Jul 042014

Beautiful landscapeWith thanks to Jennifer Kelly.

As a response to the gripping TV show ‘The Island’, Wild things! has launched a Wild Woman weekend, giving women across the nation a chance to embrace their inner ‘Bear Gals’.

With no experience required, the weekend promises to inspire, educate and fulfill even the most unlikely Wild candidates.

Based on the Moray Coast, the environmental education charity is encouraging women to swap their hectic lives for a two-day wilderness escape on August 2nd and 3rd 2014.

Arriving in true castaway fashion, the weekend will begin by boat to a remote location. From there, the intrepid explorers will learn traditional living skills such as how to identify wild edible and medicinal plants, cooking over an open fire, having a go at some creative camp craft, as well as sleeping in a hammock or tipi under the stars.

Jennie, the lead instructor for the course says:

“On this wonderful coast, the only sounds you’ll hear at night will be that of the coastal birds and, if we’re lucky, grey and common seals. The course will be restorative, inspiring and fun. You don’t have to be butch, brave or buxom as we will work together as a team. There will be some challenges but only those that will leave you feeling more alive than you ever thought possible, as well as totally in love with the natural world (if you weren’t already!).”

TipiWild things! is a Scottish environmental education charity based in Findhorn, Moray.

Wild things! offers a variety of inspiring wilderness and nature experiences for all ages and abilities regardless of learning challenges or physical and financial difficulties.

For more information about any of our programmes visit our website www.wild-things.org.uk, or call us on 01309 690450.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jun 132014

WomenIndependence2With thanks to Paul Robertson.

​Following on from a special meeting of the Scottish Government’s All-Women Cabinet Meeting in Edinburgh this week, a local SNP councillor has claimed that w​omen in the north-east stand to benefit from a revolution in childcare and employment rights in the event of a Yes vote.

Councillor Fiona McRae has hailed the Scottish Government’s proposals for 30 hours of free childcare per week for all three and four year olds, along with guarantees on raising the minimum wage, protecting the welfare state and ensuring a fairer pension system.

Cllr McRae said:

The Scottish Government plans for a revolution in childcare which will benefit many families in Scotland. The prohibitive cost of child care means that many women who want to work, or who want to increase their hours find it impossible to do so.”

“It is one of those rare things these days in politics – a genuinely life-changing policy, which will save families thousands of pounds in childcare costs, create new job opportunities and raise living standards for thousands of women who would otherwise be taking reduced hours or leaving well-paid positions when they have children.”

Along with proposals for a comprehensive childcare system, the Scottish Government has committed to raising the minimum wage in line with inflation – a move which will benefit thousands of women in low paid jobs.

Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford​ commented:

“​Had the minimum wage kept pace with inflation, our lowest-paid workers would have been more than £600 a year better off. The proposals put forward by the Scottish Government will directly benefit everyone in a low-paid job significantly, and help address the scandal of working families living in poverty.”

“In the north-east, those who work for low wages will be among those who benefit the most from a Yes vote in September.”

Local women are also invited to attend a special event next month aimed at undecided women voters. The Women for Independence event will take place in Dalrymple Hall, Fraserburgh on July 26 from 2pm.​

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.


Jun 062014

woman-214786 tallBy Bob Smith.

In the independence referendum
Maist weemin micht vote no
They think SNP directives
Are nae the wye ti go

A poll it wis cairry’t oot
Independence 64% dinna like
Is es a wye o sayin
SNP jist tak a hike

Es o coorse begs the question
Fit wye micht they vote no?
Div some see Alex Salmond
As a smarmy so an so?

Maist weemin it wid seem
Are listenin ti their heid
An refuse ti lit their hairt
Cause their soul ti bleed

Es maan  be a problem
For Alex an his cohorts
Are thochts o independence
Noo a wee bit oot o sorts?

A fyow months later on
Votes wull be aa revealin
Bit dis es latest poll
Sen independence chunces reelin?

Fitivver its oor luck ti be
In the UK or maybe nae
The vote o Scotland’s weemin fowk
Micht haud a wee bit sway

© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2014
Image: http://pixabay.com/en/woman-girl-female
Thumbnail: http://pixabay.com/en/girl-woman

Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

May 302014
Saltire Award

Shannon Milne, Volunteer Co-ordinator awarding the Saltire Award ( for 50 and 100 hours volunteering ) and Summit Award recognising outstanding contribution as a volunteer to Francesca Falcone.

