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Angus & The Mearns

Passchendaele heroes added to Dundee war roll

August 10 2017

Three members of a Dundee family who survived the Battle of Passchendaele have been added to the city’s roll of honour. The Great War Dundee Project is the story of the 30,490 men that left the city to fight in the first world war and of the people left at home. Dundee gave 63% of its eligible men to the armed forces and the directory was updated following Saturday’s Courier article about the role the city’s Johnston brothers played in the war. Of the five Johnston brothers, Frank, Walter, David and Peachy were artillerymen, and the fifth, John, was an army doctor. Frank and Walter’s entries have now been updated while David, Peachy and John have now had entries created in the returnee section of the honour roll. Gary Thomson from the Great War Dundee Project said: “Following Saturday’s Courier article on the five Johnston brothers who served in the war, with both Frank and Walter paying the ultimate sacrifice and the fact that Frank, for reasons unknown is not recognised as a casualty of war, the Great War Dundee Project has updated the entries for both Frank and Walter on the new roll of honour. “Dundee paid a high price for her war efforts. By the armistice, over 4,000 men had made the ultimate sacrifice. “Their names are recorded in the city’s original roll of honour, a simple alphabetical list of names, ranks and regiments. “Over the years mistakes and omissions have been discovered by families viewing the list resulting in handwritten corrections to the record.” Mr Thomson said one of Great War Dundee’s main objectives is to produce an “inclusive, fully searchable online roll of Dundonians who contributed to the war effort” and in doing so honour the men and women who lost their lives and those who survived. He added: “Due to the fact that Frank was not recognised as a casualty his entry on the original Dundee Roll of Honour was very sparse with only his name and regiment listed. “Saturday’s article allowed us to contact Frank’s relative who provided us with a fantastic amount on information about Frank and Walter which have been added to their entry. “Not only that but the three brothers who survived, David, John and Peachy have now have entries created, in the returnee section of the honour roll. “It is thanks to people like Douglas that these entries now have added information and photos.” Frank is believed to have been wounded in Flanders in 1917 and he endured a prolonged and difficult death in November 1919 in a private nursing home in Dundee as a result of his injuries. The family have been unable to provide sufficient independent corroboration that he died directly of his war wounds as his army records have not survived. Frank’s great nephew Douglas Norrie from near Arbroath is trying to find documentary evidence to correct this. David and Frank were both with the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) and their batteries of large long range howitzers were deployed at Corps level and primarily used to attack specific enemy targets, particularly enemy artillery. Walter and Peachy served with the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) with their respective brigades being attached to infantry divisions and their smaller, highly portable field guns being used in support of infantry. The fifth of the brothers, Captain (Dr) John McPherson Johnston was a doctor and served with the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and was awarded the Silver War Badge after being discharged with TB.

Angus & The Mearns

Contamination drilling test D-day for ancient well bid

January 12 2018

A contamination drilling test D-day is looming for an ancient well project in Angus. A drilling rig at Arbroath’s Keptie Pond will begin taking soil samples to test the suitability of the land. Keptie Friends want to bring the Nolt Loan well back into use to curb the unsightly algae problem which blights the pond every year. In 2017, the rim of the historic Nolt Loan Well, which at one time provided a piped water supply to the town, was located and exposed. The group hopes to have the well re-opened so an affordable supply of fresh spring water can be pumped into Keptie Pond. Roughly 1,300,000 gallons is required to raise water levels by a foot, and losses through evaporation and seepage, average out at 22,000 gallons daily. Volunteer George Park said: “To minimise haulage associated with the excavation work, it is planned to spread the soil on the adjacent park, so filling a noticeable dip. “Before soil can be spread on public property it is necessary to have the material tested for contamination, and in order to do that, a rig will be at the site to drill a hole in the middle of the well and obtain samples to a depth of approximately 50 feet. “Research, and common sense, used to locate the almost forgotten water supply, suggests in the strongest terms that the material in the well is the same material excavated from it, when the well was first formed but regulations and protocols do not make provision for the use of common sense, and sampling is essential to allow Angus Council to give the group the ‘green light’. “This is a fairly costly exercise, but something which must be done, if the group are to proceed further." Mr Park said Keptie Friends have entered 2018 optimistic this year will see the end of the problems of water shortage and poor water quality at Keptie Pond. A £60,000 funding campaign is being launched to bring the well back into use with a starting pot of £5,000 following Tesco Bags of Help money and a donation. The decaying vegetation, bird and fish droppings, and decomposing uneaten food cause the water to be nutrient enriched. Warm, nutrient enriched water provides ideal conditions for blue/green algae. Along with providing a water supply from the well, a re-circulation pump would also be installed and pipework, along with a compressor and oxygenation pipeline.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus Alive Sports Awards nominations announced

