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englishmix 
Posted: 12-Feb-2010, 08:44 PM
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Just why are the new Torvill and Dean so unknown?

With the Winter Olympics looming, figure skaters John and Sinead Kerr are genuine medal hopes - but nobody talks about them.

By Neil Drysdale

STV, 11 February 2010 10:49 AM


They can walk down the streets of Glasgow or Edinburgh without anybody offering a second glance, but Sinead and John Kerr have imprinted themselves on the American consciousness during the last couple of years. Last summer, for instance, the sibling duo from Livingston appeared in two television specials for NBC and rubbed shoulders with such luminaries of the music scene as Smokey Robinson and the Backstreet Boys. They also recently featured in a colour spread in the renowned Sports Illustrated magazine and have amassed a sizeable fan base all the way from New Jersey to Tokyo.

So why aren’t they accorded greater recognition in their homeland? The Kerrs don’t have any glib answers, but part of the problem might lie with the fallow period for British skating which followed the retirement of Olympic champions, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean in 1994.

Since then, the Scots have been forced to carry a whole sport on their shoulders, whilst grappling with financial constraints, which forced them into part-time jobs – he as a body double for Ally McCoist in the Robert Duvall movie, A Shot at Glory, she as a model for Alexander McQueen – and, now that they have decamped to the United States, where they are fine-tuning their Olympic routine with former world champion, Evgeny Platov, they are usually out of sight, out of mind.

Yet, that situation will be transformed during the next fortnight, as the Kerrs attempt to secure the medal which would be the shining jewel in their collection. They have already snaffled seven British national titles, gained bronzes at last season’s European Championships and became the first GB skaters to qualify for the prestigious Grand Prix final in December, where they finished fourth, agonisingly close to another podium.

But their imminent participation is Vancouver will bring with it the most pressure they have ever faced, because they were slightly below par while coming fifth at the recent European Championships in Tallinn. “We weren’t happy with our performance, because we were looking and feeling great in training, but we just didn’t produce it in the competition,” says John, at 29 the younger of the duo by two years.

“I think that if we had skated without mistakes, we would definitely have won a medal, but we didn’t do ourselves justice, so we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. [The winners] Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin [of Russia] are not the team they were, mainly due to his chronic knee injuries, but they are still held in high regard by international judges.”

The Scots know the score in the marking stakes. Traditional skating powers such as Russia and the US tend to dominate most events and although Domnina and Shabalin were nowhere near their best in Tallinn, it seemed as if they were being judged on past performance rather than present-day reality. In Vancouver, the Kerrs will not only have to grapple with these formidable Russians, but also the French pair of Isobel Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder, despite the former having only given birth in the autumn.

Then there is the challenge posed by the hometown couple, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and the Americans, Meryl Davis and Charlie White. It is a daunting assignment, even without being forced to worry about discrepancies in the judging, but Sinead and John have long since adopted the attitude that nothing matters except their own display.

“It will be very tough as Davis and White and Virtue and Moir have been in terrific form this season, and have been the ones posting the highest scores,” says John. “We know that we will have to be absolutely faultless in order to compete with these rivals, because they don’t make many mistakes, but we aren’t intimidated by that prospect. I think at our best, we are definitely top-five material, and once you are in that group, you are in with a medal chance.

“Taking part in the Olympics was always something we dreamt about when we were kids, so the thought of competing in them for the second time still gives us goose bumps. I reckon that Vancouver is going to put on an amazing Olympic Games and, hopefully, we can have our own memorable moment over in Canada.”

The Kerrs are an outside bet for a berth on the rostrum, but they resemble the fabled Duchesnays, who used to be more popular with spectators and dancers alike than those who adjudicate on the minutiae of artistic interpretation.

As they refine their movements to the accompaniment of the Johnny Cash standard I’ve Been Everywhere and the fast-moving, intricate Krwlng by Linkin Park, they will never be accused of providing lack of excitement on the ice. And perhaps the blithe brother and sister would have enjoyed even more success if they had been born Kerensky, rather than Kerr.
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englishmix 
Posted: 13-Feb-2010, 10:27 PM
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Council leaders urged to discuss solutions

Dundee council leaders are being urged to sit round a table and thrash out the problems that led to scenes of uproar in the City Chambers yesterday

Evening Telegraph & Post, 12 February 2010


The finance committee, called to set the council tax for 2010/11, descended into near farce when SNP convener Willie Sawers refused to let Labour councillor George Regan propose a change that would have seen funding restored to the Dundee Employment and Aftercare Project (DEAP) on the basis that it was “incompetent” and that standing orders allowed him to do so.
This was met by shouting from both non-SNP councillors and members of the public.

