Our Review of the year Jan-Jun

Brian Doyle captured this stunning shot at Stonehaven's War memorial in February of the Aurora Borealis.
Brian Doyle captured this stunning shot at Stonehaven's War memorial in February of the Aurora Borealis.

We bring to you our highlights from the year as we take you through part one January to June.

January

Johnshaven's night sky was lit up by a stunning fireworks display in February.

Johnshaven's night sky was lit up by a stunning fireworks display in February.

The year was ushered in with a spectacular Hogmanay concert in Stonehaven which saw rock legends Simple Minds take to the stage in the Market Square for a performance which still has everyone talking almost a year afterwards.

Almost 5000 people turned out to see Jim Kerr and co and party the night away, with Jim declaring: “Tonight, Stonehaven is the rock capital of the world.”

But as the town was preparing for the biggest New Year celebrations it has ever seen, including the traditional Fireballs ceremony, many were left feeling worried after heavy rainfall saw the Rivers Carron and Cowie reach worrying levels.

The Glasslaw Burn was also causing concern, and the road leading into the Braehead estate was seriously affected by flooding.

Stonehaven mum Lisa Cahill, joined by sister Laura and brother-in-law Daniel, raised over �4,000 for Ronald McDonald House in Glasgow by doing a bungee jump.

Stonehaven mum Lisa Cahill, joined by sister Laura and brother-in-law Daniel, raised over �4,000 for Ronald McDonald House in Glasgow by doing a bungee jump.

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A coin dating back to the 13th century was discovered in a field close to Stonehaven harbour, and subsequently went on show at the Tolbooth Museum. The coin, found by former Stonehaven resident Keith Knight, was identified as a Long Cross silver penny of the reign of Edward I, minted in Bristol in the period 1272-1304.

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A Mackie Academy first year pupil became the youngest person in Scotland to reach the top of Mt Kilimanjaro.

David Irvine and his grandfather Jim Reid pictured returning to land after two days lost at sea.

David Irvine and his grandfather Jim Reid pictured returning to land after two days lost at sea.

Liam Byrne, who was 12 years old at the time, made the remarkable achievement alongside his dad, Mike, and his friend, Charlie Paton.

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A tragic incident in Stonehaven in January left a father dead and a community in shock, when 43-year-old Peter Trudgill was swept into the sea during high waves.

Police attended along with ambulance and coastguard crews, and a rescue helicopter was also at the scene. He was rescued from the water and airlifted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary but sadly succumbed to his injuries.

Stonehaven youngster Finlay Sangster had the honour of opening this year's Feein' Market in June.

Stonehaven youngster Finlay Sangster had the honour of opening this year's Feein' Market in June.

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It was revealed that Newtonhill’s Bettridge Centre was facing an uncertain future, and the committee called for villagers to show support.

February

Alex Salmond and the Scottish Cabinet visited Portlethen as the momentum leading up to September’s referendum began to gather pace.

As part of a tour of the country, the Cabinet met at Portlethen Parish Church on February 24 where they held a public discussion, followed by a question and answer session.

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Aberdeenshire Council introduced free 30-minute parking periods in Stonehaven’s Market Square, in a bid to increase visitor numbers. The move was welcomed by residents, who had said it was unfair to pay to stop for a few minutes.

Johnshaven held it’s 13th harbour firework spectacular, and crowds flocked to the coastal village to soak up the atmosphere while a local drumming group provided the entertainment. At the time, Johnshaven correspondent Clark Simpson described the evening: “The event is more than just a fireworks display. It is a real community and family occasion at which young and old from near and far intermingle happily together along the historic Shorehead and where old friendships are renewed and new ones made.”

***

Concerns were raised at Portlethen Community Council about road safety outside Portlethen Primary School.

The school, which is in a built up area, has limited parking and parents resorted to double parking and blocking others at drop off and pick up times. 10 months on, the problems persist.

***

It seemed that the Portlethen Gala had an uncertain future, as charity Befriend a Child, who organised the event for four years, said they were unable to continue in the role and appealed for someone to come forward to take over. Members of the community council stepped forward and saved the day.

March

The Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, had everyone talking in March, when they were clearly visible across Kincardine and Mearns, despite usually only being seen that vividly inside the Arctic Cricle.

Some stunning photographs resulted in local residents being exposed to the phenomenon.

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The excitement leading up to the opening of the new Mearns Academy community campus was marred somewhat by vandals, who targeted the unfinished building, damaging windows and plasterboard in the process. Fire extinguishers were also set off, and police appealed for information.

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Community organisation Stonehaven Town Partnership announced a £200,000 funding boost, which would be used to take forward a number of key initiatives including the long mooted land train.

Speaking at the time, STP chairman Douglas Samways said: “The funding will be used to enhance our ability to ensure that Stonehaven retains its vitality and remains a vibrant, forward-looking community.”.

***

There was great excitement as Hollywood stars Daniel Radcliffe, aka Harry Potter, and James McAvoy spent time filming their new blockbuster Frankenstein at Dunnottar Castle. Locals reported that the two stars were very friendly and down to earth, and happy to pose for photographs with fans.

