Oct 012019
 

Old Susannah rides back into Aberdeen, well, back onto Aberdeen Voice’s pages anyway, picking up where she left off, defining the terms that define the indescribable goings-on in the Deen and Shire. By Suzanne Kelly.

It’s been a while, but with all the exciting things going on in the dynamic and vibrant city of Aberdeen, I couldn’t stay away.

This column traditionally opens up with descriptions of what I’d been drinking and doing in BrewDog bars, so why not now? I’ve visited BrewDog Brighton (Drank my first Dog F – a rich, heady dark offering) and BrewDog Clerkenwell to enjoy Obzest – very citrusy and refreshing. 

I never hid the fact I’m a shareholder.  I’m glad I’m a shareholder.  So are at least 100k other people.

I bring BrewDog up not just because I wish I were at the Flagship this minute, but because from the first time I owned shares and wrote about BrewDog, I told Aberdeen Voice’s readership.

To do otherwise would have been dishonest. And still we had complaints: I was writing about the biggest new thing in town, the UK’s fastest-growing drinks company started by two young men paying a living wage, making phenomenal brews, being politically active and irreverent.

No one ever has to pay to read Aberdeen Voice; and if you were a donor who didn’t like my offerings, then you could either stop donating or simply not read the bits you didn’t like.

If, however you were an Aberdeen Journals Ltd subscriber (there are still some apparently), you paid for years while being played – and not for small beer. 

Damian Bates never told those buying the local rags he had a financial interest in Trump doing well in Scotland.

He kept quiet about his wife’s working for the toupèed toddler.

I sometimes wonder whether those who insisted I shouldn’t write about BrewDog ever insisted Damian shouldn’t be allowed to print dozens of pro-Trump advertorials and stories, while directly helping his family’s wallet? 

Aberdeen Voice allowed my morally-indignant critics to have their say. Have you ever yet read a word in the P&J admitting this ethically challenged editor used the papers to firm up the Mrs.’s position under Trump?  No, you never did. 

Trump is a regular guy, as you’d find out if you buy a table

Tally ho!  Northsound Radio is holding a business dinner – only £1250 per table at the 5 star Marcliffe Hotel and Spa (homophobic ‘jokes’ from the owner included at no extra charge).

Who got the huge honour of speaking? Why, Master Bates, who’ll tell the guests about his book and what Trump is really like (he hates fancy food). 

It must be interesting to be a reporter who’s pals with a man whose hate speech has got reporters beaten and even killed. But Trump is a regular guy, as you’d find out if you buy a table.

Result! I finished making my emergency survival bag which UK police recommend we all do, while telling us ‘don’t panic’.  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-49631455 

This is nothing to do with Brexit, food shortages, rioting or the yellowhammer documents. I recommend a first aid kit, some BrewDog, and old unsold copies of the Evening Express for insulation and starting campfires.

Alas though! I’m upset for poor Prime Minister Johnson, who was slammed by the courts, ruling his closing Parliament was illegal. I’m so upset I can barely see through my tears. Now there’s a man who’d better get his emergency survival bag ready.

PS. I recommend Steve Coogan’s latest offering, Hot Air. One reason I wanted to see it was to see Declan Michael Laird. I’ve written about this young Scots actor in the past and things are starting to go, deservedly, extremely well for him. 

The highlight as expected is Coogan’s soliloquy: he plays a cynical, manipulative right-wing DJ. In his speech he describes virtually all our current societal, governmental, media failings.

I didn’t have any preconception of what Declan would be doing in this – but he’s wonderfully hilarious as a wealthy young Russian trustafarian living in Coogan’s uber-rich building. Hot Air is well worth your time. 

Herewith some definitions

Exploitation: (Noun) Taking something of value from a source and profiting considerably more than the source does.

Friday was some kind of climate protest day, and I’m sick of the exploitation of children by adults who have selfish motives. 

It’s awful to see young people who don’t understand the real world being manipulated to the point they care more about species extinctions, plastic entering the food chain, unprecedented climactic events -when they should care about clothes and getting rich. 

Who gave them clearance to be at school and take this PR photo? Did they have DBS Clearance checked? If you know, please tell

How would you feel if your child went on some rally when they should be safe at school?

They’re being manipulated I tell you; if they were at school all would be well.  Unless maybe they were in an American school (have you seen this video yet?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5ykNZl9mTQ ). 

Or unless they were in a school where politicians entered at will without any permission or vetting, like when Alex Salmond descended on Bramble Brae Primary with his team.

