Dec 132013

vsa-nggid042381-ngg0dyn-390x260x100-00f0w010c010r110f110r010t010With thanks to Sophie Davidson.

As part of their final year project, three Robert Gordon University students are working with local social care charity VSA to raise £5,000 for young carers.

A fourth year project sees the first group of Events Management students in Aberdeen working in small teams to raise money for various local charities.

These groups have been given a charity to work with and a mentor from the chosen organisation supports the students on their quest to raise as much money as possible.

Three students from the course, Kathleen Macleod, Sophie Davidson and Nicola Duncan, who are working with VSA to support the young carers’ project, came up with the ‘Step Up For Care’ event which involves people from any age group who want to stay fit and healthy while raising money for a local cause.

RGU student, Kathleen Macleod said:

“We were delighted to be paired with VSA as they provide some amazing and caring local services.  We specifically chose to support young carers, as we were incredibly touched when hearing about what they go through on a day to day basis.

“Our fundraiser, ‘Step Up For Care’ has an interesting competitive element to it.  One month before the final event, teams of five, or ten, will be given pedometers and challenged to walk as many miles as possible whilst raising sponsorship money.

“We’re excited to be part of this new and exciting fundraiser for VSA.

‘We hope that people in the area will feel the same as we did and want to take the challenge to help the young carers.  

“We hope they ‘Step Up For Care’!”

A lavish dinner ceremony, at which the teams are invited to enjoy a three-course meal, entertainment, raffles and an auction, will be held at the Norwood Hall hotel on the 18th of April next year.  The students will also host a small awards ceremony for all those who took part.

The VSA Young Carers Project provides young carers with help with homework and allows them to socialise with children in a similar situation to themselves.  It also operates the Chill Out Zone at the Castlegate where young carers can come and enjoy some time by themselves to do homework, watch TV, read, or chat with friends.

All monies raised through sponsorship for the teams and through the raffles and auction at the Norwood Hall event in April, will go towards improving the young carers’ time at the Chill Out Zone, or to funding the groups with a trip away that would not otherwise have been available to them.

For further information about VSA and its work in the local community, visit

Nov 082013

With thanks to Jenny Montgomerie.

Bogus Brothers

Aberdeen’s largest social care charity, VSA hosted its annual fundraising ball at Ardoe House Hotel on 2 November. The ball has as its theme The Great Gatsby. Over 300 guests enjoyed dinner and dancing whilst raising money to support autistic NE children and those with learning disabilities. £120,000 was raised to support Linn Moor School.

Among the guests were the parents of Lewis, a student at Linn Moor School. His father Graham is a great supporter and ran this year’s London Marathon to raise money for the school.

Graham described the ball as ‘fabulous’ and said that the school is a positive and promising environment for his son who cherishes his time there.

The school supports and encourages the development of essential academic and life skills allowing students to have the brightest possible future.

The Great Gatsby theme was embraced by all guests, with many elaborate fashions on display. Two lucky individuals won magnums of champagne as the best-dressed guests.

Speaking after the event, Debbie Fotheringham, VSA’s Events Co-ordinator said:

Once again, I am overwhelmed at the generosity of our VSA supporters. Our Great Gatsby VSA Ball has raised thousands of pounds for an amazing service that VSA provides for local children and young people with complex needs. The kindness of our guests and sponsors, such as Garreth Wood and The Speratus Group is fantastic. We are delighted that so much has been raised as it will go a very long way for VSA to continue providing the best of care at our school.

Our live auction showcased our biggest ever lot item – dinner on board the Royal Yacht Britannia for 10 people which was awarded to a very generous bidder for £10,000! A very big thank you must go to all of our table hosts, individuals and companies who donated items for our auction and raffle.”

For more on VSA, contact Jenny Montgomerie on 07894395270.

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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.

Jul 012013

With thanks to Claire McBain.

On Friday 28 June 2013 VSA, the north-east’s largest charity and the country’s biggest city social care charity, held an open day for carers and professionals to officially launch its new Stonehaven Carers’ Centre following two notorious Stonehaven floods that left the former building ruined.

VSA’s Stonehaven Carers’ Centre covers Portlethen to St. Cyrus and inland towards Deeside.

Moira Hurry, senior carers support and development worker at VSA’s Stonehaven Carers’ Centre, said:

“I’m pleased to say that despite the difficulties we faced we continued to provide a valuable service to existing and new carers throughout south Aberdeenshire.”

The former building, in Arbuthnott Place, was severely damaged by the flood three years ago and again last December.  Before securing the new office in Evan Street, Moira worked from home and VSA headquarters but heavily relied on support from local organisations:

“Thanks to kind support from the Belvidere Hotel in Stonehaven, the Care Management and Community Learning and Development teams in Portlethen I could continue with meetings, like monthly carer groups and one-to-one sessions.

