015 and has received five star reviews. An informed speaker and performer, Juliette is a mental health ambassador who uses her experiences to offer hope and help others.

Her show explores appearances and perceptions and whether changing how you look on the outside can change who you are inside. From dressing sexily to wearing the hijab, being male, obese, old and nude, her show has many faces and examines whether what people appear to be is who they truly are.

Juliette said:

“I’m so excited to be returning to Aberdeen and performing at the Tivoli Theatre in October to mark World Mental Health Day. Aberdeen is one of my favourite cities and I can’t wait to meet all the people who come to the show – so we can break down some barriers and use laughter to be our light in the darkness.

“I’m so honoured to be a part of such a special series of events and I hope together we can unite people so we all leave feeling enlightened, inspired, happier and more connected! Bring on October!”

Juliette Burton Look At Me flower with blue background (c) Helena G Anderson 2014 (3)featThe Yugen Puppet Company will also perform on the day, telling the comic tale of a lonely fisherman who falls in love with a seal, and how in matters of love things don’t always go according to plan.

Based on the myths and legends of the Scottish Selkie and using hand-crafted puppets and striking shadow silhouettes, with music from the past, the company put their own twist on the usually tragic Scottish fairy tale.

MHA will be hosting activities, which include a music workshop with charity Musicrange, at the Tivoli theatre from 11am to 4pm on October 15, and will reopen the doors from 6pm for the Look At Me show.

MHA was founded in 1950 and the organisation was among the first to provide community care with its first residential project, a group home for discharged psychiatric patients, opened more than 35 years ago. MHA has also been providing day services continuously for over 60 years.

Further information is available online at www.mha.uk.net

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Apr 292016

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

Jamie Cocoa Ooze

Jamie Hutcheon of Cocoa Ooze.

A north-east charity is set to get a sweet boost after establishing a partnership with a leading chocolatier.

Jamie Hutcheon of Cocoa Ooze, which specialises in unique handmade chocolate, and his team are hoping to raise awareness and funds through the link with Mental Health Aberdeen (MHA).

Employees will undertake a range of fundraising activities in the next 12 months to support the charity, which provides support services, counselling and advice to people affected by challenges related to mental health and wellbeing.

This includes emotional and practical support; information and advice; support with helping overcoming social isolation; links and access to other community resources; and activities promoting mental wellbeing.

Cocoa Ooze is planning to hold a charity dinner for MHA, as well as donating raffle prizes and a variety of other activities throughout the year.

Jamie said:

“Cocoa Ooze is delighted to be supporting Mental Health Aberdeen as our charity of the year. We chose the organisation because of the crucial work it does to help people throughout the north-east.

“Mental health is not spoken about enough and it affects a large number of people, who can often find it difficult to reach out for help. It can feel like a secret illness in some respects which people feel ashamed about and we want to help change that perception.

“It is a topic that should be discussed without stigma, and we hope to make a difference through the events and activities we will be involved in over the next twelve months.”

Astrid Whyte, chief executive of MHA, said gestures like that of the Cocoa Ooze team are even more crucial than ever in the current climate.

She said:

“We were absolutely delighted that Jamie and the team at Cocoa Ooze have chosen Mental Health Aberdeen as their charity of the year. In the current economic climate support like this is particularly appreciated and we are looking forward to building a relationship with them.

“Partnerships like this also help to raise our profile and build awareness of our services, which is absolutely essential. We want people to know we are here to help and what kind of services we offer.

“Mental Health Aberdeen works within the city and the north-east and our services range from youth counselling sessions to our Companions Befriending Service and Comraich community support service among others. There is huge demand for our services and we are working hard to meet that as well as continuing to improve our offering. Links with generous companies like Cocoa Ooze are a tremendous boost and make such a difference to us.”

MHA was founded in 1950 and the organisation was among the first to provide community care with its first residential project, a group home for discharged psychiatric patients, opened more than 35 years ago. MHA has also been providing day services continuously for over 60 years.

Further information is available online at www.mha.uk.net

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Feb 192016

AberdeenAssetManagementWith thanks to Esther Green, Tricker PR.

While EastEnders has brought the mental health of new mums into focus with the explosive story line around Stacey Branning’s breakdown following the birth of baby Arthur, a Scottish charity is continuing to build on its pioneering work that is championing mental wellbeing among new mums and families.

Aberlour in Scotland is delivering vital support to women who find it difficult to cope with the emotional challenges of pregnancy and childbirth through a Perinatal Mental Health Befriending operating in Falkirk.

The pilot project has been such a success in its first year that it is to be extended to the wider Forth Valley region, through funding from Aberdeen Asset Management and others, to provide increased numbers of parents and families with early intervention that can help them overcome challenges and support them in the new phase in their lives.

