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Angus & The Mearns

Colonial collection to go under the hammer in Montrose

May 5 2017

A broad range of artefacts from the British Empire’s colonial past will go under the hammer in Angus this weekend. Taylor’s Auction Rooms in Montrose will offer more than 3,000 lots of “fascinating” items from Africa, America, the Pacific Rim and the UK on Saturday. Bids are invited on a number of Victorian-era curios from Africa including tribal masks, figures, spears and knobkerrie fighting sticks. Saleroom manager Jonathan Smith said the largest number come from the Congo, Ivory Coast, Guinea, and South Africa. “These were gathered over a number of years by a collector based in Aberdeenshire whose family had first visited Africa at the turn of the century,” he said. Unusual blunderbuss firearms will also be up for auction, along with an extensive collection of 18th & 19th Century pistols and sporting guns. A late 18th Century brass-barrelled flintlock blunderbuss, by the London gunsmith Knubley & Co, is estimated at £600 to £800. Knubley & Co was gunmaker to the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Clarence, who became George IV and William IV respectively. Another significant firearm up for sale is a rare officer’s “pill-lock” officer’s pistol from the early 19th Century. “These were rarely used by the British Army as the pellets required for firing were too small and easy to lose in combat situations,” Mr Taylor added. Among the other firearms is a “blunderbuss pistol” by Thomson of Doncaster, estimated at £700 to £900. The guns appear beside a wide range of taxidermy studies from the plains of Africa including ibex, springbok and hartebeest, and a Victorian display with indigenous Australian birds. Other items to be sold include a Native American Plains Indian headdress with coyote fur and feathers, with beadwork decoration, a 19th Century dervish sword. One African mask is in baulewood with horned headdress, and another is possibly Inuit.

Angus & The Mearns

UPDATE: Man demanded cigarette at gunpoint in Angus train station

July 12 2016

An Angus man brought a busy train station to a standstill when he held a traveller at gunpoint and demanded a cigarette from him. Kevin Ross pulled a fake air pistol on the Spanish national at Arbroath train station as commuters were heading home on a Friday night. The scene was swiftly closed down by police, who cordoned off Keptie Street and used sniffer dogs to comb the area on March 11. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Police Scotland confirmed a cordon and road closures had been put in place in the Robert Street area, with specialist officers assisting local units. They described the incident as having been brought to a “safe conclusion”. Ross, who is on remand at Perth over the incident, appeared at Forfar Sheriff Court and admitted an indictment alleging the presentation of an air pistol to Andreas Giallombardo with intent to rob him, and the unlawful possession of a pistol in a public place. The 43-year-old, from Arbroath, appeared on petition on March 14 and was later ordered to undertake a mental assessment due to his state of mind. His solicitor said Ross’ mental health had improved, and added: “I am now in the position to tender pleas, and in the circumstances would ask for the assessment order to be discharged. “He’s not previously served a custodial sentence.” Ross, from Arbroath, admitted assaulting Mr Giallombardo, presenting an imitation pistol at him, threatening to shoot him, and demanding a cigarette from him, with intent to rob him. He further admitted having an imitation firearm without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. His not guilty pleas to having the intention of making Mr Giallombardo believe unlawful violence would be used against him, possessing a firearm with intent to commit assault and robbery, and threatening to kill Sergeant Andrew Sheppard at Arbroath Police Station were accepted by the Crown. Fiscal depute Bill Kermode made a Crown motion for the forfeiture of the air pistol, which was not opposed. Sheriff Pino Di Emidio deferred sentence to August 3 for the preparation of criminal justice social work reports, and Ross was remanded.

