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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...


Dundee High pupils’ million penny challenge

May 29 2013

Children at Dundee High School have been taking part in a challenge to raise a million pennies to help support cancer patients. Pupils at the junior section of the school have been collecting loose change and presented £220 to the Maggie’s Centre Dundee. The centre is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and wants to raise £10,000 to mark the occasion. Gwyneth McLaren, head of the junior school said: “We are happy to help a local charity which does such good work in a very simple way which children understand.” Lisa Mitchell, of Maggie’s Dundee, said the school has been “extremely supportive” and there are also collections at the cafe in Ninewells Hospital and the Greenroom Salon. She said: “We still have a bit to go, so I would like the whole of Dundee to get behind this. “After all, pennies are at the bottom of your bag weighing you down, why not give them to this very worthy cause? “A little bit goes a long way and all money raised stays in this area,” Lisa added.

Perth & Kinross

Trip of a lifetime for intrepid friends

December 13 2017

Being stuck on a boat for two days with no food and water might not be everyone’s idea of fun, but three friends from Courier Country took it in their stride when they took part in one of the world’s great adventure challenges. Alan Mann and Euan Simpson, both 27,  who have been friends since they went to Grove Academy together, were joined by Scott Lauder, 36, who is originally from Perth but who also now lives in Dundee, on this year’s Mongol Rally. To add to the discomfort there was only one working toilet on the boat for 500 people, but still the trio look back on the trip with fondness. Over the course of four weeks this summer in a 2002 Nisan Micra, the three men travelled 12,000 miles through more than 20 countries. The  team – otherwise known as The TayKhans – even “accidentally” managed to come fifth out of 350 teams, raising £3,600 for Maggie’s Centre. “It was fantastic — the experience of a lifetime,” said Alan. “It was unmatched by anything else I have done.” Their friendship has survived the hardships though their car needed a bit of attention with a few punctures and some welding required along the way. “It went really, really well with no real hiccups,” said Alan as they presented the proceeds to Maggie’s. Their high speed journey was necessary due to a need to finish in good time due to work commitments and they often drove through the night to make good time. Borders were the worst part of the trip  with it taking three and a half days (including the two on a boat) to get into Turkmenistan. The annoyance of the bureaucracy when crossing borders was offset by the many kindnesses they were shown by local people as they made their way through Europe and beyond, to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, and then on to the official finish line in Ulan-ude, Russia. “People bent over backwards to help us which was a heartwarming experience,” said Alan, a heating engineer. No further trips are planned at the moment as it was felt that the support of wives and girlfriends had used up more than a fair share of goodwill.


Staff at Maggie’s Dundee blow out candles and wish centre will “always be here”

September 26 2013

As Maggie’s Dundee celebrates its 10th anniversary, Caroline Lindsay finds out more about the centre that has helped nearly 100,000 people since it first opened its doors. Since the iconic building, designed by Guggenheim Museum architect Frank Gehry, opened on September 25 2003, it has had thousands of visitors looking to access the charity’s programme of support. The Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Centres Trust was founded by Maggie Keswick Jencks in 1995 to provide support for people affected by cancer, their families, carers and friends, to empower people to live with, through and beyond cancer. Maggie was a writer, a landscape designer, a painter and a mother of two who, in May 1993, was told that her breast cancer had recurred and spread to her bones, liver and brain. When asked, her oncologist gave her two to three months to live. By joining a trial involving advanced chemotherapy Maggie extended her life by a further 18 months and it was in this time that her idea for a cancer caring centre was born. She worked closely with her oncology nurse and was asked to write an article for a medical journal on a patient’s perspective on being treated for cancer. This gave her the opportunity to work out what it was that she and the many others affected by cancer needed. She was convinced that everybody would feel better, as she did, if they felt able to take some active role in what was happening to them. In order not to be a “cancer victim”, she believed, you needed help with information, that would allow you to be an informed participant in your medical treatment, help with stress reducing strategies, psychological support and the opportunity to meet up and share with other people in similar circumstances in a relaxed domestic atmosphere. She talked to her medical team at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh about a place to help their patients with the very real, if not medical, problems of living with cancer and then drew up a blueprint and plans for a pioneering venture, in a stable block in the grounds of the hospital. Maggie died in July 1995 and the first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh in November 1996. There are now six centres in Scotland and a total of 17 worldwide. The centres are for anyone affected by cancer places where people are welcome whenever they need support from just being diagnosed or undergoing treatment, to post-treatment, recurrence, end of life or in bereavement, so friends and family are welcomed too. Maggie’s Centre Dundee Head Lesley Howells said: “It is simply wonderful to be celebrating our 10th birthday and to know that every year we are helping more and more people. “At our open day yesterday we welcomed so many visitors: the Lady Provost, people we have known for years and who have used us in so many ways, and folk just coming in to the centre to use it as they would every day. “What really made my day was the number of people visiting the centre for the first time, trying out some of our taster sessions including yoga, tai chi and creative writing. “We are so lucky that we have very little staff turnover here; we love working here because we all know that what we do has such an impact. “Maggie’s Dundee is undoubtedly a huge success in offering the support which people with cancer, as well as their friends and families, so badly need. That is thanks to the expert team of staff at Maggie’s but also mainly to the many volunteers, supporters and fundraisers in Dundee and the wider area who are the life and soul of everything that happens here. “We have a birthday tree here in the centre where anyone can add their birthday hopes and wishes, and my wish is that Maggie’s will always be here for anybody and everybody who needs us in Tayside there’s a part in the Maggie’s programme that will suit you. “The more people who talk about us and come to see us, the better you are all so, so welcome.”