“The open day is an opportunity for people to find out about the range of support available to adult unpaid carers, meet fellow carers, enjoy some well-deserved pampering and explore special interest groups, like the art workshop.”

Kenneth Simpson, chief executive at VSA, said:

“I want to personally thank everyone in the community who rallied round to support VSA at this challenging time.  I’m delighted that we were able to keep the service going throughout and can now launch an exciting new centre for local carers.”

VSA’s Stonehaven Carers’ Centre shares its office with PAMIS, an organisation that supports people with profound and multiple learning disabilities across Aberdeenshire city and shire.

Jun 282013

With thanks to Claire McBain.

Voluntary Services Aberdeen (VSA), the NE’s largest charity and the country’s biggest city social care charity, has donate £1000 to Old Torry Community Centre to mark a new partnership between the organisations.

This is in line with VSA’s strategy of empowering and investing in local communities and Old Torry’s quest to raise its cultural and social impact locally.

The donation will contribute to the Centre’s funding appeal to get children’s community workshops and murder mystery-themed plays off the ground.

Lesley-Anne Mulholland, secretary at the Centre, said:

“‘Our dedicated committee will continue regenerating the Old Torry Community Centre, making it a local cultural hotspot focused on education and entertainment. We would like this to be the start of a plethora of cultural events at Old Torry. 

“We recently attracted a Scottish National Theatre production but this project is vital to continue raising our profile and to help encourage other theatre companies, musicians and comedians to follow suit’.”

Fiona-Jane Brown, director of Hidden Aberdeen Tours, is leading the project.

“Our first goal for this project is to have a national theatre company perform in October, supplemented by a drama workshop for young adults and a horror make-up class for children. But we need £1000 to bring the theatre company to Old Torry and £1000 for the workshops, which will be led by local experts.

“We’re delighted for any contributions and we’re incredibly grateful to have an organisation as large and influential as VSA on board. Their support and belief in the project means a huge amount.”

Kenneth Simpson, VSA’s chief executive, agreed:

“We’re passionate about supporting community projects.  We want to work with communities and ask ‘if you want to do something, how can we help you succeed?’  This particular project is an ideal fit with VSA’s remit of supporting vulnerable communities and promoting education for young people. 

“It’s a great opportunity for us too. VSA service users will be able to get involved by attending the workshops and seeing the play. It’s a brilliant, mutually-beneficial partnership.”

Theatre company Don’t Go Into The Cellar’s one-man shows, Holmes Alone and Warnings to the Curious are provisionally scheduled for performance on 11 and 12 October at the Old Torry Community Centre. The initiative is a joint project between Hidden Aberdeen Tours, The Cellar Theatre Company and Old Torry Community Centre.

Jun 142013

With thanks to Claire McBain.

Social care charity VSA’s Carers Service kick-started Carers’ Week 2013 (10 – 16 June) by launching a £50,000 Carers’ Crisis Fund, available to unpaid carers aged over 18 throughout Aberdeen city and shire thanks to a generous legacy.

At a lunch on Tuesday hosted in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, speakers  honoured local carers and, coinciding with the Carers’ Week 2013 theme ‘Prepared to Care,’ asked whether local carers really are emotionally and practically prepared to care, particularly in a crisis situation.

Lucy Whiteman, development manager at VSA’s Aberdeenshire Carers Support, said:-

“Three in five people will be carers at some point in their lives.  There are a lot of services to support the people being cared for.  But what about supporting the carer when they need it most?

“VSA is absolutely delighted to receive this fund.  It’s open to any carer in the north-east facing difficulty.  We want to reach new carers and help those we’re already working with.  It could be a broken down washing machine and a carer who needs funding for a replacement.  It could fund a laundry service for an unpaid carer who’s too overworked to do it themselves. 

“A family may need help covering the cost of a call support system for the house.  Or it could be transport to hospital visits.  Funds are obviously limited and we’ll support those in greatest need.  But each case will be different but our independent panel will be open to ideas.”

Dorothy McBrearty cares for her father who has Alzheimer’s, Prostate cancer and COPD and her mother who suffers from two types of dementia:-

“This new fund would have been really beneficial for me.  As their only carer, it’s difficult when suffering my own health problems too. When I had to go to the doctor, it could clash with their appointments.  Having emergency help to transport them would have been brilliant.”

“Carers in the north-east must take advantage of this.  Being a carer can make you tired and stressed.  You don’t want any added strain on yourself or the person you’re caring for.  Knowing you can call for help in a crisis would be an amazing comfort.”

Lucy continued:-

“This legacy is going to be a huge help in a time of increased crisis and panic.  Carers are faced with more tough decisions that further impact on their busy and often extremely stressful lives.   But having an opportunity to access a Carers’ Crisis Fund would be a massive relief during a desperate time.

