Stonehaven business owner sponsors Guide Dogs’ pup Ralph

By bellmannews / January 30, 2024
Very sweet labrador puppy gnawing on a bone

By Andrew Douglas

Ross Walker of oven cleaning service Ovenu Stonehaven is supporting ‘sweet and charming’ Guide Dogs pup Ralph throughout his extensive training programme.

The yellow Golden Retriever/Labrador cross replaces black Lab Selsey, which Ovenu franchisees first started sponsoring in 2021.

Although excelling in training, Selsey developed a slight weakness in one hip which meant she was unable to progress to become a working Guide Dog. Despite the setback, Ross wanted to continue his sponsorship in support of Ralph.

Now aged 10 months, Ralph is currently spending time with Puppy Raisers Toni and Adrian, two of the 16,000 volunteers that work with Guide Dogs. He will remain with them until he’s 12 to 14-months-old before being considered for full Guide Dog training, with the longer-term ambition of being assigned to a visually impaired person.

So far Ralph is settling in well and is described as “sweet and charming.” His latest report card says he is brilliant at boarding public transport and is confident in busy environments, while his food manners are ‘almost there.’

Ross, who previously worked in the oil and gas industry as a technical support engineer, said: “Guide Dogs is a fantastic charity and I’m pleased to be able to give something back by supporting its life changing work. These dogs provide those with sight loss greater mobility, independence, social interaction – as well as companionship.


“It’s also a way of saying a huge thank you to my clients who, without their continued support, I wouldn’t be in a position to sponsor this adorable pup!”

Guide Dogs’ CEO Andrew Lennox said: “It costs approximately £56,000 to support each guide dog through from birth to retirement, and without all the contributions of our donors and the efforts of our fundraisers we would not be able to do what we do.”

Stonehaven Man Monte Carlo Bound

By Andrew Wallace

The Monte Carlo Rally is not only the world’s oldest and best-known rally, but it has a long historic link to Scotland. 

This endurance event traditionally has several starts across Europe, with the 250+ competing crews all eventually converging in the Alps for the final competitive runs over snow- and ice-covered roads before the finish in Monte Carlo. 

In the early 1920s one of the starting points was John O Groats, moving to Glasgow in 1924. 

This year’s starting points are Milan, Bad Hombourg, Reims and the 100th anniversary Glasgow start. Competitors, and their pre 1982 cars, are coming from across Europe, Japan, Argentina, the USA and Canada. 

George and Rosalind Topp joining Glasgow start

Twenty-nine cars have opted to start from Glasgow, headed by France’s Etienne Goldet in a 1977 Renault Alpine (car 53). Denmark’s Christen Larson is in a 1974 Lotus Europa, while car 247 is the 1966 Volvo Amazon of former Stonehaven couple George and Rosalind Topp. 

A member of a well-known Stonehaven family, George went to Mackie Academy, later joining the Mearns Leader as journalist.  He later moved to South Lanarkshire becoming editor of a paper in Lanark.

The couple now live near Bordeaux in SW France, but return to Scotland and the UK on a regular basis to compete in historic endurance rallies.  This year they are also contesting the British Historic Road Rally Championship, as well as tackling the 10-day London to Lisbon Rally in April.

George and Rosalind Topp after the Three Castles Trial, a 4 day international event in N Wales last year, where they won their class.

Tomorrow, (January 30) competitors meet at Lomond Shores, Balloch, to have their cars checked for eligibility and safety.  Whilst there drivers will also be taking part in a series of driving tests, a recreation of those originally held 100 years ago on the quay in Monte Carlo. 

Scrutineering and the driving tests take place in the Lomond Shores overspill car park.  Scrutineering from approx. 10.30+ and driving tests start at noon. 

At 8.30am on Wednesday, January 31 the Scottish competitors – some of whom have travelled from across Europe to compete –  leave Blythswood Square Gardens, taking the traditional route to Calais, via Kilmarnock, Dumfries, Gretna and onto Penrith before following the A66 to Scotch Corner, and then down the east coast. 

The competing cars stop briefly at Woodlands House Hotel, Woodlands Avenue, Newbridge, near Dumfries, for a passage control, with the first car expected at 10.30am 

 The oldest car starting from Glasgow is a 1934 Lagonda.   

