Feb 102012
 

Aberdeen Sports Village has joined the Health Club Awards which recognises the best clubs based on research conducted on members around the country, Dave Macdermid informs Voice.

The Village, a partnership between the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen City Council and sportscotland, has a large membership base, which makes full use of the extensive fitness suite and additional services.

These are offered both to members and non-members.

The awards, sponsored by Centrum Performance, ask members to rate the quality of customer service, facilities and value for money provided by clubs.

Simon Brown who runs the scheme explains,

“Belonging to a good health club is a rewarding experience. Members probably spend more time there than they realise, and it becomes an integral part of their lifestyle, providing a haven from their frantic day-to-day existence and helping them to tackle life in a healthier, more productive way.

“For the club it’s not easy to get every aspect just right. It requires a lot of hard work and a belief that members should have a rewarding experience every time they visit.

“Through the Health Club Awards we will find out which clubs provide the most rewarding member experience. We will recognise those clubs for their excellence, and ultimately find out which are providing the best experience and membership value across the country.”

Jan Griffiths, the Village’s Sports Development Manager, said,

“We are very proud of the level of service we provide. We believe we offer excellent value for money and are very happy to be nominated to take part in the Health Club Awards this year.”

Jan 122012
 

On January 2nd an Aberdeen-based member of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) took part in a new project to re-plant trees in previously devastated areas of Palestine.  Dave Black, along with other members of the Stop the JNF international delegation, joined individuals from a nearby refugee camp, trade union representatives, youth activists, Stop the Wall campaigners and representatives of political parties. The group planted 111 trees, representing the number of years that the Jewish National Fund (JNF) has been in existence, playing a key role in Israel’s policy of displacing and dispossessing Palestinians.

The JNF controls land that the organisation openly decrees is solely for the benefit of Jewish people; non-Jewish people are not able to live or work on the land and it can only be sold or rented to Jewish people.
The organisation is a quasi-governmental one, with extremely close ties to the state; it is often referred to as a para-statal organisation.

Despite the JNF’s clearly discriminatory policies, the Israeli state maintains this strong relationship with the organisation.

The trees were planted in Tulkarem district, formerly one of the richest and most important districts of Palestine. In 1948, most of its lands were taken and dozens of villages destroyed. The JNF played a key role in the destruction of some of these villages and the ethnic cleansing of their population.

The land where the trees have been planted, in the city of Tulkarem, was historically part of the agricultural land of the city. However, in 2002 the Israeli military bulldozed the entire stretch of land, supposedly for “security reasons”.  Tulkarem has also been one of the districts most affected byIsrael’s illegal separation wall, which has destroyed some 8.4 square kilometres of olive and other fruit trees, 37.3 km of water networks, 15 km of agricultural roads, as well as irrigated agricultural land in Tulkarem, Qalqiliya and Jenin districts.

Despite poor weather on the day there was a large turnout and the event was welcomed by those involved.  A representative from the Palestinian Farmer’s Union explained the importance of such events that bring different groups together:

“the participation of farmers, youth groups, friends from various organisations and others increases belief in the justice of our cause and the belief that we are not working alone against the Occupation. The land that was so important land to us was uprooted by the Occupation”. 

He also added that the event was timely because of the ongoing attacks by settlers on Palestinian land.

Aberdeen’s ties to the project were already significant as the local branch of SPSC last year raised £650 for the Plant-a-Tree in Palestine project.

Over 5 days the group walked 84 miles along the path of Hadrian’s Wall, raising awareness of the Stop the JNF campaign and also of the separation wall.

The group’s efforts went towards funding the planting event in Tulkarem.  It is hoped that the Plant-a-Tree in Palestine project will build to support the ongoing struggle of Palestinians to rebuild by providing resources for villages to plant trees that are indigenous to Palestine’s natural environment and agricultural life.

The delegation included members of Palestine solidarity and campaign groups in Scotland, England, the United States, France, Austria, as well as a representative of Midlothian Trade Unions Council.  The main activity of the delegation was 5 days of fact-finding and educational visits around Israel and the West Bank, followed by the day of tree planting in Tulkarem.