“Caring for someone else can seriously impact your health, relationships, finances and career.  It has a real knock-on effect.  It’s not something you want to handle alone.  The right support and advice is essential.  By getting involved in Carers Week 2013, we can highlight and improve conditions for the 25,000 unpaid carers in Aberdeen city and shire.” 

Tuesday’s event will include a speech from Len Ironside, convenor of Aberdeen City Council’s Social Care and Wellbeing Committee and a personal perspective on preparing to care from local carer Vic Baxter.  There will also be information stalls with specialist staff on hand for advice, open between 11am and 3pm.

VSA’s Carers’ Service is hosting further local events to raise awareness of the support available:

  • VSA’s Forest Grove, a community-based facility for adults aged over 50 who are cared for at home, will host ‘Fun at Forest Grove,’ with drop-in sessions Monday to Friday between 10am and 12 noon for carers and those they care for, complete with social activities, Reiki sessions, stalls and raffles.
  • Fun with Aberdeenshire Carers Support on Thursday 13 June at the Hopeville Social Club, 34 Harlaw Road, Inverurie between 11am and 3pm.  Expecting to attract 100 carers and includes care campaigner Tommy Whitelaw as keynote speaker, refreshments, massage, cookery, floristry, reiki and more.
  • Staffed information display at Bon Accord Shopping Centre, Monday to Friday during Carers Week, between 10am and 4pm.
  • Information display at AsdaAberdeenBeach and Sainsbury’s Berryden throughout Carers Week.

The funding is the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire share of a legacy from the late Mrs Nadia Moulton-Barrett, left to The Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Scotland (part of Carers Trust).  The VSA Moulton-Barrett Legacy Fund, known as VSA’s Carers’ Crisis Fund, will be a responsive grant programme to fund items or services for carers facing challenges.

For more information about VSA’s Carers Services, visit its headquarters at 38 Castle Street, call 01224 212021 or visit our website at   For more information about Carers’ Week events visit

May 312013

With thanks to Alan Reid.

Two of Scotland’s leading charities have announced formal discussions to explore joining forces.

VSA, the North East’s long established social care charity and Aberdeen Foyer, which works to prevent and alleviate youth homelessness and unemployment, are looking at proposals to come together later in the year.

In a joint statement, Kenneth Simpson, VSA’s Chief Executive and Ken Milroy, Chief Executive of the Foyer said:

“We are considering bringing our two charities closer together.

“Both VSA and the Foyer have an excellent track record and our plans will further enhance and strengthen the provision of tailored services to meet the needs of local people.”

May 312013

With thanks to Claire McBain.

27 May – 2 June is National Family Week, and one Aberdeen family will celebrate some special birthdays with a sponsored sky dive to support causes close to their hearts, NE social care charity VSA’s Friends for Life club and PDSA, the UK’s leading veterinary charity.

The eight-strong group will take the plunge on Wednesday 17 July at Peterlee, County Durham.

Joanne Herron said:

“Our family has had a lot to celebrate recently.  So, we decided to come together for something I never thought I’d even consider – jumping out of an aeroplane.  At first it sounded crazy, but in the context of doing it to raise money for charities that mean a lot to us, it didn’t seem so unachievable after all. 

“My dad, John, has always wanted to do a sky dive.  Last year he not only turned 60 but got married to Christina in October.  So, with my new step-brother Scott MacIver, an Olympic Torch bearer for VSA and BP, turning 21 and my thirtieth in May, we thought what better way to celebrate than jumping out of a plane?  We roped in another four too, making it a proper family outing.

“We’re paying for the jump out of our own pockets so every single penny we raise will go to VSA and PDSA.  VSA has been a part of our lives for years now.  My dad worked with VSA’s Friends for Life club for 14 years and now Scott, who used to attend the club due to his disabilities, is a volunteer there.

“Our fundraising will make sure others like Scott can have the amazing experience he did.  For children with additional support needs, mainstream youth clubs are often not an option due to their condition.  But why should they miss out?  They still need to socialise, be themselves and have fun. 

“Without this club, many children with disabilities in Aberdeen wouldn’t have any friends.  Friends for Life makes sure these amazing children and young people can find and keep friends in a safe, happy and fun environment.  They love it.  It also gives their parents or carers well-deserved and much-needed respite.  But, more importantly, lets them see their children happy and playing with friends, just as it should be.”

Elaine Michael, a day care manager for children with special needs and manages the Friends for Life clubs, said:

I’m delighted that John and his family feel passionate enough about Friends for Life to jump out of a plane on our behalf.  We’re so lucky to have some amazing fundraisers behind us at VSA.  Without the support and enthusiasm of our local community, we wouldn’t have Friends for Life.”

The Friends for Life clubs will share the funds with PDSA.  Christina has worked in the Aberdeen PetAid Hospital for nine years.  The charity cares for the pets of people in need by providing free veterinary services for their sick and injured pets.

