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Angus & The Mearns

Lady Fraser of Carmyllie receives MBE at Queen’s investiture ceremony

July 5 2017

Lady Fraser of Carmyllie received an MBE for her services to charity in Edinburgh on Tuesday. A ceremony at the Palace of Holyroodhouse saw a host of charitable and celebrity names receive honours ahead of a garden party hosted by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. Lady Fraser is well known for her work with organisations such as the Ninewells Cancer Campaign, the Amy Barnet Skea Trust, Caring for Kids, Tenovus Tayside, Children in Need, and the University of Abertay Foundation. She attended the ceremony with her children, Jane, Jamie and Katie and said she was thrilled to receive the award. “I am particularly delighted to have received it at Holyrood since all of the charitable work that I have done is in Scotland," she said. “It is lovely for me that the family were able to be there with me for the ceremony. “I feel my award reflects the hard work that has been out in by so many dedicated people I have been fortunate enough to work with.” Poet laureate Professor Carol Ann Duffy met the Queen after being made a dame in the New Year Honours List in December 2014. Wheelchair tennis star Gordon Reid was made an MBE for services to the sport, which he received in the latest New Year Honours List. At the Paralympics in Rio last summer, he took singles gold and a silver medal in the doubles. In January this year, he completed a career Grand Slam of doubles titles after winning the Australian Open with Belgian Joachim Gerard, and last year he won singles titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Joshua Littlejohn, co-founder of Social Bite, was made an MBE for services to social enterprise and entrepreneurship in Scotland. Others attending the investiture ceremony included Michael Cavanagh, who was chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland and is made an OBE for services to sport and the Commonwealth Games movement. Professor Susan Deacon, assistant principal of Edinburgh University, is made a CBE for services to business, education and public service. Note: A previous version of this article stated Lady Fraser received an OBE. This information was provided in good faith and The Courier would like to apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Angus & The Mearns

Bridies the key to Forfar Athletic’s 100% record

September 24 2016

Bridie power is fuelling the 100% charge of Scotland’s best-performing football team. Forfar Athletic are sitting proudly at the top of Scottish League Two after winning all six games in their campaign so far. Only Manchester City has the same win rate in the UK — but players and staff believe they have a special ingredient that is serving the club well. New team mascot Baxter the Bridie came to Station Park after a disappointing 2015 season in which the Sky Blues were relegated from League One. And his arrival has sparked a renaissance for the team, which has fired 18 goals in the league. Goalkeeper Grant Adam, the brother of Scotland international and Stoke City midfielder Charlie Adam, tried his hand at making a Forfar Bridie at McLaren & Sons bakers. “I felt under pressure there, I’m used to trying to keep the ball out of the back of the net,” he told football broadcaster Sky Sports. He joked that his brother has “maybe had a few” bridies in his time but promised to lay one on if he comes to visit. He praised manager Gary Bollan for his part in marshalling the team and outlined the differences between his team and the other 100% UK outfit. “The gaffer has obviously used his resources, and the players that we’ve got in," he said. “We’ve got a good squad. Look at Man City — they can buy any player they want.” But all the money in the world may not be a substitute for a humble local delicacy when it comes to fuelling success. Local bakers McLaren & Son and Saddler’s sponsored the new mascot and with further support from local firm Utopia Costumes the quirky character has established itself as a popular fixture on Angus matchdays. Special bridie boxes were set up in the town bakers for a month-long naming competition, which drew almost 100 entries — many on the popular theme of the world-famous Forfar foodie favourite and the club. Flaky and shortcrust, mince and onions were all served up as suggestions and in the naming ceremony streamed live to over 4,000 people on social media, club secretary David McGregor said Loons legends of previous eras including Seagull (Billy Gallacher), Brashie (Alex Brash) and TC (Ian McPhee) also made it into the mix.   Scottish football's most infamous mascots Partick Thistle’s yellow peril mascot Kingsley had youngsters running for cover when it was launched at Firhill last summer. The mascot, which the club revealed was designed by artist David Shrigley, represented a sponsorship deal that 
the Jags agreed with 
investment advisory 
firm Kingsford Capital 
Management. But the unveiling of Kingsley did not go down well on social media, 
with one fan calling it 
“terrifying” and another claiming it to be “an evil Pokemon-type thing”. The bad boy of Scottish football mascots, Paisley Panda, was spoken to by police after pretending to use a rival club’s jersey as toilet paper on the pitch. And in 2011 
Dunfermline Athletic bosses were questioned by police over the bizarre pre-match antics of East End Park mascot Sammy the Tammy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZSrd4y1c-E Before the Fife derby kicked off, Sammy appeared on the pitch in a 
cardboard tank and 
pretended to open fire at Raith Rovers fans. This was accompanied by sound effects played through the stadium’s loudspeakers. Rovers fans said the stunt was in bad taste, given the death of a fan who was killed by Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Dundee FC mascot Deewok has also had some fun in the past, 
regularly waving an 
inflatable sheep at 
Aberdeen fans.