Since that happened, Mr Salmond had sex abuse charges leveled at him.  Just like his friend Donald Trump. No, no reason to get clearance people who want to wander into schools to take pictures.    

Or there was the time a bunch of suits and Sarah Malone took photos of young people in their new Trump International football strips.

The shire told The Ferret’s Rob Edwards years ago the shirts were in line with policy (even though it really wasn’t true).

You might think that’s old news. However, the shire told me a different story recently: they now say the shirts were nothing to do with them after all, but a private group of parents organised it. Parents who were allowed to go into what certainly looks like school property and photograph students – with a couple of besuited men with them.

For marketing and promoting a private business. Owned by a man with US mob and Russian ties, accused of sexual crimes. That seems to be OK too.   

In the same way the police release photos when trying to solve a crime, I want to know: who are these people? Does everyone in this photo have DBS clearance to be hanging around young people? Did they get permission to use this gym in their wonderful photos?

Aberdeenshire doesn’t care but I do.

Yes, keep the students in school; a day away to exchange ideas and support each other over their future is far less important than whether Sarah Malone wants a photoshoot or Salmond wants to boost a candidate.

Maybe Aberdeen Voice should just print up some t-shirts for the frisbee team, head to a school, and take photos of kids holding up AV shirts?  I’m sure the shire would have no problem with that.

he does know his Nazi regalia, I’ll give him that

If young people have to be out of school for some ‘environmental’ reason, then it should be for something practical. Like planting marram grass to stabilizes Menie’s moving sand dune system.

The shire insisted the planting was approved by educational environmental bods. I found out that was not remotely true. But at least the photos of the kids planting the grass that ruined the dunes were lovely; I’d not be surprised to find the EE was selling prints for a tenner, as they do.

All this climate change talk is obscuring what’s really important in this life:  how you look.

Sexy Dinesh Dsouza reckons Greta Thunberg’s braids mean she’s emulating an old Nazi poster of a child in braids (he does know his Nazi regalia, I’ll give him that). Somehow he objects to Danish student Greta looking Nordic – she should do something about that. 

And those braids – so very traditional and childish; almost like she was a young person or something.

The teen certainly needs fashion advice too:  there are so many exciting styles coming out of third world sweatshops (Ivanka can give some pointers here as she owns so many – speaking of pointers did you see her tasteful blue shirt worn t the UN?). 

Perhaps anti-bullying champion Melania can serve as a role model too. I wonder where that jacket she wore on her way to visit caged refugee children got to, you know that one that said ‘I really don’t care do you?’ That would look so cool on Greta.  

Finally, a bit more orange make up would put some colour in Greta’s cheeks too don’t you think – get rid of that ‘Nordic’ look? Trump could make a recommendation or two here I think. Kids today, eh?

Rent: (Noun or verb) A fee paid by a tenant to occupy real estate. Unless you’re the P&J renting from ACC.

It’s only taken about four months for ACC to partially answer my freedom of information request on what Aberdeen Journals Ltd is paying to be in Marischal Square. You know, I think they’re getting faster.

Why would anyone think that ACC was giving AJL a free ride or sweet deal on rent?  Maybe it was the talk at the time, the odd article or two, or the fact Bates put out an email denying it was remotely possible. 

Here’s two findings from my FOI:  I’m sure this all sound as legit and believable to you as it does to me: 

Council says:  

“Aberdeen City Council personnel, Chief Executive, Elected Officials and staff have NOT accepted any discounts, hospitality, gifts, favours from Aberdeen Journals Ltd and its companies for the period 1 January 2017 through the present day (Sept 19).”

So for nearly two years, not a soul at ACC took so much as a free lunch, newspaper, paperweight, pen, calendar, theatre tickets, dinner for three years and nine months. Wonder at the fact-checking here.

The Council wrote:

“The headline rent paid per square metre paid by AJL at Marischal Square is £322.92.” 

And just exactly what is headline rent?

Headline Rent: (Compound noun) Rent paid under a lease after the end of any rent free or reduced rent periods. It is an artificially inflated rent which ignores the rent-free period or any other concessions given by the landlord to the tenant in return for a higher headline rate.

So.. from the definition, we can conclude AJL got some kind of a sweet deal for at least a while.

Who would have guessed – and what was it exactly?  (I’m on it).

By the way, looking at city centre commercial rents on large properties the £332.92 per square metre per annum hardly looks like an inflated rate at all – it looks average.

