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Hunt for transplant donor for Fife boy with rare blood disorder

March 25 2017

An urgent appeal has been launched for a stem cell donor for a 10-year-old Fife boy with a life-threatening blood disorder. Jay Dalrymple developed aplastic anaemia after suffering from stomach aches and jaundice in November last year due to a hepatitis infection. The Kirkcaldy youngster’s family have urged people to sign up to the Anthony Nolan register in the hope that they could be a match. Their plea comes just months after four-year-old Ava Stark, of Lochgelly, received a bone marrow transplant following a high-profile hunt for a match. Jay has to go to hospital twice a week for blood and platelet transfusions. Unless he receives a transplant within 12 months he will need to go on to medication which carries the risk of him developing leukaemia. His older sister Kerrie Stark has launched a social media campaign to spread the word about Jay’s appeal. She said: “Jay’s just a 10-year-old boy, he was perfectly health until November and now, all of a sudden, he can’t do normal things like going to school or playing outside. “If anybody was willing to sign up it would mean everything, it could save his life. “It would mean everything to get him back.” Jay’s mother Lynn McDuff thought he had a simple cold when his school rang one day last autumn to tell her he was feeling unwell. But family life was turned upside down when they discovered it was something much more serious, an extremely rare disorder in which the body does not produce enough red blood cells. Star Wars fan Jay spent Christmas in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh before he was diagnosed and has been unable to attend school since, as his low red blood count means he has little energy. None of Jay’s three sisters and brother is a suitable donor and Jay’s best chance of a cure is a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor. Jay’s family are raising funds for Anthony Nolan by holding an event at Kinglassie Miners Welfare Institute on May 13. Funds are also being raised to help the family during his treatment and for a holiday when he recovers by Kinglassie woman Catherine Sala-Murray, whose Facebook page is Kats Mission. Plea for donors Amy Bartlett of the Anthony Nolan register said signing as a potential donor is straight-forward. She said: “Joining the register couldn’t be easier. “Just fill in your details on the Anthony Nolan website and we will send you a spit kit through the post to collect a saliva sample. “If you’re lucky enough to be a match for someone, 90% of people will donate in a straightforward outpatient procedure similar to giving blood.”   The Anthony Nolan website is at www.anthonynolan.org.


Song to help build sanctuary in memory of tragic teen Christopher

May 19 2016

A song has been released in memory of a Fife teenager who died of cancer, to help build a hospital sanctuary in his name. Cookie is about Christopher Coutts, of Aberdour, who died three years ago after a two-year battle with Hodgkins lymphoma. It is written and performed by his friend Patrick Wallace, who now lives in Portsmouth, to help raise over £48,000 for a recreational courtyard at Edinburgh’s new Sick Kids Hospital. It is the latest fundraiser for the Cookie Jar Foundation which has already collected over £140,000 in tribute to Christopher, nicknamed Cookie, for several projects including placing vein finders in Scottish hospitals. Patrick, 23, a former pupil of Inverkeithing High School, has released his single and video on iTunes. He said: “Cookie was always making people laugh with his cheeky and silly sense of humour but he was also so kind. “I have so many fond memories of him, his brother Steven and I playing football and hanging out. “One that always sticks in my mind is when we were bouncing on his trampoline which had a net around it. “At that time Cookie had a brace and somehow he managed to get it stuck in the net – and we just kept bouncing! “It’s fun memories like that, which inspired the lyrics but also about how much he is missed by everyone that knew him.” An ever-lasting legacy to Christopher, the Spiritual Care Courtyard and Sanctuary at the new hospital will provide a place for children and families to spend quiet, reflective time, meditate or pray. It will also be the base of the bereavement support service and chaplain. Christopher’s mother Debbie, who founded the Cookie Jar Foundation in 2014, said: “When Christopher was in hospital we could only either sit in the corridor, next to his bed or in the staff overnight room. “There was a real lack of space for families to relax. “Working with the Sick Kids Friends Foundation means that we will have the opportunity to ensure that the new hospital’s facilities meet the requirements needed at such a stressful time for families. “We were delighted when Patrick agreed to release a single to help raise funds for the courtyard. “He was such a dear friend to Cookie and was always there for him and for his brother.” Debbie described hearing the song for the first time as an emotional moment and said: “We know that Cookie meant a lot to his friends but hearing the song really shows just how much.” Pippa Johnston, director of fundraising and marketing at the Sick Kids Friends Foundation, said: “We are so grateful that the Cookie Jar Foundation continues to support our work. “When a sick child comes to hospital there can be no better reassurance than to know that they have a parent at their bedside. “However parents and carers also need support through difficult and stressful times. “By enhancing the family spaces, which include the Spiritual Courtyard and Sanctuary, we can provide a refuge for anxious parents, allowing somewhere for reflection, rest and peace.” Cookie is available for download at iTunes. The video is at The Cookie Jar Foundation website.


