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Angus & The Mearns

Baxter the Bridie is a Loon already lording it up with King Kenny

July 1 2016

Baxter the Bridie is loving life as a jet-setting Loon and is already mixing it with football royalty. The new Forfar Athletic signing was only officially unveiled a few days ago after a children’s competition to name the latest addition to the growing ranks of Scottish club mascots. Whilst a bridie was the obvious choice of mascot for the Station Park side, the name game gave youngsters something to get their teeth into and Kirriemuir nine-year-old Ross Milne’s offering of Baxter fitted the bill in the eyes of judges from local bridie producers Saddlers and McLaren & Son – as well as having historical resonance as the Anglo Saxon name for a baker. Super-size Baxter is set to quickly become a fans’ favourite as the new campaign gets underway, but mini bridie dolls which were a sell-out hit at the launch event and will be re-stocked on the shelves of the new club shop are already enjoying some exclusive company. Baxter has been given his own facebook page and has already encountered Kenny Dalglish after Station Park season ticket holder Aisling FitzGerald of Kirriemuir Dental Practice introduced the quirky wee character to the Scottish football legend. Loons merchandise team member Louise Taylor also managed to take her wee Baxter through the doors of the All England tennis club during the biggest fortnight in world tennis. "He enjoyed his trip to Wimbledon but didn't manage to get any celebrity selfies with Murray, Djokovic, Federer or Serena Williams on centre court," quipped Louise.   Alongside SW19 Baxter there has already been a Welsh Baxter and – closer to home – the mini mascot made the hike up the scenic Cairn O’ Mount on the border between Angus and Aberdeenshire. At the Station Park naming ceremony, Forfar secretary David McGregor said the reaction to the bridie mascot had been huge and the club is hopeful the early enthusiasm for the new name will carry into the new season proper. Louise added: "The reaction has been brilliant and we're hoping Baxter will have his photo taken all over the world."

Angus & The Mearns

Wedding bells to custody cells for St Cyrus couple

September 12 2016

Angus newlyweds spent their wedding night apart behind bars following an off-licence bust-up just three hours after tying the knot — and within days of a compassionate sheriff sparing the groom from prison so he could walk up the aisle. Graeme Leslie will now have an extended honeymoon in custody after being remanded following Friday’s rammy in Montrose when wedding bells descended into booze-fuelled hell for staff and customers at a high street shop called Party Time. The pair delivered a volley of foul abuse after a failed attempt to buy cider to keep the wedding party going, with ex-soldier Leslie telling one police officer: “I’ll do time for you, I was in Perth when Perth was Perth, not like Butlins today.” His new bride, Margaret, winked as the 61-year-old was led from the cells and into the dock beside her at Forfar, the couple separated by a G4S security ‘attendant’ as they sat together for the first time since the happy day turned sour. The couple, both of Scotson Place, St Cyrus admitted behaving in a threatening or abusive manner at Montrose High Street on September 9 and depute fiscal Jill Drummond revealed the incident happened just three hours after the wedding ceremony, which had been followed by a small party in a local pub. The newlyweds went to the off-licence and Leslie bought two bottles of cider, prompting a customer to joke: “I drank that once, that’ll give you some hangover.” The throwaway comment triggered a barrage of foul abuse from the Falklands and Northern Ireland Royal Artillery veteran, before Leslie knocked over £25 worth of goods when he was told he was not going to be served. A frightened assistant activated the shop’s panic alarm and when Leslie was asked by another customer if it was his wedding day he told them: “**** off, what the **** has it got to do with you.” Once outside the shop, his new bride joined in the abuse, screaming “You ******* ruined my wedding day, you *****.” Police arrived and the new Mrs Leslie was still shouting and threatening the shop assistant, with shocked families looking on as the high street bust-up was played out. They were taken to Arbroath police station and kept in separate cells for their first hours of their wedding night, with the new groom appearing in the dock still wearing his grey pinstripe suit and primrose shirt wedding attire. Leslie’s solicitor, Nick Markowski said his client had little recollection of events but had already paid for the damaged stock. He said his client had been released on a high tariff deferred sentence on September 1, adding: “He got married for the third time on Friday, but has indicated it is not third time lucky. “Alcohol has unfortunately blighted his life. He just couldn’t keep his mouth shut. “The only question is whether he spends his honeymoon in St Cyrus or elsewhere. He feels he has let the court down and let his wife down,” added Mr Markowski. Solicitor Nick Whelan, for Mrs Leslie, said the 56-year-old had played a lesser part in the offence and got involved after believing her husband was being wronged when he came out of the shop. “She didn’t envisage spending the evening of her wedding in a police station, but that’s what happened,” said Mr Whelan. Sheriff Gregor Murray deferred sentence on the pair until October 6 for reports, remanding Mr and granting Mrs bail.

