Dec 112015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Fred Wilkinson, Editor.

(Noo the Richt Gits University)

by Bob Smith.

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

Continue reading »

Aug 072015

MartinFordatUTGEast Garioch councillor Martin Ford has been updated on progress with work on delivering a railway station for Kintore.

Cllr Ford, a long-standing campaigner for a station at Kintore, said:

“The intention is to have a new Kintore station in place and ready to come into use in spring 2019, when the wider upgrade of the Aberdeen to Inverness rail line is due to be completed”

“Various steps are necessary to allow a new station to be built, including acquisition of the land needed, design work, gaining planning permission and securing the funding for the construction cost. Steps to deliver all of these requirements are underway, or planning for them has started.”

Cllr Ford recently gave a talk on the proposals for a Kintore station to Kintore Rotary Club.

Cllr Ford said:

“There is no doubt about the strong local demand for a rail halt in Kintore, and every reason to be confident of good levels of use. Of course, I would have liked to see a station in place long before this, but there is now a clear intended opening date. And progress is being made with the preparatory work to enable a station to be built. I am optimistic the planned opening date can be met.”

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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.]

Jul 242015

Through August, at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, ‘Myrtle Throgmorton, Ancient Heckler’ is being staged by a cast and crew all from rural Aberdeenshire. With thanks to Kieran Booth.

3O6A5178-14-Edit-2More sit-down than stand –up, enthusiast for all things Scottish and certified old trout, Myrtle Throgmorton is taking to the stage to ruminate on many splendid things: long life, comedy, gussets, Burns, decrepitude, pimping your Zimmer and so much more.

Created by former BBC Comedy producer Jennie Campbell / Chalmers, Myrtle insists she has been gently heckling at the Edinburgh Fringe since “before it began”.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, so long as it is hers. Jennie has developed the character over many years and admits that the game old bird is now, worryingly, more ‘ego’ than ‘alter’.

Post- election, Myrtle has unwittingly become slightly more satirical, taking Jennie back to her comedy beginnings.

Myrtle’s accumulated years are off-set by the youthful vigour of contemporary dancer, Gordon Raeburn (“not proper dancing” MT ) and pianist, Sam Williams (“pianissimo, dear!” MT).  The production could be unique on the 2015 Fringe as the cast and crew all come from rural Aberdeenshire; Gordon from Huntly and Jennie, Sam and technician Kieran from Barthol Chapel. Only the director, David Jackson Young, breaks the mould with his Borders roots.

The show is a mix of Myrtle’s musings and her comedy ABC ( Audience, Banter, Crudités ), Dance – a thankfully brief Pas de Zimmer salvaged by Gordon’s skills, live and original music from Sam and every show ends with a ‘surprise’ guest joining Myrtle for cheery chat over the tea trolley. The audience is completely unaware who the guest will be – indeed Myrtle herself may not be entirely up to speed until just before the off.

It could be a TV celebrity, an acclaimed author, a well-kent radio voice, a rising star ( that ‘I saw them first…’ moment ), an unknown character with a story to tell, someone with a great show and no audience or the joker from the café on the corner…  A truly potluck surprise, in the spirit of the Fringe. And every one a guaranteed delight!

After a brief career as a London lawyer, and a briefer one cleaning houses, Jennie Campbell joined BBC Radio Comedy as a producer of such programmes as Week Ending, the News Quiz and the Edinburgh Festival compilations, scouting the Fringe in the 80s for hungry new young talent – Rory Bremner, Paul Merton, Arnold Brown, Helen Lederer, the Bodgers, Merry MacFun Co and many, many others.

On moving to Scotland, she switched from satirical news to the real thing and has been variously a radio presenter on Newsweek Scotland, news and current affairs producer, director of theatre, opera and musicals, drama teacher, arts organizer, serial committee member and session clerk. With Myrtle Throgmorton, Jennie makes a long overdue return to her ( now blue-rinsed ) comedy roots.

Venue: Greenside@Infirmary St. ( Venue 236 )
Dates; 7th – 29th August ( except 16th and 23rd )
Time: 17.15 ( Duration 55 mins )
Tickets: £10/£9/£5 ( SUCD )

Available from:
Box Office:
( open from 7th August ) 0131 618 6968
or Edinburgh Fringe website at:

Myrtle is also making an appearance during the Haddo Arts Festival, a six-day festival of arts for all at Haddo, including classical concerts, Scottish Opera, exhibitions, schools workshops and Myrtle Throgmorton, Game Bird.