The group of eight is, John Herron, his wife Christina MacIver and Christina’s son Scott MacIver; John’s daughters Joanne Herron and Lynsey Norrie; his son Craig Herron, Craig’s wife Lisa and John’s niece Jenni Nicolson.

You can sponsor the family at

May 242013

With Thanks to Claire McBain.

After welcoming almost 3,000 visitors to its spring fair at Easter Anguston Farm on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th May, social care charity VSA raised £14,581 at an event which marked the re-opening of the farm for the summer.

This figure is significantly more than ever raised before at either their spring fairs or the charity’s VSA Days which were previously held in Duthie Park.

While the farm’s new donated pygmy goats – which can be seen on YouTube at  – were the highlight of the day, visitors were also kept entertained by Segway experiences, a bouncy castle, face painting and games.

VSA services also hosted stalls, spreading the word about the good they do and fundraising for their individual causes.

Staff and service users from VSA’s Arrdeir House, a long-term residential support for adults with varying degrees of mental health difficulties who would struggle to cope alone in the community, focused their efforts on fundraising for a trip of a lifetime to Disneyland.

By working in the Farm’s café on both days, the group exceeded their target and will be able to send two long-term service users on their dream holiday.

Doreen Murray, team leader at Arrdeir House, said:

“It’s fantastic! 

“Elspeth [Donald] and Richard [White] have been with VSA for 21 years but neither of them have been on an aeroplane, or even been out of Aberdeen. 

“Now they can!”

Debbie Fotheringham, event and fundraising co-ordinator at VSA, said:

“Of course, the most important thing about the day is the cause behind it. 

“VSA is the largest charity in the north-east, an umbrella to more than 30 life-changing social care services. 

“VSA supports thousands of the most vulnerable people in the community, reaching out to newborn babies, children with additional support needs, young and adult carers, adults with mental health difficulties and older people. 

“The services include a nursery, school, play schemes, respite, advice, care homes, day care, respite opportunities, a bookshop and, of course, the farm.”

For the last six years the charity has taken over Duthie Park for the VSA Day, but this year the Peterculter-based farm incorporated the landmark event with its annual spring fair, raising awareness of the local work which VSA does in looking after thousands of people, and celebrating those who have supported the charity over the past year.

Easter Anguston Farm will now be open daily throughout the summer, from 10.00 a.m. until 5.00 p.m., when visitors will find all the usual attractions – the coffee shop, education centre, farm shop and garden centre – in full swing.

For more information about VSA and other events visit or

May 092013

With thanks to Claire McBain.

This weekend, social care charity VSA’s Easter Anguston Farm will host its biggest event to date – a Spring Fair to mark the re-opening of the farm for summer.
Thanks to significant local donations, this event will be complete with new developments including the first public unveiling of a pair of adorable pygmy goats that can be seen on YouTube at

For the last six years, the charity has taken over Duthie Park for its family fun day, but this year the Peterculter based farm will incorporate the landmark event with its annual Spring Fair, raising awareness of VSA’s local work in looking after thousands of people, and celebrating those who have supported the charity over the past year.

Fiona Davidson, farm operations manager, said:

“It’s an ideal occasion for people in Aberdeen and the shire to have fun while supporting their local community.   

“Attractions include segway experiences, a bouncy castle, face painting, games, jewellery, craft and gift stalls and refreshments.   VSA services will host stalls too, spreading the word about the good they do. 

“There will singers, dancers and a childrens’ talent show, urging budding singers, dancers and comedians to show their community their hidden abilities.   Of course, the farm’s usual attractions – the coffee shop, education centre, farm shop and garden centre – will be in full swing too.

“The brand new pygmy goats are a story in themselves.  Donated by two local men who wanted to make a difference to the farm in a way other than the usual sponsored run or cycle.   They’ll be joined by mini-donkeys in the next month.   And there are other developments since last year too.   The farm shop has been refitted and we have a revamped education room and new machinery workshop thanks to £50,000 from Aberdeen Airport’s BAA Community Fund.

“But the most important thing about the day is the cause behind it.  Easter Anguston is a peaceful spot where adults with learning difficulties get valuable support and training.   

“For the service users, the farm’s meaningful, vocational work can provide security of long-term employment or a stepping stone to the potentially intimidating mainstream job market.   And, for visitors, the playful, vibrant atmosphere created by the dedicated staff and service users keeps them coming back time and time again.”

VSA’s Spring Fair is being held at Easter Anguston Farm, Peterculter, between 10:00 a.m and 4:00 p.m. on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th May, 2013.

Entry to the event, which is sponsored by CNR, is free but funds raised on the day will be used directly to support the local community.

For further details about the event e-mail or call her on 01224 358617.

For more information about VSA and other events visit or