More than medicine: Maggie’s Dundee

October 8 2016

Maggie’s centres offer free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their family and friends. We spend at day at Maggie’s Dundee and make some surprising discoveries... Pop into the Maggie’s Centre in Dundee and the chances are, you’ll be met with the wonderful aroma of freshly brewed coffee – and, if you’re lucky, homemade cake. That was certainly my experience when I turned up at the centre, in the grounds of Ninewells Hospital, last week. Groups of people were clustered round the kitchen table making cups of tea and coffee while tucking into a sumptuous Victoria sponge. There’s no doom and gloom here, despite the fact most of the centre’s users are, in some way, affected by cancer. Rather, it’s an uplifting, inspiring, welcoming, warm and friendly hub of positivity. On the day I visit, there’s a packed programme of activities, with everything from nutrition workshops to walking, gardening and bereavement groups, as well as breast prostheses fitting, a “Where Now?” course, and brain tumour network group. Other days host coping with hair loss sessions, mindfulness classes, creative writing groups, yoga, relaxation, tai chi, lung or prostate cancer groups...the list goes on. The centre has a team of qualified professionals on hand to offer a programme of support that’s been shown to improve physical and emotional wellbeing during treatment and recovery. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu4j_aGgxXM The amazing thing about Maggie’s is that it’s free and you don’t need a referral from a doctor, although your medical team may encourage you to go along as what they offer is designed to complement the specialist cancer care the NHS provides. And, as fundraising manager Valerie Busher says, it's a service which enables people to gain control of their lives. "Cancer can feel like a whirlwind but Maggie’s helps you gain control where possible," she says. "You can drop in when you want and use Maggie’s as little or as often as you need. Even the simple act of making your own cup of tea here can be empowering. And the fact you get your tea and coffee in a proper cup – not a polystyrene one – makes a huge difference.”   I find former cervical cancer patient Karen Campbell sitting in a quiet corner reading a book about mindfulness. “I just popped in to have some space,” she tells me. “It’s such a fantastic place where you can just drop in, have a cup of tea, forget about everything and relax. “I had successful treatment and I’m clear now but I still go to the cervical cancer support group every month where I can help those who’ve been newly diagnosed and answer questions about my experience. It’s a place to get things off your chest and talk to people on the same level.” Karen also has weekly counselling sessions with centre head and consultant clinical psychologist Lesley Howells where they discuss lifestyle changes. Cancer support specialist Karen MacKinnon says Maggie’s is about supporting people “the whole way through” their journey. That includes offering bereavement counselling. “When a loved one dies, it’s a very difficult time and people can benefit from shared understanding. By coming to the bereavement group, they can feel less isolated. “Part of the problem is that people only really know bereavement from what they’ve seen on TV, but the reality is, it goes deeper than that.” Sian Clifford, who leads the bereavement group, tells me sessions act as arenas where people can share and normalise grief. “They enable emotional expression but they also ground people; I can’t leave someone to go out into the world with an open box of grief. But people are surprised to discover that we also laugh a lot and use lots of humour.” One of cancer support specialist Lorna McGoldrick’s roles is to provide a warm welcome for people dropping in to Maggie’s. “My job is to open up conversations. When people come in, you need to work out what kind of chat they want to have. They might be in shock or they might want to cry. We can take them into private nooks and crannies and bring them to an area they feel sheltered, but you don’t want to give the impression you’re embarrassed by their tears. “Others come in and want advice on wigs or hats, or simply to look at books. Here at Maggie’s, I see the best of human nature: people reaching out to one another, showing kindness, courage, strength, incredible spirit and huge generosity despite really difficult circumstances.” Benefits advisor Sheila