Mother threatened with beating after refusing to pay for son’s fast food

July 13 2016

A Rosyth man threatened to break his mother's legs after she refused to pay for a fast-food delivery he had ordered. Unemployed Christopher King, 26, of Parkside Street, had spent the day drinking in local pubs, returned home and wanted his mum to pay for his take-away. At Dunfermline Sheriff Court, he admitted that on July 9 at Burnside Street, Rosyth, he behaved in a threatening or abusive manner by repeatedly shouting, swearing and uttering threats of violence. Depute fiscal Claire Bremner said King lived with his mother until the incident and had returned home drunk at around 9pm. He had gone straight to his bedroom but shortly afterwards there was a delivery of fast-food to the house. King’s mother told him there was food at the door to be paid for but he told her she was to pay for it. This resulted in the food being taken away again. “He reacted angrily to this,” said Ms Bremner. King told his mother, “I’m going to give you a good kicking” and “I’m going to smash your face in”. His frightened mother phoned police and went outside to wait for them to arrive. When officers came to the house, King continued to threaten his mother, telling her, “I'll break your legs”. He was arrested and his mother said afterwards that she was frightened of her son when he was under the influence of alcohol, said Ms Bremner. Defence solicitor Sarah Meehan said her client was “totally horrified” at his own behaviour and had only a “vague recollection” of the incident. Sheriff Charles Macnair told King, “This behaviour is extreme and worrying.” He called for reports before King is sentenced on August 3.


Council Election 2017: St Andrews (Ward 18)

