Nov 122015

Tim Martin of Ramboll Oil & Gas, meets pupils involved in Northsound Schools Energy Challenge.

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

Pupils from four secondary schools in the north east of Scotland attended the Aberdeen office of global engineering consultancy Ramboll Oil & Gas to take part in a quiz designed to test their knowledge of the energy industry.

Teams from Dyce, Fraserburgh, Inverurie and Hazlehead Academies took part in the quarter finals of the Northsound Energy Schools Challenge, a hotly-contested annual competition for school pupils in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

But those wishing to learn the results of the hard-fought contest will need to tune in to local radio station Northsound One on Sunday, November 29 at 3.30pm.

Ramboll Oil & Gas has sponsored the popular energy industry quiz, run annually by Northsound One, in an effort to encourage young people to consider the energy industry as a career option. This comes after an announcement earlier this year that, despite the challenging economic climate, Ramboll Oil & Gas UK will expand its Aberdeen workforce by up to one third after securing £1.3m worth of new work since the start of the year.

Tim Martin, managing director of Ramboll Oil & Gas UK, says,

“At a time when other firms may not be looking to hire, we are in the very fortunate position to be looking towards expansion. There are still a great many opportunities for those wishing to enter the industry.

“The energy industry offers very rewarding career prospects, and we are delighted to be involved in a competition that fosters an interest in the industry amongst school pupils. Those competing in the Northsound Energy Schools Challenge are the future of the energy industry, and everything should be done to encourage their passion and enthusiasm.

“We were incredibly impressed by the knowledge and professionalism of all of the teams, and regardless of who is the overall winner of the competition I am confident that these pupils have long and successful careers in the energy industry ahead of them.”

The Northsound Energy Schools Challenge is broadcast on Northsound One every Sunday afternoon at 3.30pm.

Ramboll Oil & Gas is a business unit within the Ramboll Group. With more than four decades of experience, the company is a well-established, independent and highly regarded provider of offshore and onshore engineering consultancy services for the oil and gas industry. Today, Ramboll Oil & Gas has offices in the USA, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, India, Denmark, Norway and UK, and employs around 900 specialists.

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Aug 212015

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP

Gillian Martin (1)Gillian Martin (SNP Holyrood candidate for Aberdeenshire East) and Alex Salmond MP (Gordon) MSP (Aberdeenshire East) have welcomed the announcement of the second phase of the £100 million Attainment Scotland Fund. The Fund, which was launched earlier this year, supports schools, parents and pupils, which will improve attainment levels for all children.

This follows the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s keynote speech delivered at Wester Hailes Education Centre today (Tuesday 18th August).

During her speech, the First Minister set out the Scottish Government’s fresh approach to ensure every one of Scotland’s children has an equal chance to succeed in their school education.

Commenting, Gillian Martin said:

“I welcome the First Minister’s commitment to education. Here in Aberdeenshire, we have seen the results of the Scottish Government’s investment in new schools.

“I was recently visited the new Ellon Academy, which is a fantastic modern educational facility and a shining example of how education should work.

“The project was funded by the Scottish Government and Aberdeenshire Council and designed in partnership with the school. At every turn the school’s management, staff and pupils were involved in this design.

“The result is a fit for purpose, future-proof education facility and makes Ellon Academy a flagship school for our area.

“As a former Ellon Academy pupil, I am proud to see my old school leading the way in progressive education provision in the area. With inclusiveness and aspiration at its heart, the new Ellon Academy will make the transition from secondary to further education seamless.”

Alex Salmond MP (Gordon) MSP (Aberdeenshire East) said:

“It am very pleased to hear that the First Minister and the Scottish Government are staying committed to investment in education.

“The new Ellon Academy is just one of more than 500 new schools that have been rebuilt or refurbished since the SNP entered government in 2007.  It is a perfect example of what we can achieve when we focus on education.”

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May 292015
Eilidh Whiteford, Macduff Primary 2015

Eilidh Whiteford MP with Macduff Primary pupils prior to their visit to Westminster

With thanks to Paul Robertson.

Pupils from Macduff Primary School have enjoyed a first-hand experience of what goes on in the UK Parliament, following last week’s visit to the House of Commons.