Wednesday October 7th, 7.30 pm at Haddo House Hall. Full details and tickets are available here:

twitter @myrtlethrog

Apr 012015

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie

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

Comments are of course very welcome.

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Jul 172014

By Bob Smith.
dreamstimefree_151469 calf

We took a wee bit dauner
Oot ti the 161st Echt Show
Far kwintra fowk an toonsers
They war minglin ti an fro’
‘Ere wis Charollais an Suffolk sheep
The Texels a fun ugly limmers
‘Ere wis ither yowes an tups
An some war cross bred gimmers
The horse section noo wis gran
The Clydesdales stole ma hairt
As a myn fine as a loon
Rosie yokit ti box cairt
Lots o coos wi caafs as weel
Gweed bullocks an heifers ti
Heilan coos wi their horns
A richt fine sicht ti see
A parade o vintage tractors
The auldest ti bi seen
Wis a post war Fordson
In a livery o dark green
The Kintore Pipe Band war on haun
Roon the ring they did parade
Mony fowk they war whistlin
As weel kent tunes they played
Heilan duncin throwoot the day
Sword Dunce weel ti the fore
Wi young eens  o aa ages
‘Ere wis tartans bi the score
In the Industrial tint ‘ere wis
Toffees, jams an gweed bakes
Clootie dumplin an oatmeal breid
An lots o WRI wifies’ cakes
A fair enjoyed the birds o prey
Wi the display o falconry
In fact a hiv ti say
It fair did mak the day
A great faavrit fer mony ‘ears
The young loons an quines races
A buddin Jessica Ennis or Usain Bolt
Micht hae bin amang the faces
An efterneen o fine hivvy  events
Compered by Leuchar loon Jim Taylor
Haimmer throwin an caber tossin
Wi me es fun great faavour
‘Ere wis the Tug-o-War competition
Strappin loons an quines took pairt
In the hans o Jim’s brither Bob
Ti Echt they cam fae ilka airt
The wither  it played its pairt
A braw day wi nae rain
At only eicht poonds ti git in
Es pilgrimage we’ll mak again
©Bob Smith  “The Poetry Mannie” 2014

Image: Calf ready to nurse © Cressie Wright | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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Jul 082014

“My fit big teeth ye hiv Suarez”

“Aa the better ti bite ye wi Chiellini”

With the knockout stages of the World cup well underway, Bob Smith scribbles his mind with not a care who minds his scribblins.

Football cheat 2aA’ve paraphrased the wirds fae a fairy tale a kent fin a wis a loon ti fit the gyaans on in the World Cup fin Luis Suarez maybe thocht aat haen a bite oot o Italian Gorgio Chiellini’s shooder wid increase his protein an energy livils. Bit the fairy tale o aa fairy tales maan be Suarez’s excuse fin he claimed he lost his balance an fell inti Chiellini an his teeth cum in contact wi the Italian’s  body.

Hivin seen fit happen’t ower an ower again a hiv come ti the conclusion Suarez maan think we war aa born yesterday.

Noo Suarez,the Uruguayan FA an fans fae aat kwintra aa think the ban stoppin him fae playin fer Uruguay fer nine games an a fower month ban fae domestic fitba is  ower the tap. He wis lucky he wisna banned sine die, literally a lifetime ban, as es wis his third offence fer bitin’ anither player.

The last player in Britain ti be suspended sine die wis Wullie Woodburn o Rangers fa lost his timper an landit a fist on Eck Paterson o Stirling Albion. Ess happen’t sixty ‘ear ago an wis the first time he hid punched onybody. The ban wis owerturned bit bi the time es cam aboot Woodburn wis ower auld ti resume playin an decidit ti retire.

Noo a’ll move on ti divin, anither curse o the modern game.

Foo mony players div ye see noo gyaan doon as tho’ the hid bin hit bi an express train or performin the deein swan act jist cos somebody cum inti contact wi ‘em. Maist time the contact is minimal, nae even aneuch ti knock a flech ower.

Es is doonricht cheatin in ma beuk, bit cos o the siller involved nooadays an the pressure pit on teams ti win matches es behaviour is afen condoned bi some coaches an managers.