Although post-natal depression is well documented, it’s only recently that perinatal mental health has hit the headlines for being a major concern for vulnerable women and their children, with research showing that if a mum-to-be experiences poor mental health during her pregnancy, and does not receive the appropriate, timely support, she is at greater risk.

Stacey Branning’s experience of postpartum psychosis following the birth of her second child has been one of the biggest storylines in EastEnders this year and the BBC soap has received praise for well researching the issue and raising awareness of the dramatic impact that having a baby has on some women, as well as the lack of availability of mother and baby beds.

Stacey’s condition is a severe mental illness that requires specialist care but during pregnancy and in the year after birth women can be affected by a range of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and postnatal psychotic disorders. Early identification and provision of appropriate and timely expert care are needed to prevent illness from occurring or escalating and to minimise harm to the woman, her baby and wider family.

Statistics for Scotland show that:

  • Perinatal mental illnesses affect between 10 -15% of women in Scotland.
  • 71% of health boards in Scotland do not have any midwives or health visitors with accredited perinatal mental health training.
  • Only five Scottish health boards (36%) have a specialist community perinatal mental health service.
  • Depression and anxiety affect 10-15 in 100 women during pregnancy and in the first postnatal year.

Aberlour’s assistant director Liz Nolan set up the early intervention project in Falkirk drawing on a tried and tested model operated in England by Family Action, working with women who need mild to moderate support. Central to its success has been the use of highly-trained volunteers and the positive relationships they develop with women and families, over time.

All volunteers undergo intensive training to prepare them for the role and so they understand the importance of listening and not probing, and working at the new mum’s pace. In the first year 21 volunteers were trained and have assisted 20 families in their communities, working with them for as long as their assistance is required.

Ms Nolan says that people may have heard of the baby blues and post-natal depression but there is a lack of realisation about the effects pregnancy and childbirth has on some women and how this in turn affects families.

“Society places strong demands for perfection around pregnancy and birth but things don’t always turn out as hoped,” said Ms Nolan.

“There are certain expectations on women having babies but it’s not all strawberries and cream and things can go wrong, if it doesn’t all go to plan it can have an impact on a woman and their families.

“Sometimes a woman can be worried about talking about it because they believe these are not the feelings she should have, but for some women this is a time that can cause anxiety or depression, the opposite of how they are expected to feel. Some feel isolation, are anxious about going outside the home, anxious about meeting up with other parents or about being a first time parents.

“Life isn’t perfect and it’s OK to ask for help and our volunteers understand and work with mothers and families to support them and overcome the challenges.”

Every case is different and each volunteer commits to giving up to three hours a week of their time over the course of a year, which means they can build up good lasting relationships and provide continuity of support.

With the pilot working so well, there have been requests for access to the service from the wider area and with additional funds now in place, the charity will be able to employ an additional volunteer co-ordinator, with means they can deliver training to more individuals who in turn can help families in the wider Forth Valley region from April.

Karin Hyland of Aberdeen Asset Management’s Charitable Foundation, said:

“We’re pleased to help Aberlour extend its project supporting women who have been identified of being at risk of mental health illness during the final stages of pregnancy and up to the baby’s first birthdays. By working with mums and babies during this critical time they are helping families become more resilient and active members of their communities again.”

The Aberdeen Asset Charitable Foundation was established in 2012 to formalise and develop the Group’s charitable giving globally.

The Foundation seeks partnerships with smaller charities around the world, where funds can be seen to have a meaningful and measurable impact and the firm encourages its employees to use their time and skills to support its charitable projects. The main focus of the Foundation is around emerging markets and local communities, reflecting the desire to give back to those areas which are a key strategic focus of the business and to build on the historic pattern of giving to communities in which Aberdeen employees live and work.

For more information visit http://www.aberdeen-asset.co.uk/aam.nsf/foundation/home

Feb 112016

There is a little-understood, little-known syndrome that strikes 1-2% of the population. Aberdeen Voice’s Suzanne Kelly, a sufferer, is joining with others around the world to raise awareness of this condition, particularly among health care professionals.

cyclical vomitingImagine an illness that works like this. You can be fine for weeks, months, and then with less than a minute’s notice, you get hit.

If you manage to take a preventative medication at absolutely the right moment, then chances are you’ll be lucky and avoid an episode. And if you’re not lucky?

Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome attacks see sufferers vomiting for anything from a few hours to a few days.

In rare cases some people have attacks that stretch to weeks, possibly months.

Looking back, I see that I had very infrequent attacks for at least 20 years; I always put these down to food poisoning. Then they increased in frequency and severity, until for a fortnight, I thought I was dying. I spent a day and a half on my bathroom floor, completely unable to get up except to hunch over and be ill again. The pain was searing; then I threw up bile; then I threw up blood.