January 16 2018

The quest has kicked off to find the top achievers in sport in Angus over the past 12 months. A selection panel will convene this week to decide the Angus Alive Sports Awards shortlist from 71 nominations which have been announced for individuals, clubs and teams. Martial artist Catriona Steele, the Edzell mum of four who took two golds at the TaeKwon-Do world cup, won last year’s Sports Personality of the Year award while track star Eilish McColgan received an Olympic Recognition award. Lisa Houston, sports development officer from Angus Alive, said: “The nomination process for the Angus Alive Sports Awards 2017 closed on Monday January 8, with a fantastic 71 individuals, teams, and clubs nominated. “The independent selection panel will convene this week to decide the shortlist and winners for each of the nine award categories.” The list of nominees for the ANGUSalive Sports Awards 2017 are: Club Volunteer of the Year Award Jonathan Christie, Georgie Fullerton, Adam Mackie, Claire Murray, Gary Robertson, Mike Talbot, Mia White Coach of the Year Scott Haxton, Jim Keillor, Tam Mill, Stephen Plomer, Kay Rudd, Jim Stewart, Julie Thomson, Dan Woods Outstanding Commitment Award Bob Baldie, Richard Heggie, David McNairn, Pam Thomson Sports Personality of the Year Mark Hopkins, Andrew Woodroffe Sports Personality of the Year Award for People with a Disability Oliver Bernard, David Burnett, Greg Clark, Liam Davies, Bill Fairweather, Jamie Fyfe, Beth Greig, Eddie Hagerty, Gemma Lumsdaine, Maria Orsi, William Pate, Paul Radunski, Liam Sutherland School Sports Volunteer of the Year Award Kerry Craig, Stuart Gallagher, Caroline Kerr, Ashlea MacDonald, Suzanne Reid. Amanda Stewart, Stewart Ferguson, Kimberly Walker Young Sports Personality of the Year Matthew Crighton, Laura Findlay, Neve Guthrie, Niamh Harper, Ben Hudson, Oran McCafferty, Zoe Rennie, Rosie Kinloch Simpson, Darryl Sinclair, Sophie Smith, Jude Steven, Mia White, James Wilson Club of the Year Arbroath Community Sports Club, Arbroath Gymnastics Club, Arbroath Shotokan Karate Club, Arbroath St Thomas Swimming Club, Brechin Beavers Swimming Club, Kanzen Karate, Monifieth Athletic Football Club, Montrose and District Cricket and Rugby Football Club Team of the Year Arbroath Gymnastics Club Elite Display Team, Arbroath St Thomas Swimming Club Girls Relay Team, Arbroath United Cricket Club Under 16’s, Forfar Boys FC 2004’s, Forfar Farmington Women’s Premier League Team, Royal Montrose Golf Club Senior Section, Strathmore Silverbacks, Tayside Musketeers Cadet Men Early bird tickets for the awards can be purchased online until Friday with full price tickets on sale from Saturday from www.angusalive.scot/tickets.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus dad issues reminder that plastic straws can be a lifeline for some