Angus & The Mearns

Bon Scott joins icons at Kirriemuir gallery

April 30 2016

Scottish rock legend Bon Scott joined a “pantheon” of stars including Keith Richards, Bob Dylan — and Oor Wullie — at an Angus art exhibition. Kirriemuir’s 10th annual celebration of Bon and AC/DC, Bonfest, kicked off in rebellious style with a host of bands on Friday night. A permanent tribute to the former frontman, who died tragically in 1980 as the global phenomenon was just beginning, will be unveiled in his home town this afternoon. And the rock icon has now been immortalised as a piece of pop art. Artist Robert McSpadyen was approached to frame Bon in technicolour screen print, a format he has used to encapsulate the essence of stars such as Lee Marvin, Ava Gardner and Shirley MacLaine. Mr McSpadyen, 43, is a member of Glasgow Print Studio and creates prints which reflect his own pop cultural and cinematic preoccupations and obsessions. A selection of his work is now on display alongside Bon at the town’s Bank Street Gallery, and sales of Bon prints will support the work of DD8 Music, the music-driven youth project behind Bonfest. “I work in screen printing, as that suits the style of the characters I like – brash and bold,” he said. “I stick to working with the influences I have, and Bon fits in with that whole pantheon of rock and roll legends. “Bon and the Young brothers (musicians Angus, Malcolm and producer George) were all from Scotland before they emigrated to Australia, and so were a big part of what you could call Scotland’s biggest band. “It’s only fitting that there’s a statue getting unveiled here.” Gallery owner Susie Clark said she is “delighted” to host a first-of-its-kind artwork. “Robert is building a shrine to a deeply personal pantheon of the late 20th century's sharpest icons,” she said. The Bank Street Gallery exhibition runs until June 10. This year’s Bonfest sees the evening gigs played in a big top on the town’s south side. Last night’s headline band was the all-female quintet BACK:N:BLACK, supported by Reddog, and The Ruckus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDOeDSlvn_U This followed a day of live music around the town’s pubs and a re-enactment of the AC/DC video Long Way to the Top by German band Bon: The AC/DC Show on the back of a vintage vehicle. Today, the statue of Bon will be officially unveiled in Bellies Brae at 1pm by special guests Mark Evans, Mary Renshaw, Tony Currenti and Bob Richards. BON The AC/DC Show is tonight’s featured act, supported by Ferus Cane and The Smokin' Bugler Band. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIVtTi0_5QI Mark Evans played bass on four Bon-era albums and will give a talk and Q&A about his time in the band at 1pm tomorrow in Kirriemuir Town Hall. Former AC/DC drummer Tony Currenti will play tomorrow night, performing the entirety of the High Voltage album with Pure/DC. Mary Renshaw will also appear and discuss her book about Bon, entitled Live Wire.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus foodbank use at ‘all-time high’

May 23 2017

An Angus politician has slammed the spiralling need for foodbanks in the county. Angus North and Mearns MSP Mairi Evans spoke out during an emotional speech at the Scottish Parliament on the rising need for foodbanks across Scotland — with usage reaching record levels in Angus last year. Ms Evans praised the new Brechin Community Pantry during a debate on foodbanks, which heard more than 25% of Scotland’s children are classed as living in poverty. But she insisted the UK Government must tackle the issue of child poverty by avoiding cuts to the benefits system. She said: “In Angus, figures were published in the past week that shows that emergency food supplies had to be provided to 2,771 adults and 824 children last year. “This is an all-time high and an increase of 917 on the previous year. “The Trussell Trust has stated that the biggest increases have been seen in areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out. “The simple fact is we have a social security system that has been so utterly ravaged that it is no longer the safety net it was designed to be. “Instead, it humiliates and dehumanises the very people it is supposed to help. “Over the past few years the Tory-led UK Government have introduced the seriously flawed Universal Credit system, the bedroom tax, benefit sanctions, cuts to Employment Support Allowance, a freeze on working-age benefits, and a complete cut to housing benefits for 18 to 21-year-olds. “The family element of child tax credits has been removed, there have been cuts to bereavement benefits, and the new PIP system has seen many of those transferring to it from the Disability Living Allowance lose their entitlement altogether, with only 42% of new claimants get any sort of award.” A spokesman for the DWP defended the Universal Credit system, which collapses all benefits into one and is being rolled out across the UK. He said: "The majority of UC claimants are confident in managing their money and we work closely with local authorities to support those who need extra help. "Budgeting support, benefit advances, and direct rent payments to landlords are available to those who need them."