Maist fair myndit fans are fair sick o es blatant cheatin.

Movin on we cum ti the aa-in wrestlin fit taks place in penalty boxes at corner kicks or free kicks. Michty me cooncillor Len Ironside wid be prood o some o the grips used ti stop an opponent getting ti the ba’. Ti me it’s easily stopped -jist gie a penalty ivvery time an attackin player is manhunnl’t in the box, or a free kick ti the defendin team if it’s the ither wye roon.

Nae need ti sen ‘em aff. Some fowk say es winna wark as the ref wid nivver be stopp’t gien penalties or free kicks in the box. If aneuch penalties war gien the message wid seen git hame. Dinna bliddy wrestle in the penalty area.

O coorse there are ither types o cheatin, like takin a throwe-in ten yairds farrer forrit than it should, gyaan doon fakin injury fin yer team is unner pressure an a practice fit a think cums unner the heidin o cheatin, pittin o a substitute in the last fyow minutes ti disrupt the flow o play.

Some fowk micht nae think fit a’m aboot ti say next cums unner the banner o cheatin bit a’ll leave it up ti you gweed fowks ti mak up yer ain myn.

A’m spikkin aboot cheatin fans oot o their siller bi the wye some teams play the game. If a hear ony mair fitba pundits spikkin aboot twa banks o fower a’ll bliddy scream.Es formation is nae used ti win a fitba match bit jist ti either stop the ither team fae playin or ti mak sure wark ye dinna lose.

Fans are  bein cheatit oot o seein a gweed fitba match wi es tactics an its bin noticeable aat the teams employin es type o team formation in the World Cup hiv maistly bin the European teams. The maist attack myndit teams hiv bin some o the  African teams an the Sooth Americans.

Tak cheatin, divin, bitin an twa banks o fower oot o fitba an ye jist micht see mair fans cummin ti watch the eence bonnie game.

© Bob Smith 2014

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Jun 202014

pitlurg bull2For seventy-five years Francis Bay’s insightful, anecdotal and uplifting words have warmed the hearts and enriched the lives of generations of devoted readers. The perfect accompaniment as we journey together through the year ahead, he offers both words of comfort and insightful words of wisdom to share faith hope and love.

This week I am thinking of those long lost and distant delights of yesteryear. The poems of old which delight the heart and warm the cockles of your feet. I well recall those pink rosie days of summer.

A kind lady reader sent this to me just yesterday. Although I cannot reveal Jane Smith’s real name, I think she knows who she is.

This is her lovely poem.

First the silage – By Jane Smith

The nestling of peewits went at first
Praise the Lord, my soul and in the grass they had no chance in both a Welsh and a sort of English sort of voice
But butter wouldn’t melt, if you get my drift

Praise the Lord, my soul
Farmer Psalm page 104
He makes the clouds his chariot all

Rascals and abusive warning
The taking of empowering
Rascals all perhaps

Don’t comment was the warning, we know best, the country ways are best
Then came the shooting of rooks
There will be some bangs said the landlord at the door.

I’ll get the cat in then

Then the old bull went despite that he was supposed to live until autumn
Now steak
I had seen this before

How many are your works?

Psalm 104
Praise the Lord, my soul
Is there still time?

What for he said
I mean, to get the cat in quite soon

Oh thank you said the cat despite the lagging of years
The bull was suspiciously bereft of tongue.

If you or indeed your loved ones have an inspirational or anecdotal story, please send it to Francis Bay who would love to hear from you.

All comments are free.

© Francis Bay. Most rights reserved.

Apr 082014

Charlie Abel by Julie ThompsonBy Bob Smith.

The barn wis wash’t and scrubbit doon
A job ower hard for ae wee loon
Seen aa the fleer wis fine an clean
Ready for a dustin o slipperene

Neipers an freens fae aa aroon
Cam doon the road ti wir fairm toon
There ti hae a dunce an celebrate
The hinmaist shaif throwe the cornyaird gate

There wis streamers hingin fae the roof
As roon the fleer the fowk did hoof
Gay Gordons, waltzes and foxtrots
Maist fowk wis swatin lots an lots

Music wis provided by twa chiels
Aabody got up fer an eichtsome reel
Syne fin they needed a wee bit rest
Samplin the food they did wi zest

