Stonehaven’s Tolbooth Museum to Re-open

The Tollbooth with its distinctive craws step gable -taken in a day of bright sunshine

From Liz Ritchie of the Stonehaven Tolbooth Association –

THE ever-popular harbour-front museum is reopening this weekend  – Saturday 1st May – after being closed for several months.

A huge amount of work has been done behind the scenes, by the volunteers who run it, to get the museum ready for visitors again. We have:

  • Appropriate distancing signage,
  • hand sanitising stations throughout the building,
  • a one way system to tour the exhibits,
  • face masks required for all except the exempt,
  •  a maximum capacity of 20 visitors,
  • track and trace QR codes on entry.

Weekends only for now

For the next short while we will be opening only at weekends – Saturday and Sunday from 1.30pm to 4.30pm – but hope to be open for more days per week if we have the volunteers to do so.

Previously in The Bellman –

Stonehaven Golf Club guide – hole #3

Our guide to Stonehaven Golf Course continues with a resume of the 3rd hole, kindly sponsored by Steve Reid Autobody (the hole not this missive).

Stonehaven’s 3rd hole requires two key strengths; a strategic mentality and a good deal of patience. It’s a challenge of attitude as much as golfing ability. If you canvassed the four hundred members of the club to establish which of the eighteen holes they least enjoyed, there’s a good chance the 3rd would come out on top, if that’s not a contradiction in terms. Other contenders might be the 17th and possibly the 13th, but let’s face it, if you score well on any of those holes they become your favourites overnight).

The 3rd is a par four, a relatively short one, but beware the dramatic slopes that send your ball to the most unwelcome of resting places. There’s a knack to playing the 3rd hole and not one you’ll truly develop unless playing the course several times. Visitors just don’t ‘get’ this hole, gravely underestimating its contours and racking up ugly scores as a result. That said, members too can find themselves sufficiently complacent to card double bogeys, or worse. 

First things first, don’t hit your ball right off the tee, there’s no future on the right hand side whatsoever unless you’re planning to wash your golf ball with a refreshing dip in the North Sea. Out of bounds posts border the right hand side of the fairway for a good two hundred yards with a low mesh fence protecting the ball from leaving the course via steep cliffs to the rocky beach below. It’s prudent in every respect therefore to stay left, way left, not least because a ninety degree sloped fairway ensures the ball takes a right hand turn at its earliest convenience, delivering it back to the centre or, more likely, the right side of the fairway. The greenkeepers allow the grass to grow a little longer on the 3rd fairway so balls have a better chance of nestling there rather than running to the fence below, but it doesn’t always work. Fear not however, if your ball does run down to the fence, a local rule allows you relief, but you can’t see the putting surface from down there whereas you can if your ball’s alighted up the slope. 

I repeat, on no account hit it right!

Assuming you’ve placed your tee shot somewhere sensible, your second shot requires pinpoint accuracy given the gateway to the green is narrow. If you’re not confident in carrying the ball all the way to the green, the best route in is up the left hand side, allowing your ball to tumble down the bank and onto the dancefloor. There is a bunker up on the bank mind you, parallel with the green, but if you dunt your ball wide enough to locate this bunker you fully deserve to find yourself in it.

The cardinal sin from the 3rd fairway is to shove your ball to the right side of the green, an utterly unforgiveable faux pas. Hit it right and it’ll slide off the bank and rest on the 4th tee leaving you with an awkward chip shot up to the elevated green. Synonymous with Stonehaven Golf Club is the requirement for crisp ‘up and down’ chip shots and no more so than from the right side of the 3rd green.  Do yourself a favour then and keep left on the 3rd, and if you haven’t perfected the art of lofted chips you might like to choose another golf course, or take up darts.

There are two greenside bunkers on the right side, one at the front and one at the rear, positioned to receive errant approach shots that fall marginally short of the green or trundle a little too far. The bunker at the front has been the scene of many Hamlet cigar moments given it’s steep face, indeed I’ve seen a grown man cry in there after his fifth attempt finally saw his ball exit the bunker only to roll down the bank onto the aforementioned 4th tee.  

The green itself appears flat but don’t be fooled, it boasts well disguised contours which allow your ball to slide by the hole just as you’re preparing to retrieve it from the cup. It’s a tough green to read, and pretty slick in the summertime. If you do three stab it though just take a deep breath and admire the spectacular views down the coastline towards the town and beyond where the war memorial stone regally stands. This is the beauty of Stonehaven Golf Club, even if you’re struggling to hit a cow’s arse with a banjo you can be consoled by utterly amazing views.