The group visited Al-Araqib in the Naqab/Negev desert, a Bedouin village which has been destroyed 33 times since July 22nd 2010.  The trees of the village have been destroyed and thus the village’s livelihood and the JNF has been instrumental in displacing the Bedouin people of this area.

Within clear view of the village that remains is the Ambassadors Forest, one of the JNF’s many forests in Israel.  As the delegation spoke with villagers, including the sheikh of the village, a truck drove by on the sandy, desert road.  The truck was on its way to provide water for the new JNF trees; the wrong trees planted at the wrong time, thus requiring much additional water.  The village of Al Araqib has no water supplied to it, but instead villages have to watch trucks drive past on their way to irrigate trees that are steadily taking over their land.

The group also spoke to a staff member of the UK ambassador’s officer in Israel, who was visiting the village in preparation for the visit of the British ambassador and Parliament Under Secretary of State Alistair Burt.

The chance meeting allowed the British members of the delegation to raise the issue of the UK’s complicity with the JNF and Israeli crimes, and specifically Early Day Motion (1677) which was tabled last year and currently has over 50 signatories.

The Early Day Motion outlines the discriminatory nature of the JNF and calls for the revocation of the JNF’s charity status in the UK.  The motion also criticises the Prime Minister’s patronage of the JNF, a situation which was addressed for the first time since the foundation of the JNF when David Cameron stepped down as patron last year.

For the first time since its creation not one of the three main party leaders in the UK are patrons of the organisation.

Later in the week delegates visited refugees in Ramallah (in the West Bank) who had originally lived in the Palestinian village of Imwas.  The refugees told the group the fate of their village in 1967 when it was overrun by Israeli forces set on taking the Latrun Salient, a hillside seen as a key strategic target.

Photos were shown, taken from exactly the same position, that illustrated the dramatic changes to the village and land in the 1960s and 70s.  The first photo showed part of the thriving village, the final one showing what is now known as Canada Park.

Canada Park is one of the many parks and forests that JNF has been responsible for establishing in Israel, or in this case Israel and the West Bank.  Sections of the park, such as where the village of Imwas once stood, are within the Palestinian side of the “Green line”, or armistice line drawn up at the end of the 1967 war.  However, there is no sign of this and almost all visitors to the park remain oblivious, nor is it explained that the walls of the park entrance are built with the bricks of the houses of Imwas.

Delegates visited the park along with Said, a direct descendant of a family which was displaced from Imwas.  Said stood with his own children at the remains of his father’s house, now only the barest of remnants.  The group was also shown the other remaining evidence of the village: unmarked, unprotected memories scattered around the archaeological set-piece of Roman Baths for tourists to enjoy.  The gravestones of villagers stand just a few feet from one of the park’s picnic benches – a stark, chilling image.

Another JNF park, British park, was also visited.  This was of special interest to the UK participants on the delegation.

The park is built over 2 Palestinian villages: Ajjur and Zakariyya. The villages were 2 of the roughly 500 villages where massacres and forced population transfer of Palestinians from their lands in 1948.

This period is known by Palestinians as the Nakba – Arabic for “catastrophe”.

The JNF played a key part in planning the Nakba and then went on to expropriate the land of Palestinian refugees and proceeded to build parks, such as British Park, on the land using funds raised by the JNF around the world.

In 1948 the village of Ajjur was populated by 3000 people. Three of the original houses of Ajjur remain today, including what was previously a clinic and is now a winery serving the new Israeli towns that now intersperse British Park.  Where the market of Ajjur once stood is now inhabited by a play-park and some, presumably, “British” sheep; a favourite picnic spot for those visiting British Park.

On the fifth day of the delegation the group visited Al-Walaja, a town that was established in the West Bank after the original village of Walaja was destroyed; the JNF went on to build the Kennedy memorial on the land.  After years of living in caves near the original town, the new town was established and former residents could return to some form of normality.  Normality, that is, until the development of Israel’s illegal Separation Wall, which is set to once again devastate the village.

