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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...


‘Forgotten’ Carse of Gowrie farmer credited with bringing giant redwood seeds to Scotland

August 19 2017

An American botanic and natural science illustrator is travelling to Dundee on Sunday to give a talk about giant redwood trees – and the role played by “forgotten” 19th century Perthshire fruit farmer Patrick Matthew who, it is believed,  introduced them to Scotland. Peggy Edwards will visit the Dundee University Botanic Gardens to talk about the Californian Sequoiadendron giganteum – the ‘giant redwood’ – and its historical journey from America to the Carse of Gowrie in 1853. James Veitch and William Lobb, from Exeter, have previously taken the prize of being the first to introduce the seeds to Scotland. But Ms Edwards, who lives in California, says it is now widely recognised that Matthews’ seed stock arrived first. She said: “I've always had a keen interest in the British plant hunters who went to America in the 19th century - so many of our species in California bear their names, David Douglas (Douglas Fir), Archibald Menzies etc. “I have been visiting Scotland for 10 years and found out about the Matthew redwoods while researching the history of the 12 redwoods on Gillies Hill near Cambusbarron, Stirling. “There is no doubt in my mind that the Matthew redwood seeds were sent to Patrick Matthew by his son, John, several months before Lobb brought his seeds and saplings to England. “After collecting seed in the grove in June 1853, John Matthew sent by steamer to his father back in Scotland, a packet of Giant Sequoia seeds, a branch from an 1800 year old tree,  a sketch of the tree, and a letter describing the grove. The shipment arrived on  August 18, 1853.” The talk is a pre-event for a Patrick Matthew Memorial Project event being organised by the Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group on September 29. It follows controversy as to whether Patrick Matthew came up with the idea of ‘natural selection’ amongst humans 30 years before Englishman Charles Darwin published Origin of the Species in November 1859. Last year Dr Mike Sutton, a criminologist at Nottingham Trent University, claimed Scotland had been denied a “science hero” and that a “great injustice” had been done. He said his evidence suggested Darwin, who always denied plagiarism, must not only have been aware of Matthew’s work but borrowed heavily from it. Sutton’s findings have recently been published in a book ‘Nullius in Verba – Darwin’s Greatest Secret’. But it has prompted a bitter and ongoing war of words with Darwin author Julian Derry maintaining that Sutton’s work is “lazy” and mostly “fiction”, and that his methods, ideas and interpretation are all “flawed”. Sutton has defended his position, telling The Courier: “Obviously, the independently verifiable facts that I have originally discovered and published in peer reviewed journal articles and books about Charles Darwin and Patrick Matthew are a significant threat to the Darwin Industry and Darwin super fans alike. “Unable to respond to the facts honestly in the academic press all we have seen is fact denial behaviour and personal abuse and sully attempts at character assassination directed at me.” The Peggy Edwards talk takes place at Dundee Botanic Gardens from 1.30pm to 3.30pm on Sunday August 20. Entry is by ticket only and these are available from Eventbrite or by emailing carsesus@btinternet.com. For more infromation on the Patrick Matthew Weekend Memorial Project which runs from September 29 to October 1 go to www.carsesus.org