March 9 2018

A dad has warned that a plastic straw ban could impact upon the most vulnerable people. Ryan Galloway’s 12-year-old son Eythan is disabled and his condition affects his ability to swallow at times. He also finds lifting even the lightest bottle or cup to his mouth is almost impossible. Mr Galloway, whose son attends Forfar Academy, made an impassioned plea for the brakes to be put on the campaign in Angus for a blanket ban in council premises which has received support from Angus Provost Ronnie Proctor and the SNP group. The campaign to ban plastic straws and cut back on the use of plastics across the UK has been inspired by Sir David Attenborough’s BBC TV series Blue Planet II. A ban across Scotland could also be in place as early as next year. Arbroath East and Lunan Independent Lois Speed - Angus Council Equalities Champion and long-time disability campaigner – has also joined calls for a halt to be put on the campaign. Mr Galloway said a plastic straw is a lifeline for his son and the campaign threatens to stigmatise the use of these items and add more pressure to parents and carers. He said: “It is concerning to say the least that the blanket ban on straws is being considered within Angus. “Eythan’s condition affects his ability to swallow at times and lifting even the lightest bottle or cup to his mouth is almost impossible. “A simple bendy plastic drinking straw solves the problem effectively and we rely on them being readily available when out and about. “Excessive plastic waste is a problem and needs to be tackled but perhaps the council should consider looking at how these single use straws could be collected and safely disposed of or recycled rather than a blanket ban across the county. “For those within our communities, often the most vulnerable, who require to use straws, it’s reassuring to know that they are accessible in eating and drinking establishments. “However the campaign threatens to stigmatise the use of these items. “To consider adding straws to the plethora of equipment already required for a simple day out adds another pressure to parents and carers.” The proposal would see plastic straws removed from council premises including care homes and leisure centres and replaced with biodegradable or easily recyclable materials. Ms Speed said an outright ban would impact on many people who rely on the use of a straw especially older people in council care homes or those who are disabled or suffer from a health condition. “I’m all for taking steps to tackle environmental issues, however I want the straw campaign to be put on hold within Angus until a suitable alternative has been found,” she said. “People with disabilities or a health condition or those who are elderly often heavily rely on plastic drinking straws to be able to take in fluids – it’s crucial and they are a lifeline.” A number of councils across Scotland are considering a similar ban and many large companies have also taken steps to end the use of plastic straws including the Weatherspoons pub chain which switched to paper straws. Ms Speed said: “The fact that it has become socially acceptable for people of all ages to use a straw in eateries has helped ensure there are no differences and reduced the stigma. “It could also push people further into social isolation if it becomes harder to go out.” The One in Five campaign group has also warned that most paper and plant-based alternatives are not flexible or suitable for drinks over 40C, therefore increasing the risks of choking. An Angus Council spokeswoman said: “We actively support the movement to reduce the prevalence of single use plastics. "We will do so with care so as not to disadvantage individuals or groups and in a managed and controlled manner to ensure there are suitable alternatives where these are needed”.

Angus & The Mearns

Council lifeline for Angus home sellers

December 14 2016

Angus home sellers who risk being hit by a double council tax whammy are being offered a lifeline. Arbroath councillor David Fairweather said it would stop people being “crucified” during a difficult time for the housing market. There are around 1,000 long-term empty properties in Angus with many proving tough to shift in the current economic climate. From April 2015 an additional 100% council tax charge was applied to properties empty for over 12 months unless for sale or rent. However, there have been a number of appeals received from taxpayers who have not been in a position to bring their property back into use or afford the additional levy. Senior managers have looked at these cases in “an understanding manner, diligently and sympathetically” considering each on their own merits. In some cases discretion has been used and the additional levy has been removed and replaced with a 10% unoccupied discount. This is usually for a short-term period only of 6-12 months and there have been around 20-30 cases considered and the additional levy removed temporarily, Some cases are also referred to the Empty Homes Officer where consideration is given to removing the levy and reducing to a 10% discount. Mr Fairweather said: “People who were actively trying to sell their property were going to be paying an additional 100% after a period of time — which I didn’t think was fair. “I know of a resident who was trying to sell a flat for £75,000 and was having real difficulties in selling the property. “Virtually out of desperation he put it up for auction and at the third time of asking got £29,000. “We don’t want to force people into a similar situation at a time when the market is slow.” Mr Fairweather said a lot of people are trying to offload their homes due to hard economic times and the downturn in the oil industry. “Who knows how long it will take for them to shift their property?” he said. “I’m pleased the council will look sympathetically on a case by case basis if somebody is trying to sell their house and is not looking to the rental market. “It is all about getting a balance where they won’t be crucified.” A council spokesman said: “The purpose of this legislation since its introduction in 2014 has been to bring long-term empty properties back on to the local housing market and available for occupancy. “It’s understood there are around 1000 long-term empty properties in Angus and we would far rather they were in use and available to live in. “We will always look at each householder’s particular set of circumstances sympathetically when setting any discount or increase to their council tax charges, while acting within the terms of the legislation.”