Angus & The Mearns

Crowds come out for 20th Arbroath Seafest

August 14 2016

An Angus town welcomed thousands of people to a weekend of events celebrating its maritime heritage. Arbroath Seafest marked its 20th year of drawing crowds with a mixture of demonstrations, stalls, competitive pie-eating, strong men and women, fairground attractions, raft racing, and a re-enacted fisher wedding. More than 30,000 people were expected to attended the event with organisers hopeful of eclipsing last year's total. A packed programme included a performance by local youth dance group Showcase the Street, a demonstration rescue by Arbroath’s RNLI lifeboat crew, live music from several of the area’s top bands, and a charity It’s a Knockout competition. In addition, there was the annual raft race across the harbour, and a cookery demonstration from Arbroath’s former MasterChef Professionals champion, Jamie Scott. Mr Scott, who runs The Newport in Newport-on-Tay, prepared an array of scallops, clams from Tentsmuir in Fife, and hake in front of an appreciative audience. He said: “In the kitchen, seasonality is key. “Whatever the time of year, we have so many great ingredients in the local area that are fresh and great for cooking now.” Eleanor Whitby, of management team Red Pepper Events, said: “I’d like to thank the volunteers who are on the festival committee. "It wouldn’t be possible to do this without them. “This is the 10th year we’ve been managing the Seafest and it’s now 20 years old. “Its popularity has always been down to the people of Arbroath and all of our visitors who come to see all the great things that the town has to offer.” The early sun drew huge crowds for Saturday’s day events, with mild Sunday’s programme drawing more attention as the day progressed. This included the return of one of the most fondly remembered activities from early Seafests – the Fishers’ Wedding, re-enacted by members of Thomson Leng Musical Society and Youth Musical Theatre.

Angus & The Mearns

Former Angus Royal Marine commander welcomes ‘Marine A’ rethink

December 7 2016

A fresh appeal over the life sentence of “Marine A” has been welcomed by the former commanding officer of Arbroath-based 45 Commando. Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman was found guilty of murdering a wounded Afghan captive but new evidence has prompted an independent review to conclude he faces the "real possibility" of having his conviction quashed. His former CO, Colonel Oliver Lee, resigned his commission in protest after Blackman was sentenced in 2013. But Col Lee said he is "extremely pleased" at the latest development in the case and said a "much more balanced and full picture" of the circumstances around the killing needed to be considered. Blackman was found guilty of murder at a court martial at the Military Court Centre in Bulford, Wiltshire. New evidence relating to his mental health at the time of the killing in Helmand, and the fact that an alternative verdict of unlawful act manslaughter was not available, means the case will return to the court. The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the conviction to the Courts Martial Appeal Court. Col Lee said the court martial should have taken greater account of the acute stress Blackman was under at the time. He said: "I took a view that the proceedings against Sgt Blackman hadn't been balanced and that in order for him to be dealt with justly "I don't seek to condone his behaviour or exonerate him from his responsibilities but in order for him to be dealt with justly, not leniently, a much more balanced and full picture of the situation in which he found himself needed to be presented to those who were making fundamental decisions surrounding his future." Blackman, who was serving with Plymouth-based 42 Commando, quoted Shakespeare as he shot his victim at close range with a 9mm pistol after the Afghan had been seriously injured in an attack by an Apache helicopter. During the trial, Blackman, from Somerset, said he believed the victim was already dead and he was taking out his anger on a corpse. Two other servicemen — known as Marine B and Marine C — were acquitted of murder.