The Value of Volunteering in Stonehaven

Three men wearing Horizon group jackets sitting on bench at promenade, with surrounding ground looking clean

WHEN they meet tomorrow, our councillors will consider accepting volunteer hours and reduced match funding from groups applying to the Area Committee Budget.

Each year our Area Committee has funds at its disposal to award to local groups. Last year a host of Stonehaven’s organisations benefitted from this funding source including: Panthers Basketball Club received £1,784.55 to replace basketball equipment; Friends of Stonehaven Open Air Swimming Pool, £3,984.53, to purchase paint for pool tank, terraces and paddling pool, re-vamp and upgrade garden frontage and perimeter; Stonehaven Tennis Club, £8,000 for resurfacing and upgrade to Courts 1-3, and associated drainage works.

In all, almost £80,000 was awarded to groups in the area – and a similar amount is available for 2021 – 2022.

Match funding headache

One problem groups faced in the past was the requirement to have matched funding in place – ie they could apply to the Area Committee Budget for only 50% of the project cost.

Tomorrow, our councillors will consider reducing the criteria for contributed funding to 25%.

And while volunteer time has always been considered as contribution in kind, the value of a volunteer’s time is being made more clear to make an application easier for community groups.

How are your volunteer hours valued?

According to the committee report, the value depends on the amount of training required for a volunteer task.

General, unskilled labour for example, ditch-digging, planting, basic administrative support can be booked at £9.50/ hour.

Specialist, skilled, trained labour such as operating dangerous equipment or driving off-road vehicles – £18.75

Specialist services including surveys, counts, printing, designing and photography – £31.25

And consultants, lawyers, planners, engineers, accountants, auditors who give of their professional time – £50.00

So I reckon this morning when doing some Horizon work, I was ‘earning’ £9.50 per hour. But right now tapping away at the keyboard, I’m raking in £31.25 per hour. I wish they had paid that when I worked at the Mearns Leader.

The Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee meets tomorrow at 10am. The report for this item, which includes a list of all the awards made last year is available online – along with all agenda papers and a live link to the meeting.

Caption to feature image – Having put in at least an hour’s work each, these £9.50 /hour Horizon volunteers deserve a rest

Coop Local Community Fund – opens May 4th

front door of market square coop

From Stewart Aitken, Coop member pioneer –


Each year, in each of the areas they have food stores, the Coop partners with three local organisations to be their main local causes for a year – in this way, a pecentage of Coop’s members’ shopping is returned for community activities and services.

Digital platform showcases local groups

As part of the Coop’s committment to their communites , we have, during the lockdown period, created an information sharing digital platform https://co-operate.coop.co.uk, where groups can sign up and promote what they do – and where the general public can then see what is going on in their local area. This could be classes or sports to take part in, services across care, health and community events or volunteering opportunities.

To encourage the use of the site and enabling greater information sharing and availabiltiy, groups are now required to be signed up to the site before being considered for a grant or any level of support from the Coop. The form should only take about 10 mins to complete and the more groups that use it then the greater potential for more public use. 

If you have any questions about the fund and other support from the Coop please contact the Coop’s local member pioneer for Stonehaven who makes the connection between the business outlets and communtiy groups. Details are: Stewart Aitken, Coop Member Pioneer, Stonehaven, stewart.aitken@coop.co.uk07971030291.Twitter: @CoopStn

For an overview of the priorities and processes for the community fund please click on the link coop local community fund

Household recycling reminder after gas cylinders discovered in collections

collection of waste - old brolly, pot, walking boots

From Aberdeenshire Council communications team –

North-east residents are being reminded to recycle waste items correctly and safely after potentially explosive incidents occurred during recent household waste collection.

A number of small propane gas cylinders had been deposited in blue-lidded recycling bins which were unwittingly emptied into Aberdeenshire Council’s refuse lorries.

They were only spotted when they reached the transfer station for processing.

Ros Baxter, waste manager at Aberdeenshire Council, said: “It is a sheer miracle that these gas cylinders remained intact during the collection process. Had they been crushed and damaged, they could have exploded which would have caused serious damage to the vehicles.”

Although the cylinders were the most dangerous items discovered, they have not been the only items of wrongly-recycled materials to be traced in recent months.

Broken electrical items, glass, metals, hard plastics, polystyrene, clothing, bedding and other materials have all been found contaminating recycling collections. There have even been instances where bagged dog waste and used nappies have been dumped in recycling bins.

