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Perth & Kinross

Pair of pistols presented to Perthshire MP expected to fetch £20,000 at auction

March 2 2016

A pair of valuable pistols which were presented by the people of Perthshire to their MP proved a popular draw when they went on display in the Fair City. Expected to sell for £20,000 to £30,000 when they are auctioned by Bonhams in Edinburgh next month, the pair of Highland gold-inlaid flintlock belt pistols were part of an exhibition in The Black Watch Museum which ran alongside a valuation day by the auction house. Experts from Edinburgh were joined by colleagues from London in seeing a stream of people with items for valuation in return for a donation to the museum. “It has been a very successful day,” said auctioneer Charles Graham-Campbell of Bonhams. He estimated that upwards of 50 people had brought in a variety of objects. “We had a Military Cross grouping which would be worth a five figure sum and some valuable jewellery,” he said. The visitors also enjoyed viewing the items which will be sold on April 12/13. The stars of the collection were the pistols presented to the Marquess of Breadalbane by the electorate of Perthshire in 1836. John Campbell, 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane was born in Dundee in 1796 and was educated at Eton. He sat as Member of Parliament for Oakehampton from 1820 to 1826 and for Perthshire from 1832 to 1834, the year entered the House of Lords. He was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland between 1824 to 1826, elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1834 and made a Knight of the Thistle in 1838. The following year he was appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Argyllshire. It is expected to sell between £5,000 and £7,000 when it comes under the hammer.


Handgun ban safeguards and laws useless if they’re ignored

January 31 2014

Last week, Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, said the UK’s handgun ban should be repealed. Coming at the end of a week where Farage had turned himself into a political punchbag, this prompted almost every newspaper in the land to publish articles scorning him for his stupidity, writes Gareth Corfield. Except and I know I won’t be popular for saying this Farage was right. He’s wrong about an awful lot of things (and I don’t support UKIP), but he hit the nail on the head by branding the 1997 ban “crackers”. To be granted a firearm certificate in the UK your details are checked against a whole load of state databases this isn’t just a Disclosure Scotland paper exercise, we’re talking counter-terror, medical and Special Branch and interviewed by the police before they decide whether you are a fit person to be trusted with firearms. This is more or less the same system that was in force when Dunblane murderer Thomas Hamilton renewed his firearm certificate in 1992. A detective sergeant recommended that Hamilton’s renewal be refused. Indeed, Hamilton’s pistol club secretary told the police the same thing. Both were overruled. We all know what Hamilton went on to do. I shan’t dwell on that, beyond saying that all the laws in the world are useless if the people who enforce them choose not to. Now, people think that the pistol ban makes us all safer. It actually had the opposite effect; in the six years after the ban, the number of recorded gun crimes doubled. More to the point, the pistol ban does not apply to Northern Ireland, yet crimes committed with legally-owned handguns in the Province are all but non-existent. Does this not tell you that the pistol ban was, as Farage says, “kneejerk legislation” which didn’t make any positive difference to gun crime levels? Shooting is a popular and growing sport in the UK. It contributes more than £1.6 billion to the economy and is one of the very few sports where men and women compete on an equal footing. In the competition world there are events for disabled competitors, the young and the old, all across different disciplines. Indeed, the BBC’s Young Sports Personality of 2013 was 16-year-old Amber Hill, a clay pigeon shooter who jointly holds the world record score for skeet shooting. The pistol ban does directly harm lawful shooters by forcing pistol marksmen to train abroad. Unsurprisingly, this negatively affects our international pistol teams when it comes to competitions such as the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games, thus damaging our chances of medals at Glasgow 2014. More importantly, the pistol ban criminalises a sport practised by law-abiding folk who present no threat to anyone. We have processes to weed out unsuitable people all we want is to practise our sport as peacefully and safely as possible. * Gareth Corfield is a journalist and target shooter who has represented Great Britain

