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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


New rector hails Madras College’s ‘amazing set of pupils’

June 21 2013

The new rector of Madras College in St Andrews, David McClure, believes the school has a “most amazing set of pupils with a talent and potential I have rarely seen before.” Mr McLure, the former rector of Buckhaven High School who took up the Madras reins after the departure of rector Ian Jones, was speaking at the annual awards ceremony. He said: “I have been at Madras College as new rector for just under three weeks and I have been privileged to meet and see a large number of Madras pupils and classes. “In this short time it is already clear to me from the awards, the achievements and my classroom visits that the school has a most amazing set of pupils with a talent and potential I have rarely seen before. “It is my intention to improve the image of Madras College among the local and wider community by introducing the core values of pride and respect for the school and our community through wearing the Madras College uniform. “People will know our pupils are Madras pupils because they will look like Madras pupils and conduct themselves like Madras pupils. “It is also my intention to make sure the attainment of our pupils at all levels improves so the school takes up its place as one of the top 10 schools in the country.”


Inspectors impressed by turnaround at Alan McLure House

July 9 2012

A Fife care home once described as having ''serious issues'' by the Care Commission has been praised in a recent inspection report. Alan McLure House in Balbirnie Road, Glenrothes, has been given grades of ''very good'' for quality of care and support, environment, staffing and management. In stark contrast, just last year the Fife Council-run home was under investigation after the Care Commission published a damning report in which quality of care and management were graded as ''weak''. The Care Commission which has since been replaced by Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS) said the home would have to address its shortcomings ''as a matter or urgency'' after inspectors visited in late 2010. By February of last year the home's grades had improved and were ranked as ''adequate''. However, the latest report, following an unannounced inspection on June 21, indicated that Alan McLure House has finally turned the corner. As well as tightening up on management of medication, personalised care plans and nutrition, the home has even purchased some hens to keep the residents entertained. The SCSWIS report stated: ''We found the general ambiance throughout the home to be relaxed and friendly. The home was clean and well maintained. Alan McLure House has continued to build upon previous areas for improvement. ''Management and staff taking part in this inspection were enthusiastic and committed to the ongoing improvement of the service. ''A review of each person's care is carried out every six months, at which the views of the service user and their relatives are sought and recorded. The service carries out a variety of audits to check on quality." Continued... ''The service had improved medicines management by implementing regular checks. Frequent drug audits are undertaken by the manager to assess staff competency and ensure the safe administration of medication to service users. ''We saw that the service had acted on comments and suggestions made by service users and their relatives to improve the service. This included social activities, redecoration of some individual rooms and the main corridor and hallway, four laying hens had been purchased and a new 'deluxe' hen house and run had been built in the rear garden. ''A number of the residents enjoy visiting the hens daily and everyone is currently involved in choosing names for the hens. ''Healthy eating is encouraged and the service had appointed a member of staff as 'nutrition champion' to promote improved nutrition in the care home. The champion is a point of contact for the staff team and liaises with the dietitian to help inform staff and raise awareness regarding the importance of good nutrition and hydration for older people. ''The cook is aware of specific dietary needs of service users and care staff monitor service users' nutritional status. ''We received three completed questionnaires from service users. We also spoke with 10 service users in the course of the inspection and observed staff practice. ''People told us they were comfortable in the home, felt safe and had no concerns regarding the quality of care and support provided to them in Alan McLure House.'' The Glenrothes home was among the 10 local authority homes earmarked for privatisation under a controversial proposal approved by the previous SNP-Lib Dem administration. At the time opposition councillors fiercely opposed this and the new Labour-led administration has pledged to keep council care homes in-house. Administration leader Alex Rowley said: ''I welcome this positive report. Well done to everyone involved in the management and the day-to-day running of the home. They should be very proud. ''It is crucial that we set the highest standards in Fife and this demonstrates that the quality of provision in council homes is absolutely first class. We are committed to ensuring that there is mixed provision of care in Fife and it would be wrong to simply let the private sector take over.''

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.


