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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...


Alan Suttie a lifetime of dedication to the blind

September 12 2014

Alan Suttie, chief executive of Fife Society of the Blind, has died aged 62. Mr Suttie dedicated his adult life to improving the lives of blind and partially sighted people and spent 28 years providing services in Fife. He also helped blind people in India, worked with the European Blind Union and set up projects in Tanzania. He was a trustee of the RNIB and chaired a working group for the elderly for the World Blind Union. Richard Godfrey-McKay, chairman of Fife Society for the Blind, paid tribute to Mr Suttie. “I am totally blind and first met Alan in 1998 when I was a trustee of RNIB and chair of RNIB Wales,” he said. “During the past 28 years, his total dedication to his work has resulted in the services available to blind and partially sighted people living in Fife being a standard rarely seen anywhere else in the United Kingdom. “Most recently, he oversaw the opening of the Nairn Optical Centre at the society’s premises in Wilson Avenue, Kirkcaldy, and entered into an agreement with Multilens a Swedish company to distribute high-quality glasses to those with poor sight. “He quickly realised that these glasses could take the place of the traditional hand-held magnifiers, leaving both the wearer’s hands free for using modern phones and so on. “His expertise was such that, when working for the society’s social enterprise company, FSB Enterprises, he was a much sought-after expert witness and has been involved in many legal cases throughout the UK.” Gordon Brown MP, honorary president of the Fife Society of the Blind, praised the life and achievements of Mr Suttie. He said: “Alan has championed the needs of elderly blind locally, nationally and globally and deserves much praise after 27 years of dedicated service to the people of Fife. “Working with his wife, who is blind herself, he has been a pioneer and path breaker in new services and meeting traditional needs in new ways.” “My thoughts are with his widow, who shared his enthusiasm for his charitable work, and with his family.” A service of thanksgiving will be held at St Bryce Kirk, Kirkcaldy, on Tuesday at 2.15pm.

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.


Fife forces veteran who lost sight aiming to become top rock climber

January 22 2018

A former RAF parachute instructor who broke his back then lost his sight through chicken pox is aiming to become one of the world's best rock climbers. Garry Morrison from St Andrews has regained his independence thanks to the support of Fife Society for the Blind . The Kirkcaldy-based charity helped him build confidence with mobility issues, access technology, cooking and every day tasks. The 36-year-old is so grateful that he is helping raise funds for the society and is encouraging others to do the same. Garry features in a video explaining how the charity has helped him and many others to achieve their goals following sight loss. It will be shown at the Society Ball in March which is being hosted by writer, broadcaster and comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli. Garry said: "Everybody at Fife Society was so kind to me, particularly their mobility trainer and access technology trainer. "Their help has allowed me to be independent and pretty much look after myself. "I have the advantage of being ex-forces and able to get help from forces' charities too. "Fife Society for the Blind helped me reach out to others as well." A parachute accident in 2003 meant Garry had to learn to walk again but it was chicken pox in 2015 that changed his life forever. "Spots started to appear and then it got into my eyes," he said. "Within days I had lost my sight in one eye and within a couple of months I had just 4% vision in the other eye. It was very tough. "To go from being very active to losing my sight was a huge blow. "With Fife Society for the Blind's help I am now as active as ever and part of the Team GB Paralympic rock climbing team." He added: "I would encourage people to support the work of Fife Society for the Blind by attending events such as the Society Ball. "They make a real difference to people's lives locally." Fife Society for the Blind's chief executive Carl Hodson said Garry was a huge inspiration to others who have lost their sight. "Many people wrongly believe that we only help older people or that sight issues only affect older people," he said. "Garry's experience shows that losing your sight can happen to anyone of any age. "While I am proud that we have played some part in helping Garry regain his independence, his determination and drive to take on new challenges and exceed expectations is hugely humbling."