Leaders of opposition parties and Independent Labour councillor Ian Borthwick met the council’s chief executive David Dorward today to question the legality of Councillor Sawers’ actions and complain about Mr Sawers’ alleged stifling of debate in the council chambers. LibDem group leader Fraser Macpherson said the outcome of the meeting with council officers was that Mr Dorward proposed an all-party meeting to resolve the differences.

Mr Macpherson said, “I welcome that. There’s a need to discuss the issues right across the political spectrum.” However, he added, “At this stage we remain very unhappy about what happened yesterday. Standing orders are there to ensure the good running of meetings and not to gag people, stifle debate or shut people up. We have to have open debate on the council and I would hope that the chief executive’s suggestion is taken up by the leaders. What matters most is the proper running of the council and that involves different opinions being heard.”

Labour leader Kevin Keenan said the legality of Mr Sawer’s actions would be raised at today’s meeting along with the broader issue of ensuring fair and open debate in the council chambers. He told the Tele, “There’s no democracy within the council. I feel for the people of DEAP whose jobs we were trying to save. They were treated very shoddily by the administration. We need to find a way that we can allow political debate within the chambers. What we are seeing is a stifling of debate by an administration that is determined never to lose a vote. Depending on the outcome of today’s meeting, I might have to go to Audit Scotland to let them know about the lack of transparency that went on yesterday. The SNP are hiding behind standing orders.”

Tory leader Rod Wallace described the way the meeting was handled as a “real disgrace”. He added, “I was absolutely appalled by Willie Sawer’s actions in immediately ruling a motion incompetent on what is a very emotive subject. I haven’t seen this kind of arrogance in the City Chambers for more than 20 years.”

Councillor Wallace said the amendment would have made no difference to the final council tax figure. He said the £102,000 cut from DEAP’s funding had simply been set aside as cash that would be tendered for by other companies providing similar employment services to DEAP’s. DEAP was also being invited to tender despite failings in the organisation having been identified by Mr Dorward.

“The SNP aren’t giving one of the biggest job providers in the city a fair crack of the whip,” said Mr Wallace. “If they have issues with the way DEAP is run, why invite them to tender for the work? As it is, 20 jobs will be lost from DEAP and there will be a loss of continuity in service.”

LibDem leader Fraser Macpherson said Councillor Sawers had “ridden roughshod” over the views of legal officers in declaring Mr Regan’s amendment incompetent. “It was made very clear to Willie Sawers that the amendment was competent and had been checked with legal officers,” he said. “His actions were completely high-handed and flew in the face of democracy.”However, Councillor Sawers accused opposition councillors of creating a row to deflect attention away from the fact they did not come up with an alternative budget themselves.

He said, “Their manufactured row simply seeks to hide their inadequacies. The SNP administration of Dundee City Council is determined to ensure the best possible support is in place to assist people back into work. To that end we are tendering for services to meet this demand. It is simply not tenable for the opposition groups on the council to attempt to overturn this tendering process, by the very next day, seeking to award the funding to one specific organisation. That would not be fair to other organisations who may be able to provide this service and, crucially, it would not be in the best interests of unemployed people in the city.”
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englishmix 
Posted: 13-Feb-2010, 10:49 PM
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Upbeat Cameron fires election starting gun

By Steve Bargeton, The Courier, political editor


DAVID CAMERON yesterday fired the starting gun for the general election north of the border, urging his Tory troops to go out and fight for change. In his keynote speech to the party conference in Perth the Conservative leader said the election—widely expected to be held on May 6—was a straight choice between his party and Labour. “I would rather we attempt big, serious change and fail than fiddle around with footling, meaningless promises, limping through office and clinging to power for the sake of it,” he said.