With thanks to Kathryn Russell.

An Aberdeen student has been recognised for the time she has contributed to volunteering, as well as receiving a further award recognising her outstanding contribution as a volunteer.

Francesca Falcone has achieved Saltire Awards for 50 and 100 hours of volunteering as a Volunteer Support Worker with local charity RAS (Rape and Abuse Support).

RAS provides support for survivors of rape, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation, as well as working within the community to develop awareness of these and surrounding issues.

Ms Falcone started the sixty hours of training with RAS in 2012, completing it in spring 2013 after passing the assessment, and began volunteering with RAS providing telephone support on the helpline, and also working one-to-one with survivors of sexual violence.

Chair of RAS, Kathryn Russell praised the commitment of the Aberdeen student saying:

“We are delighted that Francesca’s commitment to volunteering has been recognised in this way. It is not only a fantastic achievement in terms of the hours she has committed to providing vital support to the users of our service but we are also pleased that Francesca has been recognised for her outstanding contribution to RAS by being awarded the Summit Award, which is peer assessed by a panel of Saltire Ambassadors who decide who merits the Award.”

Volunteer Co-ordinator Shannon Milne added:

“At RAS, we have a strong volunteer program offering a range of opportunities for anyone to join our team of fantastic volunteers. If anyone is interested in volunteering, I would encourage them to get in touch for more information.”

RAS can be contacted for details on volunteering at info@rasane.org.uk.

Ms Falcone has also completed her Social Work degree at RGU, and her dissertation was entitled:  ‘Surviving? An exploration of the impact of rape and barriers for survivors in disclosing to professional services‘.

Ms Falcone expects to continue volunteering with people who have experienced sexual violence, as well as developing a career in social work.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.


Feb 142014

1525335_680851811966190_1356337663_nWith thanks to Kathryn Russell.

One Billion Rising campaign will be marked across the UK.

On Saturday 15th February, women from Aberdeen will be joining a major global campaign to end violence against women by staging a number of activities.

Anyone who wishes to join in with the activities is invited to meet them at 12pm at Aberdeen Community Health and Care Village on Frederick Street. Those attending will then parade to Union Street, wearing red ribbons.

Following the parade, the group will gather in the Bon Accord Centre to dance the signature One Billion Rising dance, Break the Chain, and collect money for local rape crisis charity RAS so, if you are in the area, please come along to join in with the dance or just watch.

From 2pm, everyone is invited to take part in a Zumbathon at Ferryhill Community Centre, Albury Rd, Aberdeen AB11 6TN.

One Billion Rising is a global initiative established last year on the 15th anniversary of the V-Day movement, a campaign launched in 1998 by the activist and writer of The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler. The focus of this year’s campaign will be justice and the work to be done around the UK to tackle violence against women.

Speaking about why she decided to take part in organising the event, June McGuire said:

“We need to re-educate and reframe our thinking around rape and abuse. Rising Up, speaking out, and being visible, we take rape and abuse outside the closet, and let those One Billion women and girls, know that they are not alone, they are not victims, and that we care about what has happened to them. We are also saying it is okay to speak out about it – that the shame does not belong to them.”

Chair of RAS, Kathryn Russell said:

“We are delighted that the Zumba instructors organising the day’s activities have chose to support RAS.

“As well as providing support to anyone who has experienced rape, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation at any point in their life, we also work with communities to develop awareness of the issues surrounding rape and One Billion Rising is an important day in highlighting the extent of violence against women internationally.”

Further information about the event is available on Facebook by searching for One Billion Rising Aberdeen.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Billion-Rising/273840142734115?fref=ts

Facebook event page – One Billion Rising Aberdeen 15th February 2014 – link: https://www.facebook.com/events/285120108308882/?ref=ts&fref=ts

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jan 022014

A dollop of determination
A spoon full of courage
A bucket load of The Dee
… And one red velvet cupcake.

The only recipe for a Great British Row Off. With thanks to Jennifer Kelly.