The movie, in which Radcliffe plays the role of Igor and McAvoy plays Victor von Frankenstein, is due to be released in October 2015.

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Plans for an all-weather surface at Stonehaven’s Mineralwell Park received full backing from Kincardine and Mearns councillors in March. The proposals are set to see one of the existing pitches at the park transformed into an all-weather pitch which will be suitable for football and rugby, as well as various other sporting activities such as hockey.

April

A group of friends from Stonehaven’s Market Bar announced their intention to take part in 170-mile cycling challenge, Ride the North.

The seven strong team took on the gruelling trip as a tribute to the Market Bar landlord, Mark Anderson, who sadly passed away after suffering from a brain tumour.

Mark was a dedicated fundraiser for the Maxillofacial Unit at ARI, and it was only fitting that funds raised from the two day cycle went to the same fund.

***

Stonehaven Community Council reached breaking point after it was revealed that members were on the point of dissolving the body. The reason for the reason was dwindling member numbers. The community council requires a minimum of 12 members to carry on, and in April this looked very uncertain indeed.

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Here at the Mearns Leader and Kincardineshire Observer we launched our ‘Thank you to the Volunteers’ campaign, as a way of shedding some light on the unsung heroes of our local communities, who give up their free time to make our towns and villages a better place to live.

The campaign saw reporters Lee McCann and Rachel Campbell try their hand at several different volunteering opportunities, including making lunch for the Laurencekirk Lunch Club, helping get the Stonehaven Open Air Pool ready for the season, and showing tourists around the Tolbooth museum!

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Mackie Academy students shared with us photos and highlights from their ‘trip of a lifetime’ to South Africa.

Some 53 pupils and six staff set off on the week-long adventure, led by Mr Macdonald (faculty head, mathematics) where they packed a lot in, including visits to local schools, a trip to the Apartheid museum, a visit to a lion park and an overnight stay at a cultural village.

All of the pupils played a part in fundraising to pay for the trip in the months leading up to the adventure, and all were agreed that it was an unforgettable experience.

May

Councillors at the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee gave their backing to the Mains of Cowie as the preferred site for a supermarket in Stonehaven, reigniting an ongoing debate into the best location for a supermarket for Stonehaven.

However, in July, Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee refused to approve the plans, and Stonehaven’s supermarket saga reached somewhat of a stalemate.

***

The entire country was gripped by the tale of two Bervie fishermen who were rescued after two days lost at sea.

Jim Reid (75) and his grandson, David Irvine (35), had a whole community holding their breath as family and friends waited for news after they failed to return from a day’s fishing in the North Sea off the coast of Johnshaven.

A major air and sea search was launched involving Aberdeen Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, RNLI lifeboat crews from Aberdeen, Stonehaven and Montrose, RAF, Police Scotland and others, but after two days the search was stepped down, to the devastation of their family and friends.

Good news was on the Horizon though, as just hours later they pair were spotted by the Sylvia Bowers, cold hungry but otherwise none the worse for their adventure. They had drifted 50 miles offshore after their compass failed, and David had forgotten to take his mobile phone with him.

News of their rescue was greeted with huge relief and delight onshore.

***

The annual Marykirk Raft Race, complete with home-made vessels and crews in fancy dress, was once again a rip roaring success.

The winners of this year’s race were ‘The Steaming Floaters’ who, despite the river being very low, still managed to finish in an amazing 31 minutes.

The event drew large crowds, who also enjoyed a rodeo bull, climbing wall and a piano smash.

June

Stonehaven’s heated Open Air Pool opened for an historic 80th season as the town basked in glorious sunshine.

The Queen’s representative in Kincardineshire, Lord Lieutenant Carol Kinghorn, officially opened the pool after being welcomed by Aberdeenshire Provost Jill Webster, Councillor Isobel Davidson and Chair of the Friends of the Pool, Mike Robins.

Also there, of course, was octogenarian Bruce Whitelaw, who can boast the accolade of having a dip in the pool every year since it opened in 1934.

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A golf fan from Laurencekirk teed up a six figure Euro Millions win after purchasing a Lucky Dip ticket on the spur of the moment. Brian Warrender scooped £136,065.80 when he matched five numbers and a Lucky Star on the Euromillions draw on May 27.

The 55 year-old who runs his own plumbing and heating firm, said that he would put the cash towards buying a house.

***

Stonehaven’s annual Feein’ Market took place as usual on the first Saturday in June, and the usual fun and frolics were had. Stonehaven and District Lion’s Club were at the helm for the 14th year, and they did not disappoint, with something on offer for everyone.

Gala season was in full swing by June, with Luthermuir and Inverbervie among the communities who rallied round and got in the spirit. Luthermuir Gala included a successful cookery night, as well as a Dog Show, Highland Dancers and for the first time, archery.

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Mearns Academy rector Ian Parkin took a walk down memory lane, sharing pictures and memories from years gone by, as the school prepared to close its doors for the last time. Staff and pupils weren’t going far, as they were transferring across the road to the new community campus in August.