“If we win the election we will get our heads down and get on with implementing the big changes I’ve spoken about today. You will not see endless relaunches, initiatives, summits—politics and government as some demented branch of the entertainment industry. You will see a government that understands that there are times it needs to shut up, leave people alone and get on with the job it was elected to do. Quiet effectiveness, that is the style of government to which I aspire.

Mr Cameron appealed to people who might be considering not voting because they believed there is no difference between the major parties. “Those people are wrong,” he said. “There is a choice for the voters. It’s a choice between the future and the past. It’s a choice between change to get the country back on its feet and five more years of Gordon Brown, a choice between broken politics with a centralising, secretive, unaccountable state and new politics of openness, accountability and power to people. A choice between armed forces that have been short changed and neglected and troops that are always revered…and equipped with everything they need. That is what this election will be about—big choices, a big difference and with just a few weeks to go it is up to us.”

The Tory leader said one thing the election was not about is the SNP. “Here’s a quick word for the man who thinks this election is all about him,” he said. “No I’m not talking about Gordon Brown, I’m talking about someone you’re going to see all over the TV and radio over the next few months plugging himself at every opportunity. So let me say this to Alex Salmond—this election…will be a British general election. It’s about the future this United Kingdom must build together. It’s not about you and your separatist agenda. And though we don’t know what will happen in this election, what the outcome will be, who will form the next government, there is one thing that is absolutely 100% guaranteed—Alex, it will not be you.”

Mr Cameron repeated his pledge, made to The Courier in an exclusive interview earlier this week, to respect Scotland. He said although he did not agree with Alex Salmond or much of what he has to say, he will do everything in his power to work with him. “If we win that election, then I promise you this: I will be a prime minister who works tirelessly for the whole of the UK. We must repair the relationship between the British Government and the Scottish Government.”
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Posted: 18-Feb-2010, 12:24 AM
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Coming soon to a socialist progressive nation near you...

Inverness hotel boss hits outFears for future of Highland businesses
‘Horrendous’ rates increase threatens jobs across north

By Ian Forsyth
The Press and Journal, Published: 17/02/2010


Companies in the north and north-east could fold or be forced to cut jobs as they bear the brunt of a shock new Scottish rates revaluation. Anger is mounting among larger firms facing unexpected rises in their annual bills which could run into tens of thousands of pounds.

Last night the boss of one hotel business described the increases as “horrendous”. The new rateable values date back to April 2008 – when the Aberdeen oil economy was buoyant and before the north and north-east was hit by the downturn. The latest charges are due to be enforced from April 1.

Gus Stewart, a rating partner at commercial property firm Ryden in Aberdeen, said: “The Scottish Government has stated that 60% of companies will be better off – most of them outwith the north and north-east. This is hiding the fact that some enormous increases have occurred outwith the central belt and it also masks the fact that any non-domestic ratepayer with a rateable value of over £18,000 is likely to be facing substantial uplifts in their rates bill.”

The increases came as a blow to Tony Story, managing director of Patio Hotels UK, which owns the Doubletree by Hilton in Aberdeen city centre and the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness. The Doubletree has seen its rateable value soar by nearly £300,000 to £670,000. Though companies only pay a percentage of rateable values, Mr Story faces paying annual rates of around £280,000 – up £100,000.

He said: [I]“This is absolutely horrendous. Someone should remind the assessor there has been a substantial recession since 2008 and it has affected our occupation levels and room rates in Aberdeen. This is not the time for draconian increases.”[/I] The businessman said the Kingsmills was also facing an increase in its rateable value of about 25% to £297,000.

“That will be an annual jump in rates of about £10,000 to £123,000 – not near the Aberdeen level, but still bad enough,” he said. The Kingsmills employs 90 people and is undergoing a £10million expansion.

Mr Story added: “This rates move will definitely affect incoming investment into Aberdeen. It could also put some firms over the edge into closure. People are already working hard to attempt to keep businesses solvent. This will also hit the north-east tourist market by pushing up the cost of rooms. If Inverness was facing increases as bad as Aberdeen, we would be thinking long and hard about going ahead with our investment in the north capital.”

It emerged last night that two other Aberdeen hotels have been hit with massive rates rises. Holiday Inn Express at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre has seen its bill soar from £72,022 to £134,550 – an 86% increase. Holiday Inn Express in Chapel Street will now have to pay £267,030 – a jump of £160,331 or 150%.

