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Renewed drive to find match for little Garvie

May 24 2018

A new drive to find a donor match for sick Tayside seven-year-old Garvie Winter has seen a weekend event organised in Dundee. Garvie was diagnosed with leukaemia last year and treatment has, so far, been unsuccessful. The family was told he has a rare tissue type and an appeal to find a match for a bone marrow transplant was launched. However, a match has yet to be found so family friend Karen King, and Charlene Shaw, one of Garvie's teachers, have organised a public registration event in Fintry. It is also hoped money can be raised for blood donor charity DKMS. Karen, whose daughter Agatha was treated for Leukaemia last year, said: "The driving force behind this is to find a match for Garvie, but I thought it would be worthwhile to raise some money for the charity as well. "There is the stress for the family of travelling to Glasgow, where Garvie is likely to be getting all his treatment now, and still looking after other children as well as the costs of rent, food and bills. I wanted to do something that might help out as I know what it is like. "But if we can get some more people on the register then that would really give Garvie a chance of finding a match." The free event takes place on Saturday May 26 from 10am until 2pm at Fintry Church Hall, Fintry Drive. A simple swab sample is sent for testing and the charity will get in touch if a match is found. People need to be aged between 18 and 55 and in good health to join the register. Anyone unable to attend but still interested in joining the register can do so via the DKMS website. The event will also have coffee bake sales to raise funds for the charity. While it is free to join the register, it costs £40 for the charity to test and register donors. Although unable to attend as Garvie is in hospital in Glasgow receiving treatment to help stabilise his leukaemia, the family welcomed the event. Haley Winter, Garvie's mother, said: "Karen is a lovely woman and it's absolutely amazing what she is doing. "I wish me and Garvie could have been there, but it obviously isn't going to happen with him being in hospital. "It's good to get as many people on the register as possible. It's not just my son's life they could be saving, it's somebody else's child as well." She added that they are looking at options for treatment overseas, including Italy and the United States, but are awaiting test results before proceeding. Sarah Gray, donor recruitment manager at DKMS, said: "Please spare the time to attend the event and help find a matching donor for Garvie or someone else in need of a blood stem cell transplant. "By doing this selfless act and registering as a potential lifesaver you’ll go on standby to save the life of someone just like you." World Blood Cancer Day takes place across the world, aiming to raise awareness of the importance of donations, on May 28.

Angus & The Mearns

Man previously jailed for dangerous driving death pleads guilty to driving without licence

December 3 2017

An Angus man who killed a taxi driver in a high-speed crash eight years ago is facing a return to jail after admitting driving while disqualified and failing to provide a breath sample. Halim Cholmeley, 43, of Broomhill, Glen Prosen, appeared from custody before Sheriff Jillian Martin-Brown at Forfar Sheriff Court on Friday. He admitted driving while disqualified at Medecinewell, Montrose, the access road from Wester Lednathie Farm to Glenuig and various roads in between on March 5. He further admitted failing to submit a sample of his breath when requested. Cholmeley pleaded guilty to the two charges during a brief hearing and sentence was deferred. He was remanded in custody and will appear at Forfar Sheriff Court in connection with the case again next week. Cholmeley was previously jailed for six years in 2010 at the High Court in Edinburgh for killing a Perth taxi driver on Dundee’s Kingsway on March 15 2009. He had been consuming alcohol in the company of his now ex-partner and friends in the afternoon and evening before the fatal collision. Around midnight he returned by taxi to his ex-partner’s flat before going out again to a nightclub. Sometime before 2.30am he returned to the flat and removed the keys to his ex-partner’s BMW without her permission or knowledge and drove off. He then sped down the Kingsway and smashed into a taxi. The impact at the Myrekirk Roundabout spun 41-year-old Gavin McCabe’s cab around and catapulted him out on to the road. Mr McCabe was so seriously injured he died in intensive care at Ninewells Hospital a week later. Investigating officers calculated Cholmeley was travelling at a minimum speed of 77mph shortly before the collision and at around 67mph at the point of impact with the Skoda taxi. Cholmeley’s alcohol level after the collision was 106 mgs against a legal limit of 80 mgs. Several witnesses — civilian, emergency services and medical staff — stated Cholmeley said it had been his intention to commit suicide.  