Perth & Kinross

Perthshire scientific pioneer remembered

September 26 2017

Descendants of a Carse of Gowrie man credited with discovering the process of natural selection long before Darwin, will gather in Perthshire this month to remember his legacy. For various reasons Patrick Matthew’s contribution to science has been largely overlooked, something that many would like to see rectified. Over the weekend of September 29 to October 1, the Patrick Matthew Memorial Weekend which includes tours, talks and lectures will go some way towards to marking his achievements. A 19th century Carse of Gowrie landowner, Matthew, was an apple hybridist, businessman and orchardist who contributed to the understanding of horticulture and agriculture in general. He created the largest Carse orchard on record, of 10,000 trees, and it was through tree cultivation that he discovered what he coined “the natural process of selection” and published it in 1831, 28 years before Darwin’s The Origins of Species . The Patrick Matthew Memorial Project is a collaboration between the Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group (CoGSG), Matthew expert, Dr Mike Sutton, and Matthew’s descendants from America, Germany, Holland and New Zealand, many of whom are attending the weekend. It aims to promote Matthew’s legacy through the Patrick Mathew Trail which uses local features to tell his story. The project is also a collaboration with the CoGSG’s junior division, the Junior Carsonians who are hosting a major exhibition. “Two years ago, Patrick Matthew was relatively unknown here in the Carse, so this project, funded by the Heritage Lottery, aims to promote one of our most famous Carsonians,” said  Fiona Ross, chair of the Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group. Patrick Matthew’s son, John, who was gold mining in California, came across a glade of  massive redwood, sending seeds to his father. This helped create another family legacy - a seed reserve across Scotland. Patrick Matthew died penniless and was buried in the family lair in Errol Graveyard, but no headstone was erected and, over time, the location of his grave had been forgotten. Now thanks to local historians the council’s archive, the grave has been identified and his descendants intend to work together to finally install a headstone. Go to www.carseus.org/ for details of the weekend’s events.

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Test of en-Jura-nce swim Angus teen to take on Corryvreckan challenge

August 1 2014

A young Tayside swimmer is aiming to become the youngest person to swim across the world’s third largest whirlpool. Matthew Michie is enjoying huge success in open-water swimming but Sunday’s challenge at the Gulf of Corryvreckan will be his toughest to date. The 15-year-old Carnoustie High pupil took part in a final training session at the school’s pool before leaving for Craobh Haven. Matthew has been training every day during the school holidays and has swum across the Tay a few of times in preparation, as well as doing strengthening exercises. He contacted Guinness World Records about his attempt but unfortunately they enforce a minimum age limit of 16 for endurance feats of this nature. The Gulf of Corryvreckan is a narrow strait between the islands of Jura and Scarba, in Argyll and Bute, off the west coast of Scotland. The Corryvreckan is on the northern side of the gulf, surrounding a pyramid-shaped basalt pinnacle that rises from depths of 230ft to 95ft at its rounded top. Flood tides and inflow from the Firth of Lorne to the west can drive the waters of Corryvreckan to crest in waves of more than 30ft and the roar of the resulting maelstrom can be heard 10 miles away. Matthew said he will swim only wearing a pair of long trunks, unlike others who have completed the course wearing a wetsuit. The youngster told The Courier: “I’m really looking forward to the challenge, although I am nervous but feel that I am physically and mentally prepared to achieve my goal.” Matthew’s parents, Ewan and Sandra, said they are incredibly proud of their son’s achievements He was 13 when he tackled the final Dundee bridge to bridge swim in 2012 as his introduction to open-water competition and Sandra, who used to open-water swim, said he has been “bitten by the bug”. Sandra said she had always secretly harboured the hope her son would follow in her wake by taking up the sport, and she is delighted that he has already beaten the times she swam when she was the same age. The Carnoustie High teenager had a successful season last year, which started with a crossing of the Tay from Tayport Harbour to Broughty Ferry. Matthew’s time of 35 minutes saw him home as the first junior male and second overall. Just two weeks later he completed the reverse crossing in 27 minutes, again securing him the junior male win and second overall. He also took part in the new Discovery Mile swim, finishing the top junior male and third overall, and followed that up with another category win and second overall in Loch Earn’s Crannog Isle swim. Sandra has accompanied Matthew by boat to encourage him just as her father, Fred Marshall, did for her. Matthew’s grandparents, Marjory and Fred, both agreed they are in awe of his determination and driving ambition which surpasses what Sandra achieved as an open-water swimmer. Matthew’s swimming coach, Andy Johnston, said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure coaching Matthew, who has consistently demonstrated an enormous degree of dedication, motivation and a desire to be the best he can. It comes as no surprise to me that Matthew is going to be the youngest ever person to attempt this feat. “He is a wonderful role model for the younger and peer members of Carnoustie Claymore to aspire to.” Matthew’s next ambition is to swim the two continents swim in Turkey next year. The event starts in Asia and finishes four miles away in Europe.