Pies sandwiches an scones wi jam
Teas lemonade or maybe a dram
We aa sat aroon an hid a blether
Aboot the price o coos or the affa wither

Time ti gyang hame aroon een o clock
Some fowk in the mornin wid hae ti yoke
The horse up ti the sma box cairt
Fin gaitherin neeps they micht hae ti stairt

© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2014
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Nov 082013

He Ain’t No Good, the Locust Honey String Band’s debut CD, drew loud noises of appreciation on its release in Autumn 2012. Those who have maintained interest in this Asheville, North Carolina trio were pleased when a UK visit was announced, and Northeast fans were delighted when Glenbuchat Hall on beautiful Donside was among the venues booked to host the Honeys. David Innes’s trainspotterly local geographical knowledge was called on as he set off to review the show for Voice.

Locust Honey String Band 177a

Chloe Edmondstone (fiddle), Ariel Dixon (banjo) and Meredith Watson (guitar) Pic:

The choice of venue is interesting. There seems to be a new circuit developing for up-and-coming touring acoustic acts in the Northeast, with The Tin Hut, Gartly and Portsoy’s Salmon Bothy becoming established as intimate but lively venues where local friendliness and fine hospitality help attract promoters and artists.

Gigs are invariably well-attended, a sign that these often-forgotten communities are appreciative that acts are making the effort to bring their music to the people.

Co-operative community values are what drive the volunteer management of these venues, and that gladdens even this bitter old cynic’s excuse for a heart.

By the time that Chloe Edmondstone (fiddle), Ariel Dixon (banjo) and Meredith Watson (guitar) took to the Glenbuchat stage, around 120 old-timey fans had arrived, to the delight of the band and organiser Steve Cameron.

Armed only with their acoustic instruments and a single condenser microphone, the Honeys demonstrated why a community will turn out in such numbers on a frosty November Monday to gather in a remote glen in the Cairngorm foothills.

Barely stopping to draw breath, Meredith and Ariel incessantly created driving rhythms atop which Chloe’s expressive old-timey fiddle lines danced. The entire Glenbuchat turnout was loudly expressive in its approval. When the Honeys gathered around the microphone in two or three-part harmony, the effect was glorious, whether offering their own songs, ‘When The Whisky’s Gone’ and ‘How You Must Have Felt’ or their takes on others’ material.

Locust Honey String Band177b

Ariel Dixon (banjo)

Of the latter, The Mississippi Sheiks’ ‘Sitting On Top Of The World’ and the marvellous travelogue ‘Banjo-Pickin’ Girl’ were standouts.

These are players comfortable with each other.

Their enjoyment is as palpable as the audience’s.

The music is introduced and supplemented by self-effacing humour and a stock of anecdotes.

We heard about their innocently singing an impolite song about policemen when busking, and being eyed by the officers of the law; about ill-fitting charity shop dance shoes, and Ariel’s suffering for her art as she demonstrated her Green Grass Cloggers steps; and a child’s description of Kitty Wells’s definitive ‘Walking After Midnight’ as ‘weird’, after he’d feasted on the He Ain’t No Good version.

By the time the raffle had been drawn and the t-shirt competition (yes, really) completed, Glenbuchat was dancing.

Literally, as a dozen or so twitchy-footed Buchateers stamped some sort of jigging/flinging/hot-stepping Terpsichorean improvisation at the back of the hall.

With the news arriving by text that the Dons had just gubbed Partick Thistle 4-0, I was almost tempted to join in.

That this can happen on a cold Monday night in a remote Aberdeenshire glen is a tribute to admirable rural community values and the stirring tunes and affable charm of The Locust Honey String Band. Haste ye back.

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Oct 112013

By Steve Cameron.

The parish of Glenbuchat lies north west from the River Don, between Glenkindie and Strathdon. In the 19th century its population peaked at around 570 people who had ‘a strong sense of identity and fostered a powerful social spirit’.

Community activities included an annual highland games and picnic, St Peters Fair, a Literary Society, a Mutual Improvement Society, and Glenbucket Male and Female Friendly Society providing support for members falling on hard times.

At some point in the last 200 years the name started to appear in records as Glenbuchat. The Glen was proud of its tradition of ballads and violin and pipe music.