Angus & The Mearns

£60,000 funding campaign to be launched to bring ancient well back into use

August 5 2017

A £60,000 funding campaign will be launched imminently in a bid to bring an ancient well back into use in Angus. Until 1908 the Nolt Loan Well provided Arbroath with its only public water supply and Keptie Friends want to bring it back into use to curb the algae problem that blights Keptie Pond every year. The next stage of the project involves soil sampling to determine suitability for recycling the contents of the well around the park before a costing and timing schedule is decided upon. That will determine whether the material can be used to level the park, or should be taken off site. This will also serve to let volunteers see the quality of the brickwork below the concrete rim. Crowdfunding looks likely to achieve the £60,000 which already has a starting pot of £5,000 following Tesco Bags of Help money and a generous donation from a local resident. Volunteer George Park said: “The water in the pond is currently quite shallow, averaging around 600mm or two feet, and as a result the temperature fluctuates quite dramatically. “The decaying vegetation, bird and fish droppings, and decomposing uneaten food cause the water to be nutrient enriched. “Warm, nutrient enriched water provides ideal conditions for blue/green algae, and it is the blue /green algae which is more the problem than the visual appearance, which changes from clear to green to red to brown, dependant upon the weather. “When we fill the pond to capacity, the nutrient level will be diluted, and the increased quantity of water will take longer to warm. “The area around the boat pier is relatively unaffected by discolouration, but the outlet pipe from the borehole, which sometimes delivers a little water, is located there, reducing the local temperature. “Along with providing a water supply from the well, it was also recommended by the consultants that we install a re-circulation pump and pipework, along with a compressor and oxygenation pipeline. “Ideally, all of the works should be undertaken concurrently, but that will be dependant upon the funding available. “It might be necessary to phase the works.” The pond leaks at an average of 22,000 gallons per day and when water levels are low in summer water temperatures rise and when high nutrient levels are present algae flourishes. The problem is tackled by diluting nutrient levels by maintaining a high water level and a throughput of fresh water. However mains water comes at an unsustainable cost. A first well was sunk in 1870 at what is now the junction of Rose Street and Roseberry Place before a decision was taken to stop digging and to erect a 6,000 gallon tank and support structure. A second well was sunk at what is now the entrance to the park at Keptie Pond, linked by a tunnel to a second, similar, well at what is now the junction of Warslap Avenue and Inchcape Road. The pumping station was built over the Nolt Loan well and the water was pumped to the new water tower on the top of Keptie Hill.