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

Banned Angus crash man picked up for drink driving

April 20 2017

A banned Angus motorist who crashed his van on Christmas Day was picked up for drink driving by Dundee police a fortnight later, a court heard. Neil Brown from Forfar hit a barrier and drove off the A90 outside Dundee on December 25 2015, leaving the scene before passers-by came to help. Forfar Sheriff Court heard the 29-year-old was cautioned by police when collecting his vehicle three days later. Brown, who has a previous drink driving conviction and did not have a licence, was then pulled over by police in Dundee on January 9 2016. Depute fiscal Stewart Duncan said police took the van off the road at Powrie Brae when no one came forward to claim it. “At around 11.30pm on the evening in question, civilian witnesses were travelling north at the locus and saw the van driven by the accused,” he said. “It was repeatedly swerving across the roadway, driving erratically until it hit the barrier and went off the road. “These witnesses stopped shortly after at a nearby bus stop and went to provide assistance. “However there was no-one in the vehicle at this time. On December 28 the accused attended the police headquarters about the return of his vehicle.” Mr Duncan said the accused gave a urine sample with twice the legal amount of alcohol after being picked up by police in Myrekirk Road on January 9. “At 12.30am officers were on patrol and saw the accused driving, he was stopped due to the manner of his driving.” A roadside breath test proved positive and he was taken back to Dundee’s police headquarters in West Bell Street. “He provided a reasonable excuse why he couldn’t provide a specimen of breath so a urine sample was taken,” Mr Duncan added. “There was a certificate of insurance on the vehicle but the accused was not named on it, and he intimated to officers he was not in possession of a driving licence.” Sheriff Pino Di Emidio said: “I’m minded in the circumstance to call for a report, having regard to the nature of the charges and your previous convictions, to call for a criminal justice social work report.” Sentence was deferred to May 18, and Brown was banned in the interim. Brown, of Queen Street, admitted drink-driving on the A90 at Powrie Brae without motor insurance on December 25 2015, and driving under the influence of alcohol and without a licence in Myrekirk Road, Dundee on January 9 2016.