If the city says this figures is a headline rent it means AJL was definitely paying less than the average going rate for a brand new building. And of course, there is nothing unethical about a newspaper cozying up to government, just because the press is supposed to serve as a check on government.

Someone needs to tell Damian Bates.

When the move was still being discussed, he sent an email:

“.. it is not correct to suggest there is any ‘state aid’ around any potential deal…”  (But there was – otherwise no headline rent). 

He continued in this July 2016 email: 

“… we have not sought nor will we be seeking anything with the council subsidizing our lease…”

Whether they asked for it or not – looks like they got it. Here’s to Aberdeen:  home of the world’s most generous taxpayers.

But why be upset? It’s not as if your tax money has been used to support Scotland’s most pro-Trump mainstream news vehicle. It’s not as if that newspaper took money off you every time you wanted a P&J or EE to line the canary’s cage, while hiding Bates’ personal financial link to Trump? 

If you ever have awkward questions about the city’s dealings (maybe while you’re wondering why they’re charging you £30 a year now for green waste), you can just call the local press with your scoop. They’ll be right on it I’m sure.

PS. the City has recently taken out a few more million plus pound loans.  Result!

Math quiz:  Select an answer from (A) through (D): 

If AJL has 19,000 square feet (which is 1765.15 square metres) and is now paying £322.92 per square metre (presumably per annum) and paid a lower figure previously, then: 

(A)  the cost is £570,000 per year;
(B)  aren’t we taxpayers generous;
(C)  they got a very good deal initially to be paying headline rent that is around the city average – did the taxpayer get left holding the bag again; or
(D)  all of the above.

The bottom line? We can rely on the City to get best value for taxpayer money and to be transparent with its taxpayers, and on AJL papers for unbiased, investigative reporting. Well at least to the same standards we’ve become accustomed to.

I have much more to say, so there’ll be a further column or ten – that’s either good or bad news depending on your perspective. But I see the word count increasing, and with it the editor’s patience decreasing. More soon. 

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Jul 082014
 

Stewart Milne tall by Dave HarrisonBy Bob Smith.

Stewartie Milne wints ti bigg
Hooses doon Pitfodels wye
Aa ti bi class’t as luxury
Wi prices fair sky high

‘Ere is a need says Stewartie
Fer mair hooses o es kine
A fyow mair luxury hames
Wull suit Aiberdeen jist fine

Awa an bile yer heid min
It’s the laist thing we div need
Biggin mair owerpriced mansions
An only affordable ti ae creed

Fit aboot biggin some hoosies
Aat’ll help the first time buyers?
An nae jist pander ti the likes
O big business types an lawyers

Oor streets are paved wi gold
Fowk fae oot the toon are telt
So Stewartie maan be hopin
Aat ess hooses wull seen be selt.

Bigg ‘em quick-price ’em heich
The motto o fowk like Mr Milne
Nivver myn the puir buggers
Still on the property treadmill

It seems aat oor toon planners
Beery their heids doon in the sand
An dee nithin aboot the less affluent
Faa need a wee helpin hand

Bigg ‘em quick—price ‘em lower
Wid dee a lot mair fer the needy
So Stewartie Milne gie es a thocht
An dinna be sae bliddy greedy.

© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2014
Images from original artwork by Dave Harrison.

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Sep 272013
 

Lies, Damned Lies, and The Trump Effect (or 74% of people don’t remotely trust the Evening Express).

Credibility is stretched to new extremes by claims made by the Chamber of Commerce and the Marcliffe’s Stewart Spence concerning ‘the Trump effect’. Numbers, surveys and statistics are used in attempts to demonstrate how positive an impact Trump is having on Aberdeenshire tourism. Suzanne Kelly peeks behind the curtain at the little man pulling the strings, using a satirical survey to demonstrate just how easily statistics can be massaged.

StatspicTrump International Golf Links Scotland hasn’t exactly been booked solidly, if its own online booking tool is anything to judge by.

But an assortment of people and institutions which were leading the call for the course to be built are hard at work, convincing us that we’re all better off with money flowing in.

There may be some money coming into town indeed, but here are a few thoughts before we swallow the bait whole.

Ninety-three percent increase in room sales to golfers at the Marcliffe!  Such a precise claim, it has to be accurate doesn’t it? 

Many people who’ve heard this statistic are accepting it as proof of Trump having a positive economic impact.