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford welcomed the pupils for a look at what happens behind the scenes in the UK Parliament.

The youngsters visited Westminster Hall, Central Lobby, and the House of Lords debating chamber.

Speaking after the visit, Eilidh said:

“It was a pleasure to welcome the pupils to Parliament. I’ve given talks to Macduff’s P6 and 7 classes frequently  in recent years, and it’s a great experience for them to come down and see the Westminster Parliament and learn about its quirky traditions. They ask questions worthy of any politician in the Commons debating chamber and there is no doubt a few budding politicians in their ranks.”

A little part of Macduff Primary remained in London following their visit. A flag, designed by pupils at the school, will fly in Parliament square for one week alongside flags designed by schools across the UK to commemorate Westminster’s 750th anniversary. The Macduff Primary design will represent the historic country of Banffshire

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Jun 202014

Ross Martin-0614With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

It’s promising to be a busy summer for local teenage tennis star Ross Martin who has been selected to represent a Scottish Schools team this weekend to play in a challenge match against the South African team, which is touring Britain.

The match will be played at St Georges School in Edinburgh on Saturday.

The Robert Gordon’s College pupil has just returned from competing in a Tennis Europe event in Oslo, winning two matches in qualifying, followed by two in the main draw to reach the quarter finals before losing to the Norwegian No 2 Under 14 6-3, 6-4 but in the process, gaining him his first European ranking points.

13 year old Ross, who plays at David Lloyd was part of the North County U14 team, which came 3rd in the British County Championships last month.

Jan 102014

acyc-youth-council-logo1Aberdeen City Youth Council (ACYC)  launches its campaign to encourage young people to vote.

The campaign will aim to ensure that young people are able to make an informed decision on the future of their nation.ACYC will be working to ensure that everyone who can vote, does vote.

It aims to educate and inform young people on referendum issues, and to ensure that they are adequately engaged and empowered to participate fully in the debate.

Aberdeen has Scotland’s highest percentage of youth population, and it is therefore important that a project tailored to the needs of young people is implemented in the city. ACYC are working with the Lifelong Learning Team to create workshops that can be delivered within schools and communities.

The campaign launch will take place on the 18th January 2014, from 10:30 to 15:30 in the Aberdeen Town and County Hall. The event programme will include an overview of the campaign, workshop demonstration, and some exciting announcements from Aberdeen City Youth Council.

The events are an excellent opportunity to network with Youth Councillors, local and national government, representatives of youth organisations, and community leaders; and to engage with youth campaign initiatives. (Details to follow)

Contact: Struan King, Chairperson, Aberdeen City Youth Council

Tel: 07402 222 890

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Nov 282013

A group of pupils from Ellon Academy deliver a cheque for £3000 to RAS

Rape and Abuse Support (RAS) would like to congratulate pupils at Ellon Academy and Kemnay Academy who have successfully secured funding of £4,330 for the local charity.

RAS provides support and advocacy to female survivors of sexual violence, whether recent or historical, as well as challenging public attitudes towards rape through outreach work and they were delighted to be chosen by pupils taking part in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative at Ellon Academy and Kemnay Academy.

As part of the initiative, both groups visited the charity’s base in Aberdeen to find out about the organisation and presented their findings to a panel, fielding tough questions about their research.

The group at Ellon Academy dazzled the judges with their in depth knowledge of the issues tackled by the charity, securing the top prize of £3,000 – sponsored by the Wood Group and the Toscan Castle Foundation.

The panel at Kemnay Academy were so impressed with the calibre of the presentation delivered by the group representing RAS that Aramark Workplace Solutions offered to match funds raised by them during a no uniform day, raising £1,330.

Chair of RAS, Kathryn Russell said:

“I would like to congratulate the pupils at Ellon and KemnayAcademy on securing this funding. We are delighted to accept the donations secured by both groups.

“Donations like these are vital for charities like ours, as it allows us to put the money towards initiatives which we know will enhance the service we already provide. We are currently developing our volunteer base in Aberdeenshire and we are hoping to open a drop-in for survivors next year and unrestricted funding like this helps support such initiatives.”