Electrical appliances or ‘WEEE’ should be taken to one of the council’s household recycling centres which enables them to be reprocessed off-site. The centres also accept gas canisters, metal, rubble and wood.

Aberdeenshire Council operates 90 recycling points across the region and a growing number of supermarkets have textile banks for old clothes – no matter what condition they are in – which can raise money for local schools and charities.

Ms Baxter continued: “Contamination of recycling is a real concern for us and it could result in us having to send an entire batch of recyclable material to landfill which costs the council – and ultimately the taxpayer – money.

“I would encourage everyone to visit our website where they will find clear advice on what type of material we accept in household recycling collections and what items can be properly disposed of at our household recycling centres.”

For clear advice on what waste goes where, please visit: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/waste/household-rubbish/a-z-list-of-materials/

You can also find out what happens to your recycled material here: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/waste/household-rubbish/what-happens-to-recycling/

To book a visit to a household recycling centre visit: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/waste/recycling/book-recycling-centre-visit/

To find your nearest recycling point for textiles and glass: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/waste/recycling/recycling-point/

Mayhem Behind a Mayday Callout

lifeboat members by rescue craft

ANYONE taking to the seas off Stonehaven knows that if they land in trouble, there is a band of volunteers who will drop everything and run to their rescue.

We see our Stonehaven lifeboat team out during their frequent practise sessions – and hear tales of their dashes across the waves to safeguard yachtsmen, fishermen and stand up pladdleboarders.

As the charity launches its annual fundraising push – here’s a selection of amusing tales from Scotland’s RNLI Division – of what happened before the lifeboats were launched …

Launching in All Lathers! Our RNLI Volunteers Drop Everything to Answer the Call

Running out of the hairdressers still covered in shampoo, leaving a date in a restaurant, getting a lift from puzzled police officers … RNLI lifeboat crews drop everything when the pager goes off.

Last summer, our Scottish volunteers launched 463 times, aiding 376 people and saving 23 lives, with one third of those launches happening in the hours of darkness.

For some it has meant missing a child’s first birthday party, while others have cut short sporting events. Whatever the occasion, the pager going off to signal someone is in trouble means interrupting some of life’s major milestones.

But our volunteers are always there – and sometimes that ‘pager moment’ brings a little comedy to the serious task of getting to the lifeboat station.

Mayday is the international distress call for immediate help and therefore an appropriate name for our spring appeal.

Our volunteer crews answer the call – and as you’ll read below in whatever the circumstances – but this spring they are asking for your help. Will you ‘answer the call’ and help fund our lifesaving work?

Let’s Be ‘Aving Crew!

The sight of a man frantically dashing from a pub, chased closely behind by two others could only mean one thing to watching police officers … someone was in trouble.

What the police didn’t know was that Oban lifeboat volunteers David, Finlo and Ian had just sat down with their drinks when their pagers sounded. Finlo was out the door first, with David and Ian hot on his heels.

Thinking Finlo was being chased the police stepped in and offered him safe harbour in their van. They got their first shock when he asked them to give him a lift to the lifeboat station – and another when David and Ian jumped in too!

David recalls: “We’d barely taken a sip from our freshly ordered ‘orange juice’ when the pagers went off. Finlo was still wearing his jacket so ran out of the pub. Ian and I had to get our jackets off hooks under the bar then ran out after him.

“The police were sat quietly round the corner and they saw one guy running out of the pub as fast as he could, then a few seconds later, two guys chasing him. 

“The police shot off down the street, overtaking us to ‘save’ Finlo by getting him into their van. We just thought he’d arranged a lift so Ian and I piled into the back as well. But the police hadn’t realised we were all crew and thought they’d made the easiest arrest ever! We had to convince them by showing our pagers and they promptly drove us to the station.

“When we arrived at the station Lorne, the duty coxswain, said: ‘I don’t want to know, just get on the boat!’

“Seriously though, Finlo is a whippet, we’d never have caught up with him otherwise.”

That’s Scrum State You’re In!

Given a pager can go off at any time of day or night, crew appearing at the station in “interesting” clothing is not a rarity but when volunteer Jacqui turned up to Lerwick station for a shout her appearance definitely raised some eyebrows.

Shoeless and covered head to toe in dirt, Jacqui certainly had some explaining to do.

As captain of Shetland Women’s Rugby Team she’d just won a league cup match against Inverness when the pager went off and there was no time to get changed.

A Meal For Run!