Readers' letters

December 18: An absurd arsenal of military weaponry

December 18 2012

Sir, Adam Lanza was armed with assault weapons from home including the Bushmaster .223 M4 automatic rifle used by the Czech and Korean special forces. Possession of this firearm was made illegal by Bill Clinton’s Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994, but the 10-year bill has expired and the gun lobby has blocked any renewal.He also used a Sig Sauer, an immensely powerful, high-capacity Swiss service pistol used by the US Navy SEALs, German Spezialeinsatzkommandos and our own SAS.Finally he had a Glock, a highly lethal semi-automatic pistol pumping out dozens of rounds of ammunition without reloading and the weapon of choice for US criminals.Ironically, the first victim of the deranged killerwas the person who built up this absurd arsenal of military weaponry his mother.The pity is he did not stop there.Dr John Cameron.10 Howard Place,St Andrews. Time this was updatedSir, I was horrified and very upset by the senseless killing of those innocent children in Connecticut. But why is this continuing to happen in America?I hope that if any good can come out this tragedy it is that Americans can seriously rethink their gun laws. Following the tragedy in Dunblane the UK successfully changed gun laws making it almost illegal for any individual to own one. Why on earth can the same thing not be done in the USA?How many more tragedies have to happen before it changes its stance? The second amendment allowing citizens to bear arms was adopted in 1791. Surely it is time it was updated?Gordon Kennedy.117 Simpson Square,Perth. Ammunition control neededSir, The recent events in Newtown, Connecticut, are but the latest of many previous shooting incidents in the USA. The National Rifle Association claims that it is the constitutional right of every American to “bear arms”. This “right” was enshrined in the Declaration of Rights which became the Constitution of the USA. The “arms” referred to were flintlock muskets and pistols. Modern day weapons were quite unimagined.Let the American own as many weapons as he/she wishes. But exercise rigid control over ammunition. No ammo, no firing of weapons, at anyone or thing. Breach of “ammunition law” must be punishable by incarceration for as long as the seriousness of the illegal possession is deemed appropriate.This solution would address many of the concerns of those wishing to change the Constitution of the USA, which seems a remote likelihood.A T Geddie.68 Carleton Avenue,Glenrothes.Resorting to bullying?Sir, From what I have read in The Courier about the proposed strike by the RMT union, it was supported by only 25% of the members. Surely the appropriate way to proceed with the sacked employee’s case would have been for the RMT to take it to an industrial tribunal, claiming unfair dismissal?Perhaps the RMT thought that they did not have a case that would stand up so decided, as so often before, to try bullying tactics?John Dorward.89 Brechin Road,Arbroath.So grateful to young helpersSir, I would like to thank the boys and girls on the 10.07pm train to Dundee on Saturday from Waverley Station in Edinburgh. We (two OAPs) had just made a 10-hour train journey from Southampton and wanted to get home to North Queensferry.The train was packed but there was a small standing space in one carriage so, with four pieces of luggage, we got on board. At the door four or five boys with pushbikes helped us to get the luggage in and looked after us. One boy in particular was really helpful and organised the people standing at the door to pass out our luggage so we could head off quickly.So, thank you to all the boys and girls who made the final part of our journey as smooth as possible.One last detail, there were no station staff there to help sort out baggage and direct us to the main hall and there was a charge of £1 to get a trolley. How mean is that?Alan Hay.North Queensferry.Blackford fits the billSir, The improvement of the access road to Gleneagles is welcomed, however, it is of concern to the COBRA (Campaign to Open Blackford Railway station Again) committee that Perth & Kinross Council funds are being spent on a road that is not adopted at this time.Are we to assume the council will take over the maintenance of the Gleneagles station access road at council taxpayers’ expense?The cost of the road and station upgrade, without an upgrade of passenger services would seem a pointless expense. Railway station services today should ensure easy access for foot, cycle, car, disabled and pram but Gleneagles station layout will not deliver these things unless enormous amounts of money are spent.A re-opened Blackford station, however, would be ready to fulfil all the requirements of a safe, accessible station for a much reduced sum of money.Jennifer Gordon.Secretary, COBRA.