Kidd’s job is to take away some of the stress those diagnosed with cancer are experiencing. I accompany her as she visits patients in Ninewells and offers benefits advice. People gravitate towards her like moths drawn to a flame – and for a whole host of reasons. “I help people work out what benefits they may be entitled to and offer practical help with the processes of filling in complex forms,” she tells me, showing me a daunting stack of paperwork. “Some travel from miles away, spending a fortune on fuel, so they need help with travel grants. Others aren’t able to work and they worry how they’ll pay the mortgage or look after their families. Filling in complicated forms is the last thing they need to worry about when faced with a diagnosis, so I’m there to help. It can be a relief when I’m there to take all that stress out of their hands.” Meanwhile, the Maggie’s “Where Now?” programme is designed to support those adjusting to life after cancer. The seven-week course focuses on everything from exercise to healthy eating, emotional wellbeing and nutrition. I drop in on a group of women doing gentle aerobics with physical activity specialist Valerie Duguid. “Everybody has different physical needs but a side effect of cancer treatment is loss of physical function,” she says. “It’s about looking at how we can improve strength and endurance and get back a level a fitness.” Julie-Anne Alexander says, for her, it’s about getting back to the “new normal”. “The ‘Where Now?’ course is brilliant in terms of boosting confidence and meeting other people who’ve been through similar treatment. “It helps on so many levels, and even sessions on how to use makeup can be beneficial. Cancer can change the dynamics of relationships and these sessions show you how to help your family understand what you need.” Angela Jones says she feels a sense of peace wash over her when she comes to the Maggie’s Centre. “It’s like an oasis – it feels like another home.” And Jane Murray says she finds it easier to come here and talk to people who have been on similar journeys, plus she’s made lifelong friends along the way. It’s important to centre manager Lesley Howells that people and their families feel comfortable just dropping into Maggie’s any time, trusting that they will help them work out what cancer support is right for them. “This could include financial advice, emotional support, help to make healthy changes to their lifestyle or advice about talking with their employer or their children,” she says. “Maggie’s Dundee is so proud to work alongside our NHS and local council colleagues to help people and their families deal with the practical and emotional impact of cancer.” info There are more than two million people in the UK living with, through and beyond cancer – with 300,000 new diagnoses each year. It costs £2,400 to run a Maggie’s Centre for a day and the charity is only able to open its doors free of charge thanks to the fantastic support from the communities around the Centres. By signing up to Pay for a Day and pledging to donate or fundraise £2,400, you will be helping Maggie’s to continue providing its unique support to people with cancer. To find out more, call Valerie Busher, centre fundraising manager at Maggie’s Dundee, on 07825 056384 or visit www.maggiescentres.org/campaigns/pay-for-day/


Jack Vettriano design bagged by Scotmid Co-op

May 21 2013

Fife artist Jack Vettriano has designed an eco-friendly shopping bag to raise money for charity. The limited edition bags, which are being sold at Scotmid Co-operative stores, features his work, Anniversary Waltz. It is hoped the £2 totes will raise more than £10,000 for Maggie’s, which is the retailer’s charity of the year. Vettriano is a long-term supporter of Maggie’s after a visit to Maggie’s Fife in Kirkcaldy. He raised more than £20,000 for Maggie’s in 2010 when his famous image, Lets Twist Again, was used on the First Minister’s Christmas card. Vettriano said: “I am delighted to lend my support to Scotmid’s fundraising campaign for Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres I have seen the brilliant work they do first hand in my hometown, Kirkcaldy, and hope that their network of centres continues to grow with our support.” Scotmid Co-operative head of corporate communications Malcolm Brown said: “We encourage our customers to pick up one of these beautiful bags while they can so that Maggie’s can deliver their exceptional support and advice to as many people as possible in our community.”