I really thought ‘this is it’ and assumed I had some kind of cancer. I was either shaking with cold or burning up, or spending hours wondering if I could manage to get up to get any water, and if so, how long I’d keep it down.

Finally making it back to work a week later, I was straight onto my doctor, then a specialist. Being into research, yet knowing the stupidity of self-diagnosis, I came across this illness called ‘Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome’ – it struck people like me, who used to experience migraine headaches (I had them as a child and they abruptly stopped).

Little was known, there was no cure.

The specialist I went to talked to me for nearly an hour – this was after all the blood work was back and had ruled out any terminal illness.  He determined that it was CVS I had. The medicine I got to prevent attacks is not without potential side effects, but it seemed to work a charm. That is, if my attack was during the daytime. More often than not, this hits me between 2 and 4 am.

My first waking thought then is not to take a pill, and sometimes before I realise what’s happening, it’s too late. (I sleep with the medicine within reach, and have some stashed on me, and virtually every place I spend time).

I’m an extremely lucky person with this condition.

I’ve found a network of others with the illness. Many of them have it far, far worse than I do. I’ve never had to be hospitalised (although with hindsight, there were two attacks that I probably should have gone to the ER with). I’ve never had to be fed by IV. I’ve never had to plead with doctors or nurses for medicine, never been ridiculed, patronised or ignored.

My back teeth aren’t rotting from being ill as frequently as some of the other people I’ve come to know. And as I’m in a country with free health care (and am lucky enough to have additional health cover through my work), I’ve not had to spend thousands of pounds on treatment. And I’ve not had to have permanent feeding tubes put in me, either. And I’m not either a little child or an elderly person going through this. I am extremely lucky.

Being ignored at ER, being told ‘you’re just after drugs’, being sent home only to throw up blood on the way out of the hospital – this is how people are being treated by those in the health care profession who’ve never heard of CVS. My attacks, and most people’s attacks, have nothing to do with: drinking, emotions, stress, diet. One time I was walking down the street, felt a bit sick, and then that was that.

The worst occasion remains a quiet night in doing some work, and being sick for a week. In all of my attacks I’ve not had a care in the world, and oddly, I’ve never been sick when drinking. The worst parts of this illness is just that – no one really understands what sets it off, how to stop an attack, or how to cure CVS.

Here’s what some of the people with CVS say, and why they want to raise awareness.

“I’ve had CVS for 20+ yrs and still to this day get treated like a drug seeker. I’ve been left feeling tortured & in agony for hours laying in an ER bed more times than I can count.”
– Ryan

“Too many to count, not just medical staff, friends and family too! A few years ago, before I was diagnosed, my best friend in the whole world was bringing me to the ER in the middle of an attack and asked me if there is any chance that my symptoms were psychosomatic? It still hurts me to this day that that was a real question from her.”
– Jenna

“A specialist put me through every grueling test and when they were all negative, told me he could do nothing and I was obviously making it up to get sympathy. My daughter actually figured it out by watching Gray’s anatomy! Researched it, took it to my family Dr who researched further and here I am. Can only manage symptoms is what I get.”
– Susan

“I’ve lived in the same area (so, near the same hospital) since 2004. For 12 yrs. here in VA (20-yrs total with CVS), I’ve had to go to the ER only 2-3 times/year, and I’m STILL treated like a drug-seeker, by about 1/3 of the ER docs I’ve seen. When they do refuse my simple (approved & recommended) abort-meds, my cycle does not end. It can go for days. So, I have to return to the ER after having been kicked out 6-12 hours earlier.

“You must go back; dehydration is no joke. I’ve had to call an ambulance for some of these return trips when I’m completely disoriented. I don’t see how a hospital can bill you for the 2nd stay when treatment was REFUSED during the 1st stay. I’ve fought that before & won – I think everyone should contest billing for any repeat-visits that are due to malpractice: neglect of duty.

“They see me coming back, the nurses at least recognize me, and viola(!) the new doc is suddenly ready to take things seriously. I have much less trouble if someone is with me, “vouching” for me. To summarize, I am luckier than some patients who have more frequent episodes. But, only 2-3 trips to the ER per yr & they think I’m drug-seeking?! (Yes, I’m a 3-time-a-year addict. So dumb!)

“I’m a 40 yr old mom, nothing “wild” looking about me at all. (Not that it should matter, but some advice to others: I’m treated like a drug-seeker more often if I look really messy/out of it. I actually prepare an outfit & hair ties, etc. every night before bed in case an episode starts & I have to go to the ER.)

“I had an episode last weekend & encountered a doc I’ve had the misfortune of seeing in the past. He has a line he loves to use, and he YELLS, no, BELLOWS at me:

“I’m not going to distribute narcotics as they are not indicated for CVS!!!!!”