Karten Centre for visually impaired opens at Cupar’s Elmwood College

February 7 2011

A centre has been launched that gives visually impaired people in north-east Fife access to learning technology. The Karten Centre in Elmwood College, Cupar, was officially opened by college principal Jim Crooks. It is funded by the Ian Karten Charitable Trustwith a grant following the application made by the college and Fife Society for the Blind (FSB). Since 1996 a network of Karten Centres has sprung up around the UK, Republic of Ireland and Israel aimed at improving the quality of life and independence of adults with physical, cognitive, sensory or learning disabilities. The latest developments in adaptive or assisting computer technology are offered, including special input and output devices and software. There are already Karten Centres in Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and Inverness.SupportLocated in the college study, the Elmwood centre allows specialist staff to work with students and members of the public to get the most out of the assisting technology and support on offer. Guidance and learning support manager Karen Thirkell said, "We are delighted to be able to host this facility in the college, and our partnership with FSB and the Karten Trust has given us access to top of the range technology which will benefit a wide range of people. "Hazel White from FSB has worked closely with the college in identifying suitable technology, and she will become a familiar face in the college as she develops the service to meet the needs of the local community." Mr Crooks added, "It's a wonderful opportunity for Elmwood to contribute to the community of north-east Fife. "We can offer a central point for people to try technology, which will help them to access many things which sighted people take for granted. "We are very grateful to the Fife Society for the Blind for their faith in Elmwood and for being such enthusiastic partners, and also to the Karten Trust for agreeing to pay for items which have the potential to transform lives." Fife Society for the Blind chief executive Alan Suttie said, "This is part of a broader development between the society and Elmwood which will not only give the society a base in north-east Fife but will further contribute to a partnership designed to open up life-long learning opportunities for blind and partially sighted people."

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


Gordon Brown becomes honorary president of Fife Society for the Blind

April 2 2011

Gordon Brown has followed in his father's footsteps by becoming more involved in a Fife charity's work. Mr Brown this week took over as honorary president of Fife Society for the Blind on a visit to its Kirkcaldy centre. "It is a huge honour to be asked to get involved with the Fife Society for the Blind, and I look forward to supporting its crucial work in the months ahead," he said. The former Prime Minister lost the sight in his left eye following an injury sustained playing rugby and undergoes annual check-ups. The Rev John Brown Mr Brown's father was a member of the charity's committee while minister at St Brycedale Kirk in the early 1960s and his mother supported the Kirkcaldy ladies' committee. Mr Brown received an old photograph showing St Brycedale Kirk, the former Kirkcaldy High School and the society's former office, along with a reproduction of an early annual report featuring his parents. For his wife Sarah, he was presented with Braille jewellery, together with Braille chocolate for his sons, products from the society's FSB Enterprises team. Society chief executive Alan Suttie also briefed Mr Brown on plans for the organisation. Society chairman Richard Godfrey-McKay said, "As a champion of those less fortunate in society, and as someone who is proud of his local roots, we could not find a better person to take over from Jim Adamson and to follow in the tradition started by Sir Michael Nairn."