The Chamber of Commerce published an article, “Golf Halo effect benefitting Aberdeen City and Shire hotels by up to 93%” (http://www.agcc.co.uk/news-main/item/21109-golf-halo-effect-benefiting-aberdeen-city-and-shire-hotels-by-up-to-93/).

There is that magic number 93 again. It’s a high number, it’s echoed by Spence, the Chamber of Commerce, and in a few press releases that have been turned into press articles by some of our printed press. This is, in propaganda terms, positive reinforcement; a claim is made, it is repeated, it is not explained in depth by those who want you to believe it.

It starts to sink in.

We have the precise-sounding number ‘93’; we have had that figure reinforced in different media. You would be forgiven for drinking from the trough you’ve been led to and take it for granted that it is true and not to be questioned.

But numbers can be made to do almost anything you want them to do.  Is the glass half empty or half full? The answer depends on the spin you put on it.

A satirical survey was carried out for one week concerning the Evening Express; over 50 people replied to it. In truth, 52 people replied to it – but if you say ‘over 50’ people – then the reader can imagine higher numbers.

Taking that logic forward, let’s consider again the Chamber’s claim that the ‘golf halo’ is benefitting hotels ‘by up to 93%.’  This statistic is nearly meaningless.

How many hotels were in the survey? How many benefitted by 93%? How many benefitted considerably less than that? How many tourists were counted and how was it done? What was the mean (the figure arrived at by adding all the results together and dividing by the number of hotels)?  Was the mean significantly less than 93%?

StatsangleWithout further details such as the length of time the assessment covers, what other events were on which could have increased tourist numbers, how was the measurement made, this ‘up to 93%’ means next to nothing.

Furthermore, from most reports it is apparently the Marcliffe’s Stewart Spence claiming this 93% increase for his hotel.

The Marcliffe is a nice spot. Do hundreds of people stay there? No.

In fact there are 7 suites and 35 rooms.

Therefore this 93% increase is not likely to mean any huge number. For one thing, Donald Trump is known to have stayed at the Marcliffe; no doubt some of his large entourage stays with him. Let’s just say Trump gets one suite when he has stayed: Doing the maths, this is a 14.28% increase in suites used for visitors to the Trump course.

Depending on who’s doing the statistical analysis, you could also call this a 100% increase in Trump-related visitors from the time before the course.

The Chamber’s report also reads:-

“These figure relate to the golf ‘season’ from May to date and Mr Spence considers that by the end of September, this figures will have increased further to the point where rooms booked by golfers are three times as high as bookings in 2012.”

Coming in at something less than 93% increase – a 5% increase is reported by Jury’s.  This is buried in the Chamber’s article, and Jury’s less boastful claims also credit a discount offered as well as theatre and other events than golf being a factor.  But again, is the Marcliffe really imposing a survey on all of its well-heeled guests?

Is it guessing who’s playing and who might be playing? Without knowing the methodology used and the numbers involved, Mr Spence’s guess is just that. Furthermore, he’s hardly likely to do anything but insist the numbers are up; it might just be in his interest for us to think all is rosy – and for Mr Trump to hear him making such positive noises.

There also seems to be a faint hint of arrogance at suggestions that Trump is now why people are coming to our area to golf. There are after all more courses than this new one.

What questions you ask and whether or not they are slanted can generate virtually any statistic you want to generate.

Getting back to the spoof Evening Express survey, here are the results:-

Question:  Do you Trust the Evening Express?

Answer Choices                                                                                                                                                                           

Responses

Yes when it comes to cute baby competitions 14.29% (7)
No 20.41% (10)
Not Even Remotely 73.47% (36)
Total Number of Respondents  49


Question:  What do you think can be done to improve the Evening Express?

Answer Choices                                                                                                                                                                            

Responses

Sack the Editor 48% (24)
Protect the jobs of the workers who it seems face more job cuts 32% (16)
Allow reporters to investigate stories and write their conclusions up freely 68% (34)
Stop taking items that are 3 days old and recycling them 46% (23)
Exorcism 28% (14)
Total Number of Respondents 50


Question:  What do you think of first when you think of the Evening Express?

Answer Choices                                                                                                                                                                            

Responses

Sarah Malone Bates, VP at Trump Golf, Winner of the EE Face of Aberdeen Contest, and her subsequent marriage to Damian Bates, Aberdeen Journals Editor in Chief, and the wee potential for a conflict of interest this creates 70% (35)
The balanced, reasoned, multifaceted approach to local issues 6% (3)
The lovely pictures of the granite web, printed at the drop of a hat 28.00 (14)
The time their headline read ‘two deer found dead ahead of cull’ and the deer actually
died a year before of unknown causes?
18% (9)
Total Number of Respondents  50


Question:  What would you most like to say to the EE Editorship?