Alayne Jones, Centre Co-ordinator at RAS attended both events to listen to the groups presentations. She said:

“I thoroughly enjoyed working with the young people and I was thrilled to see how interested they were in the work we do.

“I would like to thank them for all their hard work on behalf of RAS and I hope that they will continue to raise awareness of the work we do.”

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Aug 092013

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

Tally Ho!  I hope everyone is enjoying a vibrant, dynamic, smart successful summer with lashings of connectivity.  Tartan Day in Aberdeen was good fun, and once again the gardens were used to good effect, even if they are a dangerous, dreary, dark hole filled with criminals.

There was a re-enactment of a highwayman’s trial in the Tollbooth; suffice it to say the accused didn’t get a lesser sentence for pleading guilty, his difficult childhood or drunkenness weren’t hauled up as reasons for leniency, and the sentence wasn’t a few hours of community service.

Old Susannah’s also been to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which rightfully attracts talent and tourists from around the world. 

For the next few weeks Edinburgh’s intriguing private spaces, as well as public areas, will be given over to performances, workshops, a book festival, art/craft, food and drink.

I enjoyed a lovely meal in the Signet Library, which is transformed annually into the Pommery Champagne bar.  The public gets to see inside amazing venues like this, enjoy them for social occasions, and at the same time gets to appreciate the spaces Edinburgh has to offer.  Would that we could do that here, with our empty shops and interesting spaces.

The atmosphere is friendly; there is something for everyone, and people come from around the world. My hotel, the Caledonian Waldorf couldn’t have been more elegant or more service-orientated; a minor omission of an ingredient in a meal was more than made up for by complimentary dessert wine.

While I don’t often get to live it up, when I do so in Edinburgh, the Pommery and the Waldorf – and the local BrewDog bar for a bottle of new Electric India – are the places to be.  Sometimes you just need a little luxury.

It will be hard to write any form of satire this week that would be able to hold its own against the Salmond – vs – Aberdeen Council / Labour prose currently flying around town.  In brief, Salmond decided to spontaneously issue invitations to the press to witness his spontaneous visit to local Bramble Brae elementary school, coincidentally where a by-election was taking place.

I’m sure anyone who wants to wander into a school will be just as welcome

He, his team and the press thoughtfully bypassed the head teacher and Aberdeen’s Chief Executive, Valerie Watts, thus saving them paperwork and worry; they just went into the school, into the class and had a lovely visit, posing for photos.

For some reason, Valerie Watt took exception to this school visit, thinking that someone should have asked her first (she probably just wanted to get her photo taken with Alex).  She wrote to Salmond, and from there things got a wee bit messy, with accusations of ‘kamikaze’ councils and general name calling coming into it from Alex’s side.  Sexism got a look in as well with men only and women only golf clubs adding fuel to the fire.

Barney Crockett and Salmond have locked horns.  Watts should have realised that the First Minister can do whatever he feels like doing without checking with anyone; this is perfectly acceptable, and I’m sure anyone who wants to wander into a school will be just as welcome.  Clearly if other by-election candidates had been creative, they could have done the same.

Rhonda Reekie of the Greens should have marched into a school for a press call; Willie Young could have found a class full of students, rounded up their parents and the press for some handshaking, and none of the pro-SNP faction would have found anything amiss I’m certain. (What the class teacher thought of this visit and if/how they dealt with it would be nice to know).

Bramblegate reminds me of a lovely pro-granite web visit some school children had back in the day just before that referendum, which also went down well with parents.

Anyway, Alex can go into schools for press calls.  In contrast, it is very wrong for Councillor Martin Ford to speak to the BBC as a councillor while on Aberdeenshire Council premises. Word is that the Shire’s Chief Executive is still fuming post Panorama, and straining at the leash to give Ford a dressing down.

No answer is forthcoming yet to my email to Chief Mackenzie about where such a rule is written down, how many other councillors ask for permission for such meetings, and whether Mackenzie would then have an undemocratic power to stop such interviews/press calls as didn’t suit his purposes.  Thankfully, Mackinitupashegoesalong makes certain that all councillors follow the code of conduct.

surely no councillor could possibly owe us an explanation

He pointed this out in his letter to the Petitions Committee, saying how unnecessary any public inquiry into the Trump debacle would be.