Angus & The Mearns

Thrums Up! Arts world coming to Kirriemuir for celebration of JM Barrie

May 9 2016

An Angus town will capture Scotland's imagination again this week as it prepares to launch its first art, food and literature festival. Today marks 156 years since Peter Pan creator Sir JM Barrie was born in Kirriemuir, which was immortalised in his first novel, A Window in Thrums. Culture and heritage charity the Saltire Society is 80 this year and its local branch has decided to mark Barrie’s impact on the world with an “exciting programme of talent” at Thrums Up! – A Celebration of Inspiration on Saturday. It has been more than a century since Peter Pan appeared in Barrie’s novel The Little White Bird and stage play The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up - the first of thousands of books, plays, films, and works of art inspired by the character. The free event will include visits from Saltire award winning writers Meaghan Delahunt and James Robertson, and BBC Scotland’s poet in residence Rachel McCrum. Mr Robertson, author of And the Land Lay Still, said he is “very pleased” to be involved. “Scottish culture in all its forms is thriving not just in the cities but in communities of all shapes and sizes right across the country,” he said. “Kirriemuir, which happens to be just a few miles from my home, is one such place, and I don’t doubt that the day will be full of surprises and delights.” Thrums, a Scots word for the ends of warp threads or scraps of waste threads, was the word Barrie affectionately used for his home town. And an assortment of local artists, photographers and designers will feature accordingly, with guests also able to sample local food and drink. Attendees at the Town Hall will be able to view the work of 16 locals including Jonathan Mitchell and Maureen Cosby, and sample the creations of bread maker and chocolatier Johanna from 88 Degrees, beer maker Colin McIlwrathe and Kim Cameron from Gin Bothy in Glen Isla. The event, running from 10am to 7pm, is organised by the Angus branch of the Saltire Society as part of its anniversary programme. Committee member and Kirrie resident Andrew Lendrum said the event would celebrate “the wealth of cultural and culinary delights” his town has to offer. He added: “The Saltire Society aims to support and promote creativity and I think this festival is a brilliant way to get  people from throughout central Scotland and the north east involved and to show them just how inspiring and creative Kirriemuir and its people can be. “Thrums Up! is a great opportunity to see artists you admire, but there is a place too for the joyful serendipity of coming to an event where you  might just be surprised by a sight, a taste, or the spoken word.” Kirriemuir has seen a major boost to its tourism due to the recent Bonfest music festival celebrating former AC/DC singer Bon Scott. A statue to the frontman, who died aged 33 and spent some of his childhood in the town, was unveiled before thousands of people on April 30, ahead of the music taking over. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgVScdkUtWI Staff at the Gateway to the Glens Museum are giving visitors a rare opportunity to view the Peter Pan “book sculpture” until May 28, marking Barrie’s birth. The intricate paper sculpture was made by a mystery sculptor, commissioned by the Scottish Book Trust in 2012. The same sculptor left a series of beautiful and anonymous works of art around Edinburgh in 2011, and the Pan sculpture is usually on display at the National Library of Scotland in the city. Museum officer Rachel Jackson said: “We are delighted to have arranged the loan of the Peter Pan book sculpture for the month of May so that visitors to Sir JM Barrie’s home town can view the creation.” The museum at 32 High Street celebrates its 15th anniversary on May 18, and the loan has been organised as part of the Festival of Museums between May 13 and 15.

Angus & The Mearns

Tayberry chef Adam Newth to triple staff with new St Andrews and Kinnettles ventures

January 17 2017

One of Scotland’s top young chefs will bring his signature style to two new ventures in Angus and Fife this year. Adam Newth, chef proprietor of the Tayberry restaurant in Broughty Ferry, is to launch a second restaurant in St Andrews in the spring and has taken on the catering at the relaunched Kinnettles Castle near Forfar. The 26-year-old said the move will triple his dozen staff. Kinettles Castle has been relaunched as an exclusive use wedding and private events venue, and the forthcoming Kinettles Hotel is due to open its doors in April. “I’m excited about the new openings,” he said. “They’re different in scope but both will reflect our classic and modern techniques and passion for using the best and freshest ingredients we can get hold of.” Mr Newth won the first young chef of the year title in the 2016 Catering Scotland (CIS) Awards, and spoke proudly of what competitions have done for his career to date. “Winning a competition gives your business a buzz,” he said. “It gives you the reassurance you’re doing a lot of things right and indicates to the outside world you’re a trusted brand. “You get the wind behind you and it boosts your profile. “Articles go in the press and social media, and readers say ‘I must try that place'. “Winning awards has a positive impact on staff too. “Even if the award is given to me, they know they’ve played their parts.” Mr Newth first worked at a cafe in his home town of Arbroath aged 14, studied cooking at nearby Angus College and left home at 16 to work at former Rangers FC chairman David Murray’s Circus restaurant in Edinburgh. He honed his skills at establishments including The Seafood Restaurant in St Andrews under Craig Millar, Angels with Bagpipes in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, The Kitchen and No. 1 @ The Balmoral in Edinburgh, and Martin Wishart’s at Cameron House on Loch Lomond. His other awards have included young Scottish chef and young Scottish seafood chef of the year at ScotHot in 2013, and sustainable trout chef of the year in 2015. When he opened Castlehill, the city’s first two AA Rosette restaurant, one restaurant critic wrote: “Adam Newth may be the best thing to hit Dundee since Desperate Dan.”