Perth & Kinross

Perthshire politician’s pair of gold-inlaid pistols could fetch up to £30,000 at sale

April 4 2016

A pair of gold-inlaid pistols that belonged to a governor of the Bank of Scotland is set to fetch £30,000 at auction in Edinburgh next week. The Highland 28-bore belt pistols were presented to John Campbell, 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane, by the electors of Perthshire in 1836. The Dundee-born nobleman and Liberal politician was MP for Perthshire from 1832 to 1834, and was later appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Argyllshire, a post he held until his death in 1862. The cased pistols are the highlight in the arms and armour section of Bonhams’ Annual Scottish Sale in Edinburgh on Wednesday of next week. A spokesman said the pistols had been part of a Scottish collection and are expected to attract bids of £20,000-£30,000. Campbell held an extraordinary array of titles during his lifetime, including grand master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland from 1824-1826, and rector of Glasgow University in 1840-1842. He was president of the Society of Antiquaries from 1844-1862, and governor of the Bank of Scotland from 1861 to 1862. Bonhams’ Annual Scottish Sale, now in its 17th year, will feature works by leading Scottish artists as well as a range of objects related to Scotland, from Highland dress and weapons to silver, glass, books, furniture and ceramics.


‘World’s smallest street market’ draws big crowds in Dundee

July 21 2014

A bizarre bazaar could put Dundee in the Guinness World Records. The event, branded “the world’s smallest street market”, saw numerous boutique stores set up in Johnston’s Lane, Dundee, on Sunday. The street, which measures only 64 feet by 12 feet wide, was once named the poorest slum in Britain and has been home to a slaughterhouse and a shop owned by the grandfather of James Bond novelist, Ian Fleming. Yesterday it played host to a street market organised by Richard Cook, founder of optical boutique Spex Pistols, also situated on Jonhston’s Lane. It featured eight sellers and craftspeople including Sooz Gordon Designs, Jane Gowans Jewellery, Cabar and Fiodh and a spectacle hospital from Spex Pistols. Organiser Mr Cook said: “We are hoping to organise the best and most quaint ever Dundonian street fair to raise money for charity and, excitingly, to hopefully earnthe little street a place in the record books too.” Other activities for market browsers to enjoy included a record stall from Groucho’s Records, book stall from Multi Story Books, alfresco haircuts in an antique barber’s chair from Benjamin Barker barbers and live music from Nicola Madill, Sean McGouldrick, Peter McGlone and Chris Marr. Food was also on offer from West End grocers Frasers Fruit and Veg, who offered berries and cream, while the Parlour offered coffee and cake and the Globe bar offered a burger and a beer for £5 to anyone visiting the street market on the day. Spex Pistols has already added some new history to the forgotten street of Johnston’s Lane since opening in 2011, with visits from legendary musicians such as Johnny Marr, guitarist with the Smiths in the 1980s, members of Snow Patrol, the View, Simple Minds and Deacon Blue.

UK & World

SAS sniper Danny Nightingale wins retrial

March 14 2013

An SAS sniper thanked the public after the Court of Appeal ruled he had been unfairly convicted of illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition and ordered a new trial. Sergeant Danny Nightingale, who argued he had been put under pressure to enter guilty pleas at a military trial last year, said appeal judges had been right to quash convictions. Sgt Nightingale said he would plead not guilty at the new trial. Sgt Nightingale had been sentenced to 18 months’ military detention last November after admitting possessing a Glock 9mm pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition. William Clegg QC, for Sgt Nightingale, said his client had been told by a barrister representing him at the military trial that he would get a five-year jail term if found guilty but might not go to prison if he pleaded guilty. The Service Prosecuting Authority said later that it acknowledged and respected the appeal court judgment.