Blairgowrie motorcyclists ride out for Maggie’s Centre

May 11 2015

The Blairgowrie and District Motorcycle Club held its 10th anniversary run in aid of the Maggie’s Centre in Dundee on Sunday. Starting off in the morning at Coupar Angus, the riders followed a 140-mile route through Perthshire, Fife and across the Tay Road Bridge to Dundee, ending up at the Maggie’s Centre. Nearly £30,000 has been raised in the past decade by the club.

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


Simple Minds aim to get parade alive and kicking

February 16 2018

Scottish rock legends Simple Minds have joined the Maggie’s Penguin Parade as an official sponsor. It’s a “Glittering Prize” for the cancer care charity, which will benefit from funds raised by the public art trail and eventual auction of the 80 giant penguin sculptures. Jim Kerr, lead singer, said: “We’re delighted to be sponsoring a penguin in this year’s Maggie’s Penguin Parade and to be involved with such a worthwhile cause.” The band will play in Dundee as part of their Grandslam 2018 Summer Tour on September 9. They have selected artist Fiona Sutherland, a graduate of Dundee University, to design their penguin. City-born Fiona has worked as a sculptor and art teacher since graduating in fine art from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in 1986. Now living in New Zealand, she has produced many public art pieces on display in Queensland, Australia and Nelson in New Zealand. Her often quirky art style is influenced by her Beano artist father David Sutherland. The Penguin Parade has already proved to be a success after selling out of sponsorship in four months. Fundraising manager Annie Long said: “Support from across the region has flooded in – from shops to hotels, global companies to family-run construction companies and now rock legends Simple Minds.” Earlier this month, the names of the 80 artists selected to paint the penguins were revealed. The designs themselves will remain a well-guarded secret until the parade trail launches on June 29. Blair McCafferty – who contributed an Oor Wullie design for the 2016 Bucket Trail – is one of the selected artists. Another is Brodie Hart, a computer arts graduate from Abertay University. Dr Caroline Erolin, a medical artist at Dundee University usually found creating facial reconstructions for anatomy teaching, contributed her idea believing it would be a “fun challenge”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljIQo1OHkTI   Aberdeenshire-based artist Lindsay Allardyce’s eye-catching design was inspired by her love of traditional Scottish and Nordic folk design and a trip to Shetland. The inspiration for teacher and illustrator Karen MacAllister’s idea, Tick-Tock, came from childhood memories of Dundee and the Wellgate Clock in the 1980s. Charles Jencks, co-founder of Maggie’s centres and a celebrated landscape designer, showed his backing for the project by contributing his own penguin design. Artist coordinator for the penguin parade, Suzanne Scott, will paint the design on his behalf. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu4j_aGgxXM It costs £2,400 a day to run Maggie’s Dundee, a centre which offers free practical, emotional and social support to those affected by cancer. The centre received more than 12,000 visits in 2017 – around 50-70 people a day. And since 2016, there has been an increase of 15% in visits from people newly diagnosed with cancer.  

Angus & The Mearns

Oor Wullie’s adventure inspires Angus man’s poetry

April 10 2014

An Angus man who started writing poetry when he was recovering from cancer has penned a poem from the perspective of the Oor Wullie garden ornament that went missing from Edzell. Gordon Tosh, 63, was inspired after reading an article in Saturday’s Courier that an Oor Wullie statue that was stolen from the Angus village in February may have turned up in Banff. Gordon, from Arbroath, was diagnosed with lung cancer eight years ago, but was given the all clear after chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Staff at Maggie’s Centre in Dundee suggested he take up writing as part of his recovery. “The nurses thought that writing might help me get through the change in my life, that it would help me get to terms with things,” he said. “It was also to get a new experience of something I’d never done before. Writing has helped me learn more about myself.” Gordon, who worked as a coalminer for 28 years and then as a mechanic at Stagecoach’s Arbroath depot, subsequently joined a writing group that meets monthly at Maggie’s in Dundee. He said: “When I saw the article about the Oor Wullie ornament in The Courier, it got my creative juices flowing. I’m looking forward to reading it out at the next meeting.” A van containing 33 gnomes and other garden ornaments, including the distinctive statue of Oor Wullie sitting on his bucket polishing his shoe. was found in Banff last week. Isla Johnstone, from Edzell, had her ornament stolen from outside her house in February and contacted police to claim him. However, Wullie’s owner has been traced to an address in Banff, while 31 of the gnomes found are still to be claimed. Mrs Johnstone said: “I’m disappointed that Wullie won’t be coming home, but delighted that the story inspired a poem.”