(L-R) Lauren Cammaert and RGUBC president, Gillian Paterson

(L-R) Lauren Cammaert and RGUBC president, Gillian Paterson

Bellowing orders at her cowering crew as they power down the River Dee, Lauren Cammaert isn’t your average 5ft 3 cox; as behind the façade of ruthless competitor, the Aberdeen Universities’ Boat Club president swaps her one-piece for her pinny at every available opportunity.

And she’s not alone.

It would appear that for this year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Universities’ Boat Race, Lauren has an army of keen bakers behind her, all inspired by the nations on-screen fascination; The Great British Bake Off (GBBO).

This new generation of university students spend their evenings adding their own touches to the latest Delia Smith recipe, baking artisan bread and designing wedding cakes. And this pastime isn’t gender specific, even 6ft 3 Alexander Hutchinson takes pride in his homemade bread.

It’s just as well they all have such a stringent exercise regime, and youth on their side.

However, 23 year old Lauren went one step further than other adoring GBBO fans and applied to be a part of the 2013 Great British Bake Off. Diligently, she pulled her application together, consisting of 12 original recipes and a 35 question-long interrogation form. After submitting, she awaited a response eagerly.

Weeks came, and passed, and the realisation that she was not successful became reality.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, as it took me weeks to put my application together, but I was not going to be disheartened. I can dedicate my baking skills to other causes- like bribing my crew out of their warm beds at 6am on very cold mornings!” says Lauren.

The Canadian born competitor first discovered her passion for cooking during the winter months of her childhood. Inspired by her mother and sister, Lauren followed suit and baked her way through the chilly festive months. She explains how it all began,

“Where we stayed in Canada, the winter months were perilous and there were often days that we were barricaded inside by snow. To relieve our boredom, my mom taught my older sister and I to bake. I was instantly fascinated and spent the rest of my junior years with sticky fingers, covered in flour and icing sugar.

“My baking was pretty mediocre to start, but, like anything, it improved with time. I like adding my own little twists onto recipes just to see what happens. Sometimes it’s disastrous but that’s part of the fun.

“My signature bake is a batch of red velvet cupcakes where I take elements from Nigella Lawson’s recipe and add my own cream cheese icing recipe. When I’m not too busy, I take orders for wedding cakes which have definitely proven to be my biggest, but most rewarding, challenge yet.”

For 2014, Lauren will be swapping spatula for oar in the Aberdeen Asset Management Universities’ Boat Race on Saturday  March 1st. Lauren moved to Aberdeen when she was eight years old and started at Robert Gordon’s College. From there, she progressed to Aberdeen University to study medicine where she hopes to graduate as a doctor next year.

She describes her early rowing career,

“I started off rowing for a couple of years, inspired by the stellar reputation of Aberdeen University Boat Club, but decided that my petite frame was better suited to coxing. My mom rowed during high school, my dad at college in Cambridge so it definitely runs in the family … and my boyfriend also coaches. 

“The Aberdeen Asset Management Universities’ Boat Race is a fantastic student event but don’t be fooled, the competitive atmosphere is so electric it could pass for a professional competition. I am always touched by how many local supporters turn up on the day to cheer us on. Hopefully this year will achieve results that Aberdeen University can really scream about.”

Although she was involved in last year’s race, Lauren views her recent presidency as a chance to step up to the plate and bring Aberdeen University to victory once more. She jokes:-

“If I have to bribe them all with fresh red velvet cupcakes to train all winter then that’s what I’ll do!”

Lauren had hoped to re-apply for the 2014 GBBO but the filming falls at the same time as the race, and there is no competition as to which she is determined to see through. Her last year at university will hopefully one filled with delicious cakes and rowing triumphs.

Keep an eye out as Lauren on 1st March 2014 as swaps her pinny for one-piece, spatula for oar and coxes her crew to victory for Aberdeen University.

Follow the 2014 Aberdeen Asset Universities’ Boat Race and show your true colours at www.facebook.com/AAMBoatRace and at https://twitter.com/2014BoatRace.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Dec 132013

howwesupportWith thanks to Kathryn Russell.

Rape and Abuse Support (RAS) are delighted to accept a generous donation of £1,000 from the Fine Piece Community Cafe based in Sheddocksley Baptist Church, which marks its 5th Anniversary on Friday 13th December.