RNLI spouses and partners are perhaps some of the most patient and forgiving people on the planet. When we say our crew drop everything to sprint off at a moment’s notice we mean it.

Ian and his wife were halfway through a meal to celebrate their anniversary when his pager went off. Then a helm at North Berwick, East Lothian, Ian dashed off, not realising he had left her with no means to pay or a key to get back in the house.

Ian said: “I only realised when I got to the station and my wallet was in my pocket. I was away for about an hour and returned to the restaurant to find my wife talking to the waiting staff, who were fortunately very understanding.

“I’d describe her reaction as resigned – as it wasn’t the first time I’d run off and left her!”

Wash and Go!

Our lifeboats famously launch in all weathers – but thanks to the antics of Iain in Portree we can now say we launch in all lathers!

Poor Iain was enjoying that post-lockdown’s highlight, a trip to the hairdresser, when his pager sounded the alarm. With a shocked hairdresser and a head full of shampoo, he sprinted for the door and spent the next few hours with a very foamy helmet!

Next time he’ll just ask for a ‘shampoo and wet’!

Record ‘Brakers’!

Bikes and lifeboat shouts seem to be a recurring theme. Hugo, from Mallaig, managed a super speedy response to a shout when his pager went off halfway through a training cycle.

Picking up the pace he responded in record time.

His transition from bike to boat was decidedly smoother than one unlucky volunteer in Lerwick. Racing to the station on his two wheels, it was only on the descent of the steep hill towards the station that he realised his bike’s brakes had failed. The lifeboat station’s walls did provide him with something to arrest his descent but luckily he was none the worse for wear and still able to attend the shout!

No Snooze is Good News!

It’s always a rude awakening when a pager blares out in the middle of the night, suddenly interrupting your sleep but spare a thought for one crew member from Shetland who responded to their pager in the small hours, turning up at the station only to discover theirs had malfunctioned and while there was no emergency it did mean that there was no one needing urgent assistance.

Hopefully these stories of ‘pager moments’ and unfortunate crew have given you a bit of a lockdown lift! If they’ve raised a smile and you want to know how you can help the RNLI and ‘answer the call’ yourself then don’t worry, it doesn’t need to involve Lycra or disastrous haircuts just head to rnli.org/mayday and find out how to make a donation or hold a socially-distanced sponsored event.

The new orange rigid inflatable boat at the harbour side

Stonehaven Golf Club – Saturday’s comp results are in…

Costa Del Stoney offered up another helping of beautiful weather for SGC members to bask in this weekend. Perpetual sunshine isn’t something to which we’re necessarily accustomed, so when the sky’s blue we lap it up.

This weekend’s Medal also contributed as a qualifying score towards the final round of the aggregated Cowie Cup trophy and was a qualifier for the JM Low competition, plenty was therefore riding on it. 155 competitors took part with 29 equalling or bettering par and 23 notching the dreaded NR (no-return). 

The competition results are provided below, but before that I’d like to offer a quiet word of advice to club captain Ian Wood. I’ll try to be as diplomatic as possible but believe me it’s difficult.

Last week Sam Locke, Stonehaven Golf Club member and young professional golfer of great renown, won the Barassie Links Classic with two rounds of 65 against a field of fellow professionals which included former Open Championship winner Paul Lawrie. Captain Wood duly splashed Sam’s name all over social media to say how proud the club was of him, and rightly so. 

The very same week however, I win SGC’S Wednesday Medal and find myself in receipt of neither a guard of honour, red carpet, reserved car parking space for life (with embossed signage) nor honorary life membership. As for being plastered all over social media, forget that, I didn’t get so much as a mention. My advice to Captain Wood therefore is to cease your flagrant favouritism, remember which side your bread is buttered and treat your clubs members with the respect they deserve. Most clubs have a blackballing procedure which even the captain himself is not immune from, so think on. 

Medal Result

1st Colin Polson (60)

2nd Mark Innes (61)

3rd Neil MacArthur (61)

The Cowie Cup competition saw a four player tie after the two rounds, they’ll now be competing on Thursday in a playoff. Good luck to Neil MacArthur, Douglas Barnard, George Deans and Roger Smith.

Road Safety in Spotlight for Area Committee

kids bike on ground

Aberdeenshire Council is formulating its Road Safety and Action Plan to 2030 – the draft of which will be discussed by our councillors when they meet on Tuesday morning.

The report for the committee presents a host of statistics. One is rather chilling: someone is killed or seriously injured every 72 hours on Aberdeenshire roads.