Towards the end of the 19th century, by which time the parish population had fallen to around 400, the people of the glen felt a need for a building in which to hold meetings and social events. Raising funds was not easy, but eventually the hall was built by public subscription, with donations received from the Laird, who also donated the land, and the shooting tenant.

The opening bazaar took place in September 1899. From that time until the First World War the hall was used regularly for a range of educational, training and social activities and events.

During and following the war, activities and fundraising dropped dramatically, and the building showed signs of wear and tear. Thanks to donations from the Women’s Rural Institute the hall was repaired and refurbished in 1924. It is likely that activities continued as before, but no record survives from this period.

Glenbuchat2At the end of the Second World War fresh efforts were made to put the hall back into use and to carry out necessary works. However, it took nine years to raise sufficient funds to add lavatories to the building. From 1946 to 1962 there were regular activities, with many fundraisers for various good causes.

The latter part of the 20th century saw the population dwindle to fewer than 100, and activities in the hall diminish as social change saw less demand for the activities on offer.

By the end of the century, the building once again looked shabby.

Fortunately, a small group continued managing the hall and the Millenium ‘stirred old feelings of public responsibility for the hall …for community activity’

In 2005, the Glenbuchat Hall Community Association was formed to support the hall and activities.  The Objects of the Association were to

  • secure the establishment, maintenance and management of the Hall.
  • promote and maintain the traditions and culture of the Glen.
  • benefit the inhabitants of Glenbuchat and surrounding district.
  • associate with inhabitants, local authorities and voluntary organisations in a common effort to advance education and leisure with the purpose of improving the lives of the said inhabitants.
  • act as a focal point for environmental matters concerning the Glen

In 2007, around thirty residents gathered for two working weekends to undertake refurbishment and temporary repairs. In the last decade, the programme of social events throughout the year has grown, with current annual footfall estimated as more than 2500.

In 2010, the Association undertook a public consultation, which identified an aspiration to sustain the hall for future use, including adult education, a focus on environmental issues, wider access to the surrounding environment, increased arts and recreation facilities, development of a heritage group, and increased availability of the hall to other organisations. From this the Glenbuchat Hall Community Hub project developed.

HallCraigton1Thanks to considerable local fundraising, and generous grants from a number of bodies, the Association has installed air-to-air heat exchanger heating and has refurbished the hall with new toilets, disabled access and a kitchen.

The Association is developing an outbuilding as an additional smaller meeting room or entertainment space. When completed, it will be made available to selected organisations as a base for accessing the locality.

In 2013, the Association has hosted a community hall re-opening party, a film night and music events including the Cairngorm Ceilidh Trail where young musicians can develop and perform. There’s been a wedding reception, a private party, and the hall has acted as a major venue for North East Open Studios (NEOS) arts fortnight. It’s also the focal point of the community for Hogmanay celebrations and has been used for Burns suppers in the past. A Sound Festival collaborative project Framed Against the Sky used the hall as one of its venues.

Currently the Association has appointed installation artist Gill Russell as artist-in-residence for three months. We have had some fantastic musicians on our stage including Catford, As The Crow Flies and recently Son Al Son, an exciting collaboration between Cuban and Scottish musicians making fantastic salsa music.

Current plans include developing the programme of music events, including touring traditional music acts and contemporary music. Plans are afoot for a festival to celebrate the fiddle music of Alexander Walker 150 years after its original publication.

Future visiting acts will include The Locust Honey String Band on 4 Nov and an exciting trio comprising  Leah Abramson, Rayna Gelert and, from Petunia and the Vipers, Patrick Metzger, on 17 March.

Glenbuchat1Fresh from outstanding reviews at last year’s Celtic Connections The Dardanelles will be appearing on 23 April.On 16 May we have one of the finest American roots music acts around with Cahalen Morrison & Eli West, reviewed twice previously in Aberdeen Voice.

Although building works ruled out a spring fair this year, this very popular event will no doubt return in 2014.  The Heritage Society is formed and is planning a range of activities, and the Association hopes to follow the current artist in residence programme with further residencies.

All of this demonstrates how we are attempting to reach out to the wider community.

Community halls throughout the country face difficult times but in rural locations they are a precious resource. In Glenbuchat we are fortunate to have the hall as a focal point for community activity and  hope we can continue to engage both the local and wider community. That ‘strong sense of identity and powerful social spirit’ described in the opening paragraph lives on in Glenbuchat!

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