Angus & The Mearns

Gingerbread tribute to the Wee Red Town

October 14 2013

When Libby Jones was invited by Bank Street Gallery owner Susie Clark to exhibit at her gallery in Kirriemuir, she became intrigued by the history of the town. As well as Kirriemuir’s most famous son and Peter Pan author JM Barrie, she discovered the town had also been home for a time to AC/DC singer Bon Scott, Victorian mountaineer Hugh Munro, and 19th century writer Violet Jacob. She found the town had been a hotbed of witchcraft in the 16th century and is also world famous for its gingerbread and decided to combine all these elements. Ms Jones went on to craft a boxed set of prints, which also doubles as a card game. She said: “This tongue-in-cheek edition of 10 boxes, of 20 cards per box, features Kirriemuir characters presented on a slice of gingerbread on a plate. I have also made a poster featuring all the 10 characters in the game.” Visitors can see images of Edinburgh Castle with fireworks, wildlife such as gannets, and artwork made after a visit to Antarctica. Londoner and master printmaker Ms Jones exhibited work from her sub-zero stay at a Discovery Point exhibition in Dundee last year. Children can see her work Cooking the Climate, a comment on global warming, which consists of a microwave oven and slideshow with rotating polar animals. There is also a fossilised mobile phone in a second installation, Fossils of the Anthropocene an exploration of the traces that might remain of civilisation in 50 million years’ time. She is also exhibiting a selection of her woodcuts, linocuts, collagraphs and screenprints at the gallery. The exhibition runs until November 8 and opening hours can be found on www.bankstreetgallery.org, or by telephoning 01575 570070.

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.


Fife Science Festival starts week of experimental fun

March 15 2014

The Fife Science Festival kicked off with a big bang on the streets of St Andrews. The science busking event saw St Andrews University staff and students take to Church Square to entertain passers-by with an array of experiments, demonstrating some of what the next week will have to offer. Rebecca Prentice of the university’s museum collections unit said: “Shoppers, residents and visitors will be able to sample some spectacular experiments, help our team collect results and learn more about the science that affects our lives with fun experiments we can all do at home.” The festival, now in its fifth year, is a collaboration between Fife Cultural Trust and Dundee Science Centre and organisers expect a big turnout to the free events, workshops and talks that will run across the region until Sunday March 23. On schedule for this weekend will be the Science Magic show today at the St Andrews University Museum from 1pm until 3pm, where visitors can cast science spells and learn impressive tricks to share with family and friends. Also today, the John Marshall Community Leisure Centre in Dunfermline will host From Flintlocks to Rifles, featuring David Wharton, star of TV show Duck Quacks Don’t Echo, and Rebecca Berger from The Black Watch Museum. They will explore changes in warfare through the ages with some exciting and dramatic presentations. For anyone who caught the stargazing bug after National Astronomy Week this month, Rothes Halls in Glenrothes will tonight host the Cosmic Quest talk from spaceflight expert Nigel Henbest, who looks at the inside story of the history of astronomy from 6.30pm to 8pm. See www.fifesciencefestival.org.uk for the full programme.

Angus & The Mearns

Argentine family ‘deeply grateful’ after Arbroath marine sends Battle of Two Sisters relic back where it belongs

October 30 2015

The identity tag of a fallen Argentine soldier that lay in a former Angus Marine’s drawer for 33 years has been returned to his family. Graham Ellis, from Kirkton of Auchterhouse, removed the tag from the body of Assistant Sergeant Ramon Gumersindo Acosta on the battlefield in the Falkland Islands in 1982. Acosta was killed by a mortar blast following the Battle of Two Sisters, which took place over two days in June as British forces advanced toward Port Stanley. A 20-year-old member of Arbroath-based 45 Commando at the time, Mr Ellis and his unit were ordered to remove the tags from the dead bodies for identification by the Red Cross. Mr Ellis placed the tag in his pocket and only discovered it on his return to Britain. It remained in a drawer until a comrade of Mr Acosta’s saw an article on this website about Mr Ellis’s attempts to return it to the fallen soldier’s family. It was sent back to Argentina and is now with his daughter, with plans for a formal presentation by the Argentine government to take place in the near future. Mr Ellis said he was “very pleased”, while a former comrade of Mr Acosta said the family were “deeply grateful” to Mr Ellis and The Courier. Acosta was a national hero and a street bears his name in his native town of Jess Mara. He had written a letter to his five-year-old son, Diego, eight days before he died. It read: “I write from my position to tell you that two days ago we were in a helicopter which was bombed, the helicopter fell and caught fire, killing several colleagues of mine but I was saved and am now awaiting the final attack. “I saved three comrades from the flames. I tell you so you know you have a father you can be proud of and want you to keep this letter as a document if I do not return: and if I go back tomorrow, when we’re together I will read it at home.”