Aug 302019

With thanks to Charlie Abel.

Aberdonians have an unfair reputation for being cold and tight-fisted.
Those of us who live here know that is a false stereotype. We are kind and quietly confident. We don’t need to brag and show off. We already know what’s what.  

The bonds of friendship between Aberdeen and Japan have long been in the making. 

However, shared connections like Thomas Blake Glover ( the Scottish Samurai), long celebrated in Japan, are only now being recognised in Scotland after a century of history has passed.  

Ronnie Watt OBE, ORS has been one of the most robust links with our city and Japan since the days of Glover. A link verified by the Japanese when they awarded him the Order of the Rising Sun, an award previously bestowed on Glover, making Ronnie the 2nd Scottish Samurai.  

Ronnie is a 9th Dan Karate master who has taught Karate in Aberdeen and around Scotland and abroad for over 50 years.  25 years ago, Ronnie also founded and organised the prestigious Scottish Samurai Awards to recognise the often unnoticed efforts and achievements of people from all walks of life.

The self-funding awards are supported by his Karate, donations and the hard work of the awards committee. 

Last weekend, 15 school-children from Nagasaki, Japan. visited Aberdeen

Ronnie organised home-stays for them in Aberdeen with many of his friends and karate-ka.  These children experienced a fantastic jam-packed weekend of Scottish culture and history.  

The weekend began with the Lord Provost welcoming the children and their host families with a Civic Reception in the Aberdeen Town House.  

They then visited the town centre, Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Drum Castle and Crathes.  On Saturday they spent the day at the Lonach Gathering – an extraordinary experience, especially if you are from Japan.

The children and families were accompanied by Ronnie and the Consul General of Japan and Lord Charles Bruce. They were welcomed into the arena by the master of ceremonies Robert Lovie and introduced to the Lonach audience with the pipes resounding in the background.  

On Sunday night the tour ended with a private party hosted by Pauline Dreelan. 

The party began with Ronnie’s Aberdeen children giving a demonstration of Karate.  The Japanese then joined in a bit of ceilidh dancing with Charlie Abel from Iron Broo Ceilidh Band providing the music on his accordion. The children loved the Scottish music and dancing and took to it like a duck to water.

One parent of the families commented on how much she enjoyed the company of the Japanese children during the stay.  

“They were so polite, and I will miss them.  I was in tears when they left.  It was very emotional.  One of them was so fascinated by everything here, and they even took photos of what was in my fridge!”

It is not our differences that define us.  It’s our humanity that unites us.

On Monday morning the groups met up for a tearful goodbye at Aberdeen Airport.

This is the second such visit that Ronnie has organised for the Japanese in Aberdeen. The visits have become a pilgrimage recreating the historic trips of the Japanese students organised by Glover.

The students who visited Scotland over a century ago on Glover’s behalf, went on to modernise Japan and transformed it into one of the worlds most important economies. Glover and his students are celebrated and credited in Japan as the fathers of the new age of industry. 

Who knows what might come of these modern-day trips, a century later?

Sep 072017

Popular Aberdeen based ceilidh band Iron Broo will provide the music for the World’s Largest Strip The Willow. Photo credit: Janie Barclay.

With thanks to National Trust for Scotland.

Do you want to be a Guinness World Record Breaker? On Saturday 9th of September we will be attempting the Largest Strip the Willow at Castle Fraser and we need YOU.

In the year 2000 Edinburgh broke the record with 1,914 people during their Hogmanay. We are ready to bring the record to Aberdeenshire.

So save the date and get your dancing shoes at the ready!

Organiser Paula Swan said:

“I can’t wait to see it. It was a little idea we had last year and only last week we got confirmation from Guinness World Records to say we could do it.

“Now it’s a reality and we’re really excited about pulling it together, and the responses we’ve had so far have been fantastic.”

She added:

“The great thing about Castle Fraser is you can stand on the tower, so we’re planning on filming it.

“We’re also going to fly drones across the field to really capture all the people having fun.”

By signing up for a ticket you are signing to take part in our attempt. You will still have to register on the day to collect your band. Tickets are free to attend however, there is a £2 parking fee.

Due to the nature of this record attempt participants must be 10 years and over. If you are a business or group and would like to register a team to take part please get in contact with

Registration: Opens at 12:00pm and closes at 1:30pm for a 2:00pm record breaking kick off.

There will be catering vans and activities to help you to warm up and stay limber. Please keep in mind that we do live in Scotland so dress for the weather. We will be going ahead with our attempt regardless of the weather, so please bring suitable clothing and footwear as you will be dancing on grass. Ponchos will be available to buy on the day if you do require one.

Tickets are limited, booking essential.

