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Angus & The Mearns

Tragic Ralph Smith’s name may live on in airmen award

May 2 2017

The name of a tragic Tayside teenager who lost his life this year may live on in an award. Ralph Smith, 18, from Dundee fell from Arbroath cliffs on February 25 during a family walk. Police Scotland called off the rescue operation after a week but volunteers from the UK Civil Air Patrol Scotland (UKCAPS) continued to search. And the unit is considering an honour in Ralph’s memory following generous donations from his family. Members of UKCAPS were joined by his father, Ralph Smith sen, and Craig McCabe at a Perth Airport training day. Craig undertook the Angus half marathon in the boy’s memory, raising £870 for UKCAPS, and donations arranged by Ralph sen at his son's funeral seem likely to double this total — although the exact sum raised is still rising. UKCAPS unit chief pilot Archie Liggat said: “Once again UKCAPS are humbled by the assistance received from Ralph, Craig and the wider community who have supported them at this unbelievably difficult time. “The money they have raised will all be used to help others who need the assistance of volunteer search assets. “We are also considering initiating an award in memory of young Ralphie within UKCAPS so that his name will live on." Norman Sutherland, deputy unit chief pilot said: “UKCAP Scotland is not a big charity. “We maintain very low operating costs, largely because our crews donate their time and aircraft completely free of charge. “Because of this, the funds that we have received in young Ralphie's name would allow us to conduct a search of the entire coastline of mainland Scotland.” Most of the volunteer pilots in Scotland were previously in the RAF or police forces and have tens of thousands of hours’ flying experience. They search with the naked eye and also carry binoculars so if the observer spots anything he can tell the pilot to turn and they can go back and look. Ralph’s family took to social media to thank the volunteers for their efforts and said they appreciated all they were doing from the bottom of their hearts.

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

VIDEO: Dundee United fans leave tributes to club legend Ralph Milne at Tannadice

September 7 2015

Dundee United fans have been leaving tributes to legendary player Ralph Milne outside the club’s Tannadice Park home. Flowers joined scarves and football shirts inscribed with messages from fans who have hailed him as one of their team’s finest talents. Dundee United will hold a minute’s silence ahead of this weekend’s clash with Kilmarnock in memory of the player, a “Dundee boy” who has always been “one of our own” to fans. The club has also announced that Saturday’s match-day magazine will be dedicated to Milne, with all its columnists writing a piece related to him. The man known to many as “Ralphie” died at Ninewells Hospital on Sunday evening after a long battle with liver problems. Former team-mate John Holt said news of Milne’s passing had been “devastating”. “Ralph was an impeccable player and the amount of goals he scored for the team was remarkable,” he said.“He really was a legend. “He was one of the typical Dundee lads in that side and was always pulling pranks.We were like one big happy family.” Speaking on behalf of the Federation of Dundee United Supporters Clubs, Mark McMahon said United fans everywhere had lost a hero and the city a great man. “Our thoughts are with Ralph’s family and friends,” he said.“He was a fantastic player and he gave us many happy memories. “Ralph had something special. He was so direct and once he was past his player everyone struggled to stay with him. “He played with stars like Hegarty, Narey, Malpas and Bannon but he was right up there as one of the fans’ favourites. “Ralph will always be held in very high esteem. He was one of our own. A Dundee lad. “He still went to Tannadice from time to time and anyone who met him knew that he was just a really nice guy. “To lose him so young is a sore one for the fans, to say nothing of his family and close friends.” There have also been tributes from within the club, with Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson saying: “Ralph’s skill and flair epitomised the Dundee United teams he graced and he was undoubtedly one of the finest footballers to hail from the city of Dundee. “He remains Dundee United’s top goalscorer in Europe and I am grateful to have watched him in his prime many times during those fantastic years in which he starred for United. “It was a privilege to have known Ralph and he will be remembered fondly and missed sadly by Arabs everywhere.” The club has invited “any fans of Ralph wishing to leave a tribute” to lay them within the directors’ car park, outside the main reception at Tannadice.