April 25 2017

By the time St Andrews’ next quartet of councillors finish their term the town will have its long-awaited new secondary school. Hopefully... Where the new Madras College should be built is an issue which has divided opinion and dominated debate in the town for several years. With the new preferred site selected at Langlands the town’s new councillors will play a key role in ensuring that children of St Andrews and the surrounding area finally get the new building and facilities they so desperately need. They will also oversee the beginning of the town’s western expansion, which the school is expected to form part of. Consultation has begun on the proposal to build 1,000 new homes, education, commercial and leisure facilities as well as a link road, which will result in a significant increase in the local population. A planning application is expected later this year, and work on site in 2019. With its high property prices and large student population, new housing and affordable housing is in acute demand in St Andrews. But there is equally pressing need for protection of the historic town centre from the impacts of development. St Andrews’ history, its reputation as the home of golf, its ancient university and its stunning beaches make the town a magnet for tourists and, therefore, a key component of Fife’s tourist economy. It is currently represented by all the main parties, with one councillor a-piece from Labour, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the SNP. .   Candidate profiles The Courier invited each candidate to submit a short introduction to themselves and, if they wished, a video explaining why they deserve your vote.   Andy Collins (Green) Andy and his family moved from England to Fife six years ago and have settled there. His daughters attend high school and university. He owns two IT companies with a worldwide customer base, one in Fife and one in Oxfordshire. Andy is a trustee of a local environmental charity. He is concerned about the built environment, especially housing estates, which have traditionally been designed to discourage sustainable modes of transport. He said: "If we want to build sustainable communities, we need a better approach to infrastructure planning. Greens believe in real local democracy and that St Andrews should have more control over its own affairs.”   Clare Fisher (independent) Clare is a qualified community learning and development practitioner with over 23 years of senior management service in the local authority and voluntary sectors. She has worked for and with all sectors of the community from pre-fives to older community members. She has run community centres, drugs clinics, health projects, homeless interventions, libraries, training schemes, crèches, children’s activities, breakfast clubs, teenage parents group, family activities, older people lunch groups, adult learning classes to youth activities and much more. She said: “I have effectively worked in and with some of the most affluent and also some of the most deprived communities in Scotland. I know how councils work and how they can work for the benefit of all constituents.”   Jane Ann Liston (Lib Dem) A long-term resident of St Andrews and a double graduate of its university who represented part of the town on Fife Council for 12 years, Jane Ann’s priorities for the ward are getting the new Madras College open as soon as possible, ensuring the adequate provision of affordable housing, especially for rent, protecting the environment and improving transport facilities, being a long-time campaigner for cycling and public transport, including rail connections to St Andrews. She is also passionate about safeguarding St Andrews’ unique heritage, to ensure that the area remains a great place to live, study, work and visit.   Mariam Mahmood (Lib Dem) Mariam said she looks forward to spending the next five years representing the interests of St Andrews and Strathkinness on Fife Council. As a student at the university, she has experience of both town and gown so says she can represent the whole community. She promises to do all that she can to have the new Madras College built to a high standard as quickly as possible. She will also prioritise providing affordable housing and keeping it affordable. In doing so, Mariam said she will ensure that the needs of St Andrews and Strathkinness are not muffled by West and Central Fife.   Dr Christopher McKinlay (independent) Christopher was educated at Dundee High School and Dundee University, where he graduated with an MA (Hons) degree and a postgraduate MPhil degree. He was awarded his PhD at Glasgow University. Christopher has lived in north-east Fife for 24 years and spent six years as a local community councillor. He was the Liberal Democrat candidate for St Andrews since March 2016, only to be replaced on the eve of nominations. He was also a candidate for the Scottish Parliament elections in 2016 for Mid Scotland and Fife. Christopher taught at Glasgow University and prior to this worked for the civil service.   Dorothea Morrison (independent) Dorothea has lived in St Andrews for 24 years but said her love affair with the town began decades ago. She said: “On coming to live in the area I joined a number of organisations which led me to stand as a councillor for Fife Council. "My involvement in various aspects of local life has given me the experience and knowledge needed to be a good councillor. "Planning really interests me but top of my list should I be re-elected will be housing and thinking outside the box on ways to fit everyone in without massive expansion of the town.”   Dominic Nolan (Conservative) Dominic grew up in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire and moved to St Andrews at the age of 18 to study economics and international relations at the town’s university. He joined the Scottish Conservative and Unionists shortly after his move to St Andrews and shortly after the Scottish independence referendum. In his third year at St Andrews University, he hopes to carry on studying there after completing his undergraduate degree. He said: “I hope to be elected to give back to the town that I have come to love and has given so much to me.”   Brian Thomson (Labour) Brian, 44, was born and brought up in St Andrews. Married with three children, his key aim is that the current generation of young people get the same opportunities as he did when growing up. He said: "St Andrews is a great place to grow up in.  We have a world-class university, world-class golf facilities open to all, and we’ll soon have a fantastic new secondary school building. "It’s important to protect our heritage, but also plan for the future.  In my five years as a councillor that has been my objective, and I hope you support me to build on that record."   Colin Veitch (SNP) After nearly 20 years in the cultural sector working in international galleries and theatre and festival venues, Colin moved to Fife 16 years ago to help manage the opening of the Byre Theatre. He said: “My experience in international festivals mixed with youth and community work and community development will be helpful in the international town of St Andrews with its broad cultural mix and its diversity of priority concerns. "My priorities have always been about finding positive creative solutions to maximise any benefits to the community and to push for the best possible outcomes for the most vulnerable groups in society.”   Ann Verner (SNP) Ann was born in St Andrews and has lived and worked in Strathkinness for 33 years, initially as postmistress, then running a successful B&B for the last 23. During this time, she has served on many community committees, ranging from PTAs and being a trustee of the local village hall to membership of the St Andrews fundraising branch of the RNLI. She said: “Through these things I have seen what is good but what also can be improved. By voting SNP in May you can be assured that every vote is a vote to protect the vital services we all depend on.”


