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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...


“We’ve never forgotten” — Dundee couple’s wish is to find the girl they saved from River Tay almost 60 years ago

June 2 2017

A Dundee couple who saved a young girl who plunged into the River Tay almost 60 years ago say they would love to meet her again, give her a hug, and ask if she has had a good life. Jim and Rhoda Smith were a newly married couple in their 20s when fate came calling on July 19 1958. Jim was giving his wife a driving lesson on Riverside Drive when an Italian man suddenly appeared in the road, desperately trying to get them to stop. Rhoda said: "This little Italian man — who it turned out was a cripple and so couldn't do anything himself — appeared shouting 'Bambino in the water!'". The girl, Barbara Cummings, had been playing with her sister on steps at the river's edge when she slipped and fell in. Although Jim was not a strong swimmer, he saw the girl was being swept away by the current and acted on impulse. "Nothing deterred Jim," said Rhoda. "He just threw everything off, left me in the car, and jumped in the water." Jim added: "It was automatic. You don't realise what you've done until afterwards. At the time all I was thinking was 'I have to get her out'." After managing to reach the girl about 30 feet out, Jim battled to get back to the steps and, with his energy almost drained, somehow mustered the strength to pass her to safety. Jim — still soaked from his efforts — and Rhoda then drove Barbara to hospital, where she was treated overnight and went on to make a full recovery. Although Jim's heroics were officially recognised by the city — including with a letter of commendation from the town clerk, a presentation by his employer NCR, and coverage in local and national newspapers — the couple say the biggest reward of all would be meeting Barbara again after all these years. Rhoda said: "We've never forgotten about her. It's never out of our mind. "We've no family of our own and we've often wondered if she went on to have children and grandchildren." Almost 60 years on, Jim and Rhoda don't have much to go on in their search. They know Barbara, whose mother was called Ina, would now be aged around 64. She stayed in Peddie Street at the time and had sisters, including an older one called Janette. Jim added: "I was so happy I was there for her back then. I'd love to meet her again, give her a hug, and know she was OK." * Do you know Barbara? If you have any information, please contact The Courier on 01382 575130 or email news@thecourier.co.uk.   "I was sure they would both drown" The last thing on Mr Smith’s mind when he plunged into the Tay to save little Barbara Cummings was headlines or commendations. Nevertheless, the selfless actions of the “Dundee hero” were soon being celebrated in local and national newspapers. The story was first told in The Courier and Evening Telegraph, which described how the “rescue hero drove in his underwear” after saving Barbara. National titles including The Scottish Daily Express and Daily Mail followed up the story, telling how Mrs Smith wept as she watched her husband put his life on the line. “I was just horrified. James can just swim and no more,” she said. “I was sure they would both drown.” The papers also tracked down Barbara’s mother Ina, who said: “I am very grateful to Mr Smith for acting so quickly and saving Barbara’s life. “She is a very lucky girl.” The Dundee’s Own Christmas Annual also marked Mr Smith’s life-saving exploits as one of the highlights of the year. A commendation from the town clerk was a fitting final tribute to an act of extreme bravery.

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

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.

Perth & Kinross

Tributes paid to A9 accident victim

December 6 2017

Colleagues of veteran councillor Barbara Vaughan have spoken of their shock at her death following a road accident. Mrs Vaughan, who served on Perth and Kinross and Tayside regional councils, was critically injured on Friday when the car she was in plunged down an embankment on the A9 between Killiecrankie and Blair Atholl. The 77-year-old was airlifted to Ninewells Hospital by Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance following the accident, which involved a lorry and three cars, but she died later. She had a particular interest in education and served on a number of economic and educational boards, nationally and locally, including the Manpower Services Commission, Scottish Exam Board, SCOTVEC and Dundee University Court. She was also a former director of Pitlochry Festival Theatre and worked tirelessly for her Strathtay council ward. Fellow Conservative, MSP Murdo Fraser, said it was with “great sadness” that he heard of her death. “Barbara served communities in Tayside over many years in public service, firstly on Tayside Regional Council, where she was an energetic and engaged convenor of education, and more recently on Perth and Kinross Council where she represented the Strathtay ward, retiring at the local elections in May," he said. “Barbara had a life-long passion for education, for which she was honoured with the award of an OBE. “Both Barbara and her late husband Robin were great supporters of the Conservative Party both in Dundee and in Perthshire.  As my election agent for the Scottish Parliament , Barbara was both an efficient organiser and a cheerful companion, and neither I nor my family will forget the personal kindness that she and Robin showed us. “Our thoughts are with Barbara’s family at this difficult time”. Conservative council administration leader Ian Campbell paid tribute saying: “Barbara’s main interest was education and she served as the education spokesperson for the Conservative group in the 10 years she was a councillor. Her knowledge and enthusiasm for her subject was respected by officers and colleagues as she had the benefit of many years of experience working in the area of education. “Her husband Robin died several years ago and Barbara was now considering a move to be nearer her family.” Alexander Stewart, Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said it was a “privilege” to work as a councillor alongside Mrs Vaughan and described her as a “champion of her local community” whose understanding of, and enthusiasm for,  local government was unmatched.