Wannabe Dundee broadcasters given opportunity to make their mark

April 4 2018

Budding broadcasters in Dundee have been given tips on how to carve out a career in the media industry. Around 100 people attended sessions led by Channel 4 and My Kinda Future at the Space in Dundee and Angus College's Kingsway Campus yesterday. The event — part of a series of gatherings being held across the UK — was aimed at people who do not have a degree and are looking for their first step into the industry. Participants were given lessons in video production then handed microphones, tablets and other equipment and challenged to create their own short documentary films on the themes of inclusiveness and equality. At the end of the day, 15 of the participants were granted "rising star" status, which means they will be alerted when vacancies arise and taken down to Channel 4 HQ in London for a day. The event was hosted by Channel 4 presenter Jodie McCallum, who got her big break at a similar event. She said: "It gets quite emotional when we see the films because they work hard to make them in quite a short time. The day can have an impact on their lives like it did to mine. "A lot of people think they can't get into the industry but it is not like that any more." The broadcaster's industry talent specialist Laura Boswell and coordinator Yasmin Mehment joined Miriam Kidane, campaign manager for My Kinda Future, to help out on the day. Ms Boswell managed the Rio Production Training Scheme which helped 24 disabled people get their first roles in television production and 18 trainees join the production team that covered the 2016 Paralympic Games for Channel 4. TayScreen, the screen office for Dundee, Angus, Perth and Kinross, and Fife councils, praised the initiative. Julie Craik, TayScreen project manager, said: "It's vitally important for people from the region to get involved with media production and tell not only their own stories but all kinds of stories on all kinds of platforms." Courier Country has produced its share of broadcasting talent, including Oscar-nominated director David Mackenzie, Bafta-winning camera specialist Keith Partridge and BBC diving camera expert Lindsay Brown.


Great-great-granddaughter of “Scotland’s worst poet” travels to Dundee to see play charting his life

April 2 2018

The great-great-granddaughter of "Scotland's worst poet" travelled from Spain to see a show about her famous relative. Helen Stewart was at Dundee Rep Theatre on Saturday evening to see the McGonagall Chronicles — a new play charting the life of the city's legendary wordsmith William McGonagall. Her sister Ann Ross, who still lives in the city, was also in the audience for the dramatic re-telling of the life of the man who penned The Tay Bridge Disaster, among 200 other published poems. Helen's son, Steve McMurdo, even arranged for his mother and aunt to meet the cast after the show. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/lifestyle/619254/why-mcgonagalls-chronicles-will-be-remembered-at-dundee-rep-for-a-very-long-time/ "I do like surprises," she said. "It was the first time in my life that I've felt famous. My son organised it without me knowing." Originally from Dundee, Helen moved to Spain six years ago and came home specifically to see the show. She said it was a moving tribute to her famous forefather and his "unique" way with words. "It was fantastic," she added. "It was also quite sad. Especially when he was getting spat on in the street. "As I get older I have become more interested in McGonagall's work. "When I was younger people used to ridicule him and say he's Scotland's worst poet, but I am proud of having him in the family tree. "A lot of people can be quite ignorant about him." Helen's interest in her great great grandfather's life has led her to become a collector of menentos, including an edition of the McGonogall Library Omnibus dating to at least the 1960s. It still has the price label for 17 shillings and sixpence - around 18p in today's money. And the family heritage has led her into some unusual situations. "When I was in labour about to give birth to my son, a doctor walked into the room, looked at my name (before her surname was changed to Stewart) and asked if I was related to the poet," Helen added. "That was a strange thing to happen at that time." She also recalled being pulled up onto a stage in Fife in 1971 and given one line in a play about the poet. The McGonagall Chronicles tells the story of the poet's life written in "almost rhyming verse". Born in Edinburgh in 1825, McGonagall moved to Dundee to be apprenticed as a handloom weaver. Among his most famous works are the Tay Bridge Disaster and the Famous Tay Whale.