The wall is still under construction and already surrounds much of the town, but when complete will completely surround the town.  Residents will be forced to use an access road controlled by the Israeli military if they wish to leave. This wall will cut residents off from much of their agricultural land, and will inevitably lead to displacement away from the town as residents look to find viable employment.

The locations visited by the delegation left those involved in no doubt of the JNF’s deep complicity in crimes against Palestinians, past and present.

Witnessing the situation that faces so many Palestinians inevitably shocked, saddened and deeply moved those involved.

However, none of the delegates failed to be inspired and in awe of the resistance of the Palestinian people who fail to lie down and accept the injustice that has been forced upon them.

Many different forms of resistance were seen, some large and obvious and some more subtle but no less impressive.  The commitment to resistance of those that were encounters served to emphasise the important of the ongoing efforts around the world to show solidarity with Palestinians, such as the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment campaign against Israel.

The Plant-a-Tree in Palestine project is one such way in which people can resist the injustices enforced by the JNF and the Israeli government.

The project will never be able to compete with the financial clout of the JNF and the 240 million trees that this has allowed the organisation to plant in Israel and the West Bank.  However, the project does allow a positive way to act against such crimes, enabling Palestinians to resist ongoing attempts at dispossession.

As Stop the Wall Co-ordinator Jamal Juma pointed out, it is also serves as an ideal way to educate those affected, Palestinians young and old, about the role of the JNF in the dispossession of their homes.  The project also offers great potential for future collaboration between Palestinians and the international community to take part in non-violent resistance against the Israeli government’s attempts to entrench the illegal occupation of the West Bank, dispossess Palestinians within Israel of even more of their lands, and take away the rights, enshrined in international law, of 7 million refugees to return to their homes in Israel.

For more on the Stop the JNF campaign:   www.stopthejnf.org
Join the Palestine campaign in Aberdeen:  Aberdeen@scottishpsc.org.uk
Visit:
 www.Facebook.com/Spscaberdeen

Dec 092011
 

Aberdeen Voice brings you the latest on the netball international test matches this weekend.

Aberdeen-born Claire Brownie has been included in the Scottish Thistles netball squad to face Wales in a three match test series at Aberdeen Sports Village from December 9–11.

23 year old Brownie, who plays at either Goal Defence or Wing Defence, was part of the squad which tasted success againstSri Lankain the city in May, seeing the Thistles rise to 14th in the world rankings.
With Wales ranked two places above the Scots, these will be closely-fought affairs and will be a crucial in preparing for 2014’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Also from Aberdeen, Emily Gray (19) and Fiona Farquharson (18) are in the Scottish Under-21 squad which will take on their Welsh counterparts before each Test match.

National Coach, Denise Holland said: 

“Three matches in three days emulates the schedule at the 2014 Glasgow Games. We have always competed hard against each other, with very little between the squads.

“It will be extremely exciting as the winners will not only score World Ranking points but will also gain confidence going into Netball Europe in May 2012, when the squads meet again.

Thistles squad: Lynsey Gallagher, GA/GS; Stephanie McGarrity, WD/C; Hayley Mulheron, GK/GD; Claire Brownie, GD/WD; Rachel Holmes GA/GS; Erin McQuarrie, WD/GD; Nicola Collins, GA/GS; Lesley MacDonald, GA/GS; Fiona Moore (Captain), C/WD; Gemma Sole, GS; Karin Connell, WA/C; June McNeill, GS/GK; Sam Murphy, WA/GA; Thenneh Conteh, GK/GD; Jenna Storie, WA/C.

Thistles U21 squad: Gillian Crozier; Amy Craig; Laura Gibson; Emily Gray; Emma Hardie; Beverly Campbell; Sarah Kerr; Fiona Farquharson; Sophie May Leyland; Nicola McLeery; Hannah McCaig; Shaunagh Mcuaig; Erin McQuarrie; Jo Pettitt

Tickets are available from the Aberdeen Sports Village on 01224 438900

Admission costs just £5 per adult and £3 per child. Weekend passes cost £12 for adults and £7 for children.