Former Dundee hotelier Sean Brown

March 5 2016

A Dundee hotelier who worked in the industry for more than 50 years has died in Canada. Sean (John) Brown left Dundee in 2002 to take up a position as food and beverage manager at the five-star Deerhurst Hotel Resort in Ontario. Mr Brown, who was 68, grew up in Dundee and Belfast. During his career in the east of Scotland he held senior positions at many hotels and restaurants. Positions he held included banqueting and deputy general manager of the Invercarse Hotel, deputy manager of the Woodlands Hotel and club services manager of the Royal Tay Yacht CLub. He has also worked for the Royal Marines, the old Royal Hotel, Harrison’s Hotel, Greystanes Hotel and Dundee University. He was food service manager of the former Swallow Hotel before departing for Canada. Mr Brown is survived by his wife Barbara, five children, three grand children and two great-grandchildren.

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

Angus & The Mearns

No plans for prosecution a year after woman’s tragic death in Arbroath road accident

September 15 2017

The Crown Office has confirmed there will be no prosecution over an accident that claimed the life of an Angus pensioner last year. Barbara Stormont from Arbroath was knocked over in the town’s Keptie Street exactly a year ago. The 81-year-old was rushed to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee under police escort but died from her injuries. Mrs Stormont’s daughter Morag, 54, was picking her mother up from the hairdressers when the accident happened. As the civil servant pulled up to the shop, she noticed there had been accident. Within a “split second”, she realised it was her own mother who was injured. A Crown Office spokesman said: "The Procurator Fiscal has received a report in connection with the death of an 81-year-old woman on September 15 2016 at Arbroath. “The investigation into the death, under the direction of Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit, has now concluded. “After careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, the Procurator Fiscal concluded that no further investigation is required at this time. "The nearest relatives have been advised of the results of our investigation." The tragedy happened at around 3.25pm and involved a black Volkswagen Transporter van, the driver of which was uninjured. Morag said: “It all seemed to happen in a split second. “When I realised it was mum, I started screaming. I ran from my car and people were keeping me away from the accident. They took me into a charity shop.” Morag was ushered into the business, just yards away from where the incident happened, and “frantically” tried to contact family members. She said the death had a detrimental impact on the health of Barbara’s husband, Angus. She said: “My dad suffers from dementia but mum was so sprightly. “She had a hip operation in January. We never really worried about mum’s health. “Her passing has devastated our family.” As the family continues to grieve and focus on their father, Morag contacted local politicians to address the “dangerous road” where her mother lost her life. In August, Angus councillors delayed a decision over the possible siting of a pedestrian crossing in the area where the tragedy occurred. Work began on a puffin crossing near Keptie Street's junction with Catherine Street a decade ago, but was abruptly halted due to concerns about its location. Some safety improvements were put in place, but Mrs Stormont's death resulted in the issue coming back into the spotlight in the cruellest of circumstances. Councillors are now due to carry out a site visit to decide whether a signal-controlled crossing is needed, and where it should be sited.


A real hidden treasure

October 13 2016

It really doesn’t look like much, I think to myself as I reach the entrance to The Cairn. An entryway between two high walls with bushes and trees looming above, it appears little different to the driveways of many of Longforgan’s more modest homes. That’s the beauty of The Cairn, though – passers by can’t see how special it is. Neil and Barbara Cuthbert are only the third owners the house has had since it was built in 1891. Designed by John Murray Robertson for Henry Prain, it was bought by the McCririck family in the 1920s and remained in their hands until the mid 1980s when Neil and Barbara took ownership. “We love how hidden away it is,” Barbara explains. “You can walk right past it and not know it’s here. It’s only if you head down Station Road into the countryside and look back that you see what the house is really like.” The handsome red-brick C listed house contains four reception rooms, six double and one single bedrooms. The Cuthberts have refurbished the house over the 30 years they’ve lived in it. “Probably the biggest thing we did was move the kitchen into the dining room,” Barbara explains. “No one needs a dining room as big as this one was. It’s much better to have a big dining kitchen and we still have a good sized dining room next door.” The drawing room, sitting room, kitchen and dining room are all south facing with windows looking out across the rear garden and to the River Tay beyond. They created a family room at the back of the house which, with wall mounted TV and woodburning stove, is a cosy spot to while away the dark nights. A large guest bedroom is tucked away at one end of the downstairs level and has its own adjacent bathroom. Upstairs are five bedrooms, one of which is used as a study and a single bedroom or dressing room. The elevated views from this floor’s three south facing bedrooms are truly remarkable. The master has twin-aspect windows and an enormous en suite bathroom with balcony off. “We don’t use it much but this is where the previous owners used to enjoy sitting with a glass of wine in the evening,” Neil says. While they’ve modernised much of the house, Barbara and Neil have left many of the charming original features. These include working pulleys and bells once used to call servants. “Sadly, times have changed and we don’t have servants to see to our every need,” Barbara smiles. The south facing garden is quite tremendous. A wonderfully manicured lawn would put many golf courses to shame . Stone steps lead up to an outdoor terrace with excellent views across fields to the River Tay and Fife hills beyond. The grounds to the side and rear of the house contain mature woodland and an orchard. A path leads through to the original stables, which are also C listed. These had planning permission to be converted into a three-bedroom house and Neil has recently applied to have the lapsed permission revived. Those looking to develop The Cairn would also find it easy to create annex accommodation from the rear wing of the house. Both optometrists, Neil (62) and Barbara (59) are retiring next month. With their three children grown up, they’ve bought a smaller home in Earlsferry in the East Neuk of Fife. “We will miss this house tremendously,” Neil says. “It’s been a wonderful family home but of course it’s now far too big for us.”   The Cairn is on sale through Savills.

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.