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

Angus & The Mearns

Tragic marine’s family lose everything in catastrophic fire

June 13 2016

Treasured mementos of a tragic Royal Marine have been lost forever after his family’ home burned down in a devastating fire. Ralph Hebden fell to his death from a foggy clifftop off the Arbroath coast after going missing from RM Condor on March 11 2013. Toxteth-born Mr Hebden, 32, who was an Afghanistan veteran, was found three weeks later. His wife, Sarah, gave birth to their daughter, Evie, in the period following his disappearance. The Hebdens returned to the Liverpool area following a harrowing investigation that recorded Marine Hebden’s death as a “tragic accident”. The family has now suffered further heartbreak. Sarah said: “We’ve lost everything. I can cope without material possessions like clothes and other bits and pieces but I was keeping a memory box of Ralph for Evie as she never got to meet him. “I’d kept things like his dog tags, newspaper cuttings, letters he’d written while he was away, our wedding album, and Evie’s baby scan to show to her when she was old enough to understand, but now they’ve all gone.” A forces charity has made a nationwide appeal and provided for the family. A spokesman for Scotty’s Little Soldiers, a charity for the children of dead service personnel, said: “If growing up without a dad wasn’t enough to deal with Evie and her mum Sarah also lost their home and all of their possessions to a fire. “Scotty’s Little Soldiers were able to provide the Hebden family with an initial emergency grant but now on their behalf we’re asking the British public to ‪#HelpEvie and her mum get back on their feet.” Arbroath councillor David Fairweather said: “It’s very sad that this has happened to the family so soon after Ralph’s death and my heart goes out to them at this time. “I am sure Ralph’s former comrades at Condor will be sad to hear this news and will rally round to do everything they can to help the family along with the wider Angus community. “Ralph and his family were in Arbroath for a long time and I’m hopeful that some of his former colleagues and friends might have photographs of Ralph that they can send to the family which might in some small way make up for what has been lost.”

Dundee

Family to carry out search for missing Ralphie after week of tragedy

March 3 2017

Dozens of volunteers are expected to help a grieving Dundee family search for missing Arbroath teenager Ralph Smith. The 18-year-old fell from Arbroath cliffs last Saturday and is presumed dead. However, his body still has not been recovered. His disappearance was the start of 24 hours of tragedy for the family. Two other relatives, Julie McCash and David Sorrie, were killed at a vigil for Ralph the following morning. Police have ended their search for the teenager but the family is planning its own "safe search" along the Angus and Fife coastlines on Saturday morning. Anyone who wants to help search the north Fife coastline is asked to meet at the Tay Road Bridge Car Park at 10am while those who want to assist in Angus should meet at the McDonald's car park at Dobbie's Garden Centre at the same time. The searches will begin at 10.30am and cover 18 sites in Angus and another six in Fife. Volunteers are asked to wear suitable clothing and footwear and to bring their own food and a hot flask. Speaking on social media, relatives  Billy and Gary Sorrie said: “As most of you will be aware, tragedy struck our family three times in the space of 24 hours with the deaths of Wee Ralphie, Julie and David. “To say this week has been unbearable would be an understatement. Each and every single member of our family is heartbroken beyond belief and we are all still in shock. “Our despair deepens as at this moment Wee Ralphie’s body has still not been recovered.” The pair said that the heartache of Ralph's parents Nicola Duffy and Ralph was “unimaginable”. They added: “As a family, we are organising a safe search on Saturday covering as many beach areas and accessible routes as possible, both north and south of Arbroath cliffs. “Anyone wishing to help with this search is more than welcome but we must stress that this will be a safe search, as we do not want to put anyone in any danger. “With that in mind, we must ask that anyone wishing to participate should be fit and healthy, over the age of 18, come fully prepared for bad weather with the correct clothing and has transport available." A later post added: "We have 18 sites in Angus/Aberdeenshire and six in Fife so need as many volunteers as possible ." The bodies of Julie McCash and David Sorrie were discovered in the street in the early hours of Sunday morning. Robert Stratton, 42, of Drumlanrig Drive, was subsequently charged with their murder and the attempted murder of a third person. He was also charged with assault.

Angus & The Mearns

Volunteer pilots hailed as they continue painstaking coastal search for Ralph

March 13 2017

Volunteer pilots continuing the search for the body of a missing Tayside teenager have been hailed for their efforts. Ralph Smith, 18, from Dundee, is presumed dead after falling from Arbroath cliffs around 1pm on Saturday February 25 during a family walk. Police called off the rescue operation after a week but volunteers from the UK Civil Air Patrol Scotland (UKCAPS) have continued the search. UKCAPS undertook multiple searches along the Arbroath coast on Saturday from the harbour up to Corbie Knowe at Lunan Bay which has left Ralph’s family and friends overwhelmed. The family have taken to social media to thank the volunteers for their efforts and said they appreciated all they were doing from the bottom of their hearts. A spokesman for UKCAPS said: “Although the weather earlier in the day was poor, it improved sufficiently for three Perth-based aircraft to spend a number of hours on a concentrated search of the cliffs to the north of the town. “Visibility in the search area was excellent, with binoculars used to provide a detailed view of that component of the coastline only visible from the sea and air. “Although a number of objects were spotted that were investigated further, none of these turned out to be significant. “Our thoughts continue to be with Ralphie’s family and friends.” Most of the volunteer pilots in Scotland were previously in the RAF or police forces and have tens of thousands of hours’ flying experience. They search with the naked eye and also carry binoculars so if the observer spots anything he can tell the pilot to turn and they can go back and look. UKCAPS are committed to continuing to search for Ralph and the volunteers are said to have been left “humbled” by the family’s kind words. The purpose of UKCAPS is to provide occasional airborne assistance to first responders, agencies, groups or individuals who would otherwise not have access to such a facility. UKCAP Scotland has aircraft, pilots and observers based all over the country operating from permanent airfields and farm strips. This ensures maximum flexibility and reduces transit time by air to the scene of assistance.