Angus & The Mearns

Baxter the Bridie makes his bow for Forfar’s Loons

June 27 2016

Forfar Athletic pulled off the enviable feat of diverting focus from the Euros by rolling out the Loons’ latest summer signing. After weeks of anticipation, the spotlight was on Station Park where the name of Scottish football’s latest club mascot was revealed as Baxter the Bridie. Local bakers McLaren & Son and Saddler’s sponsored the new mascot and with further support from local firm Utopia Costumes the quirky character looks set to establish itself as a popular fixture on Angus matchdays. Special bridie boxes were set up in the town bakers for a month-long naming competition, which drew almost 100 entries – many on the popular theme of the world-famous Forfar foodie favourite and the club. Flaky and shortcrust, mince and onions were all served up as suggestions and in the naming ceremony streamed live to over 4,000 people on social media, club secretary David McGregor said Loons legends of previous eras including Seagull (Billy Gallacher), Brashie (Alex Brash) and TC (Ian McPhee) also made it into the mix. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC7V1PKkqE0 Mr McGregor said: “The entries came from children ranging in age from two to 12, but there was only one entry for the name Baxter and the judges, Morna Saddler and Karen Murray of McLarens, felt it suited the bridie - as well as being the old Scots and Anglo Saxon word for a baker.” The competition winner was Kirriemuir nine-year-old Ross Milne, who was at the Station Park event which also included the unveiling of the Loons’ new home kit for the upcoming season and Euro-themed footie fun for the youngsters. Ross will be the team mascot for the first home fixture of the new campaign and also won a replica kit for his bright idea The club said it had been delighted by the reaction to the new mascot, especially given the fondness of visiting fans for the meat treat, and replica locally-made mini bridies sold out at the new club shop on the night.

Angus & The Mearns

Forfar Academy champions lifesaving campaign with overwhelming response to Anthony Nolan plea

April 27 2017

Forfar Academy pupils have been hailed for their remarkable response to a lifesaving partnership project by the firefighter whose own blood cancer diagnosis sparked the vital programme. In the latest stage of a drive which it is hoped will eventually involve secondaries across the whole of Tayside, the Angus school staged a registration event for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Anthony Nolan charity initiative, which has already delivered potentially lifesaving matches for those in need of a stem cell transplant. The scheme was launched in 2009, a year after Ally Boyle, a fire service area commander from Hamilton, was diagnosed with blood cancer. The condition forced his retiral from the service four years ago, but since then he has been a driving force behind the initiative to educate young people about the need for stem cell donors and develop positive citizenship through the partnership involving SFRS colleagues and the charity. The programme has added thousands of people aged 16 to 30 to the Anthony Nolan register of potential stem cell donors, including around 80 names from the Forfar Academy session – a statistic several times the normal 25% 'conversion' rate the scheme would expect from such events. Senior Academy pupils trained as partnership champions encouraged their peers to sign up for the registration session and they joined local firefighters in administering the event. Kingsway East SFRS station manager Fraser Scott, the tactical lead in the Tayside programme, which already involves Monifieth High and will hopefully soon expand to Perth, said a ‘conversion’ rate of 80 from around 100 expressions of interest in the run up to the event was well in excess of what would normally be expected. “We come out to the schools, give presentations and recruit the champions, and then get them to talk to their peers in the hope that they will be willing to join the register. Young people who register give a simple and quick saliva sample, expanding the database the charity can search when it is searching for a genetic match for a patient requiring a stem cell transplant. Mr Scott added: “We hope to become embedded in the culture of the school, returning on an annual basis with a new group of champions in the senior year.” Mr Boyle said: “When I was diagnosed and learned about Anthony Nolan I realised the fire service and the charity existed for exactly the same reason – to save lives – and thought there was something very positive that we could do together. “It also gives us a chance to develop a really positive relationship with young people and promote active citizenship, through the schools and the young champions who play such an important part in this.”