 

Dec 012011
 

Following their successful test match against Sri Lanka in May 2011, the Scottish Thistles are returning to Aberdeen for a full three match test series against Wales.  With thanks to Dave Macdermid and The Big Partnership.

The Scottish Thistles’ victorious series against Sri Lanka saw their world ranking rise up to 14th, so now the Thistles are looking to ‘slay some Welsh dragons’ in what promises to be some tense, gripping, closely fought matches, as the Welsh are currently 12th in the world.
The series will be a crucial part of their preparation for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.

The Scottish U21s, including squad members Emily Gray and Fiona Farquharson – both from Aberdeen, are also taking on their Welsh counterparts before each Test match.

National Coach, Denise Holland said:

“The Scottish Thistles are ready to meet Wales in this back to back competition; 3 matches in 3 days which emulates the type of schedule at the Glasgow CWG’s 2014. Both sides are out to win all three test matches in Aberdeen; we have always competed hard against each other, with very little but sheer determination between the squads. 

“It will be extremely exciting, as the winner will not only gain much valued World Ranking points but will also gain confidence going into Netball Europe in May 2012, when the squads will meet again. The Thistles are ready now to ‘sting’ with some vital wins!”

David Beattie, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Sports Village said

“I am delighted to welcome the Scottish Thistles back to Aberdeen for the second time this year. We are all excited about seeing top class netball once again in the city and look forward to cheering on the Thistles as they take on the Welsh in what is sure to be three gripping matches. I am confident that Aberdeen will provide some excellent support for the Thistles and thoroughly enjoy being a part of their preparation for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.”

All 3 matches will be at the Aberdeen Sports Village from 9th – 11th December 2011. It costs just £5 per adult and £3 per child or there is a weekend pass for £12 for adults and £7 for children.

Tickets are available now from the Aberdeen Sports Village on 01224 438900.

Dec 012011
 

With thanks to Adrian Gomez.

Local artists, graphic designers and illustrators are collaborating on a one-off project in Aberdeen.  But there’s a slight twist – the collection will be on display at a secret location in the city.  It’s part of ‘Rumour’, a pop-up cocktail bar and art installation, now in its second year.

The temporary brand combines cocktails, art and music, fusing all three elements together to create a social environment for the creative industries.  In typical fashion, the team are keeping the location of the pop-up bar under wraps, only leaking details and hints on Facebook and Twitter in the weeks running up to the opening.

‘Rumour’ began life as an 8-week residence in the Carmelite Hotel last year and, after enjoying great success, is returning next month on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd December only.  This year’s concept is ‘The Bournville Village Emporium’.

The inspiration for ‘The Bournville Village Emporium’ stems from the only area of the UK to be ‘dry’, a term used to describe a geographical region‘s availability of alcohol.  The weekend also coincides with the anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition in the USA, a key date in any bartender’s diary.

Adrian Gomes of cocktail catering company 10 Dollar Shake said:

“We’ve been asked since the end of the last Rumour when we’re putting it on again, but we really needed the venue, artists and concept to come together before we were confident of holding it again.  I’m happy to say, we’ve aligned all factors and Rumour #3 has the potential to be the best one yet.”

Local creatives Siobhan Ogg and Sarah Stanley will be creating a scenery backdrop with local illustrators contributing artwork for the walls. The period-related artwork will be a fresh collaboration of young and inspiring talent in an interesting and unusual fashion.  All artwork is available to purchase after the weekend.

10 Dollar Shake drinksmith Adrian Gomes will be creating a bespoke drinks list, in association with art-centric Scottish brands Caorunn Gin and AnCnoc Whisky, fusing scientific and gastronomic techniques to create innovative twists on some early 1900 cocktails.  Director of Music Giles Walker is again on hand to provide the soundscapes.