Angus & The Mearns

Man sacked for attending gin festival while off sick with stress

January 9 2018

A Dundee man was sacked while on sick leave following the murder of one of his friends and the disappearance of a close friend's son when his bosses found out he had gone to a gin festival. Stan Reid was off work due to stress associated with the hunt for teenager Ralph Smith, who had fallen from cliffs near Arbroath, and the subsequent killings of Julie McCash and David Sorrie following a vigil at the teenager's family home in Whitfield. However, bosses at the city's Michelin factory learned he had attended a gin festival  and fired him for gross misconduct. An employment tribunal in Dundee yesterday heard the company was alerted to a Facebook post, in which Mr Reid was tagged, that suggested he was at the event in Glasgow. A comment from him, stating "I'm not there", was followed by a comment from his girlfriend which said "shhh...." The factory's production manager and joint disciplinary committee (JDC) chairman David Ashforth said the messages suggested Mr Reid was not as sick as his employers had been led to believe. He said: "For me and the panel, we felt that if he could go to a gin festival then he could go to his work. "I understand the circumstances around this were difficult but why was going to a gin festival a good idea?" The tribunal, heard by Peter Wallington QC, was told Mr Reid had been certified as sick due to stress as a result of the disappearance and murders. Mr Reid was a major part of the search effort for 18-year-old Ralph Smith— who he had known since his birth — in circumstances described by his solicitor Ryan Russell as "incredibly distressful." The tragedy was compounded when Ms McCash and Mr Sorrie were murdered. One month later, Ralph's death was confirmed after his body washed up on the town's Victoria Park. A second witness, Michelin's development manager Stuart Duncan, said he did not believe Mr Reid was sick but did not question the authenticity of his certification. Mr Russell questioned this rationale and  criticised Mr Duncan's failure to follow company procedure when he dismissed Mr Reid. Mr Duncan said he had already made the decision to dismiss him following the JDC, despite Mr Reid being told he would be given the opportunity to argue his case. Mr Russel said: "I would put it to you that this is shocking. "It's a complete and utter disregard for all proper process. You just dismissed Mr Reid before he had even uttered a word. He was not given a fair crack of the whip." Mr Duncan responded that his understanding was that the meeting was simply to "deliver my decision". The tribunal continues today.

Dundee

Dundee United fans gather at Tannadice as Tangerines legend Ralph Milne is laid to rest

September 14 2015

Dundee United fans flocked to Tannadice to pay tribute to club legend Ralph Milne. Around 200 supporters lined Tannadice Street to salute the Tangerines legend who recently passed Decked in scarves and United tops, mourners paid homage and applauded as Milne’s coffin was driven past the ground where he made his name on its way to Dundee Crematorium. Among those paying their respects was the club’s Assistant Academy Manager Steven Leahy. Steven, 31, who also manages local junior side Lochee United, revealed that he felt he had to attend the procession after growing up watching Milne star for both Dundee United and Manchester United. He said: “I was born the same year as Ralph’s goal that won United the league in 1983. “The amount of people at the ground on Saturday and here today show that Ralph was loved by both United and Dundee fans. “His death has brought the whole city together.”

Angus & The Mearns

Air search continues for missing Dundee teen Ralph Smith

March 20 2017

Poor weather has again hampered efforts to find the body of a missing Tayside teenager. Ralph Smith, 18, from Dundee, is presumed dead after falling from Arbroath cliffs around 1pm on Saturday February 25 during a family walk. Police called off the rescue operation after a week but volunteers from the UK Civil Air Patrol Scotland (UKCAPS) are continuing to search. UKCAPS was scheduled to undertake more searching from Lunan Bay down to the town harbour over the weekend. However, their efforts were undermined by low cloud. A spokesman for UKCAPS said: "Unfortunately low cloud and poor visibility hampered UKCAP Scotland's planned searches for Ralph Smith today. "Unit Chief Pilot Archie Liggat did manage to get airborne from his Fife base with a CAP observer, however. "A trace they have shared shows a linear search of the East Fife coast and South Tay estuary. "It clearly shows the aircraft track, including circling where something was seen that required further investigation." Archie, who was an RAF fighter pilot and 747 captain with British Airways before joining UKCAPS, reported that despite some low lying cloud, search visibility was excellent. He also noted that "searches will continue once the weather improves". Most of the volunteer pilots in Scotland were previously in the RAF or police forces and have tens of thousands of hours’ flying experience. They search with the naked eye and also carry binoculars so if the observer spots anything he can tell the pilot to turn and they can go back and look. Ralph’s family have taken to social media to thank the volunteers for their efforts and said they appreciated all they were doing from the bottom of their hearts. UKCAPS are committed to continuing to search for Ralph and the volunteers are said to have been left “humbled” by the family’s kind words.  

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