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

Bid launched for bridie’s entry to food world’s upper crust

May 28 2016

Scotland’s culinary custodians are being grilled over the entry of an Angus staple into the same league as Scotch whisky and Arbroath Smokies. The world-famous Forfar Bridie is a horseshoe-shaped pasty that has been a part of town life since the 19th Century. But the savoury beef delicacy has attracted a host of imitators, and local moves are under way to protect the provenance of a vaunted dish. And no fewer than 117 consultees are receiving packs asking whether they believe the Forfar bridie should be given Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status under the EU Protected Food Name scheme. Local producers have been approached by the Scottish Government, along with Scotland’s councils and supermarket heavyweights such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s. If successful, PGI status will mean only bridies produced within a five-mile radius of the town will be able to bear the Forfar Bridie name. The drive has been spearheaded by the Forfar Bridie Producers Association and Angus Council. It follows an appeal for children to name Forfar Athletic's new mascot. https://youtu.be/RC7V1PKkqE0 Karen Murray of town bakers McLaren's said: “I’m the fifth generation of McLaren bakers and they have been made the same way here since 1893. “I have no problem with anyone selling a bridie, but some of the ‘Forfar’ ones I see in different parts of the country make me cringe. “People come a long way to try ours and we even do next-day delivery to places like Guernsey. “People need to know when they are trying the real thing.” Mike Saddler of Saddler’s said: “It has definitely been a long-running saga but it will definitely have been worth it if this goes ahead. “It will keep the name to a five-mile area, and if you want a real Forfar Bridie then you’ll know where to come.” Angus Council economic development officer Hilary Tasker said the bridie’s success lies in using Scottish beef. She added: “The Forfar Bridie has always been made in the same way. “It has a very high meat content and along with onions and a little bit of seasoning, that’s it — there’s nothing nasty or artificial there. “Angus Council is delighted to support the application for the Forfar Bridie to gain PGI status, just as we did with Arbroath Smokies a decade ago. “We look forward to Forfar Bridies getting the recognition they deserve and from local businesses to benefit from this.” It can take up to four years to get the name of a food or drink product legally protected by the EU. PGI status offers legal protection against imitation and the advantage of consumers' increased interest in quality regional foods. The consultation window closes on August 18 and the results will be collated by the UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs before it is handed to Brussels. The Scottish Government document says the snack “remains a unique part of the culture and heritage of the town to this day, as any Forfarian will attest to.” How to make a world-beating bridie The percentages of ingredients used in a Forfar Bridie must fall within the following ranges: Beef – 60% to 75% Fat or suet – 6% to 12% Onions – 5% to 10% Crumb or rusk – 5% to 10% Seasoning – 0.2% to 1% Water – 10% to 15% Shortcrust pastry is prepared using flour, vegetable fat or lard, water and salt. The pastry is rolled out by hand into the D shape. The raw meat filling, and onion and beef fat, is placed on to part of the pastry and the pastry folded to make the horseshoe shape. The edges of the pastry are dampened with water and the bridie is hand crimped. A hole is made in the pastry to let out the steam. No glazes are applied and it is placed in a hot oven until golden brown. Bridies may also be sold frozen raw for later baking at 210C. The early rise of a shortcrust success One local story claims Forfar's pasty was invented by Margaret Bridie of Glamis, who sold her wares at the town Buttermarket in the 18th Century. It is also thought the term derives from “bride’s meal”, a pasty served at the wedding feast and fashioned into a horseshoe for good luck. But the dish is first documented in the Aberdeen Shaver newspaper of 1833, which announced: “James Torry is about to introduce a famed sort of Pye in Edinburgh called Forfar Bridies.” Records indicate that Jolly’s of Queen Street was producing the food in the 1840s. Peter Pan creator Sir JM Barrie wrote about the bridie in his 1896 novel Sentimental Tommy, which reflected on life in a fictionalised version of his home town Kirriemuir.