Rumour #3 – ‘The Bournville Village Emporium’ is open on Friday 2nd December 9pm – 1.30am and Saturday 3rd December 9pm – 1.30pm.

For guaranteed entry, reservation is advised. Entry to the exhibition is £12, cocktails are complimentary (max. 2 per ticket). Rumour is on Facebook (Rumour.Gossip) and Twitter (Rumour_Gossip)

(Click on map opposite to enlarge)

 

Nov 122011
 

Aberdeen Sports Village, a partnership between the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen City Council and sportscotland, has been short-listed in the category of “Newcomer of the Year” at this year’s prestigious National Fitness Awards.  With thanks to Dave Macdermid and The Big Partnership.

The Awards were launched last year to honour operators from across the UK in the health and fitness industry.  The category of Newcomer of the Year is aimed at facilities who have been operating for less than 2 years (as of March 2011), and who have made their mark within the industry in terms of facilities, services and innovation.

The Sports Village has been nominated in this very closely contested category, against new sports facilities, health clubs and gyms from across the whole of the UK.  They impressed the judges, not only with the impressive facilities on site, but also with the numerous high quality activities and services available to everyone in the community.

Jan Griffiths, Sports Development Manager at Aberdeen Sports Village, said:

“The Sports Village strives to be at the cutting edge regarding all aspects of sport, fitness and health, and we are passionate about everything we do.  The local community have really embraced the ethos of the Village, and we are privileged to be able to support and educate our customers in such a welcoming environment.”

The winners in each category at the National Fitness Awards will be announced on Friday 25 November at their Awards Dinner at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.

Apr 072011
 

By Bob Smith.

Faar’s the likes o Tammy Mitchell
A provost wi nae falderals
Nae cavortin wi Acsef types
Or big lood moo’d Yankee pals

Provost Mitchell he spak the lingo
O the local North East lan
Ye aye kent fit wis
fit
Fin Tammy shook yer haun

Nae mair chiels like Bob Boothby
Or mannies like yon Robert Hughes
Ye micht nae agreed wi their politicks
Be ye kent they’d peyed life’s dues

Jist mealie-mou’d gabbin gadgies
In the political scene the noo
Maist o oor Scottish MSPs
Shud bi on the bliddy Broo

Nae worthies in oor local council
Like Dick Gallagher or Alex Collie
Jist a bunch o maistly fearty fowk
An we greet at aa their folly

Nae muckle fish landed at Aiberdeen
Since the discovery o aa the ile
Nae mony fish market porters
Hiv ye seen noo fer a fyle

Nae chatter o riveters haimmers
Or the soond o tackety boots
Jist the noise o fower bi fowers
Driven bi billies in Armani suits

The young in oor wee villages
Canna afford ti buy a hoose
The reason is ower plain ti see
Incomers hiv bin lit loose

Fowk faa wark miles awa
In the toon o Aiberdeen
Hiv snaffled aa the village hooses
Or as holiday hames they’re teen

Nae mony local shops o ony note
Cos they’ve aa gin ti the wa
Nae langer a leevel playin field
Supermarkets hiv pinched the ba

We eesed ti hae a gweed paper
The P&J wis
aye breezy an bright
It’s nae langer kent as impartial
The pages are noo fu o shite

Nae chunce o mince an skirlie
At some funcy restaurant placies
The chef wid look doon his nose
An pull affa funny facies

The reason he wid gie ye
As he whisks up his blancmange
Is ye canna serve up skirlie
Wi a dish o Duck a l’orange

At Pittodrie I watched gweed fitba
Faar players talents war set free
Noo it’s aa blackboard tactics
Wi systems
4-5-1 an 4-3-3

N.E. culture some say is wanein
Bit the Doric it still huds fast
An as lang as we aye spik it
It’ll nae bi in the past

I’m sure ye’ll bi noo hae gethered
I’m haein a wee rant an rail
An if a happen ti lan in jile
Wull somebody please pey ma bail

Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011