2018 in photos: Light-hearted moments lifted spirits in Perthshire’s dramatic news year

© Wullie MarrDozens of police and rescue service personnel attended the scene of the families' camping trip, thinking that someone had committed suicide.
Dozens of police and rescue service personnel attended the scene of the families' camping trip, thinking that someone had committed suicide.

A series of shock events dominated the headlines in Perth and Kinross in 2018.

The year started on a sad note, when rescuers battled in vain to save a man from drowning after he fell from a bridge in rural Errol.

Locals ran to his aid and fought through the darkness to find him in the Pow of Grange burn. The 59-year-old was taken to hospital, where he sadly died.

Later in January, scores of local couples were left with their wedding plans in tatters following the sudden closure of Perth’s landmark Lovat Hotel.

© DC Thomson
The Lovat Hotel closed its doors suddenly in late January.

The move came as a surprise to the venue’s 50-strong workforce, who were served with terse redundancy notices marked “to whom it may concern”.

Trade union bosses described the situation as “complete incompetence” and accused then-manager Stuart Shearer of going into hiding.

The sorry saga took a surprise twist a few months later, when Mr Shearer became manager of another popular local establishment, the Wheel Inn at Scone.

On his busy first day, several staff walked out in protest and Mr Shearer phoned the police on a couple who had been left out of pocket after they booked their wedding with him at the Lovat.

© DC Thomson
Staff from the new-look Lovat Hotel, Glasgow Road, Perth.

The story took another twist when plans were submitted a few weeks later to demolish the Wheel Inn and turn the site into retirement homes. Meanwhile, the Lovat reopened under new management and many of the workforce came back.

Well-meaning emergency services were scrambled to Loch Leven island, near Kinross, in early April. They were responding to reports that some kind of death metal cult had taken children to the island in a sinister suicide pact.

The emergency response – involving a search and rescue helicopter, several fire crews and boats –  came as a surprise to the group of dads who were enjoying a camping trip with their children.

© Wullie Marr
Dozens of police and rescue service personnel attended the scene of the families’ camping trip, thinking that someone had committed suicide.

They were sat around the camp fire when they saw the searchlights approaching.

The “rescued” group later explained they were a group of heavy metal fans, dressed in face paint and cloaks, who regularly camp out in the wilds of Scotland.

“It was like something out of the X-Files,” said modern languages teacher David Henderson.

Fire service crews mounted a rescue mission after a helicopter crashed to the ground at Perth Airport in March.

Eye witnesses said they heard a “loud bang” and saw the two-seater chopper left in a mangled mess.

© DC Thomson
The aftermath of the helicopter crash at Perth Airport.

The sole occupant of the craft was taken to hospital with a leg injury.

There was a huge police response after the body of a young woman was found on a quiet country road near Dunning.

It is alleged that Annalise Johnstone was murdered by her brother Jordan at a notorious witch memorial.

And there was more horror in November, when 10-year-old Kane Morris was allegedly murdered at his Coupar Angus home.

Police activity on Union Street Coupar Angus.

The year came to a close with confusion, heartache and anger for the parents of children at New School Butterstone, at Dunkeld.

The school was shut with just a few days’ warning, with staff and parents now pushing for a public inquiry.

Parents at the New School at Butterstone.

2018 in photos: See more here