Alan Wallace, of hotels operator European Development Company (Hotels), said businesses in Grampian were being exploited. He said: “It is quite incredible that in the current climate businesses like ours are being asked to find resources to pay these rates. How increases of this kind can be justified is open to question. Compared to the average rates increase central belt companies are faced with, businesses in the north-east are being hung out to dry.”

Sandy Roy, head of rating consultancy at commercial property expert FG Burnett in Aberdeen, said: “It is true the rate charged in the pound has been reduced by about 16%, which is fine if you are located in the central belt. With typical rateable value increases of 13-15%, many businesses there will pay less in 2010-11 than this year. It’s not such a rosy picture in areas like Grampian where the average increase is 25%.”

A flood of appeals against the new rateable values is expected.
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englishmix 
Posted: 26-Feb-2010, 06:53 PM
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MPs hit out at snub to Scots origin of chessmen
British museum project on Lewis artefacts ignores place of discovery


The Press and Journal, By David Perry
Published: 26/02/2010


A motion which “deplores” the way the Hebridean origin of the fabled Lewis Chessmen has been airbrushed out of a major British Museum project has been put down in the Commons.

Western Isles SNP MP Angus MacNeil has secured the support of two SNP MPs and seven others for his motion, which complains that a poster campaign shows a picture of one of the chess pieces – found buried in sand dunes at Uig, Lewis – with the date AD 1150-1200 and the word “Norway” below it.

It “further deplores the fact that references to Lewis or the Hebrides are nowhere to be seen” and “notes that the only thing certain about the chessmen . . . is that they are made from walrus ivory or whale teeth and that they were found on the Isle of Lewis in 1831”.

MPs backing it include Dundee East’s Stewart Hosie and Moray’s Angus Robertson.

Mr MacNeil has written to the British Museum demanding changes to the posters on the London Underground highlighting the project in conjunction with the BBC to make it clear the chessmen came from Lewis. Mr MacNeil said yesterday: “I was incensed. It is ridiculous. Why has the British Museum got this so spectacularly wrong?”

He has written to the museum demanding immediate amendments to the posters to make the chessmen’s Hebridean origin clear.

A British Museum spokeswoman said: “It is generally accepted that the chessmen were made in Norway. During this period, the Western Isles, where the chessmen were buried, were part of the kingdom of Norway, not Scotland.”

Mr MacNeil said: “The Hebrides may have been ruled from Norway but were not part of Norway, any more than India was part of Britain.”

A Western Islands Council spokesman said: “I don’t think anyone has established where the chessmen came from, but they were found in Uig. There is speculation they are of Scandinavian origin but there is also speculation they originated in Scotland and they certainly should be associated with Lewis.”
The chessmen will be on display in four venues in Scotland including Museum nan Eilean, Stornoway, between April 15 and September 12 next year.

The other venues are Aberdeen Art Gallery between October 7 this year and January 8 next year, and Shetland Museum and Archives from January 29 until March 27 next year.
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Posted: 28-Feb-2010, 03:53 PM
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Eyemouth war veteran returns to India after 65 years
Berwickshire News, 24 February 2010
By Kirsty Smyth


A BERWICKSHIRE veteran who fought with the Indian Army in the Second World War has revisited the area he served 65 year ago. Ninety-year-old Tom Conway arrived back at his Eyemouth home last week following a three-week trip to India, funded by the Big Lottery's Heroes Return 2 programme. And now he is encouraging other veterans to take advantage of the scheme, which allows World War Two veterans from the UK, Channel Islands and Republic of Ireland to apply for travel and accommodation costs to visit the places where they saw active service.

War widows and widowers of veterans are also eligible for funding, which must be applied for by the end of this year (2010) and carers and spouses can receive funding to travel with veterans. Up to £5,500 is available from Heroes Return 2, depending on the number of people taking part and the destination.

"I read somewhere, I can't remember where but it was only very small, about Heroes Return celebrating the 65th anniversary of World War Two," explained Mr Conway. There was money from the Big Lottery available to provide some funds for those who served during the War to revisit where they served, so I applied for this. It provides for the person himself and his wife and a carer. It is actually quite generous.