St Andrews rail link bid gathers steam with Tay Cities Deal hope

June 18 2017

A case for a rail link to St Andrews could be bolstered by cash from the Tay Cities Deal. Fife Council has requested a share of the £1.84 billion investment for a study into the feasibility of reconnecting the university town to the rail line. Campaign group StARLink said a grant could fund a STAG appraisal, which is necessary for the project to win government backing. A St Andrews rail link is one of 50 projects on a long list for Tay Cities Deal cash, and StARLink pledged to fight to ensure it makes it to the shortlist. The group launched its transport study at an event in St Andrews on Friday, and hopes it will pave the way to a formal STAG assessment. Secretary Dita Stanis-Traken said: "Campaigning will continue until governmental commitment is made. "There will be a St Andrews rail link." More than four miles of track would connect with the main east coast line and allow hourly services to Edinburgh and Dundee. Mr Stanis-Traken said there was now movement amongst authorities towards trains returning to St Andrews. He said: "I'm delighted to say that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sent representatives from Transport Scotland to St Andrews to meet with us to outline the STAG process. "There are now signs that agencies, local and national, are coming forward. "Based on our status as a major destination with potential as a macroeconomic generator, the case for St Andrews rail link is overwhelming." StARLink stressed the need for a railway line to and from St Andrews at the launch of its transport study policy review in the town's Student Union. It said the town has 7,000 commuters daily, many of them university staff, and attracts 650,000 visitors a year, resulting in problems with congestion. Some 14,000 vehicles a day use the A91, the main route into St Andrews from the M90, and more than 1,000 new homes are planned in the St Andrews West expansion. Mr Stanis-Traken said: "We are a global destination reliant on one primary single carriageway road, the most congested road in north-east Fife. "We cannot keep absorbing more and more cars, more and more lorries, more and more people. "If we are going to have more houses, as seems likely, we are going to have even more traffic." He added: "It [a rail link] would future-proof a medieval community designed for pilgrims on foot." The Tay Cities Deal aims to create up to 15,000 jobs in Tayside and north-east Fife with investment from the Scottish and UK governments and their agencies, councils, colleges and universities, and the public, private and voluntary sectors.


It’s a wonderful Fife — Courier readers save Christmas for hundreds of youngsters

December 15 2017

Courier readers have stepped in to ensure disadvantaged children across Fife will have presents to open on Christmas morning. The Gift of Christmas Appeal Fife feared having to disappoint youngsters as its warehouse remained all but empty with just days to go. But reports of its plight in The Courier have encouraged kindhearted readers to come forward with gifts and cash donations. Instead of the van loads of presents it was taking in last year, the appeal was bringing them in by the bag load. For more Christmas news and competitions, visit www.besteverchristmas.co.uk At the eleventh hour, however, volunteers behind the drive have been overwhelmed with a deluge of toys, books and games for youngsters who might otherwise have had little cheer on December 25. Kate Hope, who launched the campaign last year with a group of fellow mums from Freuchie, said: "We are astounded. We have had a huge uplift in gifts and a lot of that is down to Courier readers — we are being told that many people have heard about us because of the articles. "We have also had a lot of cash donations and we are going to use that for the age groups that we are short for. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/fife/560406/fears-bleak-christmas-youngsters-fife-charitys-warehouse-lies-empty/ "We are now pretty confident that we will have an excellent amount of gifts. "It feels like it has all come together at last." Donations in the last couple of days have included £800 from staff in Fife Council's finance department and a haul of gifts from Sky customer services workers in Dunfermline. The appeal, started following the demise of Fife's Spirit of Christmas project, hopes to distribute gifts to 700 youngsters in need around the kingdom, referred by organisations including Fife Women's Aid, Barnardo's and Fife Council social services. Saturday is the final day for donations. Information about drop-off points and making donations is available on the Facebook page, Gift of Christmas Appeal Fife. For more Christmas news and competitions, visit www.besteverchristmas.co.uk


Leuchars Station gives a taste of life in the armed forces

June 5 2017

Civilians sampled a day in the life of a soldier when a Fife army base opened its gates to the public. Leuchars Station open day brought people in their droves to Waterloo Lines, the home of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. The station, formerly RAF Leuchars, is also home to eight other regular and reserve units, including 2 Close Support Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, 71 Engineer Regiment and the RAF Diversionary Airfield. Children were able to dress up as soldiers and visitors young and old were able to handle some of the equipment and arms used by today’s forces. There was a chance for people to test their mettle on a 100ft assault course. Visitors also snapped up the opportunity to have their photographs taken with service men and women based at Leuchars Station, as they demonstrated some of their capabilities. Military vehicles modern and vintage were on display, as was a fleet of supercars. A programme of entertainment throughout the morning and afternoon included performances by the Pipes and Drums of SCOTS DG and the RAF and the Leuchars Military Wives Choir and combat and physical training displays.