Aberdeenshire has a population of 261,470, who can motor along 5, 712 miles of roads. The cost of collisions to the area’s economy in 2019 was £57.2 million. The good news is that the number of road users being killed or seriously injured is around half of what was reported 10 years ago

According to the draft report, the principal aims of the action plan are to:

•Develop education and publicity work to raise awareness of road safety riskand reduce casualties on Aberdeenshire’s roadsto reduce the impact on the local economy, both financial and emotional, through a reduction of collisions;

•Deliver safer infrastructure and implement measures to tackle potential risk on the existing transport network.All road users will be afforded equal levels of protection and that all local areas are provided with sufficient support with impartiality to ensure consistent records of casualty reduction;

•Deliver safety and security through the design of new infrastructure and operation of servicesand continuing to support active travel and ensure the safety of vulnerable road users.

The Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee meets at 10 am on Tuesday April 27 – the full report along with a link to the meeting is available online

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Stonehaven Baptist Church


Have you noticed how your mood can change without warning? When the sands beneath your feet seem to shift and the solid foundations you thought you were standing upon suddenly become unstable? Moments like this strike all of us at times in our lives; the passing of a loved one out of the blue, a redundancy suffered at work, the onset of a sudden ailment. We can be sailing serenely along, all seeming to be right with our world, then wallop, the world crumbles around us. These unsettling episodes can occur in relatively mundane ways too; the babysitter fails to turn up when you’re meant to be going out for the first time in months, the grocery delivery arrives but essential ingredients are missing, the car refuses to start as you head for an important meeting.

God is interested in every aspect of our lives, the little and the large, the seemingly critical and the comparatively mundane. He’s not only with us but for us, carrying us through when we feel we’re ready to cave in, sharing our joy when his blessings materialise. But he can only be active in our lives if we’re in union with him, if we have a living relationship with him not a distant or none existent acknowledgment of who he truly is. When dark nights of the soul come and find us questioning everything, when life seems to be overwhelming us, when things don’t seem to be working the way we want them to be working, we find ourselves in crisis. At times like this we feel very alone and wonder if God has turned his face away from us, that he wants nothing more to do with us, that he’s abandoned us. But he hasn’t, his face will shine upon us again, all we need do is cry out to him, pour out our hearts, begin or recommence a relationship with him and his light will flood into our lives, or hearts and souls. 

People let us down, betray us and desert us. The very folk we thought we could trust with our lives can surprise us with their rejection and disloyalty. God though never turns away from us, he is for us in all and every circumstance. There are times when we’d rather he did turn away, when we carry out acts we know fine well he wouldn’t approve of, when we say things that tear down friendships instead of building them up. There are times too when we’re only too pleased to know God’s watching over us; when we beg him for healing, when we plead with him for the repair of a relationship or a particular outcome over a specific event. Either way, whether we like it or not and believe it or not, God is ever present in our lives and simply yearns for us to be in consistent relationship with him. 

God doesn’t need us really, we need him. He created us, he created the world and he wants for nothing, but he does ask that we acknowledge and love him. He is there to carry us through difficult circumstances and to share his blessings with us during happier times and while we might waver and doubt, he never does. He is, he was and he will continue to be. If we can use the gift of free will that he gave us and choose to share our lives with him, to dedicate ourselves to him, there’s a wonderful future to look forward to in unison with him, and with a life affirming peace in our heart.

School Meals launch online allergen and nutritional portal for primary schools

By bellmannews / April 25, 2021
lots of apples

From Aberdeenshire Council communications team –

A new online resource has been launched by Aberdeenshire Council’s School Meals Service, which will help with making healthy meal choices displaying allergen and nutritional content of primary school meals.  

The Our Shire Menus portal is linked to a nutritional analysis programme which ensures meals meet statutory nutritional standards, meaning they are nutritious as well as delicious. It is particularly helpful for pupils with special dietary needs including allergies and Type-1 Diabetes.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Catering Service Manager Liz Powell said: “This is a great digital resource for parents and carers to assist them with choosing school meals their children enjoy. The portal is yet another example of how we are using digital technology giving everyone flexibility as well as offering great customer service.”

Vincent Docherty, Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Education, added: “Our School Meals Service is highly innovative by offering fantastic fresh ingredients often local to Aberdeenshire, delicious cooking to suit a range of dietary requirements and embracing technology to make it easy to choose favourite meals as well as checking if meals meet health and wellbeing needs.”

To use the portal please visit http://ourshiremenus.mysaffronportal.com/

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