Feature image courtesy of Mike Griffin Photographythe Topps in action in November’s RAC Rally of the Tests – one of Europe’s toughest regularity rallies

Latest Planning Applications

By bellmannews / January 29, 2024
pile of lego bricks

THE following planning applications were registered last week at Aberdeenshire Council’s Viewmount office.

Use the links to see full details and for a facility to comment.

Stonehaven Baptist Church – message for the week

Stonehaven Baptist Church meets at 11am on Sundays within the Old Courthouse building down in the old town. We share fellowship, listen to God’s word, pray, blether and scoff cake. All are welcome but those who can’t make it we hope are encouraged by this weekly missive which aims to unwrap what we learned from the sermon. This week the scripture we studied was 1 Peter 4 : 7-11

When we’re suffering, and all of us do for periods of our lives, we can be comforted in the knowledge that one day such sufferings will cease. Our tribulations may last longer than we’d hope, and often they feel unfair and unjust, but eventually they end. How though are we behaving in their midst? How are we living our lives out when we feel we’re on the brink?

Do we pack up and go home? Lash out at others, shake our fists at the world, lose our heads? It’s easy to behave irrationally and go off the rails in times of trial. Better instead to persevere, demonstrate self control and act with a sober mind (and I’m not talking purely of staying off wine or beer). Easier said than done however.

A sound mind is invaluable, offering us the ability to keep a level head and make rational decisions not wild ones. When we’re feeling irrational, temporary pleasures might appeal, that suggested promise that our mood might be lifted by something unwholesome. Often however, it’s not long before the fleeting pleasures we’d hung our hat on give way to guilt and remorse, when we come to our senses but with the damage already done. I should know, I’m a recovering alcoholic and remember only too well the doomed attempts to fix my problems via the contents of pint glass after pint glass. It might have felt good for minutes but felt dreadful for days.

To be sober minded is to have a peaceful mindset, a sense of calm, room for reasoned, rational thought. Tranquillity is the place our minds deserve to be taken to when life feels like its overrunning us. We’re rewarded when we ‘cool the beans’ or ‘stop the bus’, taking time out to simply be, to breathe, quieten ourselves, switch off the gizmos and relax our overworked minds. The results can be empowering. We reset and reboot, standing tall again, and it’s not selfish behaviour to take time out, it’s sensible. Only when we’re in a good place ourselves can we be good for others and have a positive effect on those around us. It’s important we take time to recover our minds not just our bodies, to re-energise and
reinvigorate, we then have the strength to serve others.

God loves us and he asks that we love each other, ourselves included. When we get our minds right and our attitudes likewise, we feel able to let bygones by bygones, forgive ourselves and one another, let old feuds and internal misgivings pass, step forward with clean slates and make a positive impact on the world. True love doesn’t keep a record of people’s wrongs, it doesn’t harbour simmering resentments but instead implores us to give people another chance, to forgive and move on. Perhaps that’s where our hearts should start, loving ourselves and loving others to put us in perfect shape to fulfil the callings on our lives. God gave all of us gifts and we’re expected to use them. When we step out feeling this newness
of life after a mind reset and reboot, having a sober mind and clear outlook, we can use these God given gifts to serve others whether that be cooking, speaking, encouraging, whatever it might be.

God’s gifts to us are limitless. Take a moment to give your mind peace and open it up to acknowledge and embrace the gifts God gave you. You’re so much more than you thought you were and have so much to live for.

Time to Talk

By bellmannews / January 28, 2024
Two seagulls on fence - sky is pink with sunset behind

From Daniel Veltman – Member Pioneer Stonehaven
Community & membership participation team @coopuk

THURSDAY is the 1st of February – Time for Talk Day 2024.

Time to Talk Day is the nation’s biggest mental health conversation. Happening every year, it’s a day for friends, families, communities, and workplaces to come together to talk, listen and change lives. You can read more here.

Here in Stonehaven on the 1st of February 2024, Pillar Kincardine in partnership with the Co-op is running an event for Time for Talk Day.

Everyone is invited to come along.

To end, it is time to talk about mental health and help start the conversation. At this event you will be able to enjoy a fine cuppa with fine piece plus play board games or go for a walk.

Pillar Kincardine and the Co-op look forward to seeing as many members of the community as possible.