Perth & Kinross

‘Iconic’ Perth church gets £100,000 cash boost

February 27 2015

A historic Perth church, which has been described as “iconic,” has received a massive boost with a funding pledge from the council of £100,000 over two financial years. Members of Perth and Kinross Council’s Perth Common Good Fund committee passed an amendment this week, when they agreed to award £50,000 to St Matthew’s Church of Scotland by the end of March and then a further £50,000 in the next financial year. The church needs about £1 million for its planned Sanctuary Redevelopment Project. This would see the church being converted into a “safe, warm, bright and useful” facility, seven days a week. It is hoped conservation and repair work will take place to help the building’s long term maintenance and establish an information programme to attract Perth residents and visitors. Property and construction consultants Hardies have been contracted to project manage the work on behalf of the church. Perth Common Good Fund committee has been told the project costs for the 143-year-old building are estimated to be about £916,028, which includes heating, seating and disabled access. Councillor Jackie Coburn, convener of the committee, said that successful requests from other funding bodies total about £200,000. Applications to the Gannochy and Robertson Trusts (£100,000 each) are still pending. Part of the external funding came from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), who have initially given £7,500 to help St Matthew’s Church. “The church’s contribution is £382,839 and if successful with the Gannochy and Robertson Trust applications, this would leave a shortfall of £133,189,” Mr Coburn said. “The request to this committee is for £150,000. The church has not benefited from the fund in the last three years.” Councillor Callum Gillies told the committee he would like to see them award the church £50,000 and then loan St Matthew’s the remaining balance up to the total of £133,189. However, a council officer told Mr Gillies this was not possible. Councillor Willie Wilson described the church as “iconic,” and suggested awarding £50,000 by the end of March and then another £50,000 in the next financial year. “St Matthew’s Church is an expensive building to maintain,” he commented. “The congregation have a big burden on their shoulders but they have a business plan.” Mr Wilson told the committee that the church building is used for meetings and concerts but he added he couldn’t justify awarding them the £150,000. Councillor Alexander Stewart said he was not “averse” to Mr Gillies’ proposal and said the church was “such a focal point” in the city. “St Matthew’s is held in high esteem in Perth,” he said. Mr Wilson’s amendment was agreed by the committee and was warmly welcomed by Councillor Peter Barrett, an elder and member of the Kirk Session at St Matthew’s. He declared a non-financial interest and left the meeting while the issue was considered by councillors. Following the decision, he said: “This is very good news for St Matthew’s and the refurbishment project and particularly for all the groups and members of the public who use the facilities at St Matthew’s. “The refurbishment project will deliver more comfortable, sustainable facilities at the church and a much more flexible venue for a host of community activities and uses. “I am very pleased that the council through the Perth Common Good Fund has recognised the important role St Matthew’s plays at the heart of our community.” St Matthew’s Church is a prominent landmark in Perth’s Tay Street and is home to four First World War battalion colours of The Black Watch, as well as several memorials to the fallen.


Matthew Pope trial hears of bloodied body found in Lochee flat

January 21 2014

A police officer found a blood-stained body covered in pieces of furniture on the floor of a Dundee flat, a murder trial in Aberdeen has been told. The officer told of the grim discovery on the first day of the trial of Matthew Pope, 22, who is accused of battering 29-year-old Michael Given to death with a piece of wood and a television set last July. Sergeant Martin Jenkins said he and a colleague were called to Elders Court in Lochee after a report a resident had been threatening a neighbour. Sgt Jenkins said he had gone to the flat at around 12.35am but there was no answer. He noticed the front door of the opposite flat was ajar and had a bloodied handprint on it, and there was no answer when he knocked. Asked by prosecutor Douglas Fairley QC to describe the scene inside the flat, Sgt Jenkins replied: “There was a male lying face down on the floor with broken furniture on his back and legs. A flatscreen TV was lying on his legs. The man’s face was resting on what appeared to be a pool of blood.” The officer said the man was “cold to the touch” with no signs of life. The trial also heard from Elders Court caretaker Rowena McIntosh, 45, who was on duty that evening. She said Ryan Crighton, who lived opposite Michael Given, had approached her and Paul Taylor in the Elders Court concierge office around 10.40pm. Ms McIntosh said he appeared “agitated, frightened, angry and restless” and said Mr Given had been threatening him. She said Mr Crighton had called the police from the office and they told him to stay there until they arrived. The trial was shown CCTV footage from 11.46pm of a man wearing a red top that both the prosecution and defence agreed was Matthew Pope entering the building. The caretakers had subsequently investigated a “commotion” and found Matthew Pope, Ryan Crighton, a girl with red hair and another man on the third floor. She said Pope was “very angry” and Ryan Crighton was trying to calm him down. Ms McIntosh said: “Matthew ran back up the stairs and Ryan followed him. We heard a door bang and they ran back down the stairs. Matthew’s head was cut.” Pope is accused of murdering Mr Given on July 20 or 21 last year by punching, kicking and stamping repeatedly on his head and body, striking him with a piece of wood with nails protruding from it, striking him with a television and inflicting blunt-force injuries to him. He is accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by removing blood-stained clothing and disposing of evidence in a bin. He faces three other charges assaulting Mr Given by inflicting blunt force injuries, adopting an aggressive and threatening manner towards Paul Taylor, Rowena McIntosh and Douglas McIntyre and assaulting a man in Victoria Road, Dundee on February 10 last year. He denies all charges. The trial before Lord Armstrong continues.