Angus & The Mearns

Rock or busted? AC/DC fans Thunderstruck by witty Twitter cops

April 30 2016

The boys in blue have nailed Twitter with their love of Back in Black. As thousands of rock fans invaded Kirriemuir for the town's 10th anniversary homage to AC/DC frontman Bon Scott, tweeting cops raided the legendary band's playlist for a string of amusing messages encouraging revellers to enjoy their weekend safely and sensibly. From their @AngusPolice Twitter account the witty bobbies set the ball rolling with a welcome message on the theme of the band's most famous album. https://twitter.com/AngusPolice/status/725314175258529792?lang=en-gb Having managed to sneak in the early reference to the 1980-released album - the second best-selling of all time behind only Michael Jackson's Thriller - they followed it up with a track-packed tweet taking inspiration from some of AC/DC's other legendary hits. Hell's Bells, For Those About to Rock and Long Way to the Top all featured in the follow-up encouraging those making their way to the wee red town and the dedicated Bonfest site- a new addition for 2016 featuring a big top stage for the headline acts- to have fun and Play Ball. https://twitter.com/AngusPolice/status/725575422562426883?lang=en-gb Unseasonal Angus weather then made things tricky for drivers, but as the snows hit they also delivered a gift to get the safety message across with another of the band's most famous tracks capturing exactly the state of the area's roads. https://twitter.com/AngusPolice/status/725931077236203525?lang=en-gb The Bonfest Twitterfest then continued in the shadow of the big top with another message encouraging fans to have fun during the busy weekend. But despite declaring that Rock'n'Roll Ain't Noise Pollution, it's a safe bet that Police Scotland didn't come good on their promise to Have a Drink On Me for every one of the estimated 3,000 fans from as far afield as Australia who flocked to the event. https://twitter.com/AngusPolice/status/726010473439760384?lang=en-gb Over the decade since it was established by community group DD8 Music, Bonfest has built a reputation as a good-natured gathering and the weekend has continued that theme with the international language of rock bringing together the leather and denim-clad visitors of a host of nations. For the tweet-savvy police it's definitely a good thing that AC/DC fans like to live life at High Voltage but aren't always Spoilin' for a Fight which might lead them into custody. The last thing the Angus cops would want to risk is a Jailbreak. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXXO9_3gb3o      

Angus & The Mearns

Glamis Prom organisers bow to demand with more tickets

July 4 2016

Glamis Prom organisers have released more tickets for this month’s open-air spectacular as the busy summer continues at Angus’s biggest tourist attraction. Glamis Castle will host the musical spectacular on July 16, with fans set to savour a Summer Evening at the Movies in what it is hoped will be perfect conditions at the 600-year-old landmark. Castle general manager Tommy Baxter said they hope to welcome even greater numbers to the event in what is proving to be an excellent 2016 season so far. “After the success of last year, it is once again shaping up to be a wonderful night against the spectacular backdrop of the castle, so we have released another 1,000 tickets for the Prom,” said Mr Baxter. A firm fixture on the Angus summer calendar for many years, the event made a triumphant 2015 return after a three-year hiatus, with the dual attraction of Elaine Paige and Susan Boyle drawing the crowds. This month’s Prom, with the British Sinfonietta Orchestra conducted by former Grove Academy pupil Marc McBride, will also feature soul songstress Mica Paris, classical album toppers Richard and Adam, and Glasgow vocalist Melanie Masson. The event’s local flavour will also be enhanced by Arbroath-born West End star Norman Bowman, who thrilled the audience as a guest act last year and has been invited back to perform again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFv4fn_Rs_4 Mr Baxter added: “We really hope people will take up the opportunity to snap up a ticket, it’s going to be a great night in what is a very exciting summer for us here at Glamis. The perennially popular Glamis Extravaganza will draw tens of thousands of vintage vehicle enthusiasts to the castle this coming weekend and already this season the grounds have hosted a couple of memorable firsts - a CaniX canine cross-country competition and Scotland’s inaugural Attelage de Tradition carriage driving spectacle. This evening also sees the start of a four-night run of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, performed by the Three Inch Fools in the atmospheric setting of the castle’s medieval crypt. Thursday’s final performance will be exclusively for Friends of Glamis, with a supper and talk included. Mr Baxter continued: “Our season got off to a very good start and it has really continued from there. “Despite the weather not being the best we are doing really well and there are a lot of events coming up in the next couple of months, including some new ones, which we are really hopeful will encourage people to Glamis.”