We were already thinking of going back to India to attend a conference, then I saw this. We thought we could combine the two, the money we got from Heroes Return provided us with everything we needed. I was delighted my wife was happy to come with me to India, despite the fact she doesn't like travelling long distances! My brother in law has just retired as a regular officer in the army and he came as my carer. The grant was very generous."


Mr Conway served with the Indian Army for nearly seven years throughout the Second World War, spending three years in the Western Desert with his regiment, before moving to Burma. Following his return more than 65 years later, he said the country where he saw his active service had certainly changed.

"I would not say it's unrecognisable but there are huge differences," said Mr Conway. "Every student there now has very advanced mobile phones, in my day there weren't even radios. You get about in tuk tuks which are their form of taxis, they are all motorised and quick now. This is modern India, when I was there before they were all pulled by cyclists. Deli is producing spaghetti junctions and some wonderful buildings and things are changing in India very fast."
But although there has been an advance, Mr Conway said there is still terrible poverty in parts of the country.

The first part of the trip was spent on an organised journey throughout south India, when Mr Conway, his wife and brother-in-law joined 25 others, travelling from coast to coast over two weeks. "We went from coast to coast across south India on this little bus, staying at the best hotels," he said. "We all enjoyed it hugely, it was fantastic, a super experience and we just feel so grateful that we were able to do it." Remarkably, Mr Conway wasn't the only World War Two veteran on the bus tour.

"When I got the grant from Heroes Return they included this little navy blue bag saying 65th anniversary on it, with mosquito cream, sun cream and a water bottle," explained Mr Conway. "When we got off the plane in Bangalore, there was a man with the same bag! His son was with him as his carer, he was from England and had been a pilot in the air force in India. He was 88 and had come back on the same thing, on the same package as us, it was an incredible coincidence!"

Mr Conway divided his trip into two parts - after spending two weeks on the package tour, he attended a conference of the Indian University of the Third Age (U3A) in central India, which involved a very long train journey from Deli.

"U3A has many branches in the UK, including Berwick," he explained. "It's for elderly people who are interested in doing all sorts of things, teaching and learning from each other. We were representing Scotland at the conference, but there were delegates from South Africa, Singapore, Nepal, Australia and Iceland. This was the first major conference of the U3A in India so they invited everybody from around the world. We were the only delegates from Scotland."

On his return from India, Mr Conway described meeting a fellow veteran who didn't know about the scheme. "I met an ex-soldier in Berwick who knew nothing about this," he said. "We consider it very generous and I'm horrified that people would not know about it. You get funding to go where you served so people could go to France, the Phillipines, where ever they were stationed. There's money there which is not being taken as there are not so many of us left. I want people to know because it must be done by the end of the year - if people want to go they have got to get a move on! I do know there are ex service people who served in World War Two who do not know anything about it."
"It worked perfectly well for us, there were no great problems. People can apply to me if they have concerns, they should not be deterred, it's affordable within the grant. I think it would be a great pity if people who served in World War Two do not take advantage of this."

If you have any questions about the scheme and whether you are eligible, ring the application helpline on 0845 0000 121 or email [email protected]
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englishmix 
Posted: 10-Mar-2010, 06:00 PM
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Fury as beer kegs dumped on graves

Greenock telegraph, by Rosemary Lowne
10 March 2010



A GRIEVING relative has hit out after 36 beer kegs were dumped on graves at Greenock Cemetery. A graveyard worker found the aluminium kegs strewn across graves near to the Bow Road entrance on Saturday and immediately contacted police.

Greenock man James Wilson, 59, who was laying flowers at a grave, said: "It's a piece of nonsense that someone would do that."
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Posted: 10-Mar-2010, 06:06 PM
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An appeal from Australia
Greenock telegraph, by The Viator


PEOPLE who worked for the Greenock Dockyard Company in 1937 may be able to answer an appeal from Australia.