  • Print facts without bias
  • More people read Aberdeen Voice………
  • propaganda isn’t journalism.
  • Just give up.
  • Print a newspaper, not a comic
  • You traitors!
  • What will you do when there is no more oil? You’ve sh*t upon the people of Aberdeen for many years (on behalf of your advertisers), so there will be no-one to cry when your advertising revenue dries up and your paper goes bust.
  • Not printable, I’m afraid.
  • Have you considered journalism as a possible change of career ?
  • Well done for speaking up for the silent majority in Aberdeen, those who shout loudest usually get what they want, that’s why our City is such a mess.
  • Print the truth
  • Why and when did he decide that Joseph Goebbel’s style of propaganda was appropriate for a local newspaper?
  • Get out of the pocket of big business.
  • The only content from local areas is of vandalism or babies. If there is any cultural events happening that the EE haven’t sponsored – they will not find its way into the paper. Certainly have no decent article written about them.
  • You’re a crook and an obsequious lickspittle of corrupt and greedy businessmen
  • Unprintable
  • Well, hello, I suppose as I didn’t realise it had an editor. Thought some PR company just collated their press releases. I would also like it to campaign for chips to be wrapped in newspaper once again – then it would have a purpose
  • Take a reality check
  • Can the editorship read?
  • Balanced! Not a lot of crap typed by keyboard warriors!
  • I used to think this paper was the only one worth buying, until it printed a story about me that was utter sh*te.
  • Stop printing sh*te!
  • Your fired
  • we want proper unbiased news not some fatcats pipedream
  • so long and thanks for all the fish
  • How do you manage to sleep at night.
  • Get a grip.
  • Goodbyeee!
  • Stop promoting Donald Trump, Sir Ian Wood and Stewart Milne.
  • Unprintable.
  • Get tae …
  • Get a divorce, mate.
  • Nothing …. because anything I say will be taken down, changed beyond recognition, put in quotes and used against me in a skewed context.
  • What is the difference between the EE and a bucket of shite? The bucket.
  • Being the “Millionaires Best Friend” and slanting the news accordingly, may be profitable, but as a newspaper, ???? shameful.
  • Ta, ta!
  • Get Ye behind me Satan!!!!
  • Stop sucking up to “Big business”

 

Question:  What would you like to see done to the EE headquarters?

Answer Choices                                                                                              

Responses

Build a granite web over it 20.41% (10)
Turn it into an outdoor theatre 6.12% (3)
Give it to Aberdeen City Gardens Trust (an unelected private company) to manage 16.33% (8)
Turn it into some kind of credible business 53.06% (26)
Exorcism 16.33% (8)
Total Number of Respondents  49

It should be noted that the respondents were anonymous; I did not ask anyone to reply, and I did not reply to the questions myself. When setting up a survey, it is possible to target specific audiences. I was asked if I wanted to purchase an option to have specific kinds of people given my survey to answer; I declined.

When it comes to surveys you are being asked to put your trust in, you may want to determine who the respondents were and how they were chosen.

Aberdeen’s Evening Express seemed a likely candidate for this illustrative, satirical exercise for several reasons.

Firstly, they are more than happy to print the conclusions of the Pro-Trump lobby.

Secondly, there is a good, recently disclosed reason for that:  Aberdeen Journals Editor in Chief is married to Trump’s Vice President, not that you learnt this from the paper itself.

Thirdly, on occasion their coverage of issues could be what you might call slightly bias.

Fourth, the  paper is running its own survey as to ‘mending our broken heart’. This survey starts from the premise we are broken-hearted over not having built a granite web over our only city centre green public space. Their campaign in favour of building the web was nothing short of ferocious.

ballsNow they want us to believe they are interested in mending the huge divisions the issue caused, and that they merely want to get our opinions. Not everyone would agree their survey comes from a place of neutrality with a goal of peace-making. They therefore seemed a good candidate to illustrate how surveys can be slanted.

The EE survey questions all had set answers (except the last one). Those who live in Aberdeen City will recall being given similar ‘straightjacket’ answer choices when it came to choosing a shortlist for potential designs for Union Terrace Gardens.