Launch into the unknown for The Voyage Out

September 14 2016

A literary work that celebrates the concept of “voyaging” will be launched in Dundee this month. The Voyage Out asked writers, artists and scientists to write on the theme of journeys, and will be sped on its way at the RRS Discovery. Contributors include actor and Dundee University rector Brian Cox, travel writer Robert Macfarlane, forensic anthropologist Sue Black, and Dundee makar or official poet WN Herbert. The book was assembled by Professor Kirsty Gunn and Dr Gail Low of Dundee University. The professor, an award-winning Faber novelist, said: “In 1902 RRS Discovery was launched from Dundee into the white spaces of the Antarctic. “In the same way The Voyage Out, a unique compendium of fiction, poetry, essays, art and film and science, captures the anticipation and the possibilities of voyaging, the ‘what ifs’ of imaginative and creative and intellectual enquiry. “Come on board with us and be part of celebrating an astonishing range of skills and thought processes and creative practice that sweep us all out into the seas of enquiry, dream and endless possibilities.” The Voyage Out marks 10 years of the university’s writing practice and study course, and also commemorates the work of Dundee poet Dr James Stewart, who taught on the programme. Dr Stewart, known as Jim by friends and colleagues, taught at Dundee University’s English department for more than 25 years and died this year after a short illness, aged 64. The anthology will include some of his work alongside that of staff at Dundee International Women's Centre and the Discovery Centre, DCA writer in residence Beth McDonough, and many others. The launch event will run from 6pm to 8pm on September 16 at the research ship, which took Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton’s British National Antarctic Expedition to its first successful journey to the Antarctic. In 2008, Discovery and the associated polar collections were named as a Recognised Collection of National Significance. And since the 1990s, the Discovery Point museum has concentrated on interpreting the vessel on all of her voyages, with personal items from the ship's crew as well as information on her scientific activities.

Angus & The Mearns

Mearns music night will be model memorial of lifeboat tragedy

August 23 2017

A Mearns maritime tragedy that saw a lifeboat crew battle to save Norwegian sailors will be remembered this week. Johnshaven’s 'James Marsh' lifeboat launched after the Danish schooner Fredensborg was stricken six miles out to sea in 1920. Its nine crewmen were saved but disaster struck when the James Marsh capsized on returning to harbour. James McBay — who could be seen by his wife as the vessel went down — drowned along with two Danes. As part of efforts to commemorate the tragedy, a music night will be held in the village on Friday. And a model of the James Marsh, made from a pew of the former village church, has been unveiled at the Johnshaven Heritage Hub Museum. The display has been soundtracked by local band Shenanigans, who will be joined on Friday by Doric singer Bill Wilkie, former BBC musician Eleanor Leith, and Chris Kennedy at the museum and former lifeboat shed. Andy Shanks said he was inspired to write two songs about the disaster for their latest CD, after reading about the sailors and the shed from which the lifeboat launched on December 21. “Their bodies were never found but what breaks your heart is that it happened at the mouth of the harbour and right in front of McBay’s wife, the distance of an outstretched arm from her,” he said. “Her gravestone shows that the couple had lost both of their children, one of them only two years before the tragedy. “When Jane McBay watched her husband swept out to sea that day she was left utterly alone.” The King of Denmark presented silver cups to coxswain John McBay and his 11 crew, one of which was donated to the museum. He also gave 50 guineas to the lost man’s widow. The coxswain was haunted by his decision to return under sail rather than oar, which he thought contributed to the capsize. The model, by McBay’s grandson, James, was launched by Edie Blues and Jackie Milne, descendants of men involved in the rescue. Don Marr at the museum said: “It’s very important to mark a major milestone in Johnshaven’s history. “The museum is here for the community and we’re pleased to welcome so many brilliant musicians on Friday.” Mr Shanks added: “What makes this kind of song writing so rewarding is that it sings of stories feelings and sights that are all around you. “The relatives of the men who manned that boat still fish and work here.” Tickets for the music night, which starts at 7pm, are available from the museum and the Ship Inn.

