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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.

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.

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.

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

UK & World

Pilot pleads not guilty over Shoreham Airshow manslaughter charges

May 15 2018

A pilot whose plane crashed during the 2015 Shoreham Airshow, killing 11 men, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.Andrew Hill, 54, faces trial on 11 charges of manslaughter by gross negligence and one of recklessly or negligently endangering an aircraft under air navigation laws.The defendant, who is on bail, pleaded not guilty to all the charges relating to the crash on August 22, 2015.He wore a grey suit and blue tie for his appearance at the Old Bailey before Judge Richard Marks QC.The judge set a trial for January 14 2019 and confirmed the case would be heard by a High Court judge.The trial is expected to go on for up to seven weeks.The victims were Maurice Rex Abrahams, Dylan Archer, Anthony David Brightwell, Matthew James Grimstone, Matthew Wesley Jones, James Graham Mallinson, Mark Alexander Reeves, Jacob Henry Schilt, Richard Jonathan Smith, Mark James Trussler and Daniele Gaetano Polito.Hill, of Sandon, Hertfordshire, is accused of “recklessly or negligently” endangering a Hawker Hunter G-BXFI or any person on that aircraft contrary to Article 137 of the Air Navigation Order 2009.Judge Marks ordered a pre-trial review at the Old Bailey on a date to be arranged at the end of October.Hill remains on unconditional bail.

Perth & Kinross

Former JLS singer gets kayaking lesson from Perth minister on the Tay

May 8 2018

A Perth minister said his daughters were left green with envy after he went paddling along the River Tay with former JLS star JB Gill. Rev Scott Burton of St Matthew’s Church went kayaking with the ex-boyband member as part of a feature on the Fair City for the BBC's Songs of Praise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEYhGhdwMKI The minister, whose passion for kayaking led to him writing a book called Holy Whitewater, said the experience - which will be aired on BBC One on May 27 - was joyful and uplifting. Mr Burton said: “The producers of Songs of Praise contacted me as they wanted to compile reports on personalities in Perth. “They heard about my exploits and the fact that I’d had a book published on the spirituality of kayaking." Mr Burton is a regular paddler on the Tay, which is opposite his church, and has tackled rivers including the Tummel, Etive, Spey and even a section of the Colorado in the USA while doing pulpit exchanges in Denver in 2012. “JB from JLS is a new presenter on Songs of Praise and has a keen interest in the outdoors but hadn’t really kayaked since his teenage years as a scout,” he said. “He did exceptionally well coming out on to the River Tay to interview me and ask how my hobby affects my ministry and vice versa. “It was a joy to meet JB, who is a committed Christian and family man. “My daughters were very jealous as they were big fans of the band JLS in their younger years.” Mr Burton said the pair discussed the sudden loss of his best friend and kayaking partner, Dave Mackay, who had a fatal aneurism in St Matthew’s Church manse in 2014. “I describe this as one of the treacherous rapids sections and how within such awful events, Christ the living water, can still nourish our souls amidst the trauma,” added the minister. Mr Burton, who took up kayaking in 2007, has been immortalised in Rob Hain's colourful and quirky "birds eye view" of Perth. He is depicted standing outside his church on Tay Street with a kayak and paddle. St Matthew’s Church recently underwent a £875,000 refurbishment and Mr Burton donated £8,500 from the sale of his book to the project.