Outside of County Building with CAB logos on windows
Join PIllar and the Co-op for Time to Talk day

#timefortalkday #coop #pillarkm

Fossil Find Confirmed as Oldest Air-Breathing Creature

SCIENTISTS have refuted a recent challenge to the age of the sedimentary rocks off Cowie – meaning Stonehaven can once again assert itself – confidently – as home to the world’s oldest air-breathing creature.

Back in 2004, an amateur fossil-hunter, Mike Newman, was exploring the sandstone rocks on the Cowie foreshore when he discovered the remains of a small millipede-like creature. Critically, he spotted small holes down the side of its segmented body. These were spiracles, part of a gas-exchange system that would only work in air.

The fossil was sent to Edinburgh, where it was examined. The location of the find and surrounding material allowed scientists to date it as having lived 428 million years ago in the late Silurian.

To no little excitement in the world of palaeontologists, the centipede was announced as the oldest creature known to have lived on land. The scientists in Edinburgh named it Pneumodesmus newmani.

This meant land that was once part of an ancient tropical continent called Laurentia – and what is now Stonehaven – was recognised as the site of that huge leap of evolution, where life crawled out of the swamps.

428 million-year-old age of fossil later disputed

It appears the Cowie Harbour Fish Bed is renowned for having a rich fossilized terrestrial ecosystem. Plant spores found in the sandstone have been used to help date the ancient rocks.

But in 2017, a team based at the University of Texas used a dating system based on zircon mineral deposits. And, slashing 14 million years off the age of the fossils, they claimed they were (only) 414 million years old. This placed Pneumodesmus newmani into the Devonian period, when life on land was well established.

So nothing special then.

Scottish geology thrown into disarray

The Americans’ dating clearly did not sit well with the established understanding of the time-line of movements of the Highland Boundary Fault, along with the deposition of sediments and associated organisms. This apparently brings knock-on effects on the calibration of comparative dating techniques.

Indeed, it appears the entire dating of the landmass of Scotland would be called into question.

So much work was done – fresh rock samples were gathered and plant specimens were taken from the root of a fallen tree on the banks of the Carron (same in geological terms to Cowie).

Now, in a report published last month, the findings of the American scientists have been thorougly dismissed.

The authors – Charles H. Wellman, Gilda Lopes, Zoë McKellar and Adrian Hartley – are from Aberdeen and Sheffield Universities. They discuss the dating techniques for spores, plant material and sedimentary deposition.

And they conclude: ”The basal upper Silurian–Lower Devonian ‘Lower Old Red Sandstone’ deposits of the Stonehaven Group of the Midland Valley of Scotland are late Wenlock (late Silurian) in age.

”This provides a reliable age constraint for one of the oldest known terrestrial biotas (which includes the oldest reported air-breathing land animal, the myriapod Pneumodesmus newmaniWilson and Anderson 2004). It also has implications regarding the early appearance of various ichnofauna (Shillito and Davies 2017).

”The new age constraint is compatible with the geological setting and recent models regarding the timing of terrane accretion and the onset of ‘Lower Old Red Sandstone’ sedimentation in Scotland.”

In short, Pneumodesmus newmani is 428 million-years-old and Stonehaven is back in the record books.

Craigeven Bay – where the line of the Highland Boundary Fault is most easily seen

Stonehaven Golf Club – Winter League

The annual winter league is beyond halfway now, time then for a summary of standings. It’s been a traditionally grim season weather wise, but competitors know fine well what they’re buying into so don’t grumble about the cold temperatures, biting winds and sodden turf. It’s an opportunity to get out of the house, keep active and revel in the beauty of the coastline even if your bones do feel like ice blocks.

There are 3 sections under the winter league banner; Singles (nett), Doubles (nett) and Doubles (gross). Entrants are invited to play over 18 weekends (weather permitting) with their 9 best scores contributing to an aggregated total which ultimately decides the qualifiers on finals weekend in March. 

For my part I bottled it this year. I had a poor end to the summer season and decided snooker & darts might be a better option during the winter, but there were many hardier souls than I. In total 55 individuals entered the Singles and 28 pairings the Doubles. Latest standings after 11 rounds are below and good luck to those participants as the season goes on.