Angus & The Mearns

Young charger Mitchell back in Black Bull McLaren for 2017 British GT championship

March 8 2017

Angus teenager Sandy Mitchell will return to the British GT Championship for the 2017 season piloting a 180mph McLaren 570S GT4. The record-breaking schoolboy, named British GT Rookie of the Year in 2016 after an impressive debut season which saw him win two races, will again partner fellow Scot, 20-year-old Ciaran Haggerty from Johnstone. Both drivers carry the prestigious Scottish Motor Racing Club Rising Star status and the talented duo will share the No100 Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570S GT4 in all seven rounds of Europe’s most competitive sportscar series which gets underway at Oulton Park in Cheshire on April 15-17. The announcement came as 2014 British junior karting champ Mitchell celebrated being able to don the L-plates for the road following his 17th birthday this week. “I’m delighted to be back in the Black Bull Garage 59 car with Ciaran,” said Mitchell, who bagged two pole positions in 2016 and set fastest lap at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps F1 circuit in Belgium. “Last year was a fantastic debut season for both of us in sportscars, and we’re definitely looking to build on the success we delivered for the team. “Ciaran and I work well together both in and out of the car, and we’ll be doing everything we can this season to make a serious challenge for the British GT4 Championship.” The Dundee High teenager became the youngest-ever race winner in the championship aged just 16 years and 169 days. Local companies Thorntons, Close Brothers, Stirfresh and SGM continue their support from last season and Mitchell now has additional backing from Christie Digital and Stampede Global, both of which operate on a worldwide stage. “I’m really grateful for the support I have received from all the companies that are backing me,” he added. He will continue to juggle his extensive race and test programme with school studies, and is set to face a Courier Country rival in the same team on the packed GT4 grid. Young Fifer Dean Macdonald is to partner Indian racer Akhil Rabindra in the No59 Black Bull McLaren. “It’s going to be great having two McLaren GT4 cars working together in the same team,” Mitchell explained. “We’ll be able to maximise the time we spend on-track during testing to ensure we deliver the best performances we can.” Black Bull Garage 59 team boss Bas Leinders said: “We’re delighted to have Sandy and Ciaran back for 2017. “We’re looking to hit the ground running and build upon the successes they had last year. “With the experience of running with the McLaren 570S GT4 last year, we are in a strong position going into the new season, and hope to be challenging for podiums and race wins again in 2017.” Euan Shand, chairman of title sponsors, Huntly-based Black Bull Scotch Whisky said: “Last year proved to be an outstanding season for Sandy and Ciaran and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Garage 59 and these young drivers again. “Sandy, Ciaran, Dean and Akhil are the future, and we have high hopes for what 2017 will bring.”

Other sports

McLaren’s Mitchell solid at the Rock as fastest lap awards keep coming

May 1 2017

Angus teenager Sandy Mitchell bagged his first podium of the year with a second place finish in the  latest round of the British GT4 Championship. Starting from fourth on the grid for the two-hour race at Rockingham speedway in Northamptonshire, 17-year-old Mitchell and 20-year-old Scots teammate Ciaran Haggerty were involved in a titanic battle for honours in their Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570S GT4 for the entirety of the two-hour race. “We’re really pleased to get our first podium of the year,” said Mitchell, who with fellow McLaren GT Academy member Haggerty won two races and bagged three pole positions last season “After difficulties in the opening race weekend, it was important we came back and delivered the result we know we’re capable of. "This result will give us and the Black Bull Garage 59 team a real boost for the coming rounds. “Of course we would have liked the win, but over the season there are circuits which suit some cars better than others,” said Mitchell of the thrilling fight against the victorious Ginetta G55 of  Stuart Middleton and Will Tregurtha. The Dundee High teenager, who also scooped his second Sunoco fastest lap of the race award in succession, added: “The Black Bull Garage 59 team did a great job in maximising the potential of what we could achieve at Rockingham and it gives us the platform to go on and push for more wins as the season progresses.”