Dundee Women’s Festival continues with talk from councillors

March 6 2018

Dundee Women's Festival ploughed on despite the weather preventing a key opening speaker from making an appearance. Lesley Riddoch was scheduled to appear for the opening lecture on Sunday but had to cancel due to the arduous weather conditions created by the beast from the east. The talk, titled "Women and Land — Our Secret History", sold out in advance but had to be called off when the journalist was not able to make it across the Tay. That did not stop the organisers kicking off the festival with a more informal 'glass of wine and cake' event. This was then followed by a screening of Angry Inuk, a documentary by Inuit campaigner Alethea Arnaquuq-Baril defending the Inuit seal hunt. Prue Watson, chair of the board, said: "We were disappointed that Lesley couldn't come but that's fair enough. She sent us a picture of her lane and it was absolutely covered in snow. "We put on some cake and wine for the people that made the journey. It gave them a chance to talk about the festival and it seemed to be enjoyed by all. The documentary was very interesting as well. "We are doing our best and we're hoping to keep going. There are some events that are outside and are more difficult to say if they will be affected. We just hope it is going to stop snowing. "We have got quite a good mixture of events so it should be a good fortnight." One of the biggest events yesterday was the '1 in 3 Councillors' talk, which addressed that only a third of councillors in Scotland are female. In Dundee the figure is even lower — one in four. SNP councillors Lynn Short and Anne Rendall discussed their respective journeys into politics, hoping that other women will see it as a possible vocation. Ms Short said ahead of the event: "More than 50% of people in Dundee are women so it's really important that they are better represented. I am a single parent so I think it's really important that every part of society is represented. "It is difficult to be representative if the population isn't represented. There is something not connecting Dundee women to politics. "I think it's important to encourage as many women as we can. It's a really good job and I've enjoyed my time as a councillor." The year's festival is celebrating the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote in the UK. Other events in the programme include V&A Design Champions and Dark Dundee: Witch Hunt, which both take place on Tuesday. Updates on any further disruptions will be posted on the event's Facebook page.

Angus & The Mearns

‘We must crack down on crime against raptors’ — calls to help bird-of-prey fly high

December 28 2017

An Angus and Mearns politician is urging all sides of the debate to come together in 2018 to help a bird-of-prey flourish. SNP MSP Mairi Gougeon spoke out after Police Scotland launched a probe when a hen harrier was found dead with “unexplained injuries” near Dunoon in Argyll and Bute. The death of the satellite-tagged bird, named Kathy, is one of a number of high profile cases involving hen harriers this year. One was shot in Leadhills earlier this year, while satellite-tagged raptor Calluna went missing near Braemar, Aberdeenshire, and a four-year court case over the alleged shooting of a hen harrier on Cabrach Estate in Moray was dismissed. A recent survey also showed a decline in the hen harrier population down to just 460 pairs — a drop of 27% since 2004 — with illegal persecution of the bird considered a major factor in its decline. But with 21 of Scotland’s estates signed up for the Heads Up for Harriers project — which reported 37 successfully fledged young hen harriers in 2017 — Mrs Gougeon is keen to bridge the gap between estates and conservationists next year. The Angus North and Mearns MSP said: “I’m under no illusions how contentious this issue is. I know it won’t be resolved overnight but I take my role as a species champion very seriously. “One of the main reasons why the hen harrier population hasn’t flourished is the fact there has been illegal persecution of this species over a long period. “Across Scotland we have the habitat for the species to exist. Almost half of Scotland is capable of supporting a hen harrier population. “There are a number of ongoing projects — including Heads Up for Harriers — geared toward trying to sustain and grow the hen harrier population in the future. “Heads Up for Harriers is not without its critics and may not be the immediate panacea but it is a promising step in the right direction. “More estates need to sign up to that project before we can assess whether or not it is successful. We also need to look at other potential solutions such as diversionary feeding proposed by the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project. “We need to take every available measure to crack down on the serious crime that is committed against raptors and to tackle the illegal persecution that takes place. “Only then we will have a hope of protecting and encouraging growth in the numbers of this magnificent species.”