Singles – Nett (Stableford, average points shown)

Alex Keith 39

Raymond Shearer 38.5

Steven McGhie 38.5

Tom Gilchrist 38.5

5 others with 37 or more but need a shift on if they’re to catch up

Doubles – Nett (Stableford, average points shown)

S Wright/G Ironside 54.3

R Walker/A Stewart 55.8

J Neal/D Henderson 56.8

A Officer/C Arthur 57.3

2 other pairings within a further shot but the leaders streaking away

Doubles (Gross Strokeplay)

K Riddell/J Barbour 61.3

F Stark/C Brown 61.5

I Taylor/R McAllan 61.8

C Taylor/K Murdoch 62.8

Work on New Features at Recreation Grounds Gets Underway

By bellmannews / January 26, 2024
shot over putting green towards site of proposed arena

From Stuart Alexander –

CONSTRUCTION is starting on Monday for a new Multi-Use Games Area, MUGA, and the enhancement of the putting green at Stonehaven Recreation Grounds.

The MUGA, located at North side of existing putting area, will have markings for 5-aside football and basketball, together with integrated goals and hoops. Meanwhile a three metre fence and 4G secure entry gate will be linked to the existing pay-to-play online system used at the tennis courts .

The putting area is to be enhanced with an improved playing surface with contouring and areas of coastal plants.

The projects were both successful bids in the participatory budgeting exercise undertaken almost two years ago by LiveLife Aberdeenshire – when £1.8 million was made available for leisure and recreation in the town. Further funding was also secured from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and Aberdeenshire Area Committee to make these facilities possible.

Path closed while works underway

Works commence on Monday 29th January. During construction, the path between the Recreation Grounds and the beach will have to be closed for safety. Preparation works will also be carried out for a seasonal indoor tennis facility which will be available over the winter months. This phase of the project is scheduled to be complete by the 31st of March when access to the Grounds and its paths will return to normal.

Edenholme Conversation Cafe and More from KDP

By bellmannews / January 25, 2024
front door of the home

INFORMATION about tomorrow’s Burns-themed gathering at Edenholme is just one of the nuggets of help and advice in the latest update from Kincardine Development Partnership – always a valuable resource for anyone working with or supporting any group in the voluntary sector.

Welcome to the KDP Bulletin. 

The first Edenholme Conversation Cafe of 2024 is this Friday, 26th January and everyone is invited.  They will be celebrating Robert Burns Day with Alistair Lawrie reciting some poetry along with a cuppy and fine piece.
Find more details on this poster.

The Inspiring Aberdeenshire Awards are run by Aberdeenshire Council to celebrate people in our communities who go above and beyond. They are our unsung heroes, and their work is often not recognised anywhere else.
Use this page to nominate a person or a group who made a difference to you, reading the guide first to understand the different categories.
Please give us as much information in the nomination form as you can, to paint a picture of why this person or group is so important to you.
The categories are: Heart of Aberdeenshire Caring Award Inspirational Volunteer Award Beautiful Aberdeenshire Environmental Award Community Spirit Award Cultural Award Aberdeenshire’s Future Award Lifetime Achievement Award If you have any queries, please contact:

The Cost-of-Living Support Scotland Grant offers up to £75,000 for projects to help support individuals, families and communities currently experiencing hardship as a result of the cost-of-living increases. 
The programme aims to fund activity that means people: have more resilience and are more able to identify ways to deal with the impact of increased cost of living in their lives are able to shape activity in their community to address the increased cost-of-living have more access to support and services that will help them to deal with the increased cost of living To learn more visit the National Lottery website.

Have your say on the future of transport in Aberdeenshire. Aberdeenshire residents are being encouraged to give their views on current and future transport provision across the region. The survey will inform the development of an Aberdeenshire Rural Transport Strategy. The results will also be used to inform the review of Aberdeenshire Council’s Passenger Transport Strategy which is currently underway.
Open until February 11, the short survey can be completed here.

Due to funds still being available in the allocation for level 1 applications of the Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, AVA is now able to invite further applications for up to £2,000 per application to support mental health and wellbeing initiatives for adults in communities across Aberdeenshire.
Guidance documents, further information and how to apply can all be found by visiting the AVA website.

Applications close 12 noon, Friday 2nd February.