Heather Elliott has been in touch about something which has puzzled her father, Peter Robertson, for many years. The accompanying photograph shows Peter in the yard when he was around 14 in 1937. He is seen presenting flowers to a lady and it is almost certain she would have launched a ship on that day.

http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news/ta...from-australia/

Peter was a time-keeper with the dockyard, known colloquially as Klondyke, and later became an electrician working on ships before and after the Second World War. Heather told me; 'My dad"s mother was Annie, nee Kay, and his father was John Robertson. My mum Matilda, nee Duncan, and dad married on 31 July, 1944 and, with my sister June and myself, migrated to Australia in 1952. We lived in Dempster Street, Greenock, before moving to New South Wales. My dad is 86 and not in good health. My mum is 84 and cares for him.'

Heather said her father would love to know who the lady was and which ship was being launched. Anyone with this information can give me a call on 726511 or email Heather at [email protected]

Incidentally, Peter and Matilda still keep up with Lower Clyde news as the Telegraph is sent to them on a regular basis.
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Posted: 10-Mar-2010, 06:12 PM
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Lynsey wins top mum award
West Lothian Courier, by Marjorie Kerr
4 March 2010


A WEST Lothian woman has been named as a top mum in a national competition.

Lynsey Findlay of Livingston, has been presented with the Selfless Mum of the Year award in Tesco Magazine’s Mum of the Year awards, for her dedication and commitment to helping others.

The awards recognise the achievements of exceptional mums whose love, dedication, bravery or kindness has touched the lives of the people around them.

Lynsey, a mum-of-two faced tragedy when her mother died shortly after the birth of her son, Kerr. While coping with the loss of her mother, Lynsey also had to cope with the fact that Kerr was born with autism. Lynsey however, managed with the challenges of being a new mum brilliantly and Kerr began attending Pinewood School in Blackburn. And when she realised that the school was in need of a suitable playground for the children and that the council did not have funding for it, Lynsey recruited an army of volunteers to set about raising the money.

The team worked tirelessly giving out leaflets and rallying support everywhere they could. And in just one year, through hard work and dedication, Lynsey and her team raised £100,000 for the project which is now successfully up and running. Following this great success, Lynsey has now undertaken an even greater challenge of raising money for a new school minibus so that the children will be able to go on trips and outings.

Lynsey was nominated for the award by her mum-in-law, Isabel, and said she was shocked to discover she had won a title. Lynsey said: “The first I knew about it was in October when my mum-in-law phoned me and said she had nominated me in the Tesco awards and that someone from Tesco would be calling me to discuss it. Tesco called and asked me some questions and then called me back about a month later to say I had made it into the top 10, which meant I would get an award. I couldn’t take it in and whenever people tried to talk to me about it I felt a bit uncomfortable, because I’m just a mum from Livingston and the campaign at Pinewood is really a team effort.”

Lynsey’s prize saw her whisked off to London with her parents-in-law, Isabel and Len, and four-year-old daughter Abi. And as part of her prize, Lynsey was invited, with the other winning mums, to a special meeting with Prime Minister’s wife Sarah Brown, who helped judge the awards, at Number 10. “Going to Number 10 was quite surreal,” said Lynsey. “We had breakfast with Sarah Brown and had the chance to chat with her and Maggie Darling, the Chancellor’s wife, before we got a tour round the building.”

Lynsey received her award from ‘EastEnders’ star Patsy Palmer at the ceremony, hosted by TV presenter Fiona Phillips. And said she loved the experience, although she admits her nerves got to her. Lynsey said: “On Sunday we were on the go from 7am with make-up and stylists before the lunch and ceremony in the afternoon. It was a great weekend from start to finish, I just wish I hadn’t been so nervous.”

A spokeswoman for Tesco said the award organisers were delighted to present Lynsey with the award. She said: “Lynsey is a local hero and is held in extremely high regard by those around her who are inspired by the dedication that she has shown for helping others.”
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Posted: 19-Mar-2010, 09:24 PM
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Security for former Prime minister
Protection should match threat level
The Press and Journal, Published: 19/03/2010


IT IS DISCONCERTING, although hardly surprising, that eyebrows are being raised at the £273,000 cost of providing security for former prime minister Tony Blair’s appearance in January at the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War.

Mr Blair has become deeply unpopular among large sections of the British public who, increasingly, believe the war was illegal and that they were misled about the reasons for joining the American-led invasion.