Obituary: Former Tay Bridge master, John Crerar

May 18 2018

The Tay Bridge master in post at the time tolls were abolished has passed away, aged 72. John Crerar died on May 6 after a battle with cancer. The youngest of five children, John was born in Bathgate in January 1946 and was educated at the town's Lindsay High School. In his youth he was a member of the 14th West Lothian Scout Troop where he was venture scout leader. The West Lothian Scout Association bought 23 acres of land at The Craigs, Torphichen. A considerable amount of work was required to make it a viable camping site. John worked weekends with others, moving earth and digging drainage ditches. As a result, the land is still a camping site to this day. He graduated from Strathclyde University in 1967 and went on to spent his early career with Central Region Council, designing and building bridges and motorways. He gained his Masters of Institute of Civil Engineers at the age of 25. In 1970, he married May Dryburgh and the couple lived in Blairgowrie for 40 years. In 1975 he joined Consulting Engineers in Glasgow and was involved with the design of the civil engineering works for Torness Power Station. With his family he had a short spell in Nigeria designing road structures, before returning to Scotland and joining Tayside Regional Council in 1978. He was principal engineer responsible for the inspection and maintenance of all bridges in the Tayside area including the Friarton Bridge and Tay Road Bridge. In 1994 he was appointed bridge master of the Tay Road Bridge where he remained until he retired in 2008 after toll charges were removed. Throughout his working life and in retirement he was an enthusiastic cyclist, bowler, golfer and hill walker.  He was secretary of Rattray Bowling Club for eight years, secretary of Glenisla Golf Club for three years and more recently secretary of Blairgowrie Bowling Club. He is survived by his wife May, children Alastair and Jennifer, and grandchildren Andrew, Emilie and Carson. The funeral will take place at Blairgowrie Parish Church on May 15 at 11.00am. This will be followed by an interment in Blairgowrie Cemetery. All friends are respectfully invited. The family ask that any donations to Cornhill Macmillan Centre, Perth, be given to the church.


Valentine’s Day advice for the broken hearted

February 14 2018

Romance may be in the air around Valentine's Day, but one Dundee University professor has offered advice for those that aren't lucky in love. Professor Wendy Moncur has outlined the best things to do — and not to do — for people looking to "digitally disentangle" after a break-up. The Professor of Digital Living wrote the piece for The Conversation outlining seven key points for getting over the end of a relationship in the digital age. The temptation to check an ex-partner's social media pages to see what they are doing may be too great for some people but the professor, unsurprisingly, says not to do this as it prolongs the grieving period. Instead, people are encouraged to have a clean break, including placing the former partner's profile on a "restricted list" on Facebook. Naturally, the process of expunging someone's existence from one's life, is said to be tougher and more complicated if the couple had been living together. Apart from the practical, real-world problems of where to live and moving belongings, there is also a higher likelihood of sharing accounts for the likes of Netflix (other streaming services are available). Account holders are told to change their passwords as soon as possible. Meanwhile,  non-account holders should take a note of all details, including which Game of Thrones (other television programmes are available) episode you were watching before the passwords are changed, resulting in lost access. And if devices were being used by both partners then passwords may be saved and a former spouse could still have access to social media accounts, it warned. The essay recognised that whether or not to stay friends on social media is a "tricky" subject, but said those choosing to maintain a friendship should take steps — such as setting preferences on what is prioritised on a news feed — to minimise digital contact. People are also warned against pretending their life is rosy post-break up with numerous social media posts depicting a great life as friends may not think you require their support when in fact it's most needed. In summary the article says to "make good use of your online social media, and make it a force for good after a romantic break up. Don’t look at what your ex is doing. Do let your friends know that you need them. And things will start to look up". The post falls short of recommending having memories of an ex deleted a la the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind —  but that is perhaps simply because the technology doesn't exist yet.