Local Energy Scotland has launched the Community Heat Development Programme to work with eligible community organisations and groups of householders to help develop their ideas for locally-generated, low and zero carbon heat project ideas. Successful applicants will receive technical support to appraise the feasibility of their project.
Their aim is to learn how communities and groups of householders can work together to make buildings in their communities more environmentally friendly to heat. The programme will support community led approaches to decarbonise heat.
To find out more visit the website.

The Agnes Hunter Trust was established to support registered charities delivering health and social welfare projects in Scotland. The Trust now focuses on one key area of funding support: offering grants to charities that help disabled people in Scotland. Service provision will focus on providing opportunities and enabling people to lead fulfilling lives. This may include activities that offer advice, information and support, or life-skills, volunteering and employability training.
Applicant charities may assist with a wide range or specific groups of people, for example those living with mental ill health, cancer, physical and sensory impairments and long-term health conditions, as well as people with learning disabilities, autistic people, and other neurodivergent people.
To learn more and to apply click here
The next deadline is 5pm on 29th February.

Asda Foundation Grants are now open, closing on the 1st March 2024, and they are looking for applications in our area.
There are 3 types of grants now open.
1. Empowering Local Communities Grants – is an Asda Foundation grant for local groups aimed at supporting a broad range of activities which contribute towards transforming communities and improving lives, as well as funding to strengthen their volunteering. You can now apply for funding for single day events as well!! But please make sure that applications must be received by Asda Foundation no less than six weeks before the event date. 
2. U18 Better Starts Grant – is an Asda Foundation grant for local groups aimed at supporting a broad range of activities for children under the age of 18 which contribute towards transforming communities and improving children’s lives, as well as funding to strengthen their volunteering. 
3. Cost of Living – is an Asda Foundation grant for local groups aimed at supporting the increased running costs group is facing as a result of the crisis. We know the rising cost of living is having a big impact on communities and local groups, at the same time demand is rising. This grant aims to support groups with rent, utility and essential costs, as well as funding to strengthen their volunteering. 

Charities improving mental health as part of their work can apply to Big Give and can select either the 1:1 or Pledge Model of match funding. Successful charities are awarded a sum of match funding which is ring-fenced for their organisation. This match funding is unlocked by public donations given through Big Give’s online fundraising platform during the campaign.
The next closing date is 9th February.

More details here.  KDP is here to help in any way we can.  Please get in touch if we can assist you or your Community group.
Mairi & Margo Kincardineshire
07903 156864  Should you wish to get in touch, our contact details are as follows:

Mairi Eddie              Development Officer    
Margo Titmuss        Funding & Windfarm Officer

Tesco signs up to Stonehaven Gateway EV hub

By bellmannews / January 24, 2024

By Joanna Fraser, Hoolet –

Stonehaven is in line for a jobs boost with news that Tesco has agreed terms to progress the Stonehaven Gateway development.

The plans for an electric vehicle charging hub and retail outlet were revealed last year by developer Ashfield Land, and Tesco’s involvement is expected to create around 100 jobs.

It’s a major step forward for the Stonehaven Gateway proposal, which would be built on a five-acre site west of the roundabout that links the A90 at the AWPR Stonehaven Fastlink interchange.

Steven McGarva, Director at Ashfield Land, said: “There has been huge interest in the project and we’re pleased to announce that we have now purchased the site and agreed terms with a quality operator in Tesco. 

“Discussions are ongoing with a national operator for the EV hub and we will make an announcement on that shortly.

“Stonehaven Gateway will promote the town as a forward-facing and sustainable destination, supporting the region’s goals to increase the uptake of electric vehicles. It will also deliver a number of significant benefits to the local economy, including a new diverse shopping experience as well as the creation of significant new jobs.”

Public consultations on the initial proposal received overwhelming backing, with 89% of respondents supporting EV charging at the development and more than 92% “definitely” wanting to see new high-quality retailers at Stonehaven Gateway.

Marcus Vinnicombe, Property Acquisitions & Disposals Director at Tesco, said: “We are excited to be working with Ashfield Land to develop plans for a new Tesco supermarket at Stonehaven Gateway.

“This superstore would offer a range of food and non-food goods, such as clothing, as well as provide DotCom deliveries and a Click+Collect service. We anticipate it will create around 100 new jobs.”

A detailed planning application for the proposed Stonehaven Gateway project is expected to be submitted in the coming months.

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