The event would not be possible without the hard work and contribution of the following people;

– Iron Broo; who are performing the lovely ceilidh music that will help us strip that willow
– STV’s Andrea Brymer; who will be hosting the event
– Deeside Caledonia will be performing before we kick off the attempt
– Gordon School of Dancing will be showing us all how it’s done before the attempt
– A-line will be providing all AV and Tech support to make this event possible
– Mike Gall Transport for providing the staging required
– Fennel Media who will be filming the amazing attempt

Let’s do this Aberdeenshire!

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May 062011

By Bob Smith.


Nivver myn The Duncin in Kyle
Lit me tak ye back a fyle
Fin on duncin I wis richt keen
In the halls o’ Garlogie,Echt an’ Skene  

Ye  birled ti bands like Bert Duff
Fin loons like me wid strut their stuff
Some at duncin war fair fleet
Ither eens  they hid twa left feet

There wis ither bands like Mary Milne
Fa hid ye waltzin wi great will
Ye war up duncin an eichtsome reel
Hoochin an skirlin like a feel

Maist couldna afford a motor car
Bit they cam fae near an far
Buses, bikes an usin their feet
At wikkends they war nivver beat

Ye’d ask a quine up for a dance
Roon an roon the hall ye’d prance
Quicksteps, waltzes an foxtrots
Sometimes yer feet war tied in knots


Great times ye hid tull near midnicht
Some loons wid be an affa sicht
Een or twa hid ower muckle booze
The chunce o’ a date they wid lose

Duncin wis the time for ti chat

Ither quines fa maybe cam fae Clatt
Or deems fa bade up in Midmar
Fower o’ them cam doon by car 

Noo an again a fecht wid occur
Like fin some feel wid cast a slur
On the virtue o’ a local quine
Oor dander wis then up ti ninety nine

We were aa Jock Tamson’s bairns
Ti the duncin for tae learn
Foo ti dee an eichtsome birl
An aa the lassies wid hooch an skirl.



©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011




Lament For Aiberdeen

 Aberdeen City, Articles, Creative Writing, Opinion  Comments Off on Lament For Aiberdeen
Mar 032011

By Bob Smith.

Greet fer oor eence great city
Fer Aiberdonians hae great pity
A toon run by a bunch o eeseless feels
A cooncil in the pooch o business chiels

Greet fer oor eence bonnie toon
Faar we’ve bin brocht roon
Ti a city run bi them aat’s rich
Faar protest they wid like ti ditch

Greet fer democracy twixt Don an Dee
A toon faar the cooncillors boo the knee
Kowtowin ti aa thon Acsef bunch
Fit for? Maybe the odd free lunch?

Greet fer the greenbelt an hae a groan
A briggie ti be biggit near Tillydrone
A fitba stadium fit glowes reid
The Loch o Loirston’ll seen bi deid

Greet fer the green lungs o the toon
Faar UTG’s trees wull be cut doon
Ti be replaced by a rich chiel’s vision
Time we aa treated iss wi derision

Fit’s happenin noo we shud lament
An banish oor cooncillors ti Tashkent
Bit lit us nae get ower doon in the moo
We micht yet dunce ti a jig fae Iron Broo

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie”2010


Building A School In Cambodia In Memory Of N.E. Mum

 Aberdeen City, Articles, Charity, Events, Featured  Comments Off on Building A School In Cambodia In Memory Of N.E. Mum
Feb 252011

A school is to be built in Cambodia in memory of N.E. mum Janie Evans who passed away very suddenly in November 2009. As part of their efforts to fund this ambitious project, Emma Rothwell invites readers to “Come Along And Dance Us To Our Target At Janie’s School Ceilidh.”

Janie was a Peterheid quine who was very much devoted to her family and friends.

Her daughters, Paula and Jennifer, have inherited their Mum’s passion for education and are committed to not only building the school in her memory but financially supporting the school in future years.

The school will be built by American Assistance for Cambodia (funded through our donations to Hope Worldwide UK) who run a brilliant programme to develop schools in areas where they are most needed.

I first met Janie and the Evans family when they moved into a house round the corner from mine in 1986.  I remember meeting Paula first, and she seemed nice but was a few years older than me.  Paula told me she had a little sister who was the same age as me and sure enough we could just about see her lurking at the back of the garage, very shy!  I’m glad Jennifer found the courage to venture out from the garage as we became firm friends, both in our childhood and into adulthood.  Janie also became a constant in my life – her door was always open to a friend of Paula or Jennifer’s.

It is an honour to be supporting the family to fundraise for Janie’s School – I hope that the school will mean that children who might not have had the opportunity to attend school otherwise will get the same passion for education which Janie passed on to her family.