Delving into Dundee’s archives

March 11 2017

Art and design lie at the heart of the creative industries in Dundee, industries which have often been inspired by the leisure pursuits and interests of Dundee’s population. These interconnections are clearly shown in the Archives of the University of Dundee; art and design is woven through many of the collections. This article features a few items which highlight the diversity of design related material held in the Archives. Dundee Art Society started out as the Graphic Arts Association in 1890, changing its name in 1904.  From the outset the group welcomed both professional and amateur artists as well as art patrons and lovers. As the Art College in Dundee grew, many of the staff joined the Society and used its platform to exhibit their art and network with other artists. The striking design for the cover of the centennial exhibition catalogue produced in 1990 echoes to the artistic trends of the early twentieth century. The longevity of the society reflects the continuing desire of artists within the community to join together, curate exhibitions and share their passion for art. Many of these artists had connections with the Dundee Institute of Art and Technology which was dissolved in 1975 to create Dundee College of Technology and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. The Art College remained independent until 1994 when it became a full part of the University of Dundee. All of these bodies are represented in the exhibition material, posters, photographs and student guides in the Archives.  Furthermore, alumnus of the College have contributed to our on-going Oral History Project. Former textile students, Pauline Hann and Sheila Mortlock, were interviewed to capture the personal stories of their time at the College, their career paths and interests. Hann and Mortlock were founding members of Embryo – Dundee Creative Embroiderers, formed in 1980, which developed from the frustration felt by numerous students at the lack of opportunities to exhibit contemporary embroidery within Scotland. The remit of the group was to promote the highest standards of workmanship, achieving this by restricting membership to graduates and undergraduates of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. Embryo actively promoted their work through various exhibitions not only in Scotland but across the UK, eventually joining forces with two other textile groups to form Edge – Textile Artists Scotland. Edge is still going strong and attracting new members from a broader background albeit with a recognised education in textiles. The Archive’s Embryo collection includes exhibition publicity material, photographs and correspondence. Textile samples can be found in other collections, such as The Wilson Bros Ltd collection who were taken over by Pringle of Inverness. The pattern books of the woollen and cloth products they manufactured from 1927 to 1967 are fascinating. They show the changing trends in pattern and colour combinations and how design comes in and out of fashion over the decades. Other samples in the Archives show how design blended with the mass production of durable textiles as seen in the printed designs on linen which form part of the D. J. MacDonald collection. Using only two colours, the rising sun motif for the MacDonald company is bold and graphic whereas the design for Louise, seller of lingerie and hosiery has a more delicate touch with the female form and the name of the brand printed in signature style picked out in red. Jute and linen bags adorned with colourful printed designs are still popular today. Textile design in the city is thriving. Local fashion designer, Hayley Scanlan, studied textile design at DJCAD. Her oral history recording in the Archives tells of her desire to remain rooted in the city despite her burgeoning international career. Proud of her Dundonian heritage, Hayley’s designs are influenced by the changing city and she will soon open her first shop a stones throw from DJCAD where her talents were honed. Records held in the Archive are accessible to everyone. For further information about the Archives and its collections see www.dundee.ac.uk/archives   Sharon Kelly is assistant archivist at Dundee University's Archives Services 

Angus & The Mearns

Changes to services for the blind in Angus attacked

September 2 2013

An Angus woman has said she feels she has been left in limbo over the council’s changes to its services for the blind. Wilma Robertson, 76, of Forfar, has been registered blind for three years and needs help with daily tasks such as going to the shops or getting on public transport. She had been receiving assistance from the Forfarshire Society for the Blind, which was absorbed by Angus Council in 2009, but continued its work under the council’s banner. However, Wilma said that over the past year the workers taken on to the council from that service have moved on and no replacement staff have been employed by the authority something which has left the Angus resident without a vital crutch in her daily business. The council has confirmed the departure of the two trained staff who worked for the society, but could not confirm if they will be replaced. “I became blind three years ago and there were two workers with the Forfarshire Society for the Blind who used to help me,” said Wilma, who lost her husband last year to pneumonia. “They were taken over by the social work of Angus Council and were employed by them. However, at some time in the last year both of them have left and it doesn’t seem that anyone is replacing them. “I called up to the council but I got put through to someone who said they are getting some sort of training, but they couldn’t tell me much more. “You would think that they would have had something in place before the workers left.” Angus Council said it has changed its approach to services in the community and has opted for a more “holistic” method that is aimed at addressing all the needs of a person receiving care. Wilma said that the new approach is not as effective as its previous method. She added: “When the workers are dealing with nothing other than blind people they know what they need, but if you are dealing with a mixture of disabilities it’s harder to know what some people specifically need.” A spokeswoman for Angus Council said that following a request in 2009 by Forfarshire Society for the Bind, statutory services for visually impaired people in Angus were transferred to Angus Council, with the society maintaining its charitable role locally. Following the transfer, there was recognition for the need to educate more staff in sight loss, through the provision of visual awareness training. In a bid to tackle this need, the council provided additional training for both its occupational therapy staff, and also for individuals who work within First Contact, which is the initial response team for adults.

UK & World

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.