Mr Blair’s evidence on January 29 did little, if anything, to erase those beliefs and the more vociferous opponents of the war are now openly criticising spending so much money protecting someone they view as a war criminal. They could not be more wrong.

Regardless of whether he was right, wrong or even duplicitous about the reason for invading Iraq, Tony Blair is a former prime minister of this country and, as such, is a potential target of terrorists who would view his scalp as a prize second only to that of George Bush. It is unthinkable that high-ranking police officers or politicians would sit around a table and determine security levels for individuals according to some ad hoc popularity chart.

Every person in this country is entitled to protection commensurate to the level of threat they face. Reviled criminals such as Soham murder accomplice Maxine Carr and, more topically, James Bulger killers Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were give new identities and lifetime legal protection because of fears that someone might target them on their release from prison.

In Tony Blair’s case, there is absolutely no doubt that he would be in extreme danger if the protection he receives was withdrawn to placate a baying mob.

Do we really want to be viewed as a nation that throws people to the wolves?


Read more: http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.a.../#ixzz0igCIE2VS
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Posted: 19-Mar-2010, 09:29 PM
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Farmer hits out at fly-tippers who dumped heap of broken asbestos panels on his land
‘I was worried when I found it, because I didn’t know what to do’
By Ryan Crighton

The Press and Journal, Published: 19/03/2010


AN ABERDEEN farmer has hit out at fly-tippers after panels of broken asbestos were dumped at his farm. Grant Williamson, of Broomfold Farm, Kingswells, woke up yesterday to find that asbestos was scattered over his land.

Last night he revealed that his land has become a dumping ground for fly-tippers who have been targeting farms around the north-east. He said: “Fly-tipping is becoming a real pain, because it keeps happening. Usually it is tyres or batteries, but never asbestos. The road here was closed for pothole repairs, so it would have been very quiet. I was worried when I found it, because I didn’t know what to do.”

Mr Williamson, 62, has now been told to bag the waste and take it to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) for disposal. The inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause serious illnesses. These include malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

In January 2005, the European Union banned all use of asbestos.


Read more: http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.a...0#ixzz0igDTsZw9
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MacDonnchaidh 
Posted: 28-Mar-2010, 01:20 PM
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£100-a-bottle whisky is set to raise clan cash
Published: 19 March, 2010
THE launch a £100-a-bottle Ross-shire-produced malt whisky paved the way this week for ambitious plans which could see a seven-figure sum raised for a historic local landmark.

A new edition of The Dalmore Mackenzie malt was unveiled at a unique gathering of clan supporters and whisky buffs at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Only 3,000 limited edition £100 bottles of the Highland single malt are being released to mark a new era in the distillery's long affiliation with the Mackenzie Clan - and to help raise funds for the famous family.

The MacKenzie family, owners of The Dalmore distillery for almost a century, provides the inspiration for their iconic stag head logo and motto "I Shine, Not Burn", which is also the clan motto.

The launch will celebrate the single act of courage that an ancestor of Clan Mackenzie made when saving King Alexander III in 1263 from being gored by a stag, a scene that is depicted in the painting.

The partnership aims to raise funds to help refurbish and maintain Castle Leod in Strathpeffer, and to support a range of activities organised by The Clan Mackenzie Society of Scotland and the UK.

According to Dalmore's master distiller Richard Paterson, this is the first step of a long-term commitment.

The brand is hoping to raise a seven-figure sum in the next 10 years to help protect this piece of Scottish history.


The Earl of Cromartie with a bottle of the limited edition whisky.

He added, "Whether you are a Mackenzie or not, with only 3,000 bottles available globally, this is your chance to own a little piece of Scottish history.

"I have been nurturing casks at Dalmore and monitoring their progress for some four decades. The challenge to craft a whisky fit for the Earl of Cromrtie and all Mackenzies was an inspiration. I am proud to be able to help the clan by creating a whisky with a regal heritage and one which is truly fit for a king - as well as a clan chief."

Each limited edition bottle will be individually numbered and is adorned with the clan and the brand's iconic royal stag formed in molten metal. All purchasers can claim a print of the famous painting signed by the clan chief.

The Earl of Cromartie John Mackenzie said, "As the head of the clan I speak for all Mackenzies to say that we are really excited to be part of this special event which brings to life this iconic painting in more ways than one, celebrating a piece of history that forms the foundation of our joint heritage, as well as the dawn of a new era in our continued partnership with the distillery.