Quite right too.  No doubt should any of the Shire’s councillors be found wanting in terms of obeying the code, they will be dealt with accordingly.  But surely no councillor could possibly owe us an explanation for his or her conduct – other than Ford of course.

All these arguments are splashing around the Press and Journal, which has given them another occasion to get comment from UK politics’ most heavy hitters.

Only a month ago they managed to find a window of opportunity in Kate Dean’s diary to do a three page spread, so we could benefit from her words of wisdom over the failure to get the web built (which ‘we will all regret’; ‘we’ll all remember where we were when the web got kicked into touch’, etc. etc.).  Now her little dog Toto, aka Kevin Stewart, has given a few words on the Alex Salmond-Barney Crocket-Valerie Watts tag team event.

Where does the P&J get these incisive commentators from?  Additionally, another City Council ex, John Stewart, now in Manchester running a parade or something, says “I’m so glad to be out of it now”, demonstrating his gladness by offering to comment from the sidelines in order to snipe at Crockett.  Many of us thought he was ‘out of it’ in one sense or another from time to time when he was still here.

All this fighting talk makes me think some related definitions are required, so without any further hesitation, here are some terms for this week’s definitions.

Circular Argument: (compound English Noun) An argument that is flawed by containing, as fact, the same thing it is attempting to prove, e.g. “The story I read in the Press & Journal is true because I read it in the Press & Journal.”

There are no circular arguments to be found in our part of the world, thank goodness.  But sometimes I wonder – if MEMAG didn’t exist, would it be necessary to invent it?

MEMAG wasn’t needed at all really; it wasn’t like Trump was going to go against the approved plan or do anything possibly detrimental to our environment.

MEMAG has authority to prevent damaging activities

But thankfully, MEMAG was put under the Trump organisation’s financial control.  Arguably, MEMAG was invented to keep the Trump organisation in check.

By holding the purse strings, by not showing up for meetings, and by in effect pulling the plug on MEMAG, the Trump Organisation was in control of several levels of the organisation set up to keep it under control.

The shire council’s Formartine Committee once had a report which read:-

“If permission is granted a section 75 agreement is imposed to ensure that the impact on the nature conservation interest is minimised and that no hard engineering works are involved in stabilising the sand dome and dune system and that MEMAG has authority to prevent damaging activities, that a rigorous landscape evaluation is undertaken and that no commitment is given to either the height of the hotel and holiday apartments or the eventual number of houses for sale, that a minimum of 40% of the energy requirement for the hotel, holiday apartments and homes is generated on site using renewable energy  technologies and that the employment benefits are derived locally with preference being given to those living within the North East and those attending the proposed university course.”

In the end, the now evaporated MEMAG group was about as effective in its remit as Father Ted was when holding up placards reading ‘down with this sort of thing’ and ‘careful now’

Old Susannah will find it hard to come up with any circular arguments; but in the mean time I leave you with this thought:  in order to prevent the Trump organization committing damaging activities, the Trump organization was in charge of an organisation called MEMAG which was in charge of preventing the Trump organisation committing damaging activities.

What could be simpler?


Aberdeenshire Council might be a little confused.  They’ve twice written to me to say :-

“Aberdeenshire Council have not authorised any restrictions on Menie Estate in relation to statutory access rights afforded under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.” (email to me of 7 August 2013).

Result!  Everything’s fine!  I’ll have to make sure to tell the Menie residents and visitors this.

However, the Shire’s outdoor access person also wrote to me on 26 March 2013:-

“As noted above we are aware of a number of concerns relating to outdoor access at Menie and are currently working to resolve the issues. It is my preference to utilise my time achieving the formal concerns already raised; I suspect these concerns are shared by the residents you note in your email. 

“As I hope you will appreciate the provision of access rights is not always clear and straight forward as much as we will continue to seek acceptable access rights for the residents of Menie and general visitors we also have to consider and balance the rights of the landowner to undertake their business and manage their land. 

“On a positive note I would say that the land managers at Menie have indicated they are keen to resolve concerns over public access and as such we are working towards a solution that provides a satisfactory level of access whilst taking into account the concerns of the land manager and their land management activities.”