“The nurses stare in horror at HIM. My preventative meds are anti-anxiety meds. At the ER, to abort an episode, I need 2mg (yes, only 2!!) dilaudid, 25-50mg phenergan (over time), & Ativan or similar & at least 1 bag of fluids. Dr. Pain here should be avoided at all cost. I went back the next day with my father, and there was no delay in giving me that exact Rx to stop the episode. I was very dehydrated by then, however, so the IV was extremely hard to establish & left 10+ huge, black/purple bruises all over my arms & hands.

“I’ve had the great honor of emailing with Dr David Fleischer, “The Father of CVS.” He expressed to me in 2010 that my episodes seemed to require very little to abort, & he added that dilaudid is preferred over morphine bc it is not likely to create nausea – like morphine does.

“I was diagnosed by a GI in Manhattan after every test known to man & even gall bladder removal. I was referred by him to a Neuro back here in VA, who then passed me off to a shrink who only did my Med. Mgmt for anti-anxiety meds & then said I should just have my Primary taking care of this. My Primary is pretty lazy about it, though. On occasion the ER has tried to contact her by her emerg svc, but she’s not very forceful in her care of me, her patient. None of them care!!”
– Emily

The aim of the initiative is to raise awareness in the medical profession of the seriousness – and painfulness of this condition.

A support group is there to help. Colleen from CVS Speaks said:

CVS Speaks actively works raising awareness and helps support Facebook support groups. We currently have 14 groups teamed up helping suffers in the day to day struggles. We have groups by age kids thru adults, caregivers to suffered only, men’s groups, women, mothers. You name we probably have a group to fit sufferers diverse needs.

“CVS patients often need safe place to feel validated, accepted and learn from others what helps relieve symptoms. Medical professionals often do not have much experience with CVS. So along with groups like CVSA www.cvsaonline.org, we help get them in touch with the most up to date treatment options and research to talk with their providers about.”

More information can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/CVS.Speaks/

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Jan 282016

acsha logoWith thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

A group of Aberdeen hoteliers has been working tirelessly to raise funds for a leading dementia charity, and is set to reach a five figure fundraising goal. Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels’ Association (ACSHA) has raised over £13,000 for Alzheimer Scotland so far, and is confident that it will increase this to £20,000 by its AGM in April.

As part of its fundraising effort, ACSHA recently auctioned a bottle of Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1943 champagne for an impressive £800.

The prize, which also included a meal at Ardoe House Hotel & Spa and a bottle of White Label Pol Roger, was won by Calum Richardson, who runs The Bay Fish & Chips, Stonehaven. After placing the winning bid, Mr Richardson offered an additional lot comprising of outside catering which raised an additional £1,000.

Mariner Hotel owner Mike Edwards, who donated the champagne, is spearheading ACSHA’s fundraising effort, and believes the organisation is well on its way to reaching its target. He says,

“It’s incredibly heart-warming to see so many hoteliers working together to raise funds for a cause as worthwhile as dementia care and research.

“We are delighted to have raised so much money from auctioning the champagne, and hope to continue in a similar vein as we push closer to our £20,000 target over the next few months.

“I hope that Calum enjoys the champagne, and that he celebrated his winning bid in suitable style – with fizz and chips!”

ACSHA will continue its fundraising efforts over the coming months, starting with a 24 hour endurance relay on static bikes which will take place in a number of hotels across the region. The organisation has also partnered with the Deeside Brewery to create a specially labelled lager which will be sold in local hotels with all profits going to Alzheimer Scotland.

Alzheimer Scotland is ACSHA’s nominated charity for 2015/16, and it is hoped that the money raised will go some way to funding its operations in the north east, including a newly opened resource centre in Aberdeen city centre. In addition to monetary donations, a number of ACSHA members have joined the Dementia Friends initiative, which seeks to make all venues more welcoming and hospitable for those with dementia and their carers.

Mr Edwards’ father, David, was once a familiar face in the hospitality trade in Aberdeen, and was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2008 at the age of just 59. There are currently around 90,000 people across Scotland diagnosed with dementia, including around 3,500 under the age of 65. In Aberdeen alone there are almost 300 people living with dementia under the age of 65.

Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels’ Association represents 49 independently operated hotels and conference venues, along with a further nine associate members. These hotels provide around 4,500 bedrooms in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. ACSHA is committed to improving the quality and standard of hotel services and to furthering the overall standards of excellence and hospitality within the region.

To make a donation to ACSHA’s fundraising pot for Alzheimer Scotland, visit www.justgiving.com/ACSHA

For more information about Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels’ Association, visit www.aberdeenhotels.org

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