Claim that up to 13 Fife care home staff have been suspended

January 12 2011

A damning inspection report has cast new doubt over the future of one of Fife Council's residential care homes after an apparent dip in standards. An investigation is being carried out at Alan McLure House after the Care Commission described the quality of care and management at the Glenrothes home as "weak" following an unannounced inspection in early November. The Courier understands that a number of staff have been suspended pending the findings of the local authority's own probe into the situation, while the Care Commission confirmed on Tuesday that it plans to revisit the home as soon as possible to check on its progress. The council has refused to confirm or deny just how many staff have been suspended, although an anonymous letter to The Courier claimed as many as 13 employees, including the home's management team, have been suspended. The report marks a sudden deterioration in standards at Alan McLure, given the fact that an unannounced inspection on February 18 and an announced inspection on July 22 gave the home 'good' or 'very good' ratings. Those ratings were true following inspections in January, July and September 2009, but the latest inspection has concluded that requirements made at the time of the last inspection had not been met. A commission spokesman said, "The Care Commission works rigorously to root out bad practice. We are aware of a number of recent issues concerning poor standards of care being provided for residents at Alan McLure House. "Our last inspection report awarded the service grades of two (weak) and we demanded that the service provider immediately address these concerns to improve the standard of care being provided to residents and their families." He added, "The Care Commission has since met with senior management from Fife Council, who have provided us with an action plan with timescales and detailed information about how they are addressing these issues. "We are working closely with the service provider to ensure these improvements are made, and will continue to monitor progress." Alan McLure House is one of 10 council-run homes which are being looked at during the local authority's consultation into the future of residential care, which came to an end on Tuesday. While two new care homes, one in Kirkcaldy and one in Dunfermline, are likely to be built to replace Appin House and Raith Gates in Kirkcaldy and Matthew Fyfe in Dunfermline, the council is considering its options in relation to the remaining seven, including Alan McLure House, with a view to replacing them "as and when suitable alternative provision becomes available."Wellbeing 'paramount'However, the prospect of homes being closed to save cash, with residents transferred to homes in the private or not-for-profit sector, has not yet been ruled out, with recommendations on the best way forward expected in the coming weeks. According to inspectors, an action plan requested by the Care Commission to ensure the health and wellbeing of service users at Alan McLure House "did not reflect the urgency required," while it noted there had been "extremely limited action" in response to concerns expressed by residents' relatives. While medication-ordering procedures had been amended and there was evidence of a speedy response when stocks were low, the Care Commission revealed it had since been notified of an incident that led to a resident being without one of their medications for a whole day. Although it was noted staff recorded the maximum and minimum temperatures of stored medicines fully in 24 hours, as recommended by best practice, the report went on to reveal the minimum temperature was recorded as below the recommended level for around six weeks, with no action taken to rectify the situation. Other criticisms suggested no training had been delivered or planned in response to concerns about caring for an epilepsy sufferer, while a care plan for another resident with epilepsy did not refer to their condition. Rona Laing, head of older people's services, confirmed there is an "ongoing investigation" at Alan McLure Home but said it would be "inappropriate" to provide further details at this time. But she added, "The health and wellbeing of our residents is paramount and where our service falls short of the standards we expect, we take immediate action. "We are in direct contact with families and are working with the Care Commission to ensure that standards are maintained and that staff provide the highest quality of care for residents." The Courier revealed towards the end of 2010 an elderly woman attending day care in March was given diluted cleaning fluid to drink after the container got mixed up with a juice bottle stored in the same cupboard. She was taken to hospital for a check-up but did not require any medical treatment. The home in Balbirnie Road provides 24-hour residential care and support for up to 40 older adults.


Preview: Generations of Colour, Tatha Gallery, Newport

September 29 2017

A month-long exhibition which launches at the Tatha Gallery in Newport this weekend is a family affair. Generations of Colour features the work of the late David McClure and his grandson Calum, two artists for whom the use of bold, strong colour became a key factor in their work. In 1957 David McClure was recruited to the staff of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee by Alberto Morrocco. The the two were to maintain a close, life-long professional and personal friendship until they both died in 1998 - McClure having succeeded Morrocco as Head of Painting on the latter’s retiral in 1983. David is often credited with bringing many of the characteristics of “The Edinburgh School” to the teaching of the college in Dundee, painterly qualities, where the use of freely-handled, textural paint and strong, expressive colour is underpinned by lyrical yet rigorous drawing and composition. Calum McClure grew up surrounded by the work of a wide range of artists but with a particularly intimate knowledge of his grandfather’s work both from childhood visits to Dundee and on the walls at home and later through being able to study at first hand, his grandfather’s sketchbooks, portfolios and other works from the artist’s Estate. Calum’s predominantly landscape work however has never shown any particular influence from that of grandfather however inspired by his practice as an artist he may have been. It often involves water with landscape and trees reflected in it. Initially his work consisted of detailed pencil drawings but more prominently oils in which a “realistic” capturing of particular moments of light and pattern is achieved through a highly-varied range of tighter and freer brush marks that also manage to have an independent interest and value of their own. These works can perhaps be described as “natural” in their choice and use of colour. However in the last five years or so there has been a noticeable change in the approach to colour that coincided with the artist adding the monotype medium to his output, initially under the generous tutelage of Barbara Rae. He has continued his monotyping at Glasgow Print Studio, where etchings have also now taken the place of drawings in his output. Helen Glassford, director and co-founder of the Tatha Gallery said: “Generations of Colour serves as a precious reminder to us all that the use of bold, colourful and freely handled paint can reach out and enhance lives across all generations.” *Generations of Colour: David McClure and Calum McClure, Tatha Gallery, Newport, September 30 to October 28 www.tathagallery.com

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

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.


Relatives come to defence of under-fire Alan McLure House

January 13 2011

Relatives of a resident at a Fife care home have leapt to defence of staff after a recent inspection report highlighted an apparent drop in standards. The Courier revealed on Wednesday that a number of staff have been suspended at Alan McLure House in Glenrothes after the Care Commission described the quality of care and management as "weak" following an unannounced inspection in early November. Various problems were flagged up and the Care Commission has confirmed it has told Fife Council to "immediately address" the concerns raised, with significant improvements expected at the next inspection. However Douglas and Phyllis Hutt contacted us to say they have been disgusted by the reports and treatment of staff and seniors at the home, and praised the staff there for the work they carry out on a day-to-day basis. Mrs Hutt said, "My mother has lived at Alan McLure House happily for the last three years, and I visit every day of every week and have nothing but respect and praise for the way all the dedicated care staff and seniors look after my mother. "I personally have looked after my mother for 18 years and know how much work it takes to look after just one person." The commission said it has met senior council managers, who have provided a detailed plan about how they are addressing the issues raised. Meanwhile, former Fife councillor Joyce Smith said she was also disappointed to see the report, as her aunt had lived in the home for a number of years. She said, "She had superb levels of care and when I was a councillor we made visits to all the homes and Alan McLure House is one of the best."