Angus & The Mearns

Extra MoFest tickets after “exceptional” Jools Holland sales

May 17 2016

Extra tickets have been released for Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra in Montrose after “exceptional” sales. Jools Holland and his band will get the party started at East Links on Friday May 27 for what is the only ticketed show during the Montrose Music Festival weekend. Les Kidger, director of LCC Live, which is working in partnership with MoFest to deliver Jools Holland’s show, said: “Ticket sales to Jools Holland have been exceptional. “We’ve released an additional allocation of tickets, which continue to sell strongly. “Jools Holland is a totally different music concept to what we’ve delivered in the past at MoFest and it’s going to be a spectacular performance. “Musically, this is the most exciting show we’ve done on the East Links, and certainly it’s one that I will be watching throughout. “It’s going to be fantastic!” Launching MoFest 2016 in style is Red Sky July (made up of Ally McErlaine, Shelly Poole and Charity Hair), who will take to the stage ahead of Jools Holland on the Friday night for what is the only ticketed show of the weekend. Red Sky July will support Jools Holland’s headline show at this year’s MoFest. The band, made up of husband and wife duo Ally McErlaine, guitarist in 15 million-selling band Texas, and Shelly Poole, previously one half of million-selling duo Alisha’s Attic. Former model, Charity Hair, is also a member. Mr Kidger added: “Red Sky July are phenomenal performers. We’ve worked with the band in the past, having met Ally first, as a member of Texas. “Texas is a band we would love to bring to MoFest – they’re on my wish list, so hopefully one day!” Returning with 26 venues and over 120 gigs, MoFest fans have the chance to see some old favourites alongside some brand new acts. David Paton, chairman of the Montrose Music Festival, said: “We’ve seen a recent surge in tickets to see Jools Holland and we’re really hoping to attract more visitors to the festival, which this year is bigger and better. “We’ve more acts taking place in more venues, making MoFest 2016 a truly special weekend for visitors, music lovers and performers.” Over 20 new bands have been added to this year’s line-up, joining MoFest regulars including: Ali & the Nutsacks, who are back by popular demand; Buffalo Soldiers; Headroom; KJB; Last Orders; Late Landing; and The Holy Ghosts, who supported Status Quo at MoFest 2014. Newcomers include: Alannah Moar; The Arcades; Dundee-formed, Benedictus; Blue Highway, an established and popular blues and rock and roll five-piece band from Montrose; The Brothers Reid; Colin Clyde; Courtney Elena; rock band, DeLorean; Montrose-based Medicine Well; Still Standing Still and Union Chapel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96CY39BHHBc David added: “There’s so much on offer this year, and we can’t forget Bryan Adams’ performance in August, as part of the MoFest offering. “It’s going to be spectacular and there is much excitement that such a world-renowned artist will be performing on the East Links this summer.” For tickets to Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra and Bryan Adams, visit www.ticketline.co.uk or call 0844 888 9991.

Angus & The Mearns

“It’s hard to believe it will be 42 years between lorry trips” — AC/DC legend to recreate famous video in Kirrie

March 17 2018

It remains one of the most famous videos in music history. AC/DC, complete with bagpipers, played ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)’ on the back of a flatbed truck down Swanston Street in Melbourne in February 1976. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sUXMzkh-jI Lead singer Bon Scott displayed his prowess on the pipes in a nod to his Scottish heritage in the historic video alongside bandmates Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Mark Evans and Phil Rudd. Former AC/DC bass player Evans has now agreed to take part in a re-enactment for the first time in 42 years in Scott’s hometown of Kirriemuir at this year's BonFest. Evans will be stepping back in time on a truck with German band ‘Bon: The AC/DC Show’ at the annual rock festival which celebrates the late singer. “It’s hard to believe it will be 42 years between lorry trips,” Evans told The Courier. “I can’t wait to get back to Kirriemuir. “My last visit was to help to unveil Bon’s statue at Bonfest 2016 so I am looking forward to returning for Bonfest 2018 to celebrate in true Scots’ fashion. “I’m a fifth generation Aussie with no real ties to Scotland but from the moment I set foot in Scotland in 1976 with AC/DC I have always felt at home and I always will I’m sure. “It’s going to be a blast joining ‘Bon: The AC/DC Show’ on the back of the lorry traversing Kirriemuir in Bon’s home town. “It will be a real experience for sure - lots of joy but I am certain that it will be very poignant also.” Evans said he suggested pipes for the song and Scott told him he used to play in a pipe band and went off to buy a set of bagpipes. “So into the studio Bon went with the pipes and I can’t quite describe the noise that came from a very proud Bon and his pipes but it was obvious he was a tad out of touch,” he said. “George Young asked Bon: ‘I thought you said you played in a pipe band?’ to which he replied: ‘I did play in a pipe band - I was a drummer!’” This year’s 13th annual BonFest takes place for three days and three wild nights over the weekend of May 4-6. Festival chairman John Crawford said: “The organisation team are always looking for new ways to improve the festival and enhance the experience for our guests. “What better way to do that than having an original member of AC/DC’s It’s a Long Way to the Top video taking part in the re-enactment 42 years later? “We have an incredible line up this year which includes current AC/DC drummer Chris Slade and his Time Line band along with a host of top class acts in the main arena. “With free live music during the day and the main arena gig at night BonFest is quickly becoming a mecca for the global ACDC fan base.” AC/DC have not performed the song live since Scott’s death in 1980 out of respect. They last performed the song with him on December 17 1979 at the Hammersmith Odeon in London.