On the one hand, the council didn’t authorise any restrictions relating to access rights at the Trump estate.  On the other hand, they are keen to resolve concerns over public access and want to provide a satisfactory level of access while taking in Trump’s concerns.

So – no restrictions are allowed, but the restrictions that do exist are being looked into, in other words. I trust that this shining example of clarity demonstrates that the council are completely clear, everything’s fine, and there is no need for a public inquiry.

Pre-emptive Strike: (compound English noun) to start an altercation or conflict in order to prevent being attacked.

The best defence is a good offence, and one of the high visibility adherents to this strategy is Alex Salmond. You might say he is very offensive at times.   But he is rather good at well-timed pre-emptive strikes.

Trouble over wining and dining wealthy American planning applicants?  Outcry at a pre-planned ‘impromptu’ visit to a school where your party is fighting a by election?  Scandal over legal advice taken over EU membership post independence?  Draw attention away from tiresome  trivial problems by launching an attack of your own.

After Watts wrote to Salmond, he hurled in a grenade or two, calling our council ‘a kamikaze council’ for refusing to build his pal Ian Wood’s dream web.  If Salmond says we’re looking disreputable, we should definitely take his expert word on the subject, which he knows quite a bit about.  So the name-calling began, with Salmond using one of his favourite words ‘ludicrous’ in response to the Watts’ letter.

Old Susannah seems to remember that a Kamikaze pilot was basically a suicide bomber wishing to take out as many of the enemy as possible.  I don’t seem to be following Salmond’s use of the word in the context of Aberdeen City not having a web.

The ensuing name-calling and Crockett’s defence of his one-year old council are dominating the printed press.  Little issues like Alex’s own failings are being edged out of the limelight by this little contretemps.  So, what, if anything, might Alex like to deflect our attention from?

Well, there was that lovely visit to Bramble Brae.  Meeting Alex might have swayed people to cast their vote for him, and naturally, no other candidate was given equal time.

I guess the chance to meet Alex drove such concerns away

It might be worth asking which reporters were invited, and if they were more than just people following any story leads blindly and printing any press releases they get without question – whether any recipients to the SNP invitation contacted the opposition candidates to share this event’s details with them.

If, say, the BNP decided to drop in on the local primary children and their parents, and invited members of the press to join them on such a happy occasion, you might be forgiven for thinking that the reporter receiving such an invite might see the story differently, get in touch with the school/Watts and ask what was going on.   But I guess the chance to meet Alex drove such concerns away.

Getting back to issues which Alex might be a bit coy about, which his attack might overshadow, we do have the smashing idea of setting up a national body to oversee every child.  Not just children from broken homes, children with special needs, or children in need of supervision who have had brushes with the law – every child.

Some people are actually critical of this great scheme, and have foolish questions about cost, legality, human rights, potential for abuse and so on.  Better send the ‘Kamikaze’ attack out first.

We still don’t know how Europe would deal with the nascent Scotland; and if Alex has legal advice, we’re not going to get to see it anytime soon.  Currency, passport, border control, military issues are not thrashed out yet, and whatever side of the referendum debate you’re on,  you should be happy to just trust the government about all these minor details – what could go wrong?

Arguably, these are enough definitions for now.  Tally Ho!

PS – it’s not too late to get involved in the Butterfly and Moth count – which is pretty important considering all the green space we’re concreting over or clearing.  Details here –

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Jul 052013

By Suzanne Kelly.

Each year Gray’s School of Art holds an end-of-year degree show; this has become a highly-anticipated social as well as artistic fixture in Aberdeen’s cultural calendar.

Jewellery, photography, fashion, painting, design, sculpture and ceramic work by graduating students is displayed then scrutinised, and while the atmosphere is enjoyable, it is still a serious business for fledgling artists.
This year’s overall creative quality was considered outstanding by students, faculty and visitors alike.

Societal issues seemed to dominate the graduates’ work, with design students in particular addressing the issues of our time and the future.

In many ways it is reassuring to know that such thoughtfulness, creativity and effort is being brought to bear on the world’s problems, ranging from the cities of the future to the needs of children.