New Tay Bridgehead high school plan back in the mix as Madras College solution

May 20 2016

A new secondary school for Fife’s Tay Bridgehead area was put back on the table as a solution for replacing Madras College is sought. Six years after it was ruled out by Fife Council, the region’s Conservative group claimed that two smaller schools could be the answer. Together with refurbishment of Madras College’s existing South Street campus, Conservative councillors stated that it would be the best option for pupils in Tayport, Newport, Wormit and the surrounding area as well as those in and around St Andrews. A long-running campaign for a Tay Bridgehead secondary school was thwarted when the local authority decided that falling pupil populations rendered it unviable. The Madras College catchment area stretches to the Tay coast and hundreds of pupils are bussed daily to and from St Andrews. St Andrews Conservative councillor Dorothea Morrison said: “The best solution for all pupils is a new build school at the Tay Bridgehead and a refurbished Madras College in South Street. “This has been the favoured option of the Fife Council Conservatives for many years as it is the most environmentally friendly option, saves monotonous bus journeys for 67% of the pupils and is in line with the suggested direction of Lord Malcolm, one of the three judges who upheld the appeal lodged by Stepal.” Alternative sites for the new St Andrews school are to be explored while the education department presses ahead with a review of its planning application for Pipeland. The appeal by Stepal [St Andrews Environmental Protection Association Limited] was upheld by the Court of Session in March, quashing planning consent for the Pipeland site in the town’s southern green belt. It prevented construction starting on the long-awaited and desperately-needed £42.7m school more than a decade after plans to bring Madras College onto one site were first mooted. Mrs Morrison also said that careful reconsideration should be given to the North Haugh site for a new Madras College and refurbishment of the school’s Kilrymont Road campus, while throwing the Tay Bridgehead option into the mix. She said: “Madras pupils need a solution quickly rather than wait until their own children are approaching high school. “The fastest way forward may turn out to be an alternative site and there are several.” During last week’s meeting of the council’s executive committee council leader David Ross said 
scrapping the Pipeland plans would only cause more delays. He said: “We’re still committed to a new, single site school for St Andrews. “The Pipeland proposal remains live and we will continue to do the preparatory work to take that 
application forward. “As part of that, it’s likely that would entail a re-assessment of other possible sites.” No particular site was specified for a school in the Tay Bridgehead area.


Fife paedophile jailed for online sex acts with children

April 20 2018

A paedophile who induced boys to perform sex acts on the internet has been jailed. Christopher Webb, 26, persuaded youngsters under the age of 16 to take off their clothes and perform sex acts in front of a webcam while he watched on his computer. He also performed sex acts which he broadcast online to children and made sexual comments to youngsters on internet chat websites. Most of the children involved were under the age of 16 but at least one was under 13. Webb, a former rope access technician, was jailed for 27 months when he appeared at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court on Thursday. He was also placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years for a string of offences. Sheriff Gilchrist said the case was more than one of simply possessing indecent images of children, as serious as that was. Webb, of King Street, Inverkeithing, admitted possessing and taking, or permitting to be taken, indecent images of children at his home between October 26 2013 and March 21 2017. He admitted 14 more offences comitted at his home or elsewhere during July, August and October 2016 and in February 2017. These included engaging in sexual activity in the presence of children under 16 by broadcasting to them using a webcam via the internet. Webb also admitted inducing children to participate in sexual activity broadcast to him via webcam. He sent messages to children containing sexual comments and asked them to remove their clothes and perform sexual activities. His solicitor David Bell said Webb had spoken to social workers about his drug misuse but that did not fully explain the type of behaviour he had engaged in. He said: “Mr Webb has not, it appears, been particularly open in terms of discussing the offences. “Notwithstanding his employment, he leads a fairly elusive lifestyle. It is apparent he spends far too much time on the internet.”


Firm fined after employee crushed by lorry

February 9 2018

A Fife firm has been fined £15,000 following the death of an employee crushed under the wheels of a lorry. Robert Purvis Plant Hire was convicted of breaching health and safety legislation last month, after the death of Ian Bratchie, 50. Mr Bratchie, who worked in the mechanics' workshop of the yard in Lochgelly, was underneath an HGV when a colleague attempted to drive it away, unaware he was there on September 3, 2015. The company was convicted by a jury at Dunfermline Sheriff Court of failing to make suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk of vehicles under maintenance being driven away at its premises in Cartmore Industrial Estate between April 2, 2012 and September 4, 2015. A charge alleging it had failed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees was not proven. Sheriff Christopher Shead said Mr Bratchie was clearly "a well liked and valued colleague" and the level of fine imposed would obviously be of interest to his family and friends. However, he stressed no causal link had been made between the company's failure and Mr Bratchie's death. He said : "The court has to pay very clear attention to the charge of which the company was convicted". The family of Mr Bratchie, a grandfather from Lochgelly, said they would never get over the loss but hoped lessons would be learned from the tragedy. A statement released by their lawyers, Digby Brown Solicitors, said: "We are relieved this court case has finally come to an end after having to endure this long and distressing process. "Nothing can bring back Ian and that pain will never cease. "But at least we now have a sense of justice and we hope lessons can be learned so no other family has to suffer like we have."