Other sports

McLaren marvel Mitchell gunning for cracking British GT opener at Oulton

April 14 2017

Angus teenager Sandy Mitchell returns to British GT Championship action this weekend - targeting the GT4 title in his 180mph Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570S Twice a race winner in his 2016 debut season, Mitchell became the series’ youngest ever victor and shared Rookie of the Year honours with teammate and fellow Scot Ciaran Haggerty. Now 17 and legally able to get behind the wheel of a road car – with L-plates of course – Dundee High pupil Mitchell will again partner 20-year-old Haggerty and the pairing hope to hit the ground running at Oulton Park in Cheshire. “Pre-season testing has gone very well so we’re feeling positive heading into the first round,” he said. “We identified a couple of things we can improve in relation to the set-up, but overall the tests were excellent. “Our lap times were good too, but of course, we won’t know where we really stand until the first qualifying session. But we’re feeling quietly positive.” Mitchell has tested the McLaren at Oulton, Rockingham and Silverstone in the build-up to this weekend’s race. “It’s been a while since we won the final race of the season at Donington last year so I can’t wait for the race weekend buzz,” added Mitchell, who has added vital backing from worldwide outfits Christie Digital and Stampede Global to local companies Thorntons, Close Brothers, Stirfresh and SGM who continue their support from last season   “Primarily we’re focusing on challenging for race wins right from the start of the season. “If we manage to consistently push for wins and bag podiums, that will evolve into us challenging for the championship as we get towards the end of the season. “Obviously the GT4 title is the ultimate goal. “We’ve got the champions from last year back, so it’s going to be a tough grid, but we’re determined to do everything we can to push for the title.”

Angus & The Mearns

No muck, no bras as Angus dumps catwalk cowp

April 20 2018

An Angus dump which found fame as the world’s most unlikely haute couture catwalk has been binned. Restenneth on the outskirts of Forfar shot into the global spotlight when top British designer Stella McCartney selected it as the unusual setting for a summer shoot, bringing top models north to pose among bin bags, tattered newspapers and rusting cars in £1,000 dresses. The rubbish runway’s reputation then spread to Europe and hot on the high heels of McCartney’s film crew, an Italian Vogue entourage arrived for another arty shoot which was premiered to an international audience of the industry’s movers and shakers at the Milan Fashion show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7up1bG5d00&t=46s In the second production, entitled Allegory of Water, model Julia Campbell-Gillies was filmed next to a heap of discarded mattresses as digger works away on countless tonnes of local waste. While the Angus site may have stumbled upon the unusual power to lure international fashion types, council chiefs have revealed there is now less demand for its prime function and Restenneth has received its last landfill load. Angus environmental services chief Graeme Dailly told communities councillors landfilling at the site east of Forfar had ended at the beginning of this month and the final cell of the sprawling dump will be capped later this year. Restenneth has been used by the council for residual waste since 1999, but a procurement exercise last November led to independent firm MVV being appointed to manage the disposal of residual waste for both Angus and neighbouring Dundee City Council. https://vimeo.com/254835375?ref=tw-share MVV have taken over operation of the Forties Road site at Baldovie in Dundee, which has a capacity of 110,000 tonnes per annum, and Angus residual waste is already heading there. That left Restenneth taking only rubbish from private businesses, but councillors heard that in the last three months only five local firms had made infrequent use of the site. “Over the last few years, the use of Restenneth by private businesses has declined rapidly through the introduction of the landfill tax levy, rising to £88.95 in April,” the committee report added. Council bosses hailed the unexpected international focus on Forfar’s finest dump when the fashionistas flocked to it and there remains a glimmer of hope that it may hold future appeal for photographers of a different breed. “A proposal  concept for the new restoration profile is in already in place and ready to be implemented, which includes tree/shrub planting, the shallowing out of existing slopes and the introduction of a wetland to the remaining void to support the wildlife and birds that frequently use Restenneth,” the report added.