Angus & The Mearns

St Cyrus Travellers decision ‘disappointing for all’ says group

September 16 2017

The decision to clear out a controversial Mearns Traveller site has been criticised as “disappointing for all” by a human rights group. North Esk Park near St Cyrus was developed virtually overnight in 2013, prompting a four-year argument between residents concerned at increased flood risk and Travellers fighting for their right to remain. Aberdeenshire Council gave retrospective permission for the site, which lies along the North Esk’s banks on the county border with Angus, in 2016. But this was called in at Holyrood and reversed by a ministerial representative on Thursday. A Reporter said the life-threatening risk of flooding outweighs the need for a Traveller site in that area. Landowner William Macdonald has been given till the end of July 2018 to clear the settlement, which has developed into a fully-fledged cluster of homes with power and drainage. The period for removal has been extended to mitigate disruption to families who live there. A spokesman for Mr Macdonald’s organisation, at Monarch of the Glen park homes estate in Montrose, said it was too early to discuss the case. “We are not in a position to make a comment on this at the moment,” he said. “We are taking legal advice and it wouldn’t be appropriate.” A Court of Session appeal against the decision would have to be lodged within six weeks. Lynne Tammi, chief executive of Montrose-based Article 12 in Scotland, said the park’s residents had “little choice” but to build their own houses due to a lack of suitable accommodation. “This is disappointing for all concerned,” she said. “Whilst the intentions of the extended period for compliance is welcome, there can be no doubting the impact this will have on the children and young people who have settled into schools in the area.” Mearns Liberal Democrat councillor and Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson said he supported the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s view that the flood risk was too great. “In my view it was fundamentally wrong to allow development of this nature on a flood plain,” he said. “This was also the considered opinion of SEPA and there can be no argument that flooding has occurred over the years on that site.”


Trade unionist Lesley McCallum, 67

May 11 2016

Tributes have been paid to an Angus trade unionist who has died aged 67. Lesley McCallum from Arbroath was well known as a campaigner for mental health and disability issues, and also for fighting the so-called bedroom tax. She was a trade unionist for more than 40 years and a senior shop steward in the NHS for a 20-year spell. She passed away suddenly at her home on Wednesday. Today, colleagues and associates of Lesley spoke of how she inspired generations. Mike Arnott, secretary of the Dundee Trades Union Council, said: “Lesley was involved in raising awareness about mental health and regularly campaigned about disability issues and other things, such as domestic abuse. “I was on the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) general council with her and she was always articulate and formidable. “She was based at King’s Cross Hospital and worked for a long time at Ninewells. “She had been a trade unionist for 40 years and 20 years as a senior shop steward. “Lesley was always on the frontline, like last year with the striking hospital porters. “She had difficulty getting about in a wheelchair but that didn’t slow her down at all. “I know the word inspirational gets used a lot but she truly was to a lot of people. “I think there will be people inspired by what she did for years to come and continue to carry the torch.” Lesley’s achievements were celebrated as recently as last year, when she received a Workplace Equality Award from the STUC. Labour councillor Lesley Brennan, who represents Dundee’s East End, said her death had been a shock. She said: “I knew Lesley through the trade union movement and the bedroom tax issue as well. She will be sorely missed. “She was really well known locally and nationally. “It’s so unexpected. I spoke to her only two weeks ago at the STUC conference.” Colin Coupar, regional organiser for Unite added: “She was an exceptionally well-known woman and will certainly never be forgotten. “She was a powerful character and was a strong advocate of anyone she represented — she went to the ends of the earth to support them. “It’s just an absolute tragedy to have her taken away so suddenly.”