Angus & The Mearns

Arbroath Sea Fest set to make waves

August 6 2016

A bustling programme has been announced with the return of Arbroath Sea Fest just a week away. Established in 1997, Sea Fest is a popular celebration of Arbroath’s maritime heritage, attracting tens of thousands of visitors. The event is celebrating its 20th anniversary and will take place around the town’s harbour on August 13 and 14. Highlights include the Strongman and Strongwoman competitions, a performance by Showcase the Street, a demonstration rescue by Arbroath’s lifeboat crew and live music from several of the top bands in the area. In addition, there will be the famous Sea Fest Pie Eating competition, the annual raft race across the harbour and a cookery demonstration from Arbroath’s former MasterChef champion Jamie Scott. Sunday afternoon also features the return of one of the most fondly remembered activities from early Arbroath Sea Fests – the Fishers’ Wedding, which is to be re-enacted by members of Thomson Leng Musical Society and Youth Musical Theatre. “At least 20 of our members will be taking part in the Fishers’ Wedding,” explained Stuart Young of Thomson Leng Musical Society. “It will be quite a sight as we parade around the harbour in outfits similar to those worn by Arbroath fisher folk in days gone by, accompanied by the traditional, toe tapping sounds of the fiddle, telling the story of a fisher wedding.”

Angus & The Mearns

Angus man saw guns pointed at children walking to school during Palestine mercy mission

May 26 2016

An Angus man has told how he watched children as young as five walking to school with guns pointed at them. Alex Holmes was speaking of the violence he has witnessed as his three-month mercy mission in Palestine and Israel draws to a close. Mr Holmes, 59, from Inverkeilor, has been working as a human rights monitor with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme (EAPPI). Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) provide a protective presence to vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank. He said: “The occupation by Israel of the Palestinian territories will by next year, 2017, have lasted 50 years. “It is the longest military occupation of modern times. “And as EAs, we have seen the violence which results from this military occupation. “I have lived alongside Palestinians in the West Bank for three months. “I have witnessed children as young as five walking to school with guns pointed at them by Israeli soldiers. “I have met children who have left their homes in the morning only to find that on reaching their school, it has been demolished, or who have come back from school to find their homes demolished.” Incidents involving schoolchildren and schools almost tripled in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from 2013 to 2014, affecting nearly 25,000 Palestinian children in 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmcVLxDUJoM The trip has a personal resonance for Mr Holmes whose father was a young officer with the British Army who was based in Palestine during the Arab Revolt from 1936-39. Mr Holmes said: “I have heard testimony of a child woken in the night by the sound of heavy machinery at work and emerging from her house to find that the village playground has been reduced to rubble and twisted metal by the Israeli army. “I have heard testimony of another child awoken in the dark of night terrified by the sound of concrete crashing to the ground outside her house. “Children all over occupied Palestine face harassment by Israeli soldiers as they walk to school. “They have guns pointed at them. “They are taken into the bushes to have their bags searched. “ They look out of the classroom windows and see armed soldiers in their school grounds. “As Ecumenical Accompaniers we offer a protective presence to students on their way to and from school.” All Palestinians living under the Occupation are subject to Israeli military law. This applies equally to children and adults. Mr Holmes added: “Israeli settlers living in the West Bank, on the other hand, are subject to civil law. “At the end of February of this year, 438 Palestinian minors were being held in Israeli prisons. “A UK government-backed report, Children in Military Custody, concluded that Israel was in breach of six articles of the UNCRC in its treatment of Palestinian children. “All children everywhere have a Right to a Childhood. “For Palestinian children living under military occupation, this right is being severely undermined.”

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