Perth & Kinross

Police release CCTV images of missing man

April 27 2018

Tayside Police has released CCTV images of missing man Colin MacDonald. The CCTV images show Mr MacDonald on High Street and Queen's Bridge, Perth, before 2pm on Monday April 23. They are the last confirmed sightings of the 48-year old. Colin is described as 5ft 10in tall, bald, with a medium to stocky build. When last seen he was wearing a grey coloured gilet with a white T shirt underneath, grey cargo trousers, grey shoes and carrying a black Nike rucksack. A helicopter was used earlier this week in the search for him. Chief Inspector Ian Scott, local area commander for Perth, said: "We are growing increasingly concerned for the welfare of Mr MacDonald and we have issued these images in the hope that someone may have remembered seeing him. "Local officers are in touch with Colin’s family and they are understandably upset and very concerned. We have carried out searches of the local area and have utilised specialist officers including air support and dog handlers in order to try and trace him. "I would like to ask local businesses and members of the community to check outbuildings, sheds, gardens and garages for the bag, as it may have been misplaced or lost at some point. "Anyone who knows where Colin is or who has information that could assist us in tracing him should call 101, quoting incident 3708 of 23rd April, or speak to any  police officer."


VIDEO: Police target sites across Tayside as investigation into Annalise Johnstone’s death continues

May 23 2018

Police targeted sites across Tayside on Tuesday as the net widened in the investigation into the death of Annalise Johnstone. As officers combed the ground around a notorious witch's memorial near Dunning in Perthshire — a few miles from where the young woman's body was found almost two weeks ago — colleagues in Dundee swooped on a hardware shop in the city. A scenes of crime van was among a group of vehicles stationed outside the Toolstation store on Kings Cross Road. Police confirmed they were there as part of the investigation into the 22 year-old's death. Inquiries are also continuing in the Inchture area, where a car linked to the case was discovered last week. The B8062 road between Dunning and Auchterarder, where Annalise Johnstone's body was found on May 10, remains closed and officers are carrying out investigations at a number of sites between the two towns. Officers — some with metal detectors, others on their hands and knees — carried out a painstaking search of a field next to Maggie Wall's monument near Dunning on Tuesday. The memorial, which was supposedly erected in memory of a woman burnt as a witch at the site in 1657, remained sealed off with black tarpaulin laid on the ground. The monument achieved notoriety when it was visited by Moors Murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley during their killing spree in the 1960s. A large wooded area nearby was also cordoned off on Tuesday. Officers confirmed the operation was linked to the death of Ms Johnstone, which is being treated as suspicious. Her body was found a few miles along the B8062, nearer to Auchterarder. She had travelled to the town from her home in Ardrossan the previous day to babysit for her brother and was dropped off at an address in Ruthven Court. The car she travelled in, a silver Ford Galaxy, was seized in Inchture on May 11. Police are still trying to trace a mobile phone, wallet and bag of medication as they try to piece together her final moments. Two homes in Auchterarder have been cordoned off since the inquiry began. A neighbour at one of the properties, on Strathallan Way, said police stormed into the house at 3am on May 11, but it was believed to be empty. The man, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "I haven't seen anyone living there for a while. "They are part of the travelling community and you would often not see anyone in there for a week or two at a time. "There was a man, a woman and four children in there from time-to-time. "The police have been back and forth ever since." The man said the last time he saw the occupants was on Tuesday May 8. Another neighbour said officers had been asking about the Johnstone family. The man, who has lived in the area with his partner for about 20 years, said: "What surprises is me is how much resources and people they've put into this, but they haven't caught anyone yet. "I heard there were travelling people living in the flat and you would often see a white transit van there, but I've not seen that since the police have been watching the place. "If they are travelling people, they could be anywhere by now. They could be anywhere in Europe. "The people there would have lived there for less than a year, but I didn't see them very often. "The police had forensics in there about two days ago. They must have swept that place."