Janie’s School Ceilidh  is being held at the Old Mill Inn, Maryculter on Friday 4th March from 8pm – midnight.

The event is part of a year long fundraising campaign which aims to raise £25,000.

Tickets cost £20 which includes stovies & oatcakes (vegetarian stovies available if requested in advance) and an evening of dancing to the Iron Broo Duo.

We would love to see as many of you as possible at Janie’s School Ceilidh.  There will be a great raffle on the night, including some wonderful prizes donated by local business:

Gift vouchers for James Dunn House, Café 52, Moonfish Café, Malmaison, The Palace Hotel, The Happy Plant Garden Centre, Nova, The Ashvale

Golf lessons with Harry Dougal

A signed AFC football,

4 x tickets for the Aberdeen vs Hibs match,

A bottle of whisky (donated by Logica),

A photography session with prints from SP Life Photography,

A plant from Dobbies and,  last but not least,

A side of smoked salmon from the Ugie Salmon House.

If you can’t make it along but would like to donate to help us reach our target of £25,000, please see

If you would like more information on the campaign, have a look at Jennifer’s blog:  janiesschool

Please purchase your tickets from Books & Beans or contact me by phone (07899891651) or e-mail (

Dec 172010

With thanks to Charlie Abel.

Local band Iron Broo are returning to the Culter Club this Saturday for a night of festive fun and dancing.

Their Christmas Ceilidh night has become a popular annual feature in their hectic gig schedule and is a rare opportunity to catch the band in action at a public event. Most of the band’s gigs are private functions, weddings and corporate events; only a small number are open to the public and are often sold out. So don’t miss your chance to hear them.

Tickets have been selling well for the Christmas Ceilidh but there are still some available.

The Iron Broo ceilidh band have exported their particular style of Aberdonian ceilidh music all round the globe. In recent years they have been to Ireland, Netherlands, Latvia, Norway, Spain and even darkest Englandshire. They have also appeared no less than seven times at T in the Park.

“We’ve sailed the seven seas, fought a hundred battles, shed a thousand tears and lifted the spirits of millions …”  said the bouzouki man Fred – tongue firmly in cheek.

Their only commercially available CD which was recorded Live at the Moray Ceilidh Club in Elgin is available through out the world on iTunes and is advertised as a best seller by Amazon.

The Culter Club is a private club and has one of the largest dance halls in the Aberdeen area. It also hosts regular dances throughout the year for members and their friends.  It is always a risk having a Ceilidh out of the centre of the town but as the Christmas Ceilidh has become a regular event at Culter, there is a real sense of community spirit and the audience span the ages.  Many locals brave the snow to make it to the ceilidh every year; and the band have also offered to assist in towing out anyone who happens to get caught in the snow in the car park after the gig!

So forget the forecast, ‘Snow’ good bidin’ at hame, ‘Skate’ on doon and keep warm in style!

There will be the fantastic Iron Broo M&S Christmas Hamper raffle and a special guest Ballroom DJ during the break giving some instruction to some ballroom classics. Iron Broo will also call all the ceilidh dances so even if you have never been to a ceilidh before they promise to have you ‘jiggin’ awa furiously in nae time!’

There will be a bar available for various refreshments.

Christmas Ceilidh
Saturday 18th December 2010
The Culter Club, Cairn Road, Peterculter. 01224 733578

Doors will be open from 7.30pm and dancing will start around 8pm.

Tickets £10 adults – £4 under 16 – Free to under 6.

Seating reservations available with advance bookings (call Charlie 07802 861390). Tickets also available on the door.

Ticket information is available on their website. (link to: )

Jul 232010

By Fred Wilkinson.

Popular Aberdeen ceilidh band Iron Broo will be providing the music at Mar Lodge near Braemar on Saturday July 30th to raise funds for the Archie Foundation at Aberdeen Sick Children’s Hospital.

The ceilidh, open to the public, is the brainchild of Fay Jolly whose two year old daughter Fern received treatment at the hospital and Fay has been inspired to action in gratitude for the excellent service Archie provided.

Mar Lodge will have a licensed bar, and a hog roast will be provided by Sheridans of Ballater. There will be a prize raffle to boost Archie’s funds yet further.
Transport to and from the venue will be available from Banchory, Aboyne, Ballater and Braemar and tickets to the ceilidh are priced at £10, or £15 including transport.

As well as a chance to enjoy a fun night out in aid of a worthy cause, it’s an excellent opportunity for those keen, literally, to take the first steps towards ceilidh dancing expertise, as instructions will be provided by the band for every polka, reel and jig.

To reserve tickets, contact Fay Jolly on 01339 741233 or Fiona Crawford on 01339 887672.