Perth & Kinross

£250,000 restoration work on ‘much-loved’ St Matthew’s Church gets under way

March 8 2016

Work has begun on a £250,000 project to protect the exterior of Perth’s St Matthew’s Church which is a prominent feature on the city’s waterfront. The funding came from grants of £101,000 from both the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Historic Environment Scotland plus £18,000 from the congregation and reclaimed VAT. The project aims to restore the stonework, rainwater facilities and stained glass work to ensure the preservation of the Tay Street church. In addition, funding has been granted to help with the provision of a disabled access ramp to the main doors. Local construction company One Call Ltd was successful in tendering for this work and has made a start to the removal of corroded stone. The building with its 212ft steeple is a focal point for tourists to the area, as well as serving an important community facility for many local organisations’ meetings. It was built in 1871 and has been in continuous use as a place of worship ever since. Tom Morrison, project coordinator for St Matthew’s Church, said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this grant. Without this support the building could have gone the way of many church buildings of today. “St Matthew’s is fortunate in having a supportive congregation willing to work for the future of the church and the community at large.” Lucy Casot, head of HLF Scotland, described their grant aid as “an excellent example of how HLF can help conserve a much-loved building so it can continue to serve its local community.” The church is also undergoing major work within the building. The congregation has been holding its services in the church hall since November after more than £800,000 was raised to transform the sanctuary of the church into a more flexible space.

Perth & Kinross

Heritage Lottery Fund gives early support to Perth church’s plans for city landmark

January 21 2015

A landmark Perth church has been given thousands of pounds in the first stage of a project to carry out essential repairs. St Matthew’s, an instantly recognisable feature of the Fair City skyline, is in need of an upgrade and the minister has called on parishioners to help fund the £1 million project. The 143-year-old building has now gained initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Development funding of £7,500 has been awarded to help St Matthew’s progress plans to apply for a full grant at a later date. Property and construction consultants Hardies have been contracted to project manage the work on behalf of the church. The project aims to carry out essential conservation and repair work to assist in the building’s maintenance for the future. An information programme is also planned to encourage city residents and visitors to access the building and enjoy its historic past and the artefacts contained within. The Rev Scott Burton, minister at St Matthew’s, said the support would help to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of St Matthew’s, which was created by the merger of three other congregations. He said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund places of worship grant scheme has given this support, helping us in our aim to open the past to the future during this 50th anniversary year of our union. “These works are an essential part of the long-term plans to open the church building more fully to the community and to sustain it into the future for the benefit of all in the city.” The John Honeyman building, with its 212ft steeple, is used in publicity for many of Perth’s businesses, voluntary groups and public authorities. Its silhouette and outline is the current image utilised by Perth and Kinross Council to promote the Fair City. St Matthew’s is also the home to four First World War battalion colours of The Black Watch, as well as to many memorials to the fallen. It features stained glass from the original West Church and the three others Middle, Bridgend and Wilson Memorial which were united to form St Matthew’s in 1965.

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