The choice to leave the gardens as they are and just improve them was not given to us, forcing us to choose one of 6 (mostly abhorrent) designs.

What the public did actually vote on and comment on in this exercise remains a mystery. Despite the public purse paying (at least in part) for the exercise, an unelected Limited company consisting of 4 people refuse to let us have the results. Perhaps the Hotel Association will want to come forward with the raw data they have collected regarding Trump .

The Evening Express survey was leading – were leading questions asked of hotel guests?

Using the logic employed by the Chamber, I could write an article now saying ‘Up to 98% of Aberdonians think the Evening Express is Dreadful’.

One thing my survey did was to ask for comments. No two are alike. Not only do they all say different things while conveying the same general message, none of them were from the same IP address. Bear that in mind, and go back to the public consultation as to whether or not to allow the Trump complex to overrule the SSSI protections.

Of course both sides had recommended their followers to either support or object. However, a startling number of supporters came in via email – and dozens and dozens of these are wholly identical.

Identical not only in terms of the wording being verbatim, but the fonts and even the line breaks. Of course these were all counted as individuals weighing in. While many organisations will use form letters, usually this is pointed out when responses are counted – this does not necessarily seem to have taken place with the Trump application.

do not accept any conclusions until you know how big the sample was

It is one thing to say thousands of people support a course of action – but it is quite another thing to say that thousands of people sent in precisely the same replies supporting a course of action. (Does government look at things like IP addresses?  It might be worth doing so in future).

Let’s assume that massive hordes of golfers are now coming here because of the Trump course. You would therefore expect the course to be running at capacity. From eyewitness accounts of people living nearby, this is not the case. Even the online booking system used by the Trump organisation shows there are often many un-used tee times almost every day.

The next time someone tells you there is ‘up to 93%’ of an increase in something, or the next time you read a statistic somewhere, do not accept any conclusions until you know how big the sample was. Do they mean 93% of ten thousand people? Or are they talking about 93% of 7 suite and 35 bedroom guests?

If someone tells you there is an increase in an activity, find out what the time period is, what other factors could have influenced the increase (were people flocking to an area, say for an event like Offshore Europe?). Ask whether the person or group giving you the statistics have a vested interest in the matter at hand: does Mr Spence want to encourage Trump and co. to continue to visit his hotel?

Do VisitScotland want to validate their ongoing claims as to the benefits of the Trump course? Does the Evening Express have any reason to want to regurgitate pro-Trump statistics? Unfortunately numbers, as well as people, can be deceptive. Without having more information such as who the respondents were, the raw data and background, statistics are meaningless.

Put another way – at least up to 93% of survey data and statistics are unreliable.

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Aug 232013
 

VSA’s annual Tartan Pro-am Golf Tournament and fundraising dinner raised more than £30,000 to support families in the North-East. With thanks to Jenny Montgomerie.

Aberdeen’s largest social care charity, VSA held their annual golf event last Thursday at the Aboyne Golf Course on Royal Deeside, with a fundraising dinner in the evening to raise funds for VSA’s Family Contact Centre.

The centre is a volunteer run facility where children from separated families can spend valuable time with the mum or dad who no longer lives with them.

VSA’s Family Contact Centre can help when contact is hard to achieve for practical or personal reasons.

The event attracted 32 teams, with one Scottish Golf Professional playing in each team of four. The tournament was followed by a prize giving dinner at the Marcliffe Hotel and Spa where 150 guests enjoyed a Pimms reception followed by a fantastic dinner.

The after dinner entertainment, Drew McAdam left the audience speechless with his astounding mindplay.  Also during the evening an auction took place along with a heads and tails competition and a raffle.

In thanking all of the sponsors and guests for their very kind support in aid of the Contact Centre, VSA Trustee Andrew Forsythe was able to announce that the day had raised a staggering £37,735.00.

Debbie Fotheringham, VSA’s Events and Fundraising Co-ordinator said:

“We are so grateful to everyone involved in today’s Tournament and Dinner to help raise an amazing amount of money for such a worthy cause. I am overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness and generosity. The Family Contact Centre is a valuable service to hundreds of families and the support from our sponsors, including Brewin Dolphin and Munro’s Travel Group, all of the day’s players and evening’s guests has been fantastic. We should all be very proud of ourselves as this service is run entirely on voluntary income.

“I am also delighted to announce that next year’s tournament will be held at the scenic and challenging Royal Deeside Golf Club on 15thMay.”

Teams booking before the end of December will qualify for special discount rates.