The Fine Peace Community Cafe launched almost five years ago and this year won an Aberdeen Impact Award for Best Emerging Social Enterprise.

Supported by 30 volunteers, the Cafe has established a reputation for providing good food and good service.

To mark their 5th Anniversary, the Cafe will make a series of donations to local community groups and schools as recognition of the good work being carried out locally.

Rape and Abuse Support provides support for anyone who has experienced rape, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation at any point in their life, as well as working within the community to develop awareness of the issues surround rape, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation.

Lorraine Dobson, Volunteer Co-ordinator at RAS says:

“We are delighted to accept such a generous donation from the Fine Piece Community Cafe.

“It is always uplifting to have the hard work of our staff and volunteers recognised and the donation will allow us to progress with plans to develop the service we provide.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Dec 062013

Duncan Harley looks at the Guns or Butter nature of 1940’s Scotland

Land army memorial - Credit: Duncan Harley

The Women’s Land Army memorial at Clochan near Buckie – Credit: Duncan Harley

With the outbreak of war in 1939, food production became the focus of various governmental initiatives. Rationing of basic foodstuffs, such as meat, butter and sugar was introduced and wild harvests, such as foxglove leaves, nettles and rosehip berries, were collected in season by volunteers, including schoolchildren, organised by the Department of Health and on an organised and quite massive national scale.

Government departments, such as the Herring Industry Board and the Potato Marketing Board, advised mothers to cook with locally sourced produce.

In a somewhat Orwellian style pronouncement the Food Controller for the North East of Scotland, Mr G. Mitchell, announced that:

“Scotland’s traditional fare, such as tatties, porridge and herring can play a significant part in winning the war.”

Dishes, such as potato carrot pancake and carrot pudding, were promoted as both foodstuffs and also as tonics. Carrot marmalade recipes were published in the local press and eggless oatmeal cookies vied for prominence alongside carrot and oatmeal soup in parish magazines. Both oatmeal and carrots were in good supply, eggs and sugar were, of course, extremely scarce.

Many Scottish golf courses were ploughed up to provide agricultural land and even coastal courses, unsuitable for the growing of crops, suffered the indignity of having  sheep and cattle let loose to graze the turf which, not long before, had been lovingly tended by the green keepers.

Following a record silage yield in a 1940 trial, Aberdeenshire’s Ellon Golf Club gave permission to a local farmer to spread manure on the course in order to increase the yield for 1941 and over 20 acres of the Aberdeen Hazlehead course also fell to the agricultural plough.

Other UK golf clubs resorted to humour to combat the enemy such this extract from the Richmond Golf Club Temporary Rules, 1941:

“ Players are asked to collect bomb and shrapnel splinters to save these causing damage to the mowing machines and  in competitions during gunfire, or while bombs are falling, players may take shelter without penalty for ceasing play.”

Families were encouraged to grow food where possible

Many golf courses, while willing to support the war effort, looked for ways round the issue of the destruction of fairways and greens and quite a few hit on the idea of producing silage for winter livestock feed.

The phrase “long grass on north east courses will help to win the war” became currency until the reality of shortage of tractors and indeed hands on scythes, struck home.

The aptly named Ministry of Fuel and Power had, in any case, urged farmers to conserve tractor fuel in order to ‘speed up the tanks’ which, by this stage in the conflict, were battling it out in the Western Desert somewhat ironically on top of the, then unknown and untapped, oil reserves which could easily have fed the North African Campaign’s war machine.

Families were encouraged to grow food where possible and the Dig for Victory campaign gained momentum as local councils freed up parkland and wasteland nationwide to form allotments.

All of these measures were, of course, seen as necessary due to the restrictions on imports imposed by the war.

In particular, the freeing up of supply ships for the import of raw war materials was viewed as vital and any reasonable means of reducing the level of unnecessary imports was sought. The classic dilemma of the Keynesian economy at war was simplified into a simple Guns or Butter equation and the ‘Kitchen Front’ was born.

The term ‘Kitchen Front’ was, of course, more applicable to the efforts of those, mainly women at that time, who actually worked in the household kitchens up and down the land. As they tried to make some sense of new ingredients such as powdered eggs and corned beef in order to feed their families, a multitude of agricultural workers slaved backstage to produce the raw materials for the nation’s diet.