"I am delighted that The Dalmore are supporting the preservation of Castle Leod for not only me, but for the clan, and for Mackenzies around the world and, of course, for Scotland."


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Glory is the Reward of Valour ~ Robertson Motto

For Faith, For Service to Humanity ~ Knights Hospitaller Motto

Am fear is tiuighe clairgeann se ‘s lugha eanchainn.
He who has the thickest skull has the smallest brain.
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Posted: 31-Mar-2010, 05:34 PM
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Fantastic news. Fine whiskey is an art, indeed!
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Posted: 31-Mar-2010, 05:45 PM
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Trust plans tribute to lost merchant seamen but details kept secret
Edinburgh evening News
Date: 31 March 2010
By MARK McLAUGHLIN


WHEN built it will be an iconic national memorial to 6,500 lost merchant seaman – but exactly what it will look like is a closely guarded secret. The Merchant Navy Memorial Trust has applied for permission to erect "a memorial of national importance" near Tower Place, at The Shore.

All going well, the £100,000 structure will be unveiled in November. However, the Trust has called for "a degree of secrecy and confidentiality" prior to the official publication of the plans and the launch of a public appeal next month to raise the required cash. The memorial is the brainchild of Professor Gordon Milne, 74, a retired company director from Kingsknowe whose family has a long association with the merchant navy.

He said: "The memorial itself will cost £100,000, funded largely by substantial private donations from benefactors who wish to remain anonymous, but we hope to raise around a quarter-of-a-million pounds through our public appeal for various projects associated with memory of the merchant seamen. There are precious few memorials to these brave men in Britain. There is the Tower Hill Memorial in London which commemorates the sailors of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets during the wars, and a memorial to the Arctic convoys recently unveiled in the Orkneys, but there is nothing to mark the loss of the 6,500 Scottish merchant seamen who died in the first and second world wars, the Falklands War and other disasters." The drawings accompanying the plans show a plinth 4.5 metres high with a cloud obscuring the secret bronze statue at the top.

A series of bronze reliefs will also be attached to the plinth, but the nature of these are also secret. The works are being designed by renowned Edinburgh sculptor Jill Watson who created the red lion above the door of the Queen's Gallery at Holyrood House. She also recently completed a series of sculptures in the Borders commemorating the 125th anniversary of the 1881 Eyemouth fishing disaster.

The Trust's directors include John Menzies chairman William Thomson, heir to the company that ran Leith's famous Ben Line vessels which lost 18 ships during the Second World War alone. The directors also include Rear Admiral Roger Lockwood, chief executive of the Royal Lighthouse Board and vice-patron for Scotland of the War Memorials Trust.
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Drunk 'turned city pub into scene from a western' with attack on barman
Edinburgh Evening News
31 March 2010


A BAR in the Capital turned into "a scene from a cowboy western" when a drunk threw a bottle at the barman, because he thought the man had been staring at him. Mark Hay, 33, had been on a "bender" when he attacked barman Ross McLennan, in Carter's Bar in Morrison Street, Edinburgh, on 8 August last year.

When he threw the bottle the barman ducked and it smashed an optic worth £120. Hay, of Orwell TerrTace, Edinburgh, had admitted the assault at the city's Sheriff Court previously and sentence was deferred until today for background reports.

Fiscal Depute, Faith Currie, told Sheriff Derrick McIntyre that around quarter to one in the morning, Hay had gone into the bar, but left when he was told to stop being aggressive, otherwise he would not be served any more drink. He returned half an hour later carrying a bottle and about eight feet from the bar, hurled the bottle at Mr McLennan. The barman ducked and the bottle smashed a spirits optic on the gantry.

Solicitor Advocate, David Allan, commented: "This was completely unacceptable drunken behaviour. He had been on a bender and took the view the barman had been staring at him". He added: "It was more like a scene from a cowboy western".

Sheriff McIntyre ordered Hay to perform 150 hours of Community Service and to pay compensation of £120 at £50 a week. He added: "I must make it plain to you that if the bottle had hit the barman you would, very likely, have been going to prison".
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