Angus & The Mearns

Arbroath man lashed out with tool after garage break-in

August 19 2017

An Angus thief caught red-handed in a garage theft has been jailed after assaulting a man. Mark Aitchison from Arbroath was caught helping himself to tools from a secured lockup in the town's Gowan Street in April this year. After attempting to hide inside, he assaulted one of his pursuers with a set of vice grips from a nearby toolkit. The 24-year-old was jailed for six months at Forfar Sheriff Court, despite the court hearing he was "moving in the right direction" and his partner was expecting a baby. Depute fiscal Michael Swinney said: "At 3pm on April 21 witness Miller secured his garage and all was as normal at that time. "That evening, witnesses Ross, Rushden, Jamieson and Fleming were drinking alcohol within the locus. "At 3am the next day witness Ross went out to the courtyard and heard noise in the garage, and noted the door was slightly open. “A torch was shone inside and the accused was seen trying to conceal himself. He was holding tools in his hands, one of which was a vice grip. “He was punching out and hit witness Rushden.” Defence agent Bill Rennie said: "He does seem to be at a significant crossroads in his life. "He is due to start college this month and there had been a significant gap in offending. In all the circumstances, he is moving in the right direction and he is suitable for a restriction of liberty order." Sheriff Gregor Murray said: “While you are suitable for a ROLO, and suitable for community service, you’ve just completed one, and it hasn’t had any effect on your offending. “Because of your previous offending I have to consider a custodial sentence. You have brought this on yourself … I will take account you have pled guilty at the first opportunity.” Aitchison, of Millgate Loan, admitted breaking in to the garage occupied by Michael Miller, and stealing a pair of vice grips on April 22. He admitted assaulting Ben Rushden, striking him on the face with the grips, to his injury. He further admitted having a pointed article, namely a screwdriver and chisel at the same time and place.

Angus & The Mearns

Families refuse to give evidence against alleged attackers after Montrose incident

May 20 2016

The trial of two men accused of threatening to kill a baby was unable to start in Angus due to the “general disinclination” of Traveller community witnesses to give evidence. Father and son William McPhee Sr and Jr are also accused of attacking a man with a sword, and destroying two vehicles during an incident in Montrose last year. Forfar Sheriff Court heard the members of two families named as alleged victims had sent letters indicating they would not testify in the sheriff and jury trial. However a sheriff rejected a Crown motion to pursue the witnesses with warrants, as police were unable to serve their summonses in person. The McPhees are accused of a number of offences in Brent Avenue on June 22. They are alleged to have both assaulted Donald Stewart by brandishing a sword at him, chasing after him, striking him on the body and arm with a shovel and striking him on the harm with a hammer. McPhee Sr is alleged to have assaulted James MacDonald by aiming blows at him with a sword through the window of an Audi A4 and striking him on the face and leg with the sword to his injury. McPhee Jr is accused of assaulting Shannon Stewart by striking her on the body with a hammer causing her to fall to her injury. The older man is then accused of culpably and recklessly swinging a hammer in the direction of the Stewart and MacDonald families, to the danger of injury. Prosecutors say both men behaved in a threatening or abusive manner towards Shannon Stewart and threatened to kill her, her baby and members of her family. Both men are then said to have wilfully or recklessly destroyed the Audi with a sword by repeatedly striking and damaging bodywork, lights and windows of the motor. McPhee Jr is also said to have destroyed a Ford Transit van with a hammer during the incident. The court previously heard the accused and witnesses in the trial are members of the Traveller community. Fiscal depute Jill Drummond asked for the MacDonald and Stewart families to appear on warrant. She said: “There is currently a Crown witness difficulty… “I accept that normally we don’t obtain warrants when citations are left with another (person). “However we have received a letter that simply indicates that I, James McDonald, on behalf of (my family), will not be attending the court case against William McPhee.” The court heard the Stewarts had also sent in a letter indicating they would not take part. However Sheriff Pino di Emidio said: “It doesn't seem to me in these circumstances you’re in a position to indicate that effective citation has been made on any of these people… “It is necessary for the Crown, and those acting on its behalf, to demonstrate greater adherence to the normal processes before this matter comes back to the court.” Ms Drummond made another motion, opposed by the accused’s defence agent, to postpone the trial due to lack of witnesses, and the case was continued until the assize beginning August 18. McPhee Sr, 46, of Fairlie Street, Camelon and McPhee Jr, 23, of Ure Street, Bonnybridge, both deny all charges.