The Women’s Land Army (WLA) had been a creation of The Board of Agriculture in the early days of WW1.

Plough - Credit: Duncan Harley and Janice RayneEstablished in 1915 when Britain was struggling for both agricultural and industrial labour the Land Army eventually peaked at an estimated total quarter of a million female agricultural labourers towards of that war.

In the Second World War the Land Army was re-established under the command of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (Minagfish for short) and given an honorary head, Lady Denman.

As an ex chairman of the Women’s Institute Sub-Committee of the Agricultural Organisation Society and founder of the Smokes for Wounded Soldiers and Sailors Society, or SSS as it was commonly known, she had some experience of both agriculture and the needs of a wartime economy.

At the start of WW2, Lady Denman at first asked for volunteers, but when those were slow in coming forward, the good lady was advised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food that conscription would be required in order to fulfil food production quotas.

The Ministry of Supply appointed local co-ordinators to take charge of local recruitment and training and one such official, a Mrs Cook of Ballater, advised that the daughters of gamekeepers and smallholders would make ideal recruits.

In charge of recruitment for the Alford and Deeside areas, Mrs Cook was to be quoted in the local press as advising that “farmers now realise how well these girls have done in tackling general farm work.” However she doubted whether the demand for such labour could be met given the often conflicting priorities of the war time economy.

By mid 1944 the Women’s Land Army had over 80,000 members nationwide whose work had of course been supplemented by Italian and German prisoners of war.

Officially disbanded on 21st October, 1949, the WLA remained largely ignored in the history books and in line with the Bevin Boys and the Arctic Convoy seamen the WLA received scant recognition for many decades until NFU former president Jim McLaren, whose mother Katherine had been a Land Girl, recognised that there was no permanent memorial to the WLA in the UK.

Jim then set up a committee to rectify the situation and within 3 years over £50k was raised.

And so it was, on the 9th October, 2012, that Prince Charles unveiled the Women’s Land Army Memorial at Clochan with the words:

 “It gives me enormous pride to be able to join you on this exposed hilltop to pay a small tribute of my own to all of those remarkable Land Girls who did so much when the country was under threat.”

Overlooking the fertile fields of the Moray coast and designed by Yorkshire artist Peter Naylor, the Women’s Land Army memorial at Clochan near Buckie is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Dec 062013

SweetAdelinesXmasfeatWith thanks to Linda Allan.

A few weeks ago The Aberdeen Chorus of Sweet Adelines had to come to terms with two devastating blows. Not only was the weekly rehearsal venue no longer available but that this also meant the loss of a venue for one of the Christmas Shows.

So the search began to find new premises – not an easy task when the Chorus numbers seventy five ladies and the group also requires storage space for items such as electronic equipment and large complex tiered staging.

Despite this major disruption to the normally smooth running of weekly rehearsals, the Chorus has risen to the challenge to produce a Christmas Show again this year.

You will even have two opportunities to hear this talented six time gold medal-winning Chorus – on Friday 13 December at 7:30pm in Peterculter Parish Church and on Sunday 15 December at 2:30pm in Queen’s Cross Church.

Gwen Topp, the Chorus Director, has once again demonstrated her considerable creative talent and artistic expertise to take the planned show and modify it for a new venue.

“Our Aberdeen audiences have supported us so well in the past.  We couldn’t let them down this year!” said Gwen.

This show is wonderful seasonal entertainment, suitable for all the family and all ages.  There will be traditional Christmas carols as well as other Chorus favourites, all sung a cappella with sparkling four part harmonies and lots of fun.  If you look very carefully, you may even catch a glimpse of some frisky wee reindeer and see some nifty hoof-work!

Thanks to Sport Aberdeen, The Chorus has now found a temporary rehearsal venue in the Westburn Park Bowling Club Lounge in Aberdeen and meets there on a Monday evening at 7pm.

All ladies are very welcome to come and meet us, as we are always looking for new singers.  Meantime the difficult search continues for a permanent home and we look forward to announcing this on our website in due course.

Contact Info:

Linda Allan.
Marketing and Publicity
Aberdeen Chapter of Sweet Adelines International Corporation
Registered as a Charity in Scotland number SCO44140
Email: Linda Allan  or  Mob 07590690392

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.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.