Issues of mental health, hunger, poverty, freedom, violence and freedom were given artistic attention with some very creative observations and solutions advanced.  A striking work on depression used distorted and burnt images of men and women displayed on a grid.  A work concerning Aberdeen asked viewers

Steven Bremner’s work examined how the problems of today may well manifest in a future dystopia:-

“Our outlook on the future is somewhat skewed by the culture and imagery that we surround ourselves with. Images of violence and corruption shown on news media leave a sour taste in our mouths. Television and cinema give us visions of the future that are negative. Newer cultural outputs such as gaming and the internet are used exploitatively by their owners to seize our data without our permission or knowledge.

“All of these aspects of every day culture distort our view of the world and by extension, our view of future. That through societies actions or inaction, a Dystopian future is being created, a Dystopia being an undesirable future, the opposite of Utopia.”

His strong collages echoed a potential future metropolitan world – crowded, gray, problematic, cold.  A video was part of his work, which can be viewed here

Susannah Leake’s sensitive work was geared towards helping children deal with the problems of senility and illness in a grandparent via a child’s book.

‘Even Elephants Sometimes Forget’ is tender, thoughtful work (the imagery is of human hands painted to look like elephants); there was a blackboard on which a simple phrase was written.  Viewers were invited to memorise the phrase, erase it, and write it again from memory.

This simple exercise reminded those who participated what an ephemeral yet critical, personal faculty memory is.

The problems of the increasing ageing community and issues such as senility, and how children can be helped to cope with this problem in a grandparent will require consideration and solutions such as Leake proposes.

The range of work was itself impressive.  Lorna Glencross worked on the theme of ‘Death, Love, and all of the Above;’ she commented on her work:-

“My work this year has been focused in iconography and its power in ownership, religion and spirituality.  Death, Love and all of the above is a modern day shrine that has no specific religion or origin but gives the viewer a sense of calm and time to reflect…. My aim was to create something that was visually pleasing but asked questions about the fundamental issues we face in the future. Our relationship with science and our morals, aims and desires.”

Graduating student Ruaraidh Cable addressed the increasing use of computer generated images (CGI) which is reflective of the growing overlap and integration of the digital and the biological.  He commented:-

“I decided to look into the relationship between the digital and physical world. I noticed recently that in several major film releases there has been a trend to replace roles traditionally played by human actors with CGI creations.

“In many cases I felt that this fails to work effectively as the CGI characters lack the visceral impact that a human performer brings. The conclusion to this topic was two full sized wearable suits, one of which was from already existing content while the other was a character of my own creation.

“Both suits were created using a digital file as the starting point. The overall goal of this project was to show that digital and physical can complement each other rather than one obviating the other.”

There was a great deal of commendable work, and it is unfortunate that there isn’t enough space for commenting in detail or including images for all of these.   However, notable work from artists including John Nicholson, Zack Anderson, painter Jamie Steele, Ashley Morris, Rachel Furness, Holly Aitchison, Michael Loudon, and Stacey Geddes all memorably resonated and impressed.

There might not be space for their work in this brief article, but it seems certain you will be seeing their work in the future, as well as their peers.

Unfortunately the fashion students’ work was either in the VIP tent and inaccessible to those without tickets, or unceremoniously hung on the wall unceremoniously in a large untended room  in the main building.

From the dozens of distinctive garments I was drawn to an ethereal and classic salmon-coloured chiffon, pleated and embellished with pearl-coloured beads.  Unfortunately, hardly any of the fashion work was clearly labelled, so crediting these designers is problematic.

Good design can help us deal with the problems the future will present; the clues to the future’s issues are in the present.  Fine art, crafts and wearables reflect our society, draw from the past and anticipate the future.

Our upcoming photographers will record our successes and defeats.  In a world where higher education is coming to mean vocational training with a focus on future earnings, the arts have never been more important.

Grays has this year successfully nurtured our future artists and creators, whose skills we need now to help shape a better future.

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May 092013

By Suzanne Kelly.

“Don’t expect too much; these are only 2nd and 3rd year fashion students” was the caveat for a recent show by Gray’s School of Arts fashion students.

They were all a year or two at least from their final degree fashion show, and could hardly be expected to do more from their outing as fledglings.

The Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen, headquarters on Holburn Street was the venue; the links between it and Gray’s stretch back many years now.

If anything, having such a beautiful setting and bringing collections in front of professional weavers and other craftspeople might well have proved daunting. 

No one – not even the course instructors, technicians and course leader knew quite what would happen.


The organisation, the students’ speeches, the elegant wine and canapé reception were polished.  But the calibre of the work on show was beyond all expectations.  There wasn’t a piece on show which couldn’t have been in a final year student’s collection.  Imaginative, daring, colourful works were all on show, but perhaps the biggest surprise was the number of pieces which could have instantly translated to retail.


A man’s slightly oversized tweed coat had an asymmetrical back seam; it moved beautifully.  A tweed tulip-style short-sleeve dress in an earthy gray-green featured brightly coloured orange silk insets at the hem, rising to differing heights towards the model’s waist; it was an elegant and wholly modern and refreshing use of tweed.

The orange inserts caught the eye and made for an amazing colour contrast with the muted colours of the body of the dress as the model walked.

Other tweed pieces for women were eminently wearable.  These outfits were sophisticated and ideal for work, and quite timeless.

A simply cut sleeveless dress featured dozens (if not hundreds) of delicate, possibly hand-painted hexagons of multi-coloured material, probably silk.  The overall impression these hexagons and colours gave was three-dimensional, kinetic, elegant, highly original and extremely. pleasing.

A long, romantic dress tightly fitting then cut with high, thick fringe at the skirt melded several types of fabric dyeing/printing together beautifully; the colours were muted but large patterns made it a very striking piece.

Memorable work came from every collection; there were beautiful blouses (a blue and white number seemed ready for high-end retail), skirts, asymmetrical coats…

Designers and Sponsors

The collections were Tweed Outerwear, Covered, Body of Space, This Place is Dreaming, Knack & Knave, Anarchy, Colour Against Conformity and Alternative.

As a final piece of professional fashion show tradition, goody bags were supplied containing gifts from Lush Cosmetics and literature from some of the sponsors, which were The Aberdeen Weaver Incorporation, The Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen, Amicus Apple, Lush, The Athenaeum, and Daniel McAVoy Photography.  The makeup for all the models was done by one person – Emma McMahon – who also had work in the show.

The Future

Gray’s School of Arts Libby Curtis spoke briefly at the end of the show; she genuinely seemed as surprised by the calibre of the show and the organisation as the rest of the audience.  A member of Aberdeen Weavers had very positive things to say as well.

Recognition is growing for the Fashion arm of Gray’s, and this trend seems set to continue.  At the final degree show last year, the list of awards, prizes and internships won by the graduates made for a long, impressive list.

This crop of students look set to raise the beam further.  They look set to succeed on a foundation which clearly encourages experimentation, creativity, and collaboration.  There seems to be no fear of tradition or elegance, and no reliance on sensationalism or gimmickry.  This will be a crop of students to watch.

Nov 192012

The past few days has witnessed more than 80 junior matches being played in the North East. With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

The NESLTA Mini Tennis Red event at Westburn Tennis Centre saw the players split into four groups, the top two players from each progressing to a knockout draw.

Alford’s Ewan Smith was on top form, winning all his group matches.

He went onto win both his quarter and semi-finals easily before defeating Rubislaw’s Benjamin Hine 10-4 in an excellent final.

District Coach Vikki Paterson said,

“It was great to see so many new red players entering this event. Out of the 22 players, we had eight who were playing for the first time.”

This month’s orange event provided a great final with Cameron Jappy (Rubislaw) recovering from a first set loss to Ewan Smith to win the final  2-7, 7-2, 7-3.

In the Green event Cults youngster Angus Edward continued to impress, winning the event 4-2 in a final against Rubislaw’s Jamie Connel. Alford’s Greg Smith beat Harrsha Pradeep Kumar (Cults) in the 3rd and 4th place playoff.

Vikki said,

“This has been a really busy weekend of tennis with many good matches. The standard of tennis was really good and the improvement in the players has been great”

Next month the North East will host the annual North of Scotland Inter County District Competition, the North East U8, U9 